Sunday, July 14, 2013

El palacio de la medianoche

While at a bookstore here in Barcelona, I found several more books by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the author of Marina. After debating a bit I decided to buy El palacio de la medianoche, another of his young adult books. Like Marina, this novel also has a somewhat fantastical or supernatural theme and I really enjoyed reading it. 

The story focuses on twins who were separated at birth, the sister, Sheere, growing up with her grandmother and the brother, Ben, in an orphanage. They were separated to try to avoid a man who had killed their father and mother and was out to kill them too. Also similarly to Marina, the man, Jawahal, had made himself into a monster while pursuing his work. When Ben and Sheere are finally reunited they, along with Ben's group of friends from the orphanage, work to find out everything they can about the man who is trying to kill them and how they can stop him. 

Now that I've read two books by Zafón, I really look forward to reading more since what I've read has been great so far. I'm thinking next I might look for La sombra del viento since I have various friends who have recommended it. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

El enredo de la bolsa y la vida

The second novel I read for my Spanish class was El enredo de la bolsa y la vida, which I didn't enjoy nearly as much as Marina... Or at all really... And while reading it in France it may have made me dread my upcoming trip to Barcelona...

This book, by Eduardo Mendoza, is narrated by an anonymous amateur detective investigating his friend's disappearance. The narrator is a former criminal / mental patient who now 'works' as a hairdresser (who has no clients). He learns about the disappearance of his friend Rómulo el Guapo, who was also a criminal / mental patient, from Quesito, a teenage girl who knew Rómulo because he spent time with her mother. The plot involved the detective searching for his friend with a host of various other bizarre characters while supporting himself by borrowing money from the friendly Chinese family with a shop across the street from his hair salon. In my opinion the book was pretty boring (I fell asleep every time I read it, no matter what time of day it was) and by the end became pretty ridiculous. 

This was the last book I had to read before arriving in Barcelona, and I was really put off by the long and frequent descriptions of how miserable Barcelona is in the summer and how, because of the heat, the narrator spends most of his working day laying in the hair salon naked covered in sweat and flies. Luckily the heat is just starting to get bad here in Spain and I will be heading back to the US on Monday, missing the worst of the Barcelona summer. 

Marina

Marina is the first book I read this summer, and I actually read it for one of my classes. I've spent this summer studying abroad, first for a month in France and then a month in Spain (which is where I still am now). For my classes in Spain we had a lot of reading beforehand, which might have been great for the people enjoying their summer vacation but I was already in France doing my work for those classes and I really wasn't looking forward to reading several novels for my Spanish class at the same time. Fortunately, Marina ended up being an awesome book and I actually really enjoyed reading it. 

The author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is fairly well known for his book La sombra del viento, which I haven't read but plan to at some point. Marina, unlike La sombra del viento, is a young adult novel so it was a pretty easy read. The book focuses on the adventures of Oscar Drai and his friend Marina, two teens in Barcelona. At first Marina is hesitant to spend time with Oscar, but the two end up spending more and more time together, after following a mysterious woman in black from the cemetery. Oscar and Marina end up involved in a mystery that most people had forgotten about years before they born. The mystery centers around Mijail Kolvenik, a foreigner who came to Barcelona and began working making prosthetics. The company he worked for became hugely successful, Kolvenik became rich and married a beautiful woman, but as it turns out he was more or less a mad scientist. Mijail was obsessed with finding a way to cure diseases and avoid death, and he was willing to carry out some pretty extreme experiments hoping to find the results he wanted. Skipping forward to the future with Oscar and Marina, it turns out Kolvenik is still alive but has more or less turned into a monster after experimenting on himself. Along with several people from Kolvenik's past, the two teens try to find out everything they can about the crazy doctor and how they can stop him. 

When I got ready to read Marina for my class, the last thing I expected was a supernatural book aimed towards the young adult audience. Since I read a lot of books like that anyways, I was definitely excited once I started reading. I really like that while Marina still fits into the supernatural genre that seems to be so popular right now, Zafón wrote a very unique book that, at least for me, wasn't too predictable. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

So I haven't updated in awhile, but I recently finished reading the last book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and I watched the movie The Lightning Thief last week.  The books are definitely for kids, and I didn't think they were amazing or the best thing ever, but they were still enjoyable and kept me interested enough to read all five books.

The books focus on Percy Jackson, a demigod and son of Poseidon, who has all sorts of various adventures and quests and saves the world pretty much every summer.  Some of the adventures are a little ridiculous and it's amazing Percy manages to survive, but it's fantasy so it works out (besides, you can't kill off the title character).  And despite the ridiculousness (and predictability) of Percy's adventures, they're still exciting and fun to read about. Kind of like in Harry Potter - you know Harry's going to have a ridiculous adventure, do something nobody else could do, and somehow pull through and save the world - but you keep reading anyways.  Percy also has friends and acquaintances from his demigod summer camp that help, and I did like how these people actually play important parts instead of only functioning as supporting characters.

The most obnoxious thing about this series, for me anyways, is how dense some of the characters are.  Even though the books are totally predictable, the characters take eons to figure out anything.  For example: At the start of the series Percy finds out he's the son of a Greek god, but he doesn't know which Greek god is his father.  All we know is that his mom met his father by the sea and Percy. still goes there every summer with his mom.  Once Percy gets to the demigod summer camp he realizes he is able to control water and being in water heals him, but of course nobody (not even the camp leaders) has the slightest idea who Percy's dad could be until.... Poseidon (Gasp! I know you weren't expecting that!) sends a sign claiming Percy as his son. Percy also seems to know less about Greek mythology than anyone I've ever met, but I figure that at least can help introduce kids to the various aspects of the mythology.

The movie on the other hand... was just terrible. Almost unwatchable, I would say.  The movie basically takes a few exciting scenes from the book (and still totally changes those) and mixes them with more sex appeal, fast cars, and stupid humour that weren't anywhere in the book.  I don't have much more to say about the movie other than it was a waste of time and I was pretty disappointed. I mean, I almost always like books better than their movie counterparts, but this movie was terrible all on it's own and only vaguely followed the general idea of the book.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Green Mile

Another book I've read this summer is "The Green Mile" by Stephen King. I'm a big Stephen King fan and I ha read various books of his before, but "The Green Mile" wasn't one that I had ever really looked into reading. I actually wanted to read the book because I saw a clip from the middle of the movie on TV at work and it looked pretty interesting.

"The Green Mile" was a great book, and different from many of the more horror-type books I had previously read by King. The characters were great and even though many of the characters were on death row for crimes, you could still feel sorry for them. At the same time there were some pretty despicable characters, and they weren't always the prisoners either. I would definitely recommend this book, even if you've read other Stephen King books and weren't a fan. Like I said, it's different from a lot of his other books that I've read and it's definitely not a horror novel. I haven't watched the full movie yet, but I'd like to since I've heard it's one of the better movie adaptations of a book.

Also, just on a quick side note: Sorry for the lack of italicized titles, no pictures, or any other odd formatting things - my computer is having issues so I'm currently using an iPad app to update my blogs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Success!

Today I finally got the second book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series from the library!  I've already started reading it and I have the third book as well, so I'll be all set once I finish it.  I also saw that I'm at the top of the wait list for the sequel to In the Woods, although I'm sadly still a little ways down the wait list for the Julie Kagawa book.  But I'm making good progress and will hopefully escape the black hole of book series soon!  I'll also try to update this blog with more of my thoughts on books I've read sometime...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Black Hole

Not too long ago I read The Lightning Thief, which is the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.  I borrowed the ebook from the library, and put the second book in the series on hold as soon as I got the first one.  Unfortunately, I am still waiting for the second book and I think it's been over two weeks now!

While waiting I decided to read In the Woods.  The book was pretty good, but I didn't realize it was part of a series.  Once again, I borrowed the ebook from the library and once again I am waiting on the hold list for the second book in the series.

With two books on the hold list I searched around for something else to read.  On Goodreads I found The Iron King and was able to get the ebook from the library as well.  Neither the Goodreads page nor the library page mentioned anything about the series but... you guessed it, The Iron King is the first book of a series.  I was lucky enough to get the second book the series, The Iron Daughter, from the library, but I am now on the hold list for the third book in the series.

And that is how I got sucked into the black hole of book series.  I did search around for more books to read, but for now I'm just reading some of the Dean Koontz books I haven't read and that I know are definitely not part of a series!  Hopefully some of my holds will come in from the library soon and I'll be able to escape from the black hole.