The people have spoken. I recently held a Twitter poll to see if I should start book reviews and it seems that most of my followers are interested! The idea really excites me and I think it will help me stay interested in the reading world if I incorporate some bookish posts in my blog.

I’m not sure how often I will do these, it will probably depend on how much I read in a month. I set a goal on GoodReads to read 35 books this year, which is about 3 books a month. With that, I will probably do these posts once a month or once every two months. Let me know how you liked this post and I will consider doing more in the future!

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): One of my new favorite books of all-time
  • (★★★★): Really enjoyed it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I also try to watch as many adaptations as I can, just to compare, so I will comment on all the ones I’ve seen.

Without further ado, here is what I read since the New Year:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

91jFmxYLSsLRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Sci-fi, dystopia

GoodReads rating: 4.28 / 5 (673,900 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via Borrow Box)

Summary: In the not-so-distant future, the virtual utopia in the OASIS is known and loved worldwide. When its wealthy creator dies and hides his fortune in the OASIS, both individuals and corporations fight to navigate clues from 80’s pop culture to find the prize.

Thoughts: Wow! I am really stingy with my five stars but this one is well-deserved. My dad thought I wouldn’t enjoy the book as much because I wouldn’t get all the pop culture references, but even if you’re not fluent, it’s easy to follow in context. The world-building is absolutely magnificent and the story keeps you on your toes.

Other adaptations: I saw the film and other than basic premise, it was not a whole lot like the book. If you have read the book or seen the movie, here is a good video that talks about the differences well. The most annoying short coming of the film was (start spoiler) the way the first key was obtained. In the book, the main character is a school kid with not a lot of money who can’t access the money and resources to hunt for the prize as he pleases. However, the first key is hidden on the school planet so even the most underprivileged have a shot at the hunt. This was not the case in the movie and this change sets the movie off on the wrong foot by making the main character less relatable (end spoiler).

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

in-order-to-liveRating: ★★★★½

Genre: Non-fiction, autobiography

GoodReads rating: 4.48 / 5 (18,900 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback (purchased from Waterstones)

Summary: The title says it all. A very interesting and emotional story about the deprived life in North Korea and how the author escaped to South Korea through China and Mongolia and adjusting to a new life.

Thoughts: As I mentioned, I am really stingy with my five star reviews, but I really, really enjoyed this book even though non-fiction (especially biographies) aren’t my go-to genre. I know very little about the details of the oppressive government in North Korea and lengths people will go to in order to be free, it’s very eye-opening. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda-Book-CoverRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, children’s

GoodReads rating: 4.30 / 5 (506,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: Young, bookish Matilda only finds peace in her books with obnoxious parents at home and a cruel headmistress at school. She uses her brains and newfound “gift” to help herself and others around her.

Thoughts: I figured this would be an easy, cute read… and I was right! It took me about two hours to read but it kept my attention. Obviously as a children’s book, it wasn’t amazingly stimulating, but again, it was a pleasant read.

Other adaptations: I’ve seen the film and play and both are very true to the short book with a few of their own elements added in. The movie is fantastic but the play isn’t my favorite. There are some good songs (see: “School Song”), but it feels like such little material spread out over a too-long stage running time.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

the-handmaids-tale@2xRating: ★★★½

Genre: Fiction, (feminist) dystopia, classic

GoodReads rating: 4.09 / 5 (990,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via Borrow Box)

Summary: In her lifetime, Offred goes from strong, independent woman with a family of her own to totally stripped of all freedom and, like many other women, is reduced to baby-making slave to a powerful man and his wife in the new order.

Thoughts: This book is the epitome of good idea, poor execution. Okay, “poor” might be a strong word because I almost liked this book. The internal monologue of the main character drags at times with the most mundane observations and don’t even get me started on the lack of quotation marks… I had to re-read a paragraph a few times to figure out where the dialogue stopped and the descriptions started. More or less, the bones of this book and the plot are good, it’s the writing and way the story was told I had an issue with.

Other adaptations: The television series has met with a lot of critical praise. I skimmed the pilot and found the world-building to be spot-on, stellar cast and compelling main character. This reviewer has said the first series follows the book quite closely (with some dialogue taken directly from the passages) with a more realized main character. Another reviewer commented that the biggest changes are adding more dimensions to the answered questions about characters and plot points (start spoiler) such as what happened to Offred’s child and husband and where the O.G. Ofglen went (end spoiler) left by the book. It sounds like I would personally enjoy the series more than the book!

Book cover images: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Have you read any of these? Which did you enjoy most?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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