Book Haul #3: MPH Booksale 2015 (September)

AlqDR1muBpCiq1Rx5SIYFKfzKPpvGkUMW80HLOfXCSsZWhaddaya know, a backdated book haul. Who knows that life had (or has) me caught up in its busy trenches?

As usual, back synopsis + short commentary + online links will be available, so here we go.

From left to right, top to bottom:

Half A King (Shattered Sea Book, #1) by Joe Abercrombie

Goodreads, Books Depository

Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself - all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi's path may end as it began - in twists, traps and tragedy...

From what I heard, Half A King’s protagonist is not your typical heir to the throne and he may or may not be physically disabled. Novelty is king and novelty here means have-not-yet-encountered-before.

I Am Pilgrim (Pilgrim, #1) by Terry Haydes

Goodreads, Books Depository

A young woman murdered in a run-down Manhattan hotel.

A father publicly beheaded in the blistering sun of Saudi Arabia. 

A man's eyes stolen from his living body as he leaves a secret Syrian research laboratory.

Smouldering human remains on a mountainside in the Hindu Kush.

A plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity. 

One thread that binds them all.

One man to take the journey.

Pilgrim.

I only know that this is semi-famous. Legit reason to buy a book there, no?

One Shot (Jack Reacher #9) by Lee Child

Goodreads, Books Depository

Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me. And sure enough, from the world he lives in--no phone, no address, no commitments-ex-military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. 

The cover of my One Shot has Tom Cruise on it, and whilst I’m not very deterred by that, that’s (to be very honest) quite a unflattering picture of Cruise. I’ve seen Child make rounds on everyone’s bookshelf and I thought, hey maybe I should try out one of his works to see for myself.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

Goodreads, Books Depository

Collection of twenty-four stories that generously expresses Murakami’s mastery of the form. From the surreal to the mundane, these stories exhibit his ability to transform the full range of human experience in ways that are instructive, surprising, and relentlessly entertaining. Here are animated crows, a criminal monkey, and an iceman, as well as the dreams that shape us and the things we might wish for. Whether during a chance reunion in Italy, a romantic exile in Greece, a holiday in Hawaii, or in the grip of everyday life, Murakami’s characters confront grievous loss, or sexuality, or the glow of a firefly, or the impossible distances between those who ought to be closest of all.

I’m currently reading this and I must say I quite enjoy it. Short stories are either a big success at securing my attention or a big dnf. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from Blind Willow simply because book 2 of 1Q84 was just crazy boring for me. Murakami seems to excel at short stories more than 1000 pages of fiction.

The Inheritance by Robin Hobb

Goodreads, Books Depository

Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm are one and the same person; but they are very different writers. The Inheritance is a collection of short novels, novellas and stories which showcases some of the very best fiction she has written under either name.

Bingtown heiresses rub shoulders in this wonderful collection with vampires and alien musicians, tramps and feral cats. The collection includes Hugo and Nebula finalists and stories that are seeing print for the very first time.

I’ve recently followed a booktuber who’s crazy for everything Robin Hobb and I thought why not give this a try? Standalones are so my thing really.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazakai and His Years of Pilrgimage by Haruki Murakami

Goodreads, Books Depository

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine', and Oumi, ‘blue sea', while the girls' names were Shirane, ‘white root', and Kurono, ‘black field'. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it.

One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want to see him, or talk to him, ever again.

Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.

If you wanna get a copy of Murakami/Ishiguro at my local library, you can darn well forget about it. They’re so popular they have reserves of reserves. And these libraries don’t have a policy of buying more copies of popular books if they’re high demand, so good luck on that.

Might as well get your own copy, right?

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Goodreads, Books Depository

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

This is one of Rowling’s more poorly received books and I wanna know why. I’m not Rowling’s biggest fan, HP didn’t really wow me and isn’t a timeless favourite of mine, so I can safely say I’m able to look/criticise this with untinted glasses.

Yep, that’s me alright.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Goodreads, Books Depository

Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the daughter of the American madam of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Spanning more than forty years and two continents, Amy Tan's newest novel maps the lives of three generations of women—and the mystery of an evocative painting known as "The Valley of Amazement." 

Moving from the collapse of China's last imperial dynasty to the growth of anti-foreign sentiment and the inner workings of courtesan houses, The Valley of Amazement interweaves the story of Violet, a celebrated Shanghai courtesan on a quest for both love and identity, and her mother, Lucia, an American woman whose search for penance leads them to an unexpected reunion.

It’s Amy Tan. A writer who’s much loved and appreciated. Since there wasn’t The Joy Luck Club at the sale, Valley would do. 

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, #17) by Lee Child

Goodreads, Books Depository

Four people in a car, hoping to make Chicago by morning. One man driving, eyes on the road. Another man next to him, telling stories that don’t add up. A woman in the back, silent and worried. And next to her, a huge man with a broken nose, hitching a ride east to Virginia. 

An hour behind them, a man lies stabbed to death in an old pumping station. He was seen going in with two others, but he never came out. He has been executed, the knife work professional, the killers vanished. Within minutes, the police are notified. Within hours, the FBI descends, laying claim to the victim without ever saying who he was or why he was there. 

All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat—to both sides at once.

Lee Child again! No Tom Cruise on the cover this time though.

Horns by Joe Hill

Goodreads, Books Depository

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge. . . . It's time the devil had his due. . . .

Horror story + novel setting? Give that to me.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Goodreads, Books Depository

A guy walks into a bar car and...

From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved. 

Sedaris remembers his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. 

I passed up on this at the previous sale and was caught up thinking about it for a few minutes of regret. Luckily I spotted this again! The first few paragraphs read humorously so fingers crossed!

The Revival by Stephen King

Goodreads, Books Depository

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs -- including Jamie's mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family's horrific loss. In his mid-thirties -- addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate -- Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.


Look, I haven’t picked up another of King’s works since the day I read Cell because that shit is crazy scary. Let’s just say 7 years is enough time to get over it, because it really isn’t.

Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool, #1) by Robin Hobb

Goodreads, Books Depository

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz's violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

Upon reading goodreads comments about which is the order is the best to start from, it turns out that one would need to begin with The Farseer Trilogy, followed by The Tawny Man Trilogy, in order to understand the elderworld better.

Guess who saw none of those series at the fair? Me.

Still, I might just dive into this series right away since knowing me, I probably won’t read about the the other series if this turns out to be something I don’t like.

The City by Dean Koontz

Goodreads, Books Depository

The city changed my life and showed me that the world is deeply mysterious. I need to tell you about her and some terrible things and wonderful things and amazing things that happened . . . and how I am still haunted by them. Including one night when I died and woke and lived again.

Here is the riveting, soul-stirring story of Jonah Kirk, son of an exceptional singer, grandson of a formidable “piano man,” a musical prodigy beginning to explore his own gifts when he crosses a group of extremely dangerous people, with shattering consequences. Set in a more innocent time not so long ago, The City encompasses a lifetime but unfolds over three extraordinary, heart-racing years of tribulation and triumph, in which Jonah first grasps the electrifying power of music and art, of enduring friendship, of everyday heroes.

I’m not sure about you, but having extreme reviews (for anything) on both ends of the spectrum is a very disconcerting notion. Is it really good like the 5 stars some people say it is? Or is it really fucking bad like the 1 stars?

Now I have never read any Dean Kootz and having recently followed some horror booktubers, Kootz’s works are often recommended as chilling mind fucks. I’m not usually a fan of horror because I’m a scardey cat, but I just thought I’ll attempt to broaden my reading horizons. You have only one life to live anyway, might as well be adventurous.

Two Billion Eyes by Ying Zhu

Goodreads, Books Depository

As China navigates the murky waters of a "third way" with liberal economic policies under a strict political regime, the surprising battleground for China's future emerges in the country's highest rated television network--China Central Television, or CCTV. 

With 16 internationally broadcast channels and over 1.2 billion viewers, CCTV is a powerhouse in conveying Chinese news and entertainment. The hybrid nature of the network has also transformed it into an unexpected site of discourse in a country that has little official space for negotiation. While CCTV programming is state sponsored--and censored--the popularity and profit of the station are determined by the people. And as the Chinese Communist Party seeks to exert its own voice on domestic and international affairs, the prospect of finding an amenable audience becomes increasingly paramount. 

Through a series of interviews with a fascinating cast of power players including a director of a special topic program that incited the 1989 student movement, current and past presidents of CCTV, and producers at the frontline of the network's rapidly evolving role in Chinese culture, celebrated media analyst Ying Zhu unlocks a doorway to political power that has long been shrouded in mystery.


NON-FICTION!! Government survelliance and its sneaky controversial uses has always interested me, and China is a good starting point to learn about them, are they not? Massive population, strict government, excellent critical perspective (I hope).

******************************************************************************

So there’s my September book haul! I know people say this all the time, but I probably won’t be acquiring any more books in the immediate future simply because a huge pile of tbr stresses and frustrates me like no other. That and a gradually busier lifestyle.

What books have you bought recently? Any books here that you’ve read and enjoyed/hated with a burning passion? Let me know. 

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