Book Reviews · Books

Bunny

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bunnymonaawad Bunny by Mona Awad
GOODREADSAMAZON
Released: 11th June 2019
Keywords: Adult, Horror, Thriller, Magical Realism, Gore, Violence

Synopsis
Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.
But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

Review
This is a book I decided to pick up after seeing a couple of Booktuber’s review it as ‘really weird, graphic and definitely not for everyone’ and I’m so glad that I did. I generally really enjoy books that don’t necessarily make a lot of sense, leave questions unanswered and leave a lot up to the reader’s interpretation of events whereas I know many reader’s do not enjoy that in books so keep that in mind.

This was a wild messy ride and I could not put it down once I started, definitely a book that need’s to be read multiple times to truly appreciate the thought that went into it’s planning. Magical realism is one of my favourite genre’s of fiction to read and this book did it beautifully. Many shocking moments, many beautiful moments and after finishing reading this book I was left with that feeling of awe over what I just read.

This book is definitely very graphic as far as gore goes so maybe avoid this if that is something you’re not comfortable reading about. If you enjoy reading weird messed up stuff then definitely give this a try, I loved it a lot and it is one of my top books of the year for sure.

My rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Reviews · Books

Norwegian Wood

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norwegianwood Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
GOODREADSAMAZON
Released: First in 1987
Keywords: Adult, Suicide, Grief, Loss, Japan, Depression, Sex, Romance

Synopsis
When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire – to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.

Review
This was my 4th Murakami book that I read and I went in with lower expectations as I knew it was just contemporary with no magical elements, I generally find contemporary’s boring but as this is Murakami and this is probably his most well-known book I wanted to read it. It has gone in as my 2nd favourite book by him after Kafka on the Shore which was very unexpected! It’s a fairly depressing book with a major focus on mental health, suicide and depression so at time’s not very fun to read but I couldn’t put it down. It left a very haunting mark on me and I can see it being one of Murakami’s that I read again in the future.
There is also a considerable amount of sex talk and sexual scenes but within this very depressing context, I really enjoyed all of the female character’s and how different they were and how the main character was attracted to them in different ways.
If you’re a fan of Japanese lit in general and for whatever reason havn’t read this one yet, definitely give it a try, it might be a good start for people new to reading Japanese lit too.

My rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Reviews · Books

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

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beforethecoffeegetscold Before the Coffee Gets Cold
by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

GOODREADSAMAZON
Released: 19th September 2019
Keywords: Adult, Time travel, Grief, Loss, Alzheimer’s

Synopsis
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?

Review
I ordered this book on a whim after seeing it pop up on Amazon and I’m glad that I did! Originally written as a play, this novelisation is charming and precious and hit me right in the feels many times.
This short novel is split up into 4 parts or chapters, each focusing on a different character traveling through time but all of them interconnect, it did take me a while to get all of the characters down as you get introduced to a lot at once.
When you travel back (or forward) you can not change the present so some deem the ability to be pointless, but as we see from this story, it is far from pointless and can still change lives.
I really really enjoyed this and would recommend if you’re looking for a short novel that’s heartfelt with great characters and humour and also tackles some serious subjects.
(Spoiler: there is infact no cat, but there is a ghost woman)

My rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Reviews · Books

Recent Japanese Reads

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thekeyThe Key by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

GOODREADSAMAZON

This was my first time reading Tanizaki, it is a short novel written out as journal entries between a husband and wife. It is mostly focused on the sex life between the two, the husband being significantly older than his wife who seemingly is unsatisfied with their sexual relations. Both start writing in secret diaries about the other in hopes of the other person reading it, the story explores the unconventional ways they find that in turn helps to spice up their sex life until the husband becomes sick. This book explores intimate relationships, desires, fetishes, adultery and grief. It was an interesting read that I found myself invested in and ultimately gave 3/5 stars. I plan on reading The Makioka Sisters by this author in the future.

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battleroyaleangelsborderBattle Royale: Angel’s Border by Koushun Takami

GOODREADSAMAZON

This side-story manga about the ‘Light House Girls’ in the Battle Royale novel was a must-read for me as Battle Royale is one of my favourite books/movies of all time. This manga is also written by the author of the original novel/manga series and specifically explores and focuses more on the girls that decided to group up and hide out inside the Light House on the island during the ‘game’. As expected, this was heart wrenching to read and made me tear up a few times, I really hope that Takami writes more side-storys like this in the future. He is supposedly working on his second novel. I gave this manga 5/5 stars. A must read for any Battle Royale fan.

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lifeforsaleLife for Sale by Yukio Mishima

GOODREADSAMAZON

The latest of Mishima’s works to have an English translated release, this may now be my favourite book of his that I have read so far. After a failed suicide attempt, Hanio decides to place an ad in his local paper offering his ‘life for sale’ which leads him on a wild ride with many interesting characters wanting him to do some bizarre and crazy things. The journey that this takes Hanio on ultimately gives him back some value to his life. I very much enjoyed this short novel after not reading any Mishima for a good few months, it reminded me just why I love his work. 5/5 stars.

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ibitsuIbitsu by Haruto Ryo

GOODREADSAMAZON

Ibitsu is a decent sized manga collection (think Junji Ito) and it is bloody terrifying. I will be making comparisons to Junji Ito’s manga as that is the only other horror manga I have read, where as I generally find Ito’s artwork the most disturbing thing about his works, Ibitsu was terrifying in art and story, it literally felt like I was watching a really creepy Japanese horror movie (there is even some parts with the wall climbing). Of course I chose to mostly read this at night before bed which was not the best of ideas. This manga had just about every awful thing you could think of and something I was not expecting was the sexual peverseness and inclusion of sexual artwork. There is also a lot of self harm imagery in this manga. It set out to scare and disturb, which it certainly accomplished with me, does that make it a good book? I’m giving it a 3.5/5 stars.

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So that’s what I’ve been reading lately, I tend to find that reading Japanese authors help me to get out of reading slumps, I am currently reading Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi and really enjoying it, I will post a review of that once I’m finished. Do you read much Japanese fiction? Feel free to leave me some recommendations!

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Book Reviews · Books

Lost Boy

lostboy Lost Boy by Christina Henry
GOODREADSAMAZON
Released: 4th July 2017
Keywords: YA, Fantasy, Retelling, Horror, Gore, Peter Pan

Synopsis
There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.
Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.
Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

Review
I’m so glad that this book lived up to my high expectations for it, it was everything I wanted and expected it to be. A dark retelling of the story of Peter Pan, but from Captain Hook’s perspective back when he was Peter’s original Lost Boy. Peter is shown to be an extremely selfish attention seeker and thinks of the boys he takes from the real world as nothing more than amusing playthings to go along with his adventures and entertain him, if they no longer amuse him or become a nuisance he simply finds ways to get rid of them and replace them with more boys.

I felt truly sucked into this lost island and had a constant feeling of dread throughout reading, getting attached to characters and knowing more than likely at some point they will die. Plus the plains are filled with huge spider monsters called the Many-eyed which are just terrifying.

Peter’s idea of fun is ‘raiding’ the pirates which is effectively having children turn into vicious murderers or if they arn’t strong enough they will simply be killed themselves. Peter also likes the boys to partake in ‘Battles’ where they are pitted against each other to ‘practise fighting’ but ultimately some boys end up seriously hurt or he will even have them fight to the death while he watches.

I don’t want to go much more into the plot but this is a must read for any fans of dark retellings, it is gritty and gruesome and I loved it.

My rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Reviews · Books

Spare and Found Parts

spareandfoundparts Spare and Found Parts
by Sarah Maria Griffin

GOODREADSAMAZON
Released: 4th October 2016
Keywords: YA, Sci Fi, Prosthetics, Frankenstein, Dystopian, Steampunk

Synopsis
Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Review
After reading Other Words for Smoke earlier this year and loving it I decided to read Sarah’s previous book! I obviously went into this with pretty high expectations and although I do personally prefer Smoke, this was a solid read and one I really enjoyed.

Sarah seems to have a knack for making her characters very relatable with the way she describes feelings and passions, I found myself relating to how Nell felt quite a lot and the other characters were very unique, each showing their personal strengths and faults.

It was fun and heart breaking slowly unraveling the worlds and Nell’s past, most of which I didn’t see coming. The character that comes into the story in the second half of the book I absolutely loved and seeing the unique relationship evolving with Nell, I was happy with how the story concluded.

A must read for fans of dystopia style settings and those interested in the evolution of technology, AI in particular, and the possible negative effects it can end up having on humanity.

My rating: 4/5 stars

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Book Reviews · Books

Gumiho (Wicked Fox)

gumiho Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
GOODREADSAMAZON
Released: 2nd July 2019
Keywords: YA, Fantasy, Korean mythology, Romance, Drama

Synopsis
Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.
But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.
Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.
With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Review
A book I was really looking forward to reading and I really enjoyed the first 1/3, it started out very promising and then, for me, got too lost and caught up in a bunch of drama that took away from the connection that was being established between the two main characters.

I think simply I’m too old to appreciate this book for what it is, if I had read it 10 years ago (when I read Twilight) that I would have liked this a heck of a lot. Alas the unnecessary drama was completely lost on me, although I did enjoy most of the characters, I found Miyoung’s decisions and behaviour as the story progressed to not make much sense.

It’s been a week since I finished this book and I honestly struggle to remember the finer points of what happened, I don’t see myself continuing with this series.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

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