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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Books · Monthly wrap ups

August/September Wrap Up

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Books I Read and Finished in
August + September

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Favourite K-Pop Releases in
August + September

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Reading
I had somewhat of a reading slump after trying to get through Empire of Storms, (Throne of Glass should have ended after Queen of Shadows and that’s the tea). So I decided to check out some graphic novels and manga that I’d been meaning to get to, just so that I was still reading something. Then I moved onto reading some Japanese fiction which is my default go-to that I generally know I will enjoy and it worked! So I finally feel like I’m back into my regular reading habits again. At the end of September I’m currently reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and an eARC of Girls of Storm and Shadow.

Gaming
So, a little thing known as Classic World of Warcraft came out at the end of August and it has taken up a considerable amount of my time. I was an original Vanilla WoW player back in the day and have been really enjoying revisiting the old world after steadily losing interest in the game after each new expansion pack. another little thing called the Switch Lite came out on September 20th and I picked myself up the lovely turquoise one (yes I do already have a regular Switch), so me and my hubs have finally been able to play Dragon Quest Builders 2 together! (a game review will be up on the blog sometime this month).

New Things
I’ve decided to do Blogtober this month so I will be posting everyday in October! I’ll also be delving more into my personal life in posts and now that the kids are finally settling down in school I feel much more relaxed and have some more free time starting this month. I’m going to try and post more on my Bookstagram this month but probably not every day.

Let’s get onto K-pop shall we, October is set to be a busy month for some of my favs with Ateez releasing their first full album on the 8th (how do these guys find time to make music seriously). My favs Nu’est are also releasing a new album on the 21st, don’t know a lot of details about that as yet. TXT should finally be having their first comeback this month after putting it off since August due to illnesses, with BTS rumored to announce their next comeback sometime this month and probably release an album in November.

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Books · Tags

My TBR Shelves

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tbrshelves

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Lately I’ve been a lot better about buying books and instead reading something that I already have on my TBR shelves. I thought I would give a quick overview of what I have right now and if you spot anything here you have read and recommend let me know!

Books I want to get to soon:
In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire – The Wayward Children series is one of my favs and I can’t believe I havn’t read the 4th book yet with the 5th coming out early next year.
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab – I really liked City of Ghosts last year and this sequel has just come out.
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling – This is apparently similar to Wilder Girls with creepy body horror but I have to be in the right mood for it.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – A book beloved by many and with her new book coming out soon I wanted to give this a shot.
Haruki Murakami and Yukio Mishima – Slowly making my way through both of their works (that have been translated).

Books I’m not sure about:
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Viper by Bex Hogan
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Are there any books on my TBR shelves that you would highly recommend?
Or likewise not recommend? Let me know! 🙂

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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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