Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

Book Review Red and Black

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I finished this one in the middle of the night last night because it was due today and I was determined to finish.

Honestly, I’m still processing.

At the center of the book is a student and the man he calls Sensei. This book is also about family and friendship plus it is about the transition from the Japan of Sensei’s youth to modern Japan.

This is a character driven story. At first the student is the narrator so we get what he’s thinking and feeling and how he perceives others. Then Sensei is the narrator and his section mostly focuses on his past because he is attempting to explain why he is the way he is.

After I finished I realized that Sensei has depression but it wasn’t until I got his perspective that I understood.

That’s also why I cautiously give a trigger warning. The word “depression” may not be used but Sensei feels the symptoms. Suicide is also a prominent part of this book.

Overall, I found this book compelling. As soon as I met the characters in the first chapter I wanted to know more about them and what their lives were like during the late 1800’s through early 1900’s in Japan.

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I’ve Been Meaning to Start

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. This week it is about series I keep meaning to start. I’ve mentioned most of these at some point. Eventually I’ll get to them, maybe… And then I have two series I would like to finish.

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Two sci-fi series!

Binti and Home by Nnedi Okorafor (I don’t think this series is finished but it sounds really interesting. The main character has to leave her home planet to go to school.)

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler (including Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) I’m so intimidated by this one. I know it will be amazing and that I’ll love it but I’m still nervous.

Two fantasy series!

People love The Fifth Season and it sounds amazing but I’m definitely intimidated. The Way of Kings is a big book. Also, the series isn’t done and from what I understand there’s supposed to be seven books total and the third one just came out. Plus, Brandon Sanderson has been a hit and a miss with me. I loved Elantris but was barely able to get through Mistborn.

Two fantasy series I want to finish! These are the books in the series I haven’t read yet.

And!

Chemistry: a novel by Weike Wang

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The main character’s life is falling apart. Getting her PhD is looking less likely by the day, especially after she breaks all the beakers in the lab. Also, her relationship with her boyfriend is imploding, just like their ceiling. And yet with all that there is still hope.

The prose is stream of consciousness but it isn’t incomprehensible. In this case this style makes it a relatively fast read. The main character is weird and random but I can’t help but relate because we also get snippets of her past with dysfunctional parents. All three of them are immigrants to the US and we see how that impacts them. There was a lot of depth and humanity plus chemistry. I found myself highlighting multiple passages.

I highly recommend for literary fiction fans.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Book Review Blue Ladder

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I first found out about this one because it was a pick for Book of the Month Club in March and I have seen it blow up since.

I didn’t pick this one in March but it sounded really interesting to me and when one of my library systems ordered it I put myself on hold. And I got it and I read it. Here are my thoughts.

This is about a couple who leaves Syria through a magical door when the fighting begins. They travel to different places trying to make a life. But as they live in different places they grow further and further apart.

The style of writing is like a fairy tale. The reader is told the story rather than shown the story.  I didn’t really mind it. I like fairy tales and other stories told to me. For some reason, I also didn’t need a firm connection with these characters. I thought it was easier to read about them with a slight barrier between us.

I also felt that this was an important book about being a refugee. There are elements of the fantastical (the magical doors, for instance) but there are big doses of reality about trying to find places to live and work because they don’t want to go back to Syria until it is safe to do so.

Overall, I really liked it and thought it was powerful though ultimately a bit sad. I recommend this to those who want to read more diverse literature and don’t mind being told the story rather than being shown the story. If you aren’t into the first chapter I give you permission to put this one down.

Thanks for reading! *waves*

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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Lazlo Strange is an orphan who doesn’t know anything about his parents or where he came from. But he’s been obsessed with a city called Weep since he was five years old. Fifteen years later he is presented with an opportunity to go to Weep but he has to help the Godslayer solve a very big problem that he isn’t telling anyone about until they actually get to Weep. And holy moly is that problem big and complex.

I loved this book.

First, I loved Lazlo right away. He’s a reader and he’s a dreamer. Weep fascinates him and nobody else cares. Then he’s able to fulfill his dream of going to Weep (granted it isn’t as he imagined it but that doesn’t really stop him). I had no trouble rooting for this character.

Second, the problems that affect Weep are really complex and not easily fixed. I felt this gave the novel a lot of power because we see multiple perspectives and reasons for those perspectives. The plot became less simple and less predictable.

Third, that ending scared me but I still want more.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: What I Just Added to My Reread TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. This week it is about books that you’ve added to your TBR recently but of a specific genre or for a specific reason. I’ve been doing Retro Rereads this year because I read a Book Riot article about it. I picked twelve specific books for that because I wanted to read books I loved but hadn’t ever reread or hadn’t reread in a long time. This is a short list of books that I just want to reread because I’ve been thinking about them a lot.

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The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I read this when it came out and wrote it in for the Goodreads awards historical fiction category because I thought it was amazing. I’d like to reread it for the pleasure of rereading it but also so I can look at it from a writer’s perspective.

I also want to reread John Green’s books. The Fault in Our Stars was the first book I read by him and I cried multiple times. I was moved by it. When I read his other books I just wasn’t. So I’d like to read them again but in order of publication.

On Being a (Book) Polygamist 

I like to read a bunch of books at the same time!

The main benefits have to do with my idiosyncrasies. 

One, I’m a mood reader. So I like to pick a bunch of different kinds of books to be in my currently reading pile. There are days when I’m not in the mood for the contemporary young adult romance so I may turn to something else in the stack, maybe this nonfiction book on Vesuvius. There are also days when I don’t know what I’m in the mood to read. So I just read a chapter from each book. 

Two, I have the irrational fear that I will run out of books to read (even though I regularly have four piles of library books waiting to be added to my currently reading piles). Seeing a double-digit number next to my Goodreads currently reading shelf comforts me. And looking over at the two piles on my bookshelf also comforts me.

But this does mean that packing for trips is a struggle. I can’t bring all the books I’m currently reading. So I end up taking all the ones that will fit, sometimes with comical results.

Then I have multiple people asking me if I can really keep track of all those storylines in a tone that implies that I’m not capable of that. (For the record, I am.)

Ultimately, it isn’t something that matters that much in the grand scheme of things. But I do find it amusing to apply monogamy or polygamy to reading. 

So tell me… are you a book polygamist? 

Source for picture: Pinterest 

Top Ten Tuesday: I will be awkwardly repulsed by these things

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. Last week the topic was centered around things that make me want to read a book. This week is the opposite: things that will make me NOT want to read a book.

Number One: I massively dislike the writing. (Passive voice, the writer can’t seem to figure out what tense their verbs should be in, their characters don’t sound like people… the list goes on and on. I want to call their editor and copy editor and give them a piece of my mind.)

Number Two: I’m just not into it right now. There isn’t anything wrong with the writing, characters, etc. I’m just not in the mood for this category, genre, or story. But I may come back to these books at a later date. This tends to happen with YA contemporary romance, sometimes the YA category in general, literary fiction (because tough subjects are a common attribute), and classics (they either need my full attention or at least a primary focus so I can comprehend what’s going on and get the deeper messages and stuff).

Three: The first chapter is a flash forward.

Four: Characters are consistently whining about something.

Five: Disturbing model covers. (Those clothes do not look lived in. That body position is unnatural. This book is about pioneers and yet somehow you have a French manicure and a spray tan… So many negative thoughts. My mom tends to read these books and I flip them over so I can’t see the front.)

Six: People describe it as being a “dystopian” or a “frightening representation of what our future is going to look like.”

Seven: “This book is the next – insert name of popular novel or series here – .”

Eight: Mention of the Fae, Sidhe, Seelie, or by any other name.

Nine: World War II

Ten: Nowadays I may hesitate if the description says it is set in Russia or an alternate Russia.

Nine Susanna Kearsley Books Ranked

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I’ve read most of the books Susanna Kearsley has written because the first one I read was not enjoyable and a bunch of people said that one wasn’t as good and I should try something else by her and so I did and really liked the second book I tried. Then I treated this as an unofficial challenge. I needed to read most of her books and gain a better perspective on this writer’s work. So here I am ranking what I read.

Best: firebird sk The Firebird

This is one of the dual narrative books. We get the present day narrative with two people who have paranormal abilities. She can see the past of an object by holding it. After holding a firebird statue she goes on a quest to find out the whole story. I loved both the past and present narratives. They were both strong stories and worked really well in tandem. The only downside to this book is: you have to read The Winter Sea first because the past narrative of that one is continued in this one. Luckily for me I accidentally read The Winter Sea before The Firebird. 

51gMZ3KRoML._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ The Winter Sea

This was the second book I read by her and I loved it. I was motivated to read the other books she wrote after I read this one. This is also a dual narrative book and I did slightly prefer the past narrative but I did still strongly relate to the writer in the present narrative who was inspired by the ruins of a castle. This is also my most recommended book because people tend to grab The Firebird off the shelf and I feel compelled to tell them that they should read this one first or they won’t get the full emotional impact (or they’ll just be confused).

a-desperate-fortune-9781451673838_hr A Desperate Fortune

This is also a dual narrative. There were aspects of the past and present that I liked but other elements that weren’t quite working for me; however, they were not enough to upset me. I was a big fan of the fairy tales in the past narrative and I also really liked the two romantic leads in both narratives. And we get a glimpse of the past leads in The Firebird in this past narrative and it made me happy.

wp85b8fcca_05_06 The Rose Garden

This is the only book I’ve read by her where the main character physically time travels rather than reading a journal (A Desperate Fortune), reliving an ancestor’s memories (The Winter Sea), or sensing the past via paranormal ability (The Firebird). The leading man in the past was a pretty fabulous romantic lead. His conversations with the leading time travelling lady were my favorite bits. I also liked a modern woman learning how to do basic things in the past. I appreciated that detail. But this plot dragged. It wasn’t compelling until the very end. I could put this down for weeks and not pick it up. It wasn’t a chore to read but it still took me forever to get through it.

shadowyhorsessk The Shadowy Horses

The leading man in the present narrative of The Firebird is in this one but he’s a kid. You don’t have to read this one before The Firebird but the events in this one do come first. The Shadowy Horses doesn’t have a dual past and present narrative. We have the kid seeing a Roman sentinel and an old rich man convinced that this ghost is guarding a huge potential archaeological breakthrough. So he hires a team. There is a slow burn romance in this one that I really enjoyed. But there was a lot here that felt a little anticlimactic.

5166LIpxLmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ The Splendour Falls

This one is also not a dual narrative. It is more of a murder mystery with historical elements and a little bit of romance. I really liked the setting and the characters and I liked the plot more than a lot of other reviewers but it isn’t as strong as the previous books on this list.

51yWoCsMDiL Season of Storms

This is mostly about a production of a play that has never been performed before. The romance was a little lackluster and the ending was a little awkward but the familial relationships were compelling and I really liked the leading lady. This one is also not really a dual narrative but there are a couple snippets of what the playwright was thinking while he wrote this play for Celia, the woman he loved who mysteriously disappears before the play could be performed.

mariana Mariana

I liked most of this. I massively disliked the ending. There were two big things, one in the past narrative and the other in the present, that I had big issues with but they are massive spoilers so I will leave it at that.

Worst: 51m+UrMokQL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ Named of the Dragon

This was the first book by Susanna Kearsley that I read and my list of issues with it is rather long and does include spoilers. This book angered me on multiple occasions. Highlights: it all felt massively melodramatic and the main romances didn’t feel right.

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