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review 2019-01-16 18:50
Christie-esque? Hardly.
Murder at Mt. Fuji - Shizuko Natsuki

Ugh.  If I believed the publisher's hype that this is among the best that Japanese crime fiction has to offer, I'd be done with Japanese crime fiction here and now.

 

Natsuki knows how to write "atmosphere", but how she could ever have become (according to her American publisher) "one of Japan's most popular mystery writers" is utterly beyond me.  And while I do believe that Natsuki really was trying to copycat Agatha Christie, all she produces is an overly convoluted plot and a novel brimming with inconsistencies.  From egregious scene continuity issues to essential information being gathered "off stage" by teams of policemen elsewhere, to characters behaving purely as the author's plot sequencing and writerly convenience dictates (with little to no regard for, and repeatedly even contrary to what should have been both their inner and their outer response to events), to a clichéd "woman facing off against villain during dark and stormy night" final scene, the novel abounds with things that either should have been weeded out in the editing process or should have prevented it from being published altogether. 

 

Worst IMHO, however, are the police, who

 

* let a family -- all of whom are suspects -- merrily go on living in the very house that constitutes the crime scene without having cleared the scene first (thus affording the suspects plenty of opportunity to tamper with the scene ... which promptly happens),

* give press conferences in the very building that constitutes the crime scene (again before the scene has been cleared -- allowing for the reporters to further muddy the scene),

* allow the suspects to be present at those press conferences (oddly, without a single reporter showing any interest in approaching the suspects -- instead, the reporters wait until most of them have finally departed to Tokyo, to then fruitlessly stalk the premises from outside at night),

* reveal every last scrap of information -- including and in particular things only known to the police and the culprit(s) -- to the press,

* and involve a civilian who only a day earlier had still been one of the suspects (and should actually be charged with conspiring to conceal a crime / as an accomplice after the fact) in an ill-conceived, risk-prone, and promptly almost fatally derailed scheme to entrap the killer.

 

Oh, and did I mention that -- though I can't comment on the substantive details of the Japanese legal provision central to the plot (which gets cite-checked to numbing point in the final part of the novel) -- Natsuki's research, if any, on the legal issues that I can comment on is seriously off as well?  (Which, in turn, may actually explain the otherwise inexplicably stupid behaviour of one particular character.)

 

Well, I guess at least I finally get to check this one off my TBR ... and check off Japan on my "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge.

 

Next!

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review 2019-01-16 17:50
Review: "Bound Gods: Chained" (Bound Gods, #2) by Adrienne Wilder
Bound Gods: Chained - Adrienne Wilder

Truly not for the faint of heart, and I really, REALLY hate everything about sounding *cringes and screams internally* and especially reading about it in excruciating detail. SO not my kink. And yet I can't stop reading this series. 

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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text 2019-01-16 05:34
First Impression: The Disappearing Spoon
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

The Disappearing Spoon

by Sam Kean

Progress:  31 of 346 pages (9%)


Admittedly, Chemistry was probably my worst subject in school (both high school and college).  So why I decided that I'd just casually join in on this month's Flat Book Society read is beyond me.  Maybe I just thought that, not being a required read for some class, I'd be able to enjoy it more... or at least not fret as much about what I'm understanding.

And really, the only thing that I've gotten out of this book so far is that the outlining is atrocious.  Don't get me wrong, the writing isn't terrible, and the subject matter has lots of potential--some of the information is actually pretty interesting.  And when I actually understand one of the paragraphs after deciphering all the chemistry jargon, I think I might have learned something new.

Not that that's helpful, because I promptly turn around and forget what I've just learned.  It probably doesn't help that the organization of the telling feels pretty scattered.  The author jumps from one thing to another, and then back so quickly that I'm at a point where I just quietly move on because I'm embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what he was trying to present.

There is SO MUCH jargon.  This does not feel like a science book for casual readers who enjoy fun science.  This feels like a lot of chemical name-dropping.

Meanwhile, I had fallen asleep twice reading just the introduction.  And we hadn't gotten to the elements yet.  Not really.  And I'm not sure who's fault that is--mine or the book's.  Maybe I just don't have the capacity to follow the content?

I'm probably going to give this book a few more chapters to see how well I fare.  I mean, I took chemistry classes and I work in a hospital lab.  Some of this stuff HAS to make sense at some point, right?  No matter that I really wasn't all that great at chemistry, mind you.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/01/first-impression-disappearing-spoon.html
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review 2019-01-16 05:02
Review: Colorfull
ColorFull - Ying-Hwa Hu,Cornelius Van Wright,Dorena Williamson

This story as a meanful teaching for children. I got the meaning of the story or the moral of the story as you read. This is a great story for children of all ages. Parents should pick this one out and help teach our children what it mean to be different.

The author does a wonderful job of this though pictures and story itself. She show how god created a world that is colorfull. Would you want your child to be colorblind? God made us to see colorfull and world colorfull so we should teach our children that being different skin color like chocolate it okay and that even siblings may look the same but different. This a book teach children and others that colors are beautiful. If everything was the same color our world would be dark or not special.

Look at your world differently and teach our children and child to be kind and say there a reason god made each and everything with colors. He want as to see Colorfull.

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2019/01/book-review-colorfull.html
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review 2019-01-15 20:30
Daba's Travels from Ouadda to Bangui by Makombo Bamboté
Daba's Travels from Ouadda to Bangui - Makombo Bamboté,George Ford

Like apparently most of the people who read this book, I read it for my world books challenge and wasn’t particularly impressed. It seems to be aimed at middle-grade readers (ages 9-12), and recounts the childhood experiences of a boy named Daba as he leaves his village in the Central African Republic to attend school in a larger town and spends his vacations traveling around the country with friends and relatives.

As you would expect, this is a quick and easy read that even includes some illustrations. It’s a pretty gentle story, including adventures such as attending a boarding school and tagging along for a crocodile hunt. However, it is disjointed, prematurely ending events that could have been exciting if fully-developed – like the crocodile hunt, which gets less page time than a neighbor telling the boys a story – and including more episodes than fit comfortably within its brief page count. It does little to immerse the reader in Daba’s feelings or experiences; in the second half of the book, he seems to fade into his group of friends, who are indistinguishable in personality and experiences (except for the French pen pal who somehow is able to fly to a Central African Republic town alone and spend the summer wandering from village to isolated village with the local boys).

Daba grows older – the book appears to cover a couple of years – but he doesn’t really have struggles to overcome or seem to change or learn more about life. At times, knowing the story to be based in some way on the author’s childhood, Daba’s portrayal even comes across as self-aggrandizing: a star pupil, always cool and confident, beats adults at games, liked by everyone except for one classmate who’s condemned by other children and adults alike. Meanwhile, for adult readers, the language is perhaps too simple, and some of the events are eyebrow-raising or could use more explanation (the pen pal trip, Daba’s being awarded a scholarship to study abroad without any apparent effort from him or consent from his parents, etc.).

At any rate, this isn’t too bad if you’re doing a world books challenge – Daba travels around his country, giving the reader a sense of the landscape and the culture in the places he visits, and quick reads are always valued for big challenges – but those searching for diverse books to give to the children in their lives would be better served looking elsewhere.

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