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review 2016-06-27 15:17
Norwegian Wood By Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood - Jay Rubin,Haruki Murakami

This is supposedly the novel that made "Haruki Murakami " famous . .

 

     summary :

 

Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

 

       review :

 

Where do i begin? .... i assumed this book had a slow start but turns out that's how the entire story goes until the very  end , There is no real story to be told , and the plot is boring and barely existing. 

The characters don't spark any interest either , we have:

"Toru" a student who can't decide anything so instead he wallows in his self pity

"Naoko" a depressed girl who has no experience with the real world & her roommate "Reiko" who i still don't know what's her role in the story

"Midori" she's supposed to be the "independent and sexually liberated young woman" but throughout the story she is nothing but clingy and insecure,  i swear i thought it was a joke with all that "oh please don't leave me" attitude.  Actually here's one of her best moments *I'm being sarcastic *:

 

"I'm looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I  tell you I want to eat strawberry shortbread. And you stop everything you're doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortbread out to me. And I say I don't want it any more and throw it out the window. That's what I'm looking for."

 

Wich of course made our hero "Toru" fall in love with her.

 

Really, there is no story .. , there is the usual weird sexual content that seems to be "Haruki "'s specialty.  And oh! The ending was just horrible , the most weird ending you could ever read .

I realise that maybe his books aren't for me , so this is the last book I'll read by him.

I would not recommend this book to anyone , or maybe i Would , just to have someone to talk to about that creepy ending.

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review 2016-06-26 16:12
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore - Philip Gabriel,Haruki Murakami

A dear friend of mine suggested this book , so i thought "why not?"

 

        summary :

 

   Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.

 

       review:

  I wasn't sure what to expect from this book , but as i started reading it , i found the characters relatable and likeable,  each one of them is fighting his own demons and trying to find his purpose or run away from his past. The story however was truly weird ,i felt like it was all over the place , from the young boy "kafka" looking for his mother and talking to an imaginary crow :

To the old man "Nakata " who talks to cats and makes the sky rain with fish:

The characters themselves were very nice , but their stories bothered me , i didn't enjoy them nor understand the point from them, And don't even get me started about the sexual content !, but i went through this story and read every page , because obviously all this weirdness left me with a lot of questions

But guess what??

I finished the book and still couldn't understand a thing! 

I would say the only good thing about this book is the character of "Oshima" , that character was the only thing that made sense in this book.

 

 

maybe it's just that this book isn't for me , but i wouldn't recommend it to anyone.   

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review 2016-04-18 04:19
The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake
The Translation of Love: A Novel - Lynne Kutsukake

Great book that tells a great story! The Translation of Love was the April selection for Keep Turning the Pages book club and I happened to win a copy through a Doubleday Books giveaway. Double bonus! I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book, which is also Kutsukake's debut. The story centers around a young Japanese girl who is searching for her older sister who seems to have vanished in the Ginza district. WWII is over but the American GI's are still very present. Japan is under General McArthur's military Occupation, American and Canadian Japanese have been sent back after living in internment or POW camps, and democracy has new meaning in a war torn country that appears to want to embrace the unfamiliar American customs. Occupied Japan is place of turmoil and people are faced with harsh realities and having to comprise morals just to eat and survive. Families that once had everything are forced to beg for food. It's a matter of survival. Believing a rumor, Japanese citizens begin writing to General McArthur in hopes that he will answer their pleas for help. Fumi is unable to understand English and enlists the help of Aya, an American Japanese girl, who Fumi has befriended, to write to McArthur and ask for help in finding her missing sister. Together, the two girls hold out hope of finding Fumi's beloved sister. Soon, the girls and their quest have drawn the attention of others, including their teacher. Tokyo is not a place for an innocent young girl. American GI's and their Japanese girlfriend's can be seen all over. Unsavory people are taking advantage of other's misfortune. Fumi and Aya will see and learn a lot during their search for Fumi's sister, Sumiko, lessons that young girls would never know had it not been for a war that changed everything for everyone. There are other stories interspersed throughout the book, each coinciding with the main theme. 

 

Kutsukake's story was well developed. The characters were likeable, even the supporting cast was great. Lots of things going on but everything is relatable and ties the story together. The relationship between the characters, the search for Sumiko, Sumiko's struggle to survive, the plight of a country trying to recover, the different people that inhabit this harsh reality...all of these things combined make this a glorious, wonderful story. Heartbreaking at times, yes! But, still. So very good!

 

 

 

*Many thanks to Doubleday Books for providing a copy through a super fun giveaway on Goodreads that asked reader's to describe a letter writing experience with a pen pal(s). 

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review 2015-11-12 19:46
The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt
The Palest Ink - Kay Bratt The Palest Ink - Kay Bratt

好记性不如烂笔头  (translation)--
"The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory." - Chinese proverb

 

 

I have all of Kay Bratt's books downloaded on my Kindle. I will admit that I was initially seduced by the beautiful covers. I had little knowledge of the stories waiting to be told beyond such beauty. I chose to begin with the prequel, The Palest Ink.  I'm not sure if beginning with this book will give too much of the story away or not. However, I'm glad I chose to start here because now I have a better understanding of the times, the hardships, and the daily struggles of the Chinese people that endured the ten year Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao, and Mao Thought. I'm ashamed to say that I knew very little about the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, initiated by Mao in 1966, until his death in 1976. During this time, Mao and the Red Guard sought to remove counter revolutionary elements of Chinese society by driving out imperialism. Mao claimed to stand for the poor peasants and farmers. Mao Thought turned class against class. Family members turned on loved ones. Religious and traditional cultural icons were destroyed. Ancient Chinese books and relics were burned. Families were seperated and sent to communes for re-education. Schools and universities were closed and students turned on their once-respected educators and professors. Innocent people were accused of the smallest crimes, denounced as enemies, and shamed in front of crowds. Chairman Mao Zedong is believed to be responsible for an estimated 40 to 70 million deaths through forced labor, starvation, and executions. Staggering.

 

 

"...people are giving each other up. Wives are going against husbands, children against parents, you wouldn't believe how many relatives are renouncing each other, claiming to cut all ties in order to not be touched by the blemishes their family members have against them. Pointing fingers and calling each other reactionaries." -- Wren, The Palest Ink 

 

 

Kay Bratt has written a powerful story that may not be true but could easily be imagined. Bratt did base some details on actual stories and photographs she had heard and seen. Unlike her main characters, Benfu and Pony Boy, Bratt succeeds in telling a powerful story of struggle, survival, loyalty, and heartbreaking loss. Bratt creates characters that are likable and easy to root for. Benfu represents the wealthier, more respectable family, trying desperately to adhere to family traditions. Pony Boy graciously stands for honor, placing family and love before his own needs. Both are young boys, standing on the edge of adulthood when the story begins. Together, the boys attempt to shed light on the wrongs they witness during Mao's reign by secretly publishing a newsletter. By the last chapter, it is painfully clear that difficult life lessons have turned Pony Boy and Benfu into respectable grown men, comrades forever. While their tale of friendship is not always happy or easy to tell, it is one I absolutely fell in love with. Easily one of the best books I've read all year. That said, if you're looking for a happily ever after this is not the book for you. But, if you're seeking a book that tells a great story, I would highly advise picking this one up. Poignant. As for myself, I'm going to devour the rest of this book series, starting with The Scavenger's Daughter.

 

 

*Thanks extended to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for sharing this wonderful egalley with me in exchange for review

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text 2015-01-17 23:58
Reading progress update: I've read 197 out of 618 pages.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China - Jung Chang

This is a very special book to me and it was even a coincidence I bought this.

I was at this cafe where they also sold a few used books. This one was among them. I took the book, had a vague idea that I knew the title from somewhere, I read the blurb and I bourght the book. I sat in the café and read. I remember it was raining outside and I was waiting for everyone to be done at their written exams so I could get my computer back. Exhausted, wet and just finished a terrible exam - this book was a good way to forget your bad mood.

I started reading this in June last year

 

The thing is with this book that it is very, very, very long and every sentence is important. Jung Chang can explain something important about the government in one sentence and you need to know this information to understand the rest she talks about. Sometimes she talks about something and then she interleave something else - also with one sentence. I don't know how to explain, but I feel uncomfortable with not reading every sentence with extra effort. 

That sounds boring, right? Forget it! Despise what I said this book isn't boring! 

I spent the next two months reading what I've reached, which is about 1/3 of the book. What I liked was, that when I read a heavy book like this, I feel a need of change and read another (and easier) book. Every time I do that I am certain that the book I leave will end at the on-hold pile. I didn't do it with this. I left it for a week, maybe two and then just continued were I left. It kept keeping me interested and want to read it again.

That said I have now for almost a half year not touched the book. And that makes me sad. I just had too much on mind and then it was long ago I read it the last time - and to be fair I was too focused on reaching my reading challenge for 2014 and I knew that if I started reading this I wouldn't make it. Now a new year has started. I have already reached my goal for January and now I have made a decision:

 

Addition to reading challenge 2015: Finish Wild Swans.

 

Yes, that is right. I will have it as a goal to finish this one. I will read it alongside with my other books, because I know it will take me a very long time to be done, but it is so worth it!

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