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On My Wishlist ( March 31, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It’s where we list all the books we desperately want but haven’t actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It’s also an event that you can join in with too – Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own ‘On My Wishlist’ post. If you want to know more click here.

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Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro

 As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Since reading A Pale View of Hills, I’ve been wanting to read more books by Kazuo Ishiguro. This particular book was recommended to me by a Goodreads friend. I don’t really plan on seeing the movie. I don’t often see movies based on books.

For example, I’m not particularly excited about seeing The Hunger Games movie even though I read and enjoyed the books. Since I did read the books over a year ago I suppose if I did see the movie I’d have to reread it. That might be a good excuse to see the movie.

I digress!

I’ve been meaning to buy a used copy of it but I’ve been spending all my money on art supplies so I haven’t gotten around to it. Hopefully I can afford it next month!

Do you like to see movies based on books?

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Review: A Pale View of Hills March 30, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Literature.
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A Pale View of Hills

by Kazuo Ishiguro

The story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. In a story where past and present confuse, she relives scenes of Japan’s devastation in the wake of World War II.

This is a tale of a woman who is haunted by the suicide of her daughter. She reminisces on a friendship she had with a woman and her daughter in her past. The end of the book will leave you breathless and wanting more.

I found parts of the book a bit confusing at times and I wondered what it had to do with the story. I promise those of you who haven’t read the book, it all makes sense in the end.

This is one of those books that makes you question your memory and how it colors what kind of person you are. It also makes you question how things will look once many years have passed. Will we want to start removing ourselves from the picture to give ourselves a more favorable view of who we are? Will we have a clear picture of what we’ve done or will we obscure the facts to make ourselves look better? Memory is a funny thing. Ishiguro will make you think and wonder about all of these things and more.

This was my first foray into the writings of Ishiguro but it won’t be my last.

Review – Scratch March 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4 stars, Horror.
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Scratch

by Wayne Wise

From Amazon:

Like all small rural towns, Canaan, West Virginia has its secrets: lies, infidelities, and even murder are kept hidden in the minds of the residents there. But there is one secret they will go to any lengths to protect.

A little girl named Gabrielle, believed to be an angel, has been kept chained in the church basement for over a century now, prisoner of an ancient pact. Unaging and unearthly beautiful, Gabrielle has the power to heal.

A madman pursues outsiders Adam and Holly Mansfield to Canaan, intent on kidnapping their daughter. Once there they discover there is one other secret in Canaan.

Chained deep in the heart of the mountain is another being, a demon called Scratch. If Gabrielle is freed, Scratch will be as well, and his vengeance and evil will consume the town.

Not only does this story have an angel and a demon, it has a homicidal maniac chasing the protagonists deep into the country.  You know what though? It all works!

The story elements were seamlessly meshed together for an incredibly easy read. Adam and Holly Mansfield were very easy to relate to and sympathize with. The whole concept of the chained angel and demon was intriguing and unique.

For most of the book, it was more of a drama then a fantasy/horror. It was still an entertaining read as I was entirely caught up in the lives of the Mansfields. They were characters I wanted to see succeed and to be happy.

The villainous madmen that chased after them was very three-dimensional and was fully fleshed out. He was a very believable character. Wise did a very thorough job on every aspect of this novel.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. I think it will surprise you too.

Review: Rivalry – A Geisha's Tale March 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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Rivalry: A Geisha’s Tale

by Nagai Kafu

Rivalry tells the story of the return of Komayo to the world of the geisha. Her former patron Yoshioka seeks to ransom her, but Komayo has fallen in love with the actor Segawa. In order to be with Segawa, she seeks the patronage of a despicable character known to her as the “Sea Monster”.

In this tale you are shown the real world of the geisha versus the romanticized version as shown in “Memoirs of a Geisha“. Komayo not only doesn’t want to be ransomed to Yoshioka because of Segawa, she also fears he will grow tired of her and abandon her once his ardor cools. Her one dream is to set up her own geisha house and be self-sufficient.

The politics of the geisha world is intricate and complex yet Kafu makes it easy to understand. I found myself enthralled in this tale as its events unfolded. There was the competition of the other geisha; the jilted geisha that Yoshioka abandoned in favor of Komayo and the other geisha in Komayo’s house were vividly brought to life.

This is not only a tale of the rivalry of the geisha in the novel, it’s also a tale of the rivalry between Komayo’s suitors. The men in Komayo’s life weren’t romanticized. They were very realistic and had very human faults thus making this tale all the more believable. You could see them faltering, lusting, and conniving for position.

In the end, I enjoyed this book a lot and I wished I could have remained in the world of the geisha for a little longer.

Review: Rivalry – A Geisha’s Tale March 28, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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4 comments

Rivalry: A Geisha’s Tale

by Nagai Kafu

Rivalry tells the story of the return of Komayo to the world of the geisha. Her former patron Yoshioka seeks to ransom her, but Komayo has fallen in love with the actor Segawa. In order to be with Segawa, she seeks the patronage of a despicable character known to her as the “Sea Monster”.

In this tale you are shown the real world of the geisha versus the romanticized version as shown in “Memoirs of a Geisha“. Komayo not only doesn’t want to be ransomed to Yoshioka because of Segawa, she also fears he will grow tired of her and abandon her once his ardor cools. Her one dream is to set up her own geisha house and be self-sufficient.

The politics of the geisha world is intricate and complex yet Kafu makes it easy to understand. I found myself enthralled in this tale as its events unfolded. There was the competition of the other geisha; the jilted geisha that Yoshioka abandoned in favor of Komayo and the other geisha in Komayo’s house were vividly brought to life.

This is not only a tale of the rivalry of the geisha in the novel, it’s also a tale of the rivalry between Komayo’s suitors. The men in Komayo’s life weren’t romanticized. They were very realistic and had very human faults thus making this tale all the more believable. You could see them faltering, lusting, and conniving for position.

In the end, I enjoyed this book a lot and I wished I could have remained in the world of the geisha for a little longer.

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge March 27, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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I found a Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge! Since I’ve already read three of his books, I’m a Sheep Man.

Baa.

I hope to read many more. I’m not sure how many more. Say at least 7 books? I think I can manage that.

Let’s put it this way, I hope to be a Sumire and read 10 books but I plan to be a Nakata and read 7 books. That should be sufficient.

Especially since I don’t really do so well with reading chalenges.

O.o

We’ll see how this one goes!

Mailbox Monday (6) March 26, 2012

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Mailbox Monday is created by  The Story Siren. )

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Tokyo Year Zero

by David Peace

It’s August 1946—one year after the Japanese surrender—and women are turning up dead all over Tokyo. Detective Minami of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police—irreverent, angry, despairing—goes on the hunt for a killer known as the Japanese Bluebeard—a decorated former Imperial soldier who raped and murdered at least ten women amidst the turmoil of post-war Tokyo. As he undertakes the case, Minami is haunted by his own memories of atrocities that he can no longer explain or forgive. Unblinking in its vision of a nation in a chaotic, hellish period in its history,Tokyo Year Zero is a darkly lyrical and stunningly original crime novel.

Due to my Japanese author trend, this book was an unusual choice for me because David Peace is British. Still, this book centers on Japan, so maybe not so unusual. I hear David Peace is an excellent writer. I hope he lives up to his touting.

On My Wishlist (#7) March 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in Book talk.
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On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It’s where we list all the books we desperately want but haven’t actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It’s also an event that you can join in with too – Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own ‘On My Wishlist’ post. If you want to know more click here.

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Kabuki Dancer

by Sawako Ariyoshi

To be kabuki in Japan once meant to be outrageous, daring, flaunting convention. It was in sixteenth-century Japan, as Shakespeare was writing his masterworks half a world away, that the spirit of Kabuki theater was born out of a single woman’s passions and dedication to her art. In Kabuki Dancer, the popular Japanese novelist Sawako Ariyoshi (The Doctor’s Wife, The River Ki, The Twilight Years) retells the story of Okuni, the legendary temple dancer who first performed among jugglers and freak shows on a stage along the riverbank in the heart of the Imperial city of Kyoto. Blending the rhythms and movements of religious festivals with the words of popular love songs she and her troupe became sensations. Their affairs and rivalries, infatuations and jealousies, were transformed into the very fabric of their performance, as it began its evolution into the classic drama of today. Against a backdrop of civil war, dynastic conflict, and social turmoil, Okuni and her companions and lovers, together with their audience of artisans, merchants, and aristocrats, struggled to survive the birth pangs of a glorious – yet sometimes deadly – new age. Based on fact, transmuted into powerful and moving artistic expression, Kabuki Dancer is at once a turbulent love story, a re-creation of an exotic and colorful historical period, and an almost mythic representation of the miraculous moment in which an immortal artform appears.

I’ve always been interested in Kabuki and this book looks like a fascinating mix of history and fiction. I hope to get my hands on a copy soon!

What historical novel intrigues you?

Review – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle March 23, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3.5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

by Haruki Murakami

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat.  Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo.  As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

I found the pace of this book unevenly paced. Thus, it was quite unsettling. I alternately enjoyed it then disliked it. There were sporadic bits of history lessons inserted into it which I didn’t find particularly find interesting as it was rather dryly put.

Even when there weren’t history lessons being reiterated, there were periods of characters droning on about seemingly pointless matters. I couldn’t see what their monologues had to do with the story. I got rather impatient with the story and I had to put it down several times and read other books in between.

It was still very well written though. I did enjoy the bizarre twists and turns that is the classic Murakami signature. I just think he got a bit carried away in spots.

Finally, the climax of the book didn’t seem connected to the rest of the book. The plot seemed a bit abstract and I liked things to be a bit more linear.

So maybe this was a bit too surrealistic for me in the end. Either way, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did his other books.

Review – The Devotion of Suspect X March 22, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 5 stars, Foreign, Mystery/Thriller.
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The Devotion of Suspect X

by Keigo Higashino

Yasuko Hanaoka kills her ex-husband. Her next door neighbor and a brilliant mathematician, Ishigami helps her cover up the crime and allude the police. Next comes a cat and mouse game as they try to escape the suspicion of not only Detective Kusanagi but Dr. Manabu Yusawa, a physicist and college friend of Ishigami.

This book was original and it had flair. The characters were real and had flavor. They were all very 3-D.

The plot kept me guessing every which way. I never knew what was going to happen next. Ishigawa was the most brilliant by far. I’ve never come across a character like him in all my reading days.

The climax was by far the most surprising and it tied everything in nicely. It certainly didn’t disappoint me and it left me gasping! If you decide to read a thriller this book will definitely give you thrills!