A Tale For The Time Being / Ruth Ozeki

Title / A Tale For The Time Being
Author / Ruth Ozeki
Publication Date / 2013
Page no. / 422
Overall Star Rating / ★  

 

Goodreads synopsis: In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

 

I have been meaning to read this book for quite some time now and so I finally picked it up this month. I am so glad I did as I thought this was a fantastic book. From the very beginning I could tell that I was going to enjoy this book, mainly due to the writing style. Personally I find I can take a little while to get into a book by a new author but I didn’t really have the issue with this book – I found it so easy to get into. I liked the inclusion of Japanese words, which are explained using footnotes. I find footnotes can become a bit of a chore in some books but I liked in this book that they were just dotted throughout and weren’t added too much. Some people may find it a little jarring though, so it may be something to be aware of going in. In many ways this book lacks a bit of plot. Don’t get me wrong you do have the basis of a plot but it’s not very plot driven book. It is about what is happening (or happened) to the two main characters, Nao and Ruth. It mainly follows Nao as she grows up in Tokyo and Ruth who finds and reads Nao’s diary – in that way it is a bit of a meandering plot which contains stories Nao chooses to tell us. I hope that makes sense. One small critique I have is that this could have been a little bit shorter, in my opinion. Having said that I never felt bored, or that it dragged.

 

I will say that this is quite a hard book in many ways. If you have or are struggling with suicide or bullying, then I would only recommend this to you if you feel you are in a strong place, as this may be quite triggering. Also a trigger warning for depression and rape. Although this does touch on these hard topics, I felt that it was done well and in a respectful way, if that makes sense. It is a little heartbreaking at times though.  I definitely found Nao’s quite a bit more compelling than Ruth’s but both perspectives are important and they are both well written. I loved the way Ozeki wrote Nao’s chapters, as if she was talking directly to us at times. In this way I think it’s almost natural that we are perhaps more attached to Nao (at least I was anyway), because her perspective is more personal. Ruth seems more distant and perhaps preoccupied. I just preferred Nao’s perspective – I also found Ruth a little frustrating at times, although this didn’t affect my overall reading enjoyment. I think the characters are so well written and complex. There are elements of both that I didn’t really get along with but that is true of real life and I think it shows Ozeki’s skill at creating fleshed out characters. It’s not black and white with them – they both have good and bad traits in them.

 

Favourite quote: “Sometimes when she told stories about the past her eyes would get teary from all the memories she had, but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”

 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic book and I can’t believe a left this long to read it :). I will definitely be checking out more of Ozeki’s books – I think she has two other books out so I will be checking those out. As you can probably tell I highly recommend checking this book out, especially if you are interested in Japanese culture. I know this wasn’t a very long review but hopefully that means I was concise and I just wanted to review this book anyway as it was really good. I definitely think this won’t be for everyone though, as I think some may find this too hard to read or perhaps a little boring. If you guys have read this book, what did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Book Travelling Thursday

Hi guys, so today I thought I would try something new and participate in my first Book Travelling Thursday post I’ve been meaning to try out a new bookish meme and I really liked the idea of this one. It was created by Cátia @ The Girl Who Read Too Much and Danielle @ Danielle’s Book Blog. This weekly meme consists in picking a book related to the weekly theme that is announced in the group Goodreads page (if you want to join click here) at the beginning of each month. After that you can write a blog post where you explain why you choose that book and choose different covers from different countries. This weeks theme is to choose a book that you still want to read this year. I’ve gone with A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro. I am a big fan of this author and I’ve slowly been making my way through his books. It’s about time that I read his debut book. Onto the different book covers. Scroll over each book cover to see what country it’s from.

 

 

 

It’s kind of hard to pick a favourite, as I quite like a few of them. The UK edition is definitely one of them, but I also really like the Turkish edition and the French one. My least favourite is probably the Japanese edition. Anyway I’m excited to get to the book itself. It’s a pretty short book so I am sure I will be able to get to it by the end of the year. Have you guys read this book? Which edition is your favourite? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next.

 

Pippa

 

 

UK vs US Book Covers Part 2

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Since my last UK vs US book covers did quite well, I thought it was about time for another one. I actually struggled a bit finding some of these covers to compare but I got there in the end :). There are so many fantastic covers out there and I quite enjoyed doing this first part, so I decided to do it again. I think there will be more parts to this in the future too. Let’s get started.

 

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – This one has to go to the UK edition. I love the design of the UK editions of Sanderson books – they are seriously amazing and look so good all together. I am also never really a fan of people on the cover.

 

 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – This one is a tricky one as I really like both, but I think I’m going to go with the US edition. There’s just something about it that I like more and I think it lends itself to the story a little better.

 

 

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher – I’m giving this one to the UK cover. As I’ve already mention I’m never a big fan of people on the cover and I just prefer the UK covers. Side note this is a really good fantasy series that I feel is pretty underrated.

 

 

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer – Both of these lend themselves to the weirdness of this book, but I definitely prefer the US edition for this one. I love the colours and the font, although I do like the UK version too.

 

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – This has to go to the UK cover – I seriously love this one so much. The blue is amazing and I love the illustration of the moth. There’s something about the yellow of the US cover that doesn’t work quite as well.

 

There you have it – some awesome UK and US book covers. I’d love to do another one of these post so if you guys have any recommendations of book covers to compare then please let me know. I hope you are all having a fantastic day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Flame in the Mist / Renee Ahdieh

Title / Flame in the Mist
Author / Renee Ahdieh
Publication Date / 2017
Overall Star Rating / 

 

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Goodreads synopsis: The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath. So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace. The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

 

When I heard this being pitched as a possible Mulan retelling I was immediately interested in it as Mulan has always been my favourite Disney film and the live action film (2009) is also really good.  I really wanted to love this but unfortunately it didn’t work me. First off I wouldn’t call this a Mulan retelling – for one thing it’s set in Japan, not China and for another the only similarity is that the main character pretends to be a boy. I found the writing to be quite overly dramatic at times, as well as being a little to descriptive. Other than that, I had no issues with the writing. The world building, on the other hand, could have been better. One of the main things that drew me to this book was the world as it is set in Feudal Japan and I was a little disappointed by it. It wasn’t awful by any means but I wanted some much more depth from it. I mainly wanted more of the politics of the world so I could have a better understanding of how this world works and the hierarchies. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like I got that.  Another aspect that I thought was lacking is the magic system. There is literally no real explanation as to what, how, why etc. I want a magic system that I can understand , at least a little of it and there is no information about it in this book – it’s just there and we’re supposed to accept it. Moving on to the plot. It’s super slow, kind of predictable and a bit boring at times. That may sound a little harsh but nothing about the plot had me hooked and it left me feeling wanting so much more. I think the plot idea had some potential but for me it just didn’t work. I think the pacing didn’t help it. Throughout this book the pacing is slow – it never really picks up. As I’ve said in previous reviews I don’t mind slower pacing as the world, plot or characters will pull you through those times, but in this book that wasn’t the case. Speaking of characters, I didn’t like any of them. I went into this expecting to love the main character, Mariko, but dear god is she frustrating and some of her decisions are absolutely ridiculous. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at her a few times while reading it. I understand that she’s young and may make mistakes but Ahdieh continually tells us that Mariko is super smart and I just really didn’t see it. I felt in this case it was more telling than showing in terms of the writing.  All of the characters were flat and so lacked development, especially Mariko. To be honest I didn’t really care about any of the characters. I guess I should also mention the romance… oh why did there have to be a romance? I don’t understand why it seems in every fantasy YA book there has to be a romance. This one was entirely predictable and comes out of nowhere, in the sense that it happens very quickly. They literally know each other for maybe a few days and they’ve fallen for each other – commence eye rolling. I wouldn’t have minded it so much had they actually spent time getting to know each other and it had developed slowly. At least there’s no love triangle in this book. The final thing I’m going to mention is what I see as a lack of research in some places. Now I am by no mean an expert in Japanese culture and history, in fact I know very little but I felt that there were possibly a few things missing (e.g. names, manners, hierarchy etc.) and perhaps that this wasn’t particularly well researched. I may be wrong on that though – I don’t know the research she did.

 

Overall this definitely had potential to be a good book, but for me it really didn’t work. Don’t let me dissuade you too much though as I’ve seen a lot of great reviews over on goodreads. Maybe YA just isn’t working for me at the moment as I haven’t had much luck with it recently. I think I’ll stick to my adult fantasy for a while. Anyway have you guys read this book? What do you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

Intimidating TBR Tag

Hi guys, how are you? It’s time to do another tag. Now I know I did this tag last year but I thought I would do it again now and see the changes in my answers. I hope that’s alright with you guys. I don’t tend to get intimidated by books, although sometimes I do when it’s a particularly big book. Anyway let’s get started.

 

1. What book have you been unable to finish?
The first book that comes to mind is A Crown of Cold Silver by Alex Marshal. I started reading it when I was in Crete with my family on holiday – I got about 8% through (on my kindle) and I just couldn’t get into it, so I put it aside for the time being. I’m planning to come back to it at some point but so far I’ve been unable to finish it.

 

2. Which book haven’t you read yet because you haven’t had the time?
To be entirely honest, I don’t really have an issue with time as I’m not currently working (more I’m working on myself) but probably Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. I want to be able to put aside time to focus on this one and so far I just haven’t done it.

 

3. Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s a sequel?
A sequel I haven’t read yet because it hasn’t been released is The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst, book 2 in the Queen of Renthia.  One that I own I haven’t read yet is Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb. I just haven’t got around to it yet – I kind of miss Fitz.

 

4. Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s brand new?
The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while and I recently picked up a copy, but obviously haven’t read it yet. Also I was granted a digital copy of The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera which I am very excited to get to.

 

5. Which book haven’t you read yet because you read a book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?
Maybe The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. It was going pretty cheaply on kindle recently so I decided to get myself a copy. I read Half a King by the same author a while back and while I thought it was alright I didn’t love it, so I’m a little sceptical. I’ve heard some good things though so I will definitely pick it up at some point.

 

6. Which book haven’t you read yet because you’re just not in the mood for it?
Probably SPQR by Mary Beard as I haven’t been a big non fiction mood recently.  I am sure I will enjoy it when I get to it though – hopefully I’ll read it this year.

 

7. Which book haven’t you read yet because it’s humongous?
Sorry for the repeat answer but definitely Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. It’s size is pretty intimidating so I’ve kind of been putting it off. I will definitely at least try to attempt to read this at some point so wish me luck :).

 

8. Which book haven’t you read yet because because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?
I don’t actually have an answer for this one as I don’t tend to buy books based solely on it’s cover.

 

9. What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
To be honest, I don’t tend to be intimidated by books but if I had to choose I would probably go for (apart from Little Dorrit and The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth) Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan. Not only is it a pretty big book but it’s also the last in the trilogy… and had some mixed feelings about the second book. I will definitely read it this year though.

 

I quite enjoyed revisiting this tag a year after I did it the first time. What is the most intimidating book on your TBR? I hope you are all having a wonderful and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

It’s Monday: What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

 

Hi guys I hope you are all well. I started off this month with a pretty great read, which was A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I’ve had it on my TBR for quite some time so I finally decided to pick it up this month. Anyway, I am currently reading two books – the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Accusation by Bandi. The first is my classic pick of the month and to be honest I struggled a little to get into it. I think I found the writing and the language a little tricky to get into but after a couple of chapters I settled into it. I am currently just under 200 pages through and while I am liking it I am not loving it. The second one I am dipping in and out of as it is a collection of stories smuggled out of North Korea. So far it is fantastic (and pretty scary) and definitely well worth a read. I also have some books lined up that I may pick up next – A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, The Empress of Bright Moon by Weina dai Randal, The Tigers Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera and Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts. Obviously I won’t be able to read all of these but I kind of want to… so wish me luck :).

 

What are you guys reading right now? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa

 

 

5 reasons to read the Shardlake series

Hi guys, it’s time for another review – you guys know the routine by now :). So I thought I would do another review in the form of 5 reason to read type review. I find sometimes these types of review is a great way to organise my thoughts. Today I am going to be talking about the Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom. Granted I have only read the first two books (it’s a six book series), but I have enjoyed those books so much that I thought I’d do this anyway. Let’s get started.

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  1. There are so easy to get into. I was hooked from very early on with both of these books and I fully expect to the same with the next books.
  2. The characters are fantastic, especially Shardlake. He is such a brilliant main character and the others are just as good. Sansom does a great job at creating complex characters – I’ve really enjoyed his portrayal of Cromwell. Yes he is cunning and ruthless but he also has good qualities and it really shows that he is a product of his time. Basically he writes characters wonderfully.
  3. The plot and the mystery incorporated into it are (again) fantastic. The building of tension throughout the two that I have read really lends itself to the mystery/crime genre of this book. The plot will keep you on your toes and you’ll be constantly wondering who’s the culprit.
  4. If you are a big reader of historical fiction, then you need to check this series out. The two I have read are fantastic and crime elements are done so well.
  5. In my opinion the second book was even better than the first, and that bodes very well for the rest of the series. I am so excited to continue on with these books.

 

If you haven’t already guessed I am a big fan of this series, or at least the two books I’ve read of it so far. I will definitely be picking up the third book very soon as I want to see how things progress now that a certain character is gone (no spoilers). Have you guys read this series? Before I go I wanted to ask you guys if you have any review requests – do you guys mind that I review primarily fantasy? Or do you want more variety? I would love any feedback you guys have. Thanks in advance 🙂 I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.

 

Pippa