torachan: ewan mcgregor pulling his glasses down to look over the top (ewan glasses)
Whoops. Been so busy with Irene here that I haven't had much time on the internet and didn't manage to get my reading post done on Wednesday or even on Thursday! Still, I had a lot to talk about this week and by next week will surely have forgotten, so I'd better do it now while I have a chance. :D

What are you currently reading?
Currently back to reading manga only, I guess? I'm about halfway through two different volumes, 7 Seeds 24 and Aozora Yell 11. Aozora Yell is one that I bought several months ago and it's just been sitting on my desk because I always go for my iphone instead of physical books. But since I'm not doing a book club book this round, I thought I would try and read some physical books (both prose and manga) that I have sitting around, as I really like the idea of using the book club to read non-ebooks.

I forgot how much I love Aozora Yell. How could I have forgotten? It's just so, so, so cute. (If you're not familiar with the series, you may be familiar with the author from her other series, High School Debut, which actually did get an official English release. All her stuff is the same sweet/heartwarming kind of thing.) This volume starts Tsubasa's second year, so there are a bunch of new characters introduced as new first-years join the brass band.

Meanwhile in 7 Seeds, things continue to get more and more exciting. Really, I am just absolutely blown away by the most recent turn of events. How does Tamura-sensei manage to keep coming up with these awesome ideas?

What did you recently finish reading?
Well, on Sunday I finished Go by Kaneshiro Kazuki, exactly on the last day of that book club round, so perfect timing. :) Here's my book club questions for the end of the round:

1. Are you glad you've finally read this book? Would you read more books in this genre or by this author as a result? Would you recommend this book to others?

Very glad I finally read it! Like I said in my initial post, I watched the movie over ten years ago and bought the book soon after and it's just been sitting here ever since. XD Plus it's very good timing since I'm heading to Book Off next week and taking some stuff to sell and I can include this with my manga and CDs.

I don't think the author has really written a whole lot else, and the genre is just...modern fiction/literary fiction, I guess. Which is what I mostly read in Japanese anyway. I would recommend it to anyone who can read Japanese! It's both an interesting story and a good look at what it's like to be an ethnic minority in Japan.

2. What's your favourite quote or scene from the book? Alternatively, which is your least favourite, or the one that made you think the most, or the one that made you lose all patience with the book?
I don't really tend to think of books in terms of favorite scenes and least favorite scenes.

3. How did you enjoy reading to a deadline? Were you strict with yourself? Did you have a schedule? Was the book too long or too short for the time frame of the challenge?

This book was really the perfect length (a bit under 250 pages). If I were reading an ebook, I could do with something longer, but since this was a physical book, it meant that my two main reading times (in bed before going to sleep and on my lunch breaks at work) were times I was reading something other than the book club book. (I don't want to lug a physical book to work and I don't have a bedside lamp, so the only reading I can do is with something that has its own light like my phone.) By reading about twenty pages a day, I was able to keep on track while still being able to miss a day or two if I didn't have time to get to my reading. I didn't really have a set schedule, just tried to keep to about that number of pages each time.

In addition to my book club book, I also finally finished the fic I was reading for what felt like forever!

How the mouth changes its shape (132531 words) by breathedout
Chapters: 20/20
Fandom: Sherlock (TV), Sherlock Holmes & Related Fandoms
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Underage
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes/John(nie) Watson, Sherlock Holmes/Victor(ia) Trevor, John(nie) Watson/OFC
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John(nie) Watson, Victor(ia) Trevor, Sally Donovan, Original Characters, lots of them
Additional Tags: Genderswap, Alternate Universe - 1950s, Butch/Femme, Gender Issues, Gender Roles, Case Fic, bildungsroman, World War II
Summary: 1955. Under the placid veneer of suburban playparks and middle-class conformity churns a hidden London: femmes and butches dancing close in basement bars; clandestine love between women. To Sherlock Holmes, struggling private detective and mistress of disguise, it’s a realm she renounced years before. To Johnnie Watson, daredevil ambulance driver turned auto mechanic, it’s become a little too familiar. But when someone is murdered in the washroom of the city’s most notorious lesbian club, the investigation will lead both women to reconsider their assumptions about themselves, each other, and the world in which they live.

This was really good! I've not read anything this long in years and the length was definitely daunting, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. I definitely found Sherlock more likable as a woman (I'm sure that male!Sherlock is often written in a more likable way in fic than he is on the show, but here it was more that I didn't find the arrogance as off-putting in a female character vs a male character).

What do you think you'll read next?
I just realised I hadn't downloaded this week's Jump, so that for sure! But also in addition to Aozora Yell, I'd like to read at least one other volume of physical manga that I have here on my desk, maybe either Tegami Bachi 15 or Tera Girl 2. Also I would like to read one of the non-manga books on my shelf, something short that I can finish in the two weeks of the book club round, so that I'm ready to start fresh with a new book when the round I'm sitting out ends. A likely candidate is All I Asking for Is My Body by Milton Murayama, since it's only about a hundred pages long.
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Title: Battle Royale
Author: Takami Koushun
Number of Pages: 624 pages
Book Number/Goal: 7/10 for 2012
My Rating: 3.5/5

Amazon Summary: As part of a ruthless program by the totalitarian government, ninth-grade students are taken to a small isolated island with a map, food, and various weapons. Forced to wear special collars that explode when they break a rule, they must fight each other for three days until only one "winner" remains.

Review: While I had heard of Battle Royale for quite some time, I only found out what the plot was when I started hearing people compare The Hunger Games to it. For some reason, I had always thought it was a yakuza movie, possibly because I was confusing it with Battles Without Honor or Humanity. Anyway, when I saw people saying The Hunger Games was a ripoff of this, I was curious.

As it turns out, it's totally not. They both feature teenagers being forced to fight to the death by the government in a dystopian world, but they are very different. (And I do find it totally believable that Suzanne Collins was unaware of Battle Royale before writing The Hunger Games, since as I said, even being into Japanese media, I had no idea what it was about myself. It's not like someone saying they've never heard of Pokemon or something.)

Battle Royale takes place in a not-very-well-fleshed-out dystopian AU where Japan is the Republic of Greater East Asia, a totalitarian nation semi-closed off from the west. Every year fifty classes of junior high students are chosen to compete in "The Program", which involves them all fighting to the death. Unlike in The Hunger Games, where the fights are televised and it's a form of entertainment, The Program is all very hush-hush, though the winner is shown on TV at the end. Instead the purpose is simply to terrorise the citizens and keep them in place.

I found the world-building to be rather lacking, the overwhelming cast of characters (most of which had little to no characterisation) hard to keep track of, and the writing extremely clunky (I read what I think is the first translation, so I linked to the revised version in this post because perhaps that's better; however, I could tell from the way it read in English that the problem was not entirely with the translator and the original was bound to be just as bad), but it was still a good read and I did enjoy it.
torachan: sakaki from azumanga daioh holding a cat, with the text "I like cats" in Japanese (sakaki)
Title: The Intuitionist
Author: Colson Whitehead
Number of Pages: 255 pages
Book Number/Goal: 20/50 for 2011
My Rating: 3.5/5

Jacket Summary: It is a time of calamity in a major metrolpolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female evelator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department. But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever.

Review: So, on the jacket, it's called "sidesplittingly funny", and I don't know if I totally missed the humor or the person writing the cover copy just read it completely differently to me (or didn't read it at all), because I don't know what they're talking about. Anyway, it was definitely interesting, even if I couldn't totally get into the whole "in this universe elevators are the biggest thing ever" premise. I liked the intrigue, though was a little disappointed with the ending. I see a lot of people in reviews raving over Whitehead's prose, but I found his style really off-putting. It seems like it might be one of those love it or hate it things. Still, I'm interested in reading more by him.
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Title: My Year of Meats
Author: Ruth L. Ozeki
Number of Pages: 366 pages
Book Number/Goal: 19/50 for 2011
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: Jane Takagi-Little, by trade a documentary filmmaker, by nature a truth seeker, is "racially half", Japanese and American, and, as she tells us, "neither here nor there..." Jane is sharp-edged, desperate for a job, and determined not to fall in love again.

Akiko Ueno, a young Japanese housewife, lives with her husband in a bleack high-rise apartment complext in a suburb of Tokyo. At night she lies awake, silently turning the pages of The Pillow Book, marveling at Sei Shounagon's deft, sure prose. Akiko is so thin her bones hurt, and her husband, an ad agency salaryman who wants her to get pregnant, is insisting that she put some meat on them--literally.

Ruth L. Ozeki's exuberant, shocking, mesmerizing novel opens with two women on opposite sides of the globe, whose lives cannot be further apart. But when Jane get a job, coordinating a television series whose mission is to bring the American heartland, and American meat, into the homes of Japan, she makes some wrenching discoveries--about love, meat, honor, and a hormone called DES. When Jane and Akiko's lives converge, what is revealed taps the deepest concerns of our time--how the past informs the present and how we live and love in this "blessed, ever-shrinking world".

Review: That summary sounds pretty horrible, and let me tell you, the book is not any better. If I had read that summary, I would not have read the book. But I read a review somewhere (I poked around at places I thought it might be and can't find anything anywhere, so I really don't know) that made it sound interesting, so I picked it up based on the review (and jacked summaries often sound horrid compared to the actual book). But really, the summary accurately reflects what the book is like.

There were plenty of things that bugged me (the angelic girl in a wheelchair who makes everyone a better person just by existing, and the multiple times hormones in meat cause men to get higher voices (estrogen: it doesn't work that way!) are two that come to mind), but the two biggest problems I had were the way Japan and Japanese people were consistently exotified and stereotyped and the way the book actually turned out to be about how every women just really wants a baby and needs children to be happy. Blargh.
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Title: The Calcutta Chromosome
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Number of Pages: 306 pages
Book Number/Goal: 18/50 for 2011
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: It begins in a near-future New York City, with a low-level data analyst's investigation into the disappearance of L. Murugan--a driven eccentric who vanished from the steamy, overcrowded streets of 1995 Calcutta. From here, the story leaps backward and forward across one hundred years--from a teeming contemporary city of clashing cultures and hidden facs back to the laboratory of Ronald Ross, the British scientist who was led by weird, fortuitous coincidences to the groundbreaking discovery of how malaria is transmitted to humans. Alternately following the analyst Antar's search for Murugan--and Murugan's own obsessive pursuit of the truth behind Dr. Ross's remarkable findings--Ghosh brilliantly unveils an impossible experiment in controlled destiny protected by a powerful unseen society that moves the world in secret and in silence.

Review: I wish I had read this review of the book before picking it up myself, because it would have made it clear that this book is not for me. I found the story very slow going at first, and then eventually it picked up and was getting quite interesting, all the threads coming together, and then...it ends. With nothing resolved. Because apparently he's writing the book to give the reader the same experience as the people in the book, of not being able to get it all. But I do not want that. At all. I am not one to throw books across the room, but if I were, I would have thrown this. I do not read mysteries to get to the end and not have any resolution.
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Title: Sea, Swallow Me
Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Number of Pages: 199 pages
Book Number/Goal: 16/50 for 2011
My Rating: 2.5/5

Jacket Summary: Ancient folklore and modern myth come together in these stories by author Craig Laurance Gidney. Here are found the struggles of a medieval Japanese monk, seduced by a mischievous fairy, and a young slave who finds mystery deep within the briar patch of an antebellum plantation. Gidney offers readers a gay teen obsessed with his patron saint, Lena Horne, and, in the title story, an ailing tourist seeking to escape his troubles at a distant shore, but who never anticipates encountering an African seagod. Rich, poetic, dark and disturbing, these are tales not soon forgotten.

Review: Honestly I wasn't really impressed with this book. There were a few stories I really liked and the rest were just okay. Also, the copy I have is an ARC, so it's got a lot of mistakes, which hopefully were corrected in the final proof (the most annoying one was in the Japanese story, where Amaterasu was misspelled as Amaratsu throughout the story).
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Title: Lost City Radio
Author: Daniel Alarcón
Number of Pages: 257 pages
Book Number/Goal: 3/50 for 2011
My Rating: 3.5/5

Jacket Summary: For ten years, Norma has been the on-air voice of consolation and hope for the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios--a people broken by war's violence. As the host of Lost City Radio, she reads the names of those who have disappeared--those whom the furiously expanding city has swallowed. Through their efforts lovers are reunited and the lost are found. But in the aftermath of the decadelong bloody civil conflict, her own life is about to forever change--thanks to teh arrival of a young boy from the jungle who provides a cryptic clue to the fate of Norma's vanished husband.

Review: I just didn't find this all that interesting. It seemed like he was always building things up like there would be some great reveal or intrigue and there just never was. It's not that I don't like books where everyone is ordinary and nothing surprising happens, but this made me feel like there was supposed to be something surprising and it was all just predictable and ordinary instead.
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Title: Shizuko's Daughter
Author: Kyoko Mori
Number of Pages: 214 pages
Book Number/Goal: 49/50 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: "Your mother would be very proud..." Yuki Okuda heard these words when she was achieving in school, excelling in sports, even when she became president of the student council. And she could always imagine the unexpressed thought that followed: "...if your mother hadn't killed herself." But Shizuko Okuda did commit suicide, and Yuki had to learn how to live with a father who didn't seem to love her and a stepmother who treated her badly. Most important, she had to learn how to live with herself: a twelve-year-old girl growing up alone, trying to make sense of a tragedy that made no sense at all...

Review: I liked this a lot. I kept feeling surprised at it for some reason and finally I realised why. It felt very normal in a way I am not sure I've ever seen in a book about Japan written in English (as in, not translated from Japanese). Even when the author isn't white, if they're writing for an English-speaking audience, there's often a tinge of exoticism (sometimes more than a tinge), but there wasn't any of that here at all. Sadly, the cover illustration tries to make up for that by showing a girl in kimono, despite the fact that the book is set in the '70s and the only people ever mentioned wearing kimono are Yuki's grandparents, and her father and stepmother at their wedding ceremony.

One thing that bugged me was that there was this chapter where she seems to totally have a crush on this girl and I thought that's where the story was going, especially since later she still has no interest in guys and this is pointed out several times. But then later it turns out that she was just ~damaged~ from her father's betrayal and didn't want to fall in love, and then she does and is happily heterosexual. If I had read this before Yuletide, I would have totally nominated it. (Maybe I should tag this so I remember to nominate it next year.)
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Title: Skeleton Man
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Number of Pages: 114 pages
Book Number/Goal: 47/40 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: When Molly's parents don't return after a trip, she is placed in the care of a mysterious "great uncle" who's appeared out of nowhere. Everyone else believes his story, but Molly knows something isn't right. Soon she becomes convinced that he is the Skeleton Man, a monster from one of the old Mohawk stories her dad used to tell her. With the help of a rabbit who guides her in her dreams, she begins to make plans to escape and rescue her parents.

Review: This is a super short book, but I really enjoyed it. The story is pretty creepy (both the retold tale of the Skeleton Man that Molly relates as well as what happens to her in the present) and I really liked Molly. I also liked how matter-of-factly Mohawk culture was treated.
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Title: Ties That Bind, Ties That Break
Author: Lensey Namioka
Number of Pages: 154 pages
Book Number/Goal: 45/40 for 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all girls of good families follow this ancient practice, which is also an extremely painful one. Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, she refuses to follow this torturous tradition. As a result, the family of her intended husband breaks their marriage agreement. As she enters adolescence, Ailin finds that her family, shamed by her decision, will no longer support her. Chinese society leaves few options for a single woman of good family, but with bold conviction and an indomitable spirit, Ailin is determined to forge her own destiny.

Review: I enjoyed this. It reminded me a lot of many turn-of-the-century girls' stories I read as a kid, like Anne of Green Gables and stuff.
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Title: How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay
Author: Julia Alvarez
Number of Pages: 147 pages
Book Number/Goal: 43/40 for 2010
My Rating: 3/5

Jacket Summary: When Miguel's Tia Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to Vermont to help out his Mami, Miguel is worried that his unusual aunt will make it even more difficult to make new friends. It's been hard enough moving from New York City and Leaving Papi behind. Sometimes he wishes Tia Lola would go back to the island. But then he wouldn't have the treats she's putting in his lunch box, which he's sure helped him make the baseball team. And she really needs his help to learn English so she doesn't use all the words she knows at once: "One-way -caution-you're-welcome-thanks-for-asking." So Miguel changes his wish to a new one, and he finally even figures out a clever way to make it come true.

Review: This is a kids' book and while it's cute and I liked it well enough, it's not really one of those kids' books that's terribly enjoyable for an adult. At least not to me.
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Title: Mokuyou Kumikyoku (Thursday Suite)
Author: Onda Riku
Number of Pages: 247 pages
Book Number/Goal: 41/40 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: It's been four years since author Shigematsu Tokiko committed suicide. As they do every year, five women who were close to Tokiko gather at Nightingale House to remember her. Eriko writes non-fiction, Naomi writes popular fiction, Tsukasa writes literary fiction, Eiko is an editor, and Shizuko works for a publishing house. But a mysterious message turns their peaceful conversation into a storm of accusations and confessions. Did Tokiko really commit suicide, or was it murder...?

Review: Aaaages ago I was browsing tapes at the video store and this movie sounded interesting. I saw it was based on a book and thought I'd rather read the book than watch the movie, so I bought the book and then years and years passed and I never read it. Well, the other day I wanted a small book I could stick in my pocket while I was out running errands, and Japanese books are great for that, so I grabbed it off the shelf. I can't believe I took so long to get around to reading it, because it was really good! It was a bit of a slow starter, but I got really sucked in after a while and found it very hard to put down.

It's really not a traditional mystery at all, but there's a lot of intrigue and reveals, which I always like. Also, wow, this book passes the Bechdel Test like nobody's business. A lot of books about women still focus on them talking about guys all the time, but out of almost 250 pages I think there were maybe five pages tops that were about men. There was one convo about a male relative and one about a guy one of the women had been set up with (which was a hilarious convo, because she was talking about how she hates guys who think they're so feminist and awesome and say they split the housework with their wives when all they do is empty the trash occasionally and cook once in a while).

Anyway, I really enjoyed this and will definitely be looking for more books by her. She's written a ton and I'm sad to see that not a single one has been translated into English.
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Title: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
Author: José Esteban Muñoz
Number of Pages: 222 pages
Book Number/Goal: 34/40 for 2010
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: The LGBT agenda has for too long been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist. In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity-bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism.

Review: I picked this up off the new-books shelf at the library because the title caught my eye, but was really disappointed in it. Since he is explicitly critiquing the current LGBT movement, I had hopes that his "queer" wasn't a synonym for gay men as it (and LGBT, really) so often is. Alas, while there are a handful of lesbians here and there and an aside about a trans friend, this book is totally about gay men, mainly pre-AIDS gay male culture and art.

I could have rolled with that if the book had otherwise been interesting, but the academic language made it difficult for me to read, plus the whole thing lacked cohesion and just felt more like a collection of essays about this art/period he liked rather than something that was building towards a whole. Also, mainly he talked about what he liked about queer movements in the past, and what I had picked up the book hoping for was a critique of the current LGBT movement. But other than saying he doesn't like it, he doesn't really go into it at all.
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Title: 4teen
Author: Ishida Ira
Number of Pages: 329 pages
Book Number/Goal: 32/40 for 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Tsukishima, an island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Here we race through the streets on our bikes, faster than the wind. Naoto, Dai, Jun, and me, Tetsuro, four 9th graders. We each have our problems, but together we can go anywhere, maybe we can even fly...

Review: Like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, 4teen is a collection of short stories about young people set in Tokyo (though younger kids this time and a different area of Tokyo). No mysteries here, though, but basically if you like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, if you like Ishida Ira's writing style, this is more of the same.
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Title: Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science
Author: Carol Kaesuk Yoon
Number of Pages: 344 pages
Book Number/Goal: 31/40 for 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: In Naming Nature, Yoon takes us on a guided tour of science's brilliant, if sometimes misguided, attempts to order and name the overwhelming diversity of earth's living things. We follow a trail of scattered clues that reveals taxonomy's real origins in humanity's distant past. Yoon's journey brings us from New Guinea tribesmen who call a giant bird a mammal to the trials and tribulations of patients with a curious form of brain damage that causes them to be unable to distinguish among living things. Finally, Yoon shows us how the reclaiming of taxonomy will rekindle humanity's dwindling connection with wild nature.

Review: I did not previously have any interest in taxonomy before picking this up, or really much interest in nature at all. But I happened to see it on the shelf at the library and it sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did, because it really is interesting and written in a very engaging way. One thing that bugged me, though, was that she went on and on and on about how wonderful Carl Linneaus was and I would have liked for her to at least touch on the fact that not only did he order plants and animals, but also humans (with whites at the top, natch).
torachan: maru the cat sitting in a bucket (maru)
Title: The Icarus Girl
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Number of Pages: 338 pages
Book Number/Goal: 29/40 for 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Jessamy "Jess" Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly's visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn't actually know who her friend is at all.

Review: I really enjoyed this a lot. I took it with me the other day to my doctor's appointment and ended up reading two-thirds of it on the bus and while waiting. It was definitely a good choice for being stuck out for a long time with no other options. It sucked me in right away and I found it hard to put down.

Apparently the author wrote this while still at school, and it does show, but it's still overall really well-written. The biggest annoyance to me was POV slippage here and there and stuff like how the entire book is from Jess's POV except for one random paragraph from her friend's POV, and then the last two chapters are her parents' POV (that choice at least has a good reason; the paragraph in the friend's POV was unnecessary and tell-y).

I have another of her books on my wishlist and I'm looking forward to reading it.


If anyone wants my copy, let me know. As usual, I can only ship within the US.
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Title: Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 4: Onibijima Satsujin Jiken
Author: Amagi Seimaru
Number of Pages: 318 pages
Book Number/Goal: 27/40 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: A murderer witnessed through a keyhole who disappears without a trace when the door is opened. An approaching tornado. And snow in the middle of summer... The stage for this tragedy is a cursed island that people call Onibijima...Will-o'-Wisp Island.

Review: I think my love for Kindaichi mysteries is pretty well established, and I don't really have much of anything new or different to say here. I love Kindaichi so I loved this book. :p It's not just that they're good mysteries (though they are), but I really love how the killer always has this heart-wrenching tale of why they had to kill all these people. No one kills for greed or just because they're a psychotic killer. They're always motivated by revenge against the people who wronged them or their friends/family and there's always this big heart-felt apology at the end. idk, I like the ~drama~.
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Title: Name Me Nobody
Author: Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Number of Pages: 226 pages
Book Number/Goal: 26/30 for 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Fourteen-year-old Emi-Lou feels like a nobody - she's overweight, her mom lives in faraway California and rarely visits or calls, and she doesn't know who her father is. The only people who make her feel like somebody are her brave, blunt grandma, and her best friend, Von. "Where Von go, Emi-Lou go," their families and friends say. But now Emi-Lou fears that Von is going somewhere she can't follow. Von has feelings for Babes, an older girl on their softball team. But Emi-Lou wants desperately for Von to be "normal", not a "lez", and for them to be the same best friends they've always been. What will Emi-Lou be without Von? Nobody, she thinks. But Emi-Lou's desperate actions to hold on to her best friend just may break them apart forever.

Review: I didn't like this as much as Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers. I don't know if two books is enough to say there's a trend, but this is the second book where there are secondary characters who are queer (in the case of Name Me Nobody, quite a few of them), but while the main character gets called lesbian/dyke/etc. it turns out she isn't. And in this book, even though it's all about learning to accept her best friend is a lesbian, overall it kind of comes off as "whew, at least the protagonist isn't gay!"

I also wasn't thrilled with the weight-loss theme. I liked in Wild Meat that the main character just was fat and it wasn't about her losing weight. The weight issues in this book are all very realistic, but it made me sad that while her grandma said she would love her if she were a lesbian and gave this big speech about how Emi-lou should love Von for who she is, even in the end she was stil harping on Emi-lou's weight (and the fact that Emi-lou had starved herself and used diet pills to get thin was never really resolved).

Despite that, I did like the book quite a bit.


If anyone wants my copy (former library book, but good condition), let me know. I can only ship within the US.
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Title: Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers
Author: Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Number of Pages: 280 pages
Book Number/Goal: 24/30 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: Growing up in Hawaii, Lovey Nariyoshi is having the worst year of her life. Overweight and unpopular, she's sick of being poor and settling for home-made and second-best. Her family thinks she's uppity and her schoolteacher scorns the way she talks. For, above all, Lovey is a Japanese-American: not white, not haole--and from the food she eats to the pidgin she speaks, nothing in her life fits the standard model of success.

Review: Oh, I loved this so much. This is maybe my favorite type of fiction ever, short stories about being a kid/growing up, but not for kids. I like children's lit/YA okay (some books I really love), but I prefer stuff about childhood and adolescence that is written for adults. I like the nostalgia of it. This is set in the early '70s, so it's a little before my time, but I can still recognise the pop culture references (of which there are many) and I can relate to it much better than stories about Kids Today.



If anyone wants my copy, just leave a comment. Unfortunately I can only afford shipping within the US. (Also if it makes a difference to you, this copy has very yellowed pages and a lot of notes and underlining.)
torachan: (Default)
Title: Off Colour
Author: Jackie Kay
Number of Pages: 64 pages
Book Number/Goal: 22/30 for 2010
My Rating: 2/5

I love Jackie Kay's novel and short stories, so I figured I'd give her poetry a try even though I am not a fan of poetry in general. This was a bad idea! It turns out I am still not a fan, even if it's an author I really love. :( I just don't really get poetry at all. But if you like poetry, you might like it! A lot of the same themes that show up in her prose (being black, being a lesbian, being Scottish) are present here, too.


If you want my copy, just leave a comment. I can only ship within the US, though.

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