Nov 10, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Kindle E-Volution

E-readers like the Kindle and iPad are sweeping the nation … do you have one? Do you like it? Do you find it changes your reading/buying habits? If you don’t have one, do you plan to?

I got a Kindle about a year ago, and gave one to each of my two sons for Christmas presents. They used theirs more than I did mine. Until recently, I've used the Kindle only to read a few fairly short crime novels.

That changed with the very long book, 1Q84 by Murakami. The novel didn't seem very long while I was reading it on Kindle. In fact, I felt I breezed through all 900 plus pages, and now I am planning to read more of the author's books on the eReader. To show I'm serious about this, I downloaded his Norwegian Wood to start reading. I am now fully Kindle-hooked!

How about you?

Nov 7, 2011

Book Review: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Title 1Q84: A Novel by Haruki Murakami
October 25, 2011; personal Kindle edition
Genre: literary fiction
Rating: 5/5

My take on the novel in a nutshell: A crime thriller plus a love story in an alternate reality full of magic and fantasy. 1Q84 starts out being a thriller, one of my favorite genres, and I was quite surprised by this. It then also became a love story between two people, Tengo and Aomame.

Fantastical and magical things and people appear  in the novel - the Smurf-like Little People, for one, and the Air Chrysalis - devices that almost seem like children's fantasies. But this is no book for children. There is explicit sex and calculated murder, but also sympathetic looks into the hearts and minds of some of the main characters. Tengo in particular, is a very likable mathematician turned writer, whose relationship with his dying father adds a touch of pathos to the novel. His search for his grammar school classmate, Aomame, and her search for him, is the love story that fuels the novel.

In the plot, Tengo and Aomame both enter an alternate reality, 1Q84, when Tengo rewrites a book, Air Chrysalis, written by the enigmatic teenager Fuka-Eri, and when Aomame climbs down a long metal staircase from one level of the expressway to the next and from one reality to another. In this alternate world that declares itself by the two moons hanging in the sky, the two try to find each other, though they met since the third grade about 20 years before.

Religion is an important link between Tengo and Aomame, and 1Q84 takes aim at religious cults - those controlling Big Brother-like organizations in which children are sexually and mentally abused and  all their members restrained psychologically. The book also seems to focus on women avenging the crimes of severely abusive men, making sure they are dispatched to "another world" in order to prevent them from continuing.

In such a long and complex book, there is bound to be a lot more to discuss. For instance, Murakami follows the idea that time does not flow in a straight line. In 1Q84, time twists around, reality shifts, and the past can sneak up unannounced behind you. These are just a very few of the interesting themes I found.

Besides the thriller and love stories, I liked how well the main characters were developed in the book, the careful and realistic descriptions of physical features, personality, and motives. Murakami's comments on writing are also interesting, as are the ways he weaves a world of magic and fantasy into the novel.

I'd love to hear from others who have read 1Q84.. What do you think about the book?

For other reviews on this book, visit Fantasy Book Critic, Dolce Bellezza, Magnificent Octopus, Man of La Mancha, and Sam Still Reading.

© Harvee Lau 2011
Submitted for the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge and the Japanese Literature Challenge V

Nov 6, 2011

Sunday Salon: On Reading 1Q84 - an Update

Welcome to the Sunday Salon. Click on the logo to join in.

I've reached Book 3 of Murakami's mammoth 1Q84. I've enjoyed it so far and am looking forward to seeing what happens to the main characters in this final book.

There is a subtle difference in Book 3, which has a different translator. I find I'm not hanging on every single word as I did in Books 1 and 2. Did I really skip over the detailed descriptions of Aomame's three dreams? The translation of this book is good, clear, and I'm following it, but the narration is not in the same vein as Books 1 and 2, I think.

Nevertheless, this is an awesome novel, though some might find it quirky - a seamless mixture of a children's fantasy, sci fi, a crime thriller, a love story, a plot that points out some of the serious problems in society, and a wild mixture of other things. You never know where the book will take you. Read it if you can!

See my full review, here.

Nov 4, 2011

Book Review: As the Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton

 Title: As the Pig Turns: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton
Publication date: October 11, 2011
Genre: mystery
Source: library

Comments: Another enjoyable cozy with retired PR turned private investigator Agatha Raisin, who runs her own PI office in a picturesque cottage in the Cotswolds. I found the first murder in the book (there are two) rather gruesome for this series, but the likable and quirky personality of Agatha pulls the novel through. We are just as interested in her friendships with longtime pals Roy and Charles, and ex-husband James, as we are in the mystery she is trying to solve. Agatha's monitoring of the love life of her best young PI in her company also makes for interesting reading.

I have gone through all the books in the Agatha Raisin series and am not disappointed in this one.

© Harvee Lau 2011

Nov 2, 2011

Book Giveaway: A Variety Pack

Inspired by many of my fellow bloggers who are giving away individual books or books in bulk to narrow down their libraries, I have seven paperbacks to offer as a giveaway. One person will win all seven books:

Sci-fi- Vast by Linda Nagata

Mystery/Thriller -
Ding Dong the Diva's Dead by Cat Melodia
The Taba Convention by Stephen W. Ayers
Justice by Jay Lillie

Fiction -
Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed, ARC
Lamb Bright Saviors by Robert Vivian
You Never Know: Tales of Tobias, an Accidental Lottery Winner by Lilian Duval

To enter, leave a comment with an email address where I can reach you. The giveaway is for U.S. residents only, due to Media Mail restrictions. No P.O. box addresses, please. You'll have three days to respond to a winning email, after which another winner will be selected. Hope you like the books! Click on the titles for information about each one. Contest ends Nov. 10.

UPDATE: The winner was Suz! Congrats!

New ARCs

It was a great pleasure to  have these ARCs arrive - some solicited, others won or a surprise. Two of them were published in October; four will be published late 2011 or in 2012.

I was especially waiting to read:

Title: The World We Found: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar
 (A Shelf Awareness giveaway). Publication: January 3, 2012
The story of four women who grew up in Bombay and the indelible friendship they share.

Title: Nanjing Requiem: A Novel by Ha Jin
 (from Amazon Vine). Publication: October 18, 2011
An American missionary in the city of Nanjing tries, at times unsuccessfully, to save tens of thousands of homeless women and children in one of the darkest moments of the 20th century: the Rape of Nanjing in war torn China, 1937.

Title: Falling Together: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos
(from Amazon Vine). Publication: October 4, 2011
When three college friends reconnect at a college reunion after six years have gone by, a collision of past and present sends them on a journey across the world, one that will change everything.

Title: Helpless, a thriller by Daniel Palmer
(from the author). Publication: January 31, 2012
Navy Seal and high school soccer coach Tom Hawkins must clear his name when an anonymous blog post accuses him of sleeping with one of his players. He has to unravel lies about his past that someone may kill to keep a secret.

Title: Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman
(from Europa Editions). Publication: Jan. 31, 2012
Two stories set in East Africa in 1899 and 2000 are told in alternating perspectives of an American engineer and an ethnobotanist.

Title: A Vine in the Blood: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation
(from the author). Publication: Dec. 27, 2011
Three weeks before the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the soccer star Tico’s mother, is kidnapped. The pressure is on Chief Inspector Mario Silva to get her back.

Happily, four of the ARCs have been printed with the same covers as their final copies. I'm looking forward to reading all six - two set in Asia, one in Africa, one in Brazil, and two in the U.S. A good trip around the world with contemporary fiction, two thrillers, and some good literary fiction.  

Nov 1, 2011

Teaser: The Year Everything Changed by Georgia Brokoven

The Year Everything Changed: A Novel by Georgia Bockoven
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; August 23, 2011
Genre: contemporary women's fiction

Long repressed pain and anger flared through her like flames through a summer-parched forest. He was summoning her as if she were supposed to care that he was dying?

"Well, I don't," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, old man, you died a long time ago."
(ch. 5)
Book description: Four sisters who never knew the others existed will find strength, love, and answers when they come together around their father's deathbed. Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author of The Beach House and Another Summer. She lives in Northern California.

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...