Sunday Post #25 – 2/16/2020

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     Complot  The Book of Ichigo Ichie

             Second Sister  Norwegian Wood

 Once Upon a Word

Yes, I managed to finish 5 books this week!

📚 Complot, by Nicolas Beuglet
Published in May 2018. 496 pages. Alas, not yet available in English, I’m afraid.
I actually listened to it, it was 12H20 minutes

I really enjoyed book 1 in this series. So I decided to listen to the sequel right away.
Sarah is asked to investigate the death of the Norwegian Prime Minister.
She discovers some weird stuff on the scene of the crime, like a bull’s head, and some strange codes on her body. “Strange” is a weird that keeps coming at the beginning of the book.
I loved the setting, on this very isolated island in the Barents Sea. But actually, as Sarah follows clues, she goes to the ancient city of Byblos (Lebanon) and to the Vatican.
There are some crazy suspenseful scenes, so well done by this great writer.
This author loves to use real data and go from there, data that most people don’t usually know about. This time, the plot is partially connected to archaeology, and the mysterious Late Bronze Age Burial Pit 3666 in Cliffs End Farm, Isle of Thanet, Kent. I learned a lot about that, fascinating!
Some major themes of the theme are feminism, masculinism (with a brilliant analysis of the recent evolution of Western Christianity), and religion.
I had the great satisfaction of guessing which Ludmila we were going to meet, because years ago, I read the book Out of the Depths: a Biography of Ludmila Javorová, by Miriam Therese Winter.
There are intriguing data about ancient religious texts, though some analysis may need to be taken with a grain of salt.
And all along, there are also issues about Sarah’s relationships with her friend Christopher and his son.
I was shocked though by the end of the books, and as book 3 is available in audio, I’m listening to it now. But I’m worried it’s only 5 hours long. In so short of a book, what am I going to learn about Sarah’s past?
The French narrator is fantastic!

📚 The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the MOst of Every Moment, the Japanese Way, by Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles,
Published in December 2019.
By the same authors as Ikigai, a book I fully enjoyed. So I thought I would also read this one, as I am in a Japanese mood. The authors are Spanish, but they have been living in Japan for at least 10 years.
I think this book is excellent if you feel part of the rat race, and you need to rediscover peace in your everyday life, and have no religion upbringing.
For me, deeply rooted in Orthodoxy (which is really Christian spirituality as it used to be at its very beginning, that is, with a very mystical dimension that has alas mostly been lost in Western Christianity), it actually didn’t bring me much.
It’s definitely much more zen oriented than Ikigai.
It actually even made me sad, as I know some readers will feel like discovering something totally new and exotic coming from the Far East, without knowing that actually this spirituality of attention to the present moment is there in Christian spirituality.
We even have a long tradition, starting in about the third century, of silent meditation in connection with breathing (see The Jesus Prayer, if you are curious).
But many Christians no longer know about it, as so many Western Churches have got rid of all their symbols and other mystical elements, and put the emphasis strictly on the social dimension, thinking this is the only way they’ll be relevant to our current times. Sad.
I did learn some interesting cultural things about Japan, for instance related to the blooming of the cherry trees.
And I had no idea Steve Jobs had been so immersed in zen.

📚 Second Sister
Received for review through Edelweiss
Release date: February 18
VERDICT: If you are looking for something different, geeky, suspenseful, and smart, don’t wait, read Second Sister now.
My full review is here

📚 Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami
Published in English December 2000
Read with the Murakami Online Book Club.
My review, mostly quotations actually, will be live on 2/19

📚 Once Upon a Word: A Word-Origin Dictionary for Kids–Building Vocabulary Through Etymology, Definitions & Stories
Release day 2/25/20, received for review through The Callisto Publisher’s Club
My review will be live tomorrow


Monsieur Gallet décédé The Essential Haiku

📚 Monsieur Gallet, décédé [The Late Monsieur Gallet]
Published in 1931. Maigret #3, reading with one of my French students.
Counts for The Classics Book Club
“In the third Maigret mystery, the circumstances of Monsieur Gallet’s death all seem fake: the name he was traveling under, his presumed profession, and, more worryingly, his family’s grief. Their haughtiness seems to hide ambiguous feelings about the hapless man. Soon Maigret discovers the appalling truth and the real crime hidden beneath the surface of their lies.”

📚 The Essential Haiku
Reading for Japanese Literature Challenge 13
“American readers have been fascinated since their exposure to Japanese culture late in the nineteenth century, with the brief Japanese poem called the hokku or haiku.

The seventeen-syllable form is rooted in a Japanese tradition of close observation of nature, of making poetry from subtle suggestion. Infused by its great practitioners with the spirit of Zen Buddhism, the haiku has served as an example of the power of direct observation to the first generation of American modernist poets like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and also as an example of spontaneity and Zen alertness to the new poets of the 1950s.
This definitive collection brings together in fresh translations by an American poet the essential poems of the three greatest haiku masters: Matsuo Basho in the seventeenth century; Yosa Buson in the eighteenth century; and Kobayashi Issa in the early nineteenth century.
Robert Hass has written a lively and informed introduction, provided brief examples by each poet of their work in the haibun, or poetic prose form, and included informal notes to the poems. “

Audio book

l ile du diable

📚  L’ile du diable:
This is the sequel to Complot, presented above.
It definitely tackles Sarah’s past!


The Ten loves of Mr Nishino

📚 The Ten Loves of Nishino
Do you think I will FINALLY get to it soon?? for Japanese Literature Challenge 13 and also because it’s been on my egalley shelf for a while.
“Each woman in this book has succumbed, even if only for an hour, to that seductive, imprudent, and furtively feline man who managed to glide so naturally into their lives. But who really was Mr. Nishino?
Still clinging to the vivid memory of his warm breath, his indecipherable silences, and his nonchalance, ten women who have loved him tell their stories as they attempt to recreate the image of the unfathomable and seemingly unattainable Mr. Nishino. Through accounts that are full of humor, intelligence, and the bittersweet joys of love, these women evoke Nishino’s image but reveal themselves. Each perspective is both captivating and sensual, droll but important, and each is a variation on themes of love and identity.”


  Persona Toms Midnight Garden

📚 Persona
Release date 2/20/20
I keep running into this French title. A thriller involving GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft). Sounds totally like the genre I like!

📚 Tom’s Midnight Garden
Two bloggers have recently recommended Philippa Pearce to me. This is the last book by her I heard about.
“Lying awake at night, Tom hears the old grandfather clock downstairs strike . . . eleven . . . twelve . . . thirteen . . . Thirteen! When Tom gets up to investigate, he discovers a magical garden. A garden that everyone told him doesn’t exist. A garden that only he can enter . . .
A Carnegie-Medal-winning modern classic that’s magically timeless.”


 The First Men in the Moon Tricky Logic Puzzles for Adults

 New SAT Vocabulary Workbook Creativity for Kids

📚 The First Men in the Moon
1901. This is one of the two books I won and chose at the occasion of Chris Wolak’s bookgiversary! With her generous gift, I was able to purchase another book, I chose an Orthodox book: The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentaryby Archbishop Dmitri Royster.
Thanks Chris!
Please go visit her wonderful book blog, full of so many resources. She also cohosts a great podcast!
“In the 1901 classic The First Men in the Moon, Wells reveals not only a fertile imagination at ease with biological and astronomical phenomena, but also a passionate concern for man and society. His “first men in the moon” prove to be the eccentric Mr. Cavor and his traveling companion, Mr. Bedford, who navigate a gravity-defying sphere through space before executing a rough landing on the moon. As castaways from earth, they practice lunar locomotion, get lost in the wilds of a moon jungle, and confront intelligent life forms living in lunar caverns. Through the adventures of these two earthlings, the author is able to look at mankind from a distance and, in his words, “burlesque the effects of specialization.” The result is a delightful tale filled with adventure, romance, and fantasy that is still capable of stirring the imagination of readers in the 21st century.”

📚 Tricky Logic Puzzles for Adults
Release day 2/25/20, received for review through The Callisto Publisher’s Club
“It’s time to give your mental muscles a real workout! Stuffed full of clever and cunning challenges, this collection of logic puzzles for adults is perfect for puzzlers looking to prove (and improve) their skill.
Featuring a variety of puzzle types–including Sudoku, Masyu, Logic Grids, and Nonograms–these easy-to-understand (but tough-to-solve) puzzles will help keep your mind sharp as you remain engaged and entertained for days to come. Brainpower on!

📚 New SAT Vocabulary Workbook
Release day 2/25/20, received for review through The Callisto Publisher’s Club
“Seberson Method: New SAT® Vocabulary Workbook helps students master more than 700 high-frequency words that frequently appear on the test’s Reading, Writing, and Essay sections. The book’s approach reflects changes made to the SAT in recent years, focusing on more contextual vocabulary understanding than rote memorization.
Each of the 145 bite-size lessons features a theme to help improve vocabulary retention, and each includes an activity to test understanding. It’s a modern workbook designed to give college-bound students the edge needed to improve their SAT scores.”

📚 Creativity for Kids
Release day 3/10/20, received for review through The Callisto Publisher’s Club
“Make creativity their superpower with 75 imaginative exercises for kids!
Help children explore their curiosity and learn how to be more creative! Creativity for Kids provides fun and helpful activities that will not only help kids express themselves but also build confidence and enhance problem-solving skills as they make creativity a part of everything they do.
Go beyond artistic expression with guided activities―like the Bridge-Building Challenge or the Cut-Out Story―that help your child learn how to take innovative and inventive approaches to a variety of situations and challenges. They’ll also have a super-fun time with each activity whether working independently or in a group.”


📚 Oops, I have been forgetting to keep track. These two days, I read Complot and Second Sister, already reviewed.

📚 I finished Complot and Ichigo Ichie, also presented above.
I also finished reading the chapter of The Essential Haiku (edited by Robert Hass) on Basho. And felt inspired to write my first haiku!

📚 Having finished Complot, with a crazy end, I couldn’t wait to know what was going to happen next. So I started book 3 in this series, L’ile du diable.
I’m worried that it’s so short, 5 hours instead of 12 hours for book 2.
In case this series gets translated in English and you’ll read them, I will avoid spoilers. Just to say that the book opens 1 year after book 2. And it gets very focused on Inspector Sarah’s life from the get go. I hope I’ll know more about her past and her family in 5 hours…

📚 It’s interesting that I finished Norwegian Wood by Murakami on Saint Valentine’s Day! On the 19, I will post a review, or at least quotations I enjoyed the book.
I know it’s a must book by my favorite author, but this is actually not a book I enjoyed. It didn’t totally feel like all the other books I read by Muramaki.
Let’s just  say, why would you read Fifty Shades of Grey when you have Norwegian Wood??
📚 I read half of Maigret #3, Monsieur Gallet, décédé (see above).
I am thoroughly enjoying it. As many series, the books seem to get better and better.
In this one, I start seeing a lot of humor in Simenon’s style, something that was not as apparent in the previous two books. It’s very atmospheric.


📚 Book of the month giveaway


    Japanese Literature 13

January-March: Japanese Literature Challenge 13




32 thoughts on “Sunday Post #25 – 2/16/2020

  1. I recently bought Norwegian Wood – I’m starting Kafka on the Shore either today or tomorrow and I’ll probably read it after that – so I’m looking forward to reading your review!

    Have a great week 🙂


  2. Five books is a great week. I’m interested in the Ichigo Ichie book especially. I hope I can find it soon.

    You are right about the longing for peace in this turbulent world. It was difficult for me to find the spirituality in our American Christianity, and it took me many years to learn about Christian meditation. It’s the reason I joined the Catholic Church a few years ago, to deepen my religious experience. I’m glad you have found the same depth in the Orthodox tradition.

    I love haiku, but I find that I can only read a dozen or so poems before I have to stop and reflect on them. That sometimes makes for slow going. I can see that it would be perfect for your reading and journaling.


  3. The Book of Ichigo Ichie looked interesting to me and then I saw your comments on spirituality and Christian spirituality in particular. I was not aware of the meditation with breathing tradition! I do agree though that much of Western Christianity has changed, it seems, from earlier traditions. Your rumination on Orthodoxy are interesting since I’m not as versed in those traditions. Thanks for sharing!


    • Yes, so sad to see how Western Christianity has gradually got rid of its symbols and lost its mystical dimension. That’s one of the many reasons why I converted to Orthodoxy, where these dimensions of the Tradition are still very much alive.


  4. I really like your idea of keeping a daily journal entry for your book life. Did I already mention that? Hmmm…..maybe I did. Anyway, I may give that a try at some point. And how awesome that you got 5 books read in one week! I’m lucky to get one or two read in a week right now……I enjoy seeing the various books you are reading. I’m currently reading “When the Emperor Was Divine” for the Japanese challenge; a book Silvia talked about on her blog and I immediately checked it out at my library. I’m able to really focus more on it now, now that I’ve finished “Never Let Me Go”. Next up in the Japanese challenge for me will be “The Makioka Sisters” in March, unless I can fit in another shorter work before then. I might re-read Journey to Topaz.


    • You may indeed already have said that, but I like the repetition, lol, it is indeed an encouragement to keep going.
      Wow, a book about Japanese internment camps… I’m afraid that might be too tough emotionally for me. THOUGH, I just watched this amazing movie on Saint Luke the Surgeon, and OMG, he certainly had his share of camps, torture, exile. Have you seen this movie? If not, you REALLY have to. Plus it’s so so well done: I had read his life, but this movie reminded me how amazing this man was.
      As for The Makioka Sisters, I’m curious to see what you think. I have always hesitated reading, afraid it would turn to be some type of Japanese “Litle Women”, I book I didn’t like at all a few decades ago…
      I’ll answer your email tomorrow about Never Let Me Go


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  6. I still like the looks of Once Upon a Word and now Logic Puzzles too.
    I was raised in a liturgical church and I am glad that I have those traditions to add to the fundamental church setting I now enjoy. I get to enjoy the freedom of relationship with the added reminders of the traditions that help keep me in line with appropriate reminders.
    Have a good week!


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