2023: January wrap-up

JANUARY 2023 WRAP-UP

I can’t believe January is already over. It’s been full to the brim. BUT one of my major projects was repainting the outdoor sign of our church, so that gave me an insane amount of audio time. With a daily average of over 2 hours!
I actually usually listen with 1.25 speed.

January gave me some terrific books (all written by male authors, lol, and all reviewed) in a variety of genres, even though I didn’t have time to read much for the Japanese Literature Challenge (but it goes on in February), and I haven’t yet started a book in Italian this year – focusing instead a lot on books read with my French students.

At the beginning of January, I published my usual three posts of stats and the like, on my 2022 reads.
I also highlighted ten authors I discovered in 2022.

📚 Here is what I read in January:

12 books 
7 in print 
with 1,790 pages, a daily average of 57 pages/day.
5 in audio
= 65H48
, a daily average of 2H07/day!

4 in mysteries:

  1. The Red Thumb Mark (Dr. Thorndyke Mysteries #1), by R. Austin Freeman
  2. L’Os de Lebowski, by Vincent Maillard – with French student S.
  3. Les Nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret, by Georges Simenon
    with French student E.
  4. Death of a Red Heroine (Inspector Chen Cao #1), by Qiu Xiaolong
    – public library winter challenge

3 in children/YA:

  1. L’Empire de la mort (N.E.O. #3), by Michel Bussi – French audio
  2. Shuna’s Journey, by Hayao Miyazaki
  3. What do you do with a chance?, by Kobi Yamada

2 in science-fiction:

  1. Le Jour des fourmis (La Saga des fourmis #2), by Bernard Werber – French audio
  2. La Révolution des fourmis (La Saga des fourmis #3), by Bernard Werber – French audio

1 in literary fiction

  1. Hell Screen, by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

1 in historical fiction:

  1. Week-end à Zuydcoote, by Robert Merle – read with French student F.

1 in nonfiction:

  1. Éloge de l’énergie vagabonde, by Sylvain Tesson – French audio

 MY FAVORITE BOOKS THIS PAST MONTH

Death of a Red Heroine Éloge de l'énergie vagabonde

READING CHALLENGES & RECAP

Classics Club: 34/150 (from September 2022-until September 2027)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 2/7 books
Total of books read in 2022 = 12/120 (10%, 2 books ahead)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 29

 NO OTHER BOOK  REVIEWED THIS PAST MONTH

MOST POPULAR BOOK REVIEW THIS PAST MONTH

 

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

click on the cover to access my review

MOST POPULAR POST THIS PAST MONTH
– NON BOOK REVIEW –

The Top 9 books to read in January 2023

BOOK BLOG THAT BROUGHT ME MOST TRAFFIC THIS PAST MONTH

Caffeinated Reviewer
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!

TOP COMMENTERS 

Karen at Booker Talk
Marianne at Let’s Read

Deb at Readerbuzz
please go and visit them,
they have great blogs

BLOG MILESTONES 

2,645 posts
over 5,120 followers
over 272,960 hits

📚 📚 📚

Come back tomorrow to see the titles I’ll be reading in February!
How was YOUR month of January?

2023-Monthly-Wrap-Up-Round-Up400

Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
is hosting a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!

Sunday Post #76 – 01/29/2023

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon      Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#MailboxMonday #itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes

This was a very productive week:

  • lots of French classes,
  • done with my two big outdoor signs for my church (I just need to put three layers of varnish),
  • I have finally caught up with all the many comments waiting (some since November!!) on this blog,
  • I finished 5 books since last Sunday,
  • and they are all reviewed!

The next big project is preparing a conference to give to my church late March.

Posted this week:

Here are the 5 books I finished this past week:

📚JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧 

Death of a Red Heroine

📚 Death of a Red Heroine
(Inspector Chen Cao #1), 

by Qiu Xialong
Chinese Mystery
First published in 2000 (in English)
482 pages
Read for my public library winter challenge

VERDICT: 
Police investigation and poetry:
a wonderful immersion into Chinese society and politics. 

Click on the cover to read my review.

Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret

 

📚 Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret,
by Georges Simenon
Mystery – short stories collection
Published in 1944
624 pages
It counts for The Classics Club
Read with French student E.

As you may know, I don’t often read short stories, as I am often dissatisfed by the lack of development.
This is very different here: it’s really neat to see that Simenon displays the same quality of writing in this format as in his novels.
Some plots are brilliant, sometimes quite different to what I am used to with this author.
And really, Maigret can wrap it up and create stisfying suspense in very few pages!
And there’s a lot of humor! Especially near the end of the collection. We laughed a lot with my student as we shared our experience.
But we also find Maigret violent at times!

If you are curious about Maigret, this is in fact a very good way to begin, I think.
Besides the original elements, you will still meet enough grey,rainy, foggy atmospheres and canals, rivers, etc as in most books in this series.
Check my review on Goodreads if you want to see the list of the 19 stories included in the collection.

Shuna's Journey

 

📚 Shuna’s Journey,
by Hayao Miyazaki
Translated by Alex Dudok de Wit
Graphic novel
Published in 2022
シュナの旅
was first published in 1983
160 pages

Wow, this is a very neat graphic novel, with different style (but just as gorgeous) from the books Miyazaki made on his animes, though some pages are very close to some anime passages.
The plot is basically a young prince defying his village tradition, and deciding to leave on a quest for a golden grain that would save his land. And all the adventures and people/creatures he meets on his way.
The excellent note/afterword by the translator Alex Dudok de Wit explains the genesis of this work, and how it is a spin on a classic Tibetan legend, with the additions moderns elements, such as slavery and human trafficking.
I can’t remember which book blogger mentioned this book, but I am glad I checked it out right away from my public library.

What do you do with a chance

 

📚 What do you do with a chance,
by Kobi Yamada,
illustrated by Mae Besom
Picture book
Published in 2018
Original language: English
38 pages

This is a cute and very inspiring picture book, encouraging you to take the chance as soon as it comes, because who knows, it may not come again, and seizing the chance can lead you to so many discoveries!
The illustrations by Mae Besom are so beautiful (pencil and watercolor).
It made sense to illustrate the chance as a mysterious golden kind of bird.
I want to see what other books by Yamada my library has in store!

🎧 LLa Révolution des fourmisa Révolution des fourmis 
(La Saga des fourmis #3),
by Bernard Werber
French scifi
Published in 1996
671 pages
20H21

This is the very satisfying end to this trilogy.
It is so full of amazing information on ants obviously, but also many other insects and our world at large.
I really loved the characters, especially the old scientists, and the young group of teens, inspired by ants and trying really hard to start a non-violent revolution.
It’s also a reflection on what makes us deeply human.
I highly encourage you to dive into this trilogy.
Unfortunately, it seems only book 1 is available in English… 

📚  CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧 

Master of the Uncanny📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Okamoto Kidō
Japanese short stories
Published between 1897-1931
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
Published in 2020
168 pages
It counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I was planning to read a good amount of books translated from the Japanese this month, but I have been very busy in reading books in French with my students, so I am only in my third book for this challenge.
So far, I have only read two stories. 
The Kiso Traveler talks about the etemono (a shape-shifting kind of creature) and is set in very cold and snowy mountains.
The Green Frog God is about dreams and a wife who might be actually a frog or a strange god.
So they are definitely on the gloomy and spooky side.

“Born just after Japan transitioned from the Shogunate to Meiji, Kidō grew up in a samurai-oriented world being transformed by the West in many ways. As a reporter he covered domestic development and overseas wars, while also marrying a traditional geisha, eventually becoming a playwright and author. In addition to a number of well-received plays, he also penned more than fifty horror stories over a roughly ten-year period starting in the mid-1920s. Just prior to this period, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed almost everything in Tokyo that remained from the Edo era, and Japanese horror itself was transitioning from the traditional uncanny stories to more modern horror structures.
While many of Kidō’s stories are retellings of tales from China and other nations, he also drew on a diverse range of traditions, including the heritage of Edo-era storytellers such as Ueda Akinari and Asai Ryōi, to produce a dazzling array of work covering the entire spectrum from time-honored ghost tropes to modern horror. The majority of his stories were collected in four volumes: Seiadō kidan (1926), Kindai iyō hen (1926), Iyō hen (1933), and Kaijū (1936).
Kidō remains popular for his elegant, low-key style, subtly introducing the “other” into the background, and raising the specter of the uncanny indirectly and often indistinctly. His fiction spans an enormous range of material, much of it dealing with the uncanny, and as a pioneer in the field his work formed the foundation for the new generation of Japanese authors emerging in post-Restoration literature.
This selection presents a dozen of his best stories: pieces which remain in print almost a century later, and continue to enchant readers—and writers—today. Finally, English-reading audiences can enjoy his strange visions as well.”

Rouvrir le roman📚 Rouvrir le roman,
by Sophie Divry
French nonfiction/ Book about books
Published in 2017
208 pages
Reading with French student F.

“This book aims to discuss preconceived ideas that weigh on the conscience of contemporary French writers. The main purpose is to show that the novel is not dead, and that literature is worth it. 
Sophie Divry offers solutions to reset the novel into a place of research and adventure. She shares her ideas for a literature that is more demanding, more lively and more tenacious, more necessary for authors and readers alike.”
In the beginning she speaks about editors set in their ways, who think novelists should not reflect and explain about their writing process, even though in previous centuries, it was expected the author would explain his/her method in the very introduction to the book!
I like the many references! I have the feeling it’s going to make my TBR explode even more. She mentions for instance several nonfiction books by Virginia Woolf. I only knew about her novels!

 

🎧 Éloge de l’énergie vagabonde,Éloge de l'énergie vagabonde
by Sylvain Tesson
Narrated by Léon Dussollier
French nonfiction/Travel
Published in 2007
227 pages
4H52

This is my 6th book by Sylvain Tesson, this should be enough to tell you how much I enjoy this author.
The last one I listened to was also about a long trip.

The beginning of the book (my translation) explains what this is all about:
“I will go from the Aral to the Caspian. I will reach Azerbaijan on board a ferry.
From Baku, I will travel to Turkey via Georgia. On foot, by bicycle, I don’t know yet, but loyally, without motorized propulsion.
At the end of my journey, I will have connected three seas, taking the same route as that of a tear of black gold from Upper Asia carried through steppes and mountains so that the world can continue its march of madness. Taking advantage of this crossing of lands with high oil value, I will devote my time of solitary journey to reflect on the mystery of energy.
The energy we extract from the strata of geology, but also the one that awaits for its time deep within us. Oil and vital force proceed from the same principle: humans contain a secret deposit of energy that favorable drillings can bring out.
Why do our inner springs push us to agitation instead of converting us to Zen wisdom?”

📚  BOOK UP NEXT 📚 

120 rue de la gare📚 120, rue de la gare,
(Nestor Burma #1)

by Léo Malet
French mystery
Published in 1946
215 pages
Available in English as
Bloody Streets of Paris
It counts for The Classics Club
Will be reading with French student E.

I am excited to read this one with a student, as I don’t think I have ever read any book by Léo Mallet!

 “Set in France during World War II, this is Léo Malet’s first novel starring detective Nestor Burma.
Burma’s assistant Bob Colomer, having just arrived in France after being held prisoner in a German camp, is murdered at the Lyon station as soon as he reunites with his boss. Colomer’s last words, whispered to Burma as he lay dying, are the address 120 Station Street, the same address Burma had heard from an agonizing patient in a military hospital.
And thus begins an investigation that will force Burma to revisit episodes from his past he thought he had buried long ago, and that will take him from Vichy France to Nazi-occupied Paris.
First published in 1942, this passionate noire novel is a description of everyday French life during World War II, where rationing, division of territory, and Nazi-imposed restrictions serve as the backdrop to this tale of intrigue.
It sealed the birth of the French noir novel, a cocktail of suspense, humour, poetry and social reflection.”

📚  LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚 

Blanc

 

 

📚  Blanc,
by
Sylvain Tesson
Nonfiction/Travel
10/13/2022
240 pages

“With my friend the high mountain guide Daniel du Lac, I left Menton on the Mediterranean coast to cross the Alps on skis, to Trieste, passing through Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
From 2018 to 2021, at the end of winter, we were rising in the snow. The sky was virgin, the world without contours, only the effort counted down the days.
I thought I was venturing into beauty, I was diluting myself in a substance. In the White everything is canceled – hopes and regrets. Why did I so love wandering in purity?”

📚 MAILBOX MONDAY 📚 

 

Éloge de l'énergie vagabonde

See description above
Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?
BE SURE TO LEAVE THE LINK TO YOUR POST

Sunday Post #75 – 01/22/2023

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon      Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#MailboxMonday #itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes

Oh, my 75th Sunday Post!
Well, that’s nothing when you see that Caffeinated Reviewer has been hosting it for 559 weeks! Still.
I am still in the process of repainting our church outdoor sign, more than half done. It actually gives me lots of hours for audiobooks, my total audio time for January is going to be insane!
And with the two church events I had this week, our Nativity season is finally over. Actually pretty soon preparing for Lent!! Time flies way too fast.

I have been able to post a couple of times this week, and so far, have reviewed the 6 books finished this month. It’s a battle that always begins well in January, until… I eventually lose! We’ll see how long I can persevere.
I also started catching up with lots of your comments, thanks!

Posted this week:

Here are the 3 books I finished this past week:

📚JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧 

L'Os de Lebowski

📚  L’Os de Lebowski,
by Vincent Maillard
French mystery
Published in 2021
202 pages
Read with French student S.

First of all, dive into this book without reading the official synopsis which, as too often, reveals way too much.

The book hasn’t been translated into English.
It’s narrated in the first person by Jim Carlos, a gardener working at Prés Poleux, owned by a rich family.
Jim has a very lazy dog (Lebowski), who spends its time sleeping, but one day it manages to dig, and finds a human bone (hence the title: Lebowski’s bone).
So, whose bone is it? What happened to that person?
Why is the bone on this property?
And then, Jim disappears…!

I really enjoyed a lot the structure of the book (that you will discover as you read the book along), the first person narration, full of so many humoristic reflections on French society and culture.
Mailard is not kind towards the world of the very rich, which totally makes sense to me and works perfectly in the plot.
You may have to check lots of names to understand the references, but that’s worth it.
Little by little, there’s a lot of suspense developping, until the end, which of course I didn’t guess.
Definitely an author worth checking.

L'empire de la mort

 

🎧 L’Empire de la mort (N.E.O. #3),
by Michel Bussi
French YA fantasy
Published on June 16, 2022
640 pages
16H24

I have been enjoying this series a lot. I actually thought maybe it was a trilogy, but obviously the last line tells me there’s much more to come!
I find in it some common elements with Supernova Era: something happened (and in this third book we finally know more what happened), and it seems all adults have died, and before they died they helped kids learn and organize to start a new world. In both cases, it’s not that easy to start a better world… Not easy either to identify the bad guys…

I love the setting, Paris and around, with more famous Parisian places now important in the story. It’s fun to meet the same characters and see how they grow.

I have been listening to the books, and the narrator Damien Witecka is really fabulous, with the various voices and tones.

Le jour des fourmis

 

🎧Le Jour des fourmis 
(La Saga des fourmis #2),
by Bernard Werber
French scifi
Published in 1992
463 pages
14H39

The second volume on these infra-terrestrial creatures (ants) is just as fascinating as Book 1.
It’s not only an original idea (turning scifi away from extra-terrestrial dimensions), but also a close scientific look at the world of ants, their complex society, and their ways of communicating.
I also loved all about intercommunication with the world of “fingers”, ie, us human beings.
It was also neat to have a resolution to the mysterious disappearance of people in book 1.
And I liked the part about the ant reaction as she discovers what makes our human culture, through TV programs!
I just realized it was a trilogy, and not a longer series. So I am starting listening to the last volume today. I so enjoy these works, especially as the narrator (François Tavares) is so good.

I actually want to add a very crazy story that happened to me today.
I was listening to this book, while doing a major painting job. As I was painting, I received an important text message. So I stopped painting, paused my audiobook, and started answering the text message. Suddenly, on the line where your phone auto-suggests words as you type, an emoji showed up, and it was…. an ant! You may believe me or not, but I saw it, and showed it to my husband.
I read and reread my message: there was absolutely NO reason an ant would have showed up. Never did I type a sequence of letters forming the word a-n-t (I wrote in English), nor F-O-U-R-M-I (my audiobook is in French).
This is the werdest thing I have ever witnessed!!!

📚  CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧 

Death of a Red Heroine

📚 Death of a Red Heroine
(Inspector Chen Cao #1), 

by Qiu Xialong
Chinese Mystery
First published in 2000 (in English)
482 pages

Yes, still working on this one for my local public library Winter Reading Challenge, as reading books with three of my French students is the priority right now.

I so enjoy the descriptions of Shanghai and all the political and social background. In Asia, but so different from my usual Japanese novels! The plot is slow in developping, but I don’t mind, as the pace allows me to better perceive the cultural specificities of that world.

“A young “national model worker,” renowned for her adherence to the principles of the Communist Party, turns up dead in a Shanghai canal. As Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Special Cases Bureau struggles to trace the hidden threads of her past, he finds himself challenging the very political forces that have guided his life since birth. Chen must tiptoe around his superiors if he wants to get to the bottom of this crime, and risk his career—perhaps even his life—to see justice done.”

Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret

📚 Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret,
by Georges Simenon
Mystery – short stories collection
Published in 1944
It counts for The Classics Club
Still reading this one with French student E.,
though I should be done tonight.

As you may know, I don’t often read short stories, as I am often dissatisfed by the lack of development. This is different here: it’s really neat to see that Simenon displays the same quality of writing in this format as in his novels.
Some plots are brilliant, sometimes quite different to what I am used to with this author.
And there’s a lot of humor! Especially near the end of the collection. We laughed a lot with my student as we shared our experience.
But we also find Maigret at times violent! 

🎧 LLa Révolution des fourmisa Révolution des fourmis 
(La Saga des fourmis #3),
by Bernard Werber
French scifi
Published in 1996
671 pages
20H21

“What can ants envy us? Humor, love, art. What can humans envy them? Harmony with nature, absence of fear, absolute communication.
After millennia of ignorance, will the two most evolved civilizations on the planet finally be able to meet and understand each other?
Without knowing each other, Julie Pinson, a rebellious student, and 103, an explorer ant, will try to make a revolution in their respective worlds to make it evolve.
Les Fourmis was the book of contact, Le Jour des fourmis the book of confrontation. La Révolution des fourmis is the book of understanding.

But beyond the theme of ants, it is a revolution of humans, a non-violent revolution, a revolution made up of small discreet touches and new ideas that Bernard Werber offers here.
Both an adventure novel and an initiatory book, this crowning achievement of the myrmecian epic invites us to enter a future that is perhaps not just science fiction…”

 

📚  BOOK UP NEXT 📚 

Master of the Uncanny📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Okamoto Kidō
Japanese short stories
Published between 1897-1931
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
Published in 2020
168 pages
It counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

“Born just after Japan transitioned from the Shogunate to Meiji, Kidō grew up in a samurai-oriented world being transformed by the West in many ways. As a reporter he covered domestic development and overseas wars, while also marrying a traditional geisha, eventually becoming a playwright and author. In addition to a number of well-received plays, he also penned more than fifty horror stories over a roughly ten-year period starting in the mid-1920s. Just prior to this period, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed almost everything in Tokyo that remained from the Edo era, and Japanese horror itself was transitioning from the traditional uncanny stories to more modern horror structures.
While many of Kidō’s stories are retellings of tales from China and other nations, he also drew on a diverse range of traditions, including the heritage of Edo-era storytellers such as Ueda Akinari and Asai Ryōi, to produce a dazzling array of work covering the entire spectrum from time-honored ghost tropes to modern horror. The majority of his stories were collected in four volumes: Seiadō kidan (1926), Kindai iyō hen (1926), Iyō hen (1933), and Kaijū (1936).
Kidō remains popular for his elegant, low-key style, subtly introducing the “other” into the background, and raising the specter of the uncanny indirectly and often indistinctly. His fiction spans an enormous range of material, much of it dealing with the uncanny, and as a pioneer in the field his work formed the foundation for the new generation of Japanese authors emerging in post-Restoration literature.
This selection presents a dozen of his best stories: pieces which remain in print almost a century later, and continue to enchant readers—and writers—today. Finally, English-reading audiences can enjoy his strange visions as well.”

📚  LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚 

100 Places to See After You Die

 

📚  100 Places to See After You Die: A Travel Guide to the Afterlife,
by
Ken Jennings
Nonfiction/Literature/Travel Humor
304 pages
Expected publication June 13, 2023

If this book is really what it says it is, it has the potential of being really good! We’ll see.

“From New York Times bestselling author, legendary Jeopardy! champion, and host Ken Jennings comes a hilarious travel guide to the afterlife, exploring destinations to die for from literature, mythology, and pop culture ranging from Dante’s Inferno to Hadestown to NBC’s The Good Place.
Ever wonder which circles of Dante’s Inferno have the nicest accommodations? Where’s the best place to grab a bite to eat in the ancient Egyptian underworld? How does one dress like a local in the heavenly palace of Hinduism’s Lord Vishnu, or avoid the flesh-eating river serpents in the Klingon afterlife? What hidden treasures can be found off the beaten path in Hades, Valhalla, or NBC’s The Good Place? Find answers to all those questions and more about the world(s) to come in this eternally entertaining book from Ken Jennings.
100 Places to See After You Die is written in the style of iconic bestselling travel guides—but instead of recommending must-see destinations in Mexico, Thailand, or Rome, Jennings outlines journeys through the afterlife, as dreamed up over 5,000 years of human history by our greatest prophets, poets, mystics, artists, and TV showrunners. This comprehensive index of 100 different afterlife destinations was meticulously researched from sources ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh to modern-day pop songs, video games, and Simpsons episodes. Get ready for whatever post-mortal destiny awaits you, whether it’s an astral plane, a Hieronymus Bosch hellscape, or the baseball diamond from Field of Dreams.
Fascinating, funny, and irreverent, this light-hearted memento mori will help you create your very own bucket list—for after you’ve kicked the bucket.”

📚 MAILBOX MONDAY 📚 

La Révolution des fourmis

See description above
Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday

📚📚📚

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?
BE SURE TO LEAVE THE LINK TO YOUR POST