2023: February wrap-up


February has been quite full, but I managed to do a good deal of reading – from a bunch of graphic novels, picture books, and manga to a very scholarly Orthodox book!

I knew my audio time was going to be way lower than my 2H/day January average, as my painting project is over (you can see pictures of the outdoor signs I posted at the end of this post – one sign faces East, the other one faces West), but it shows very low because I am not quite done with my current 20 hours audiobook!

I also passed the 1,000 mark as for number of reviews posted here. I know I missed some, but most of them are linked on my very helpful Authors List.
Tip for newer book bloggers: start that type of page as soon as possible, you will enjoy having it down the line.

📚 Here is what I read in February:

15 books 
13 in print 
with 2,151 pages, a daily average of 76 pages/day.
2 in audio
= 11H50
, a daily average of 25 minutes/day

5 in nonfiction:

  1. Blanc, by Sylvain Tesson – French audio
  2. What do you do with an idea?, by Kobi Yamada – picture book
  3. What do you do with a problem?, by Kobi Yamada – picture book
  4. Rouvrir le roman, by Sophie Divry – read with French student F.
  5. The Image of the Virgin Mary in the Akathistos Hymn, by Leena Mari Peltomaa

4 in literary fiction:

  1. Master of the Uncanny, by Kido Okamoto
  2. Cat + Gamer #1, by Watru Nadatani – manga
  3. Cat + Gamer #2, by Watru Nadatani – manga
  4. The Hunting Gun, by Yasushi Inoue  – short story.
    These 4 titles (and the next 2) count for The Japanese Literature Challenge 16

3 in science-fiction:

  1. Astra Lost in Space #1, by Kenta Shinohara – manga
  2. Astra Lost in Space #2, by Kenta Shinohara – manga
  3. Mooncop, by Tom Gauld – graphic novel

2 in mystery:

  1. 120, rue de la gare (Nestor Burma #1), by Léo Malet – read with French student E.
  2. Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès (Arsène Lupin #2), by Maurice Leblanc – read with French student E.

1 in children’s lit:

  1. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame – audio


Blanc  The Wind in the Willows


Classics Club: 39/150 (from September 2022-until September 2027)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 8 books
Total of books read in 2022 = 27/120 (23%, 8 books ahead)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 43


Éloge de l'énergie vagabonde


Before the Coffee Gets Cold

click on the cover to access my review


The Top 7 books to read in February 2023


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


Karen at Booker Talk
Marianne at Let’s Read

Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog
please go and visit them,
they have great blogs


2,658 posts
over 5,120 followers
over 275,690 hits

📚 📚 📚

Come back tomorrow to see
my exciting reading plans for March!
How was YOUR month of February?


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


Book review: Okamoto Kido: Master of the Uncanny

Master of the Uncanny

Okamoto Kido:
Master of the Uncanny
Selected and translated by Nancy H. Ross
168 pages
10/10/2020, by Kurodahan Press
Short stories
– originally publisghed between 1897 and 1931

Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16
It counts for The Classics Club

This is a wonderful collection of slightly spooky stories inspired by old legends –we even meet a few samurai.
There are ghosts, or possible evocation of ghosts, and possible elements of horror, but it’s all done with subtlety and even poetry. They are sometimes gloomy, but not hair raising scary. So I think the title given to the collection as Okamoto Kido: Master of the Uncanny is very well said.

Click to continue reading

The top 7 books to read in February 2023

Here are
The top 7 books
I plan to read in February 2023

January-February (not March this year) is the Japanese Literature challenge, in which I am (slowly) participating. I hope to read at least two books this month for this.
My French students keep me busy with reading French books with them.
I hope to be able to read a nonfiction in Italian by my favorite Italian author.
I read/listened to 12 books in January, so I should be able to read more than the titles below, but they are the priority titles for me this month.


Master of the Uncanny

📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Kidō Okamoto
Japanese short stories (before 1939)
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
168 pages
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I’m about 25%, and really enjoying these quirky stories!

“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 (12 stories) 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.

Interesting reflections on how and why authors write.

“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.”

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
Reading with French student E.

Wow, this is my first book by Léo Malet, and it is great fun! There are hilarious details, and I like how the detective Nestor Burma goes around to figure out what happened.

“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.”

I am acually also reading two books on Orthodox spirituality.


I am a Cat📚 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
Japanese literary fiction
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
470 pages
IIt counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I have read many books by Soseki, The Gate for instance, but not this one, which might be his most famous!

“Written from 1904 through 1906, Soseki Natsume’s comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.
A classic of Japanese literature, I Am a Cat is one of Soseki’s best-known novels. Considered by many as the most significant writer in modern Japanese history, Soseki’s I Am a Cat is a classic novel sure to be enjoyed for years to come.”

Why Read the Classics


📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
306 pages

I’ll be reading it in Italian – part of my plan to read more books in Italian and Spanish this year.
I started a little some time ago, and found this wonderful sentence:

“The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: ‘I’m rereading…’, never ‘I’m reading….’”

So now that my Italian is better, I’m really looking forward to dive deeper into this.

“From the internationally acclaimed author of some of this century’s most breathtakingly original novels comes this posthumous collection of thirty-six literary essays that will make any fortunate reader view the old classics in a dazzling new light.
Learn why Lara, not Zhivago, is the center of Pasternak’s masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, and why Cyrano de Bergerac is the forerunner of modern-day science-fiction writers. Learn how many odysseys The Odyssey contains, and why Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories are a pinnacle of twentieth-century literature. From Ovid to Pavese, Xenophon to Dickens, Galileo to Gadda, Calvino covers the classics he has loved most with essays that are fresh, accessible and wise. Why Read the Classics? firmly establishes Calvino among the rare likes of Nabokov, Borges, and Lawrence–writers whose criticism is as vibrant and unique as their groundbreaking fiction.”


Blanc  The Wind in the Willows

🎧 Blanc,
by Sylvain Tesson
Nonfiction/ Travel
240 pages

This one is closer to La Panthère des neiges (Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet) than the one I just listened by him.
It’s actually his reflections and notes taken over four winters, as he and his friend went through high mountains
It is not yet available in English, so here is my translation of the synopsis:

“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 [Blanc] everything is canceled – hopes and regrets. Why do I so enjoy wandering in purity?

🎧 The Wind in the Willows,
by Kenneth Grahame
Childrens classic
Published in 1908
288 pages
7 hours

I MAY have read this a LONG time ago, but don’t remember a thing about it.

“Spend a season on the river bank and take a walk on the wild side…
Spring is in the air and Mole has found a wonderful new world. There’s boating with Ratty, a feast with Badger and high jinx on the open road with that reckless ruffian, Mr Toad of Toad Hall. The four become the firmest of friends, but after Toad’s latest escapade, can they join together and beat the wretched weasels?”

Eiffel Tower Orange