Sunday Post #80 – 02/26/2023

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

Nothing special this week: lots of online French classes (that’s the norm), and my Chicago western suburb once again dodged the bullet with the weather: some rain, but no crazy wind, no ice, no snow. 

Here are the 4 books I finished this past week. Two were mangas, so don’t be too impressed by these numbers, lol


Cat + Gamer #2

📚 Cat + Gamer, #2
by Wataru Nadatani
猫暮らしのゲーマーさん 2
was originally published in 2019
Translated from the Japanese by
Zack Davisson
07/12/2022, by Dark Horse Manga
200 pages
Manga/ Literary fiction
Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16

Volume 2 is just as cute as volume 1, as Riko is seeing her cat grow, in size, skills, and mischiefs!
Her own life also evolves – no spoiler here, so I’ll just mention family relationships, and possibly the beginner of a cat related friendship.
Unfortunately, the challenge presented to Niko at her workplace at the end of book 1 is not yet resolved.
I was hoping to read the next 4 volumes in French, but couldn’t find an ebook version.
So I will have to wait for the English translation of Book 3, to be released on October 10, 2023.

Astra Lost in Space #2

📚 Astra Lost in Space, #2
by Kenta Shinohara
彼方のアストラ 1
was originally published in 2016
Translated from the Japanese by
Adrienne Beck
3/6/2018, by VIZ Media LLC
248 pages
Manga / Science-fiction
Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16

I really liked volume 1, but volume 2 is good too. Our team of teenagers lost in space came up with a plan to go from planet to planet to gather enough food and drink to make it back home.
In the planet they land on in this volume, they discover a weird flora, with potential dangers, but they get help from cute and kind animals.
The members are growing, obstacles do make them mature faster. We dscover more things about one character, but one still remains quite mysterious, with a solid façade that no one has been able to pierce yet. Maybe in book 3?
There are some good passages on how to grow nicely and happy, whatever the education/non-education we’ve received from our parents.
My only disappointment is that we still don’t have an answer to the big question that surfaced at the end of volume 1. Could it be related to the mysterious teen?

Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès📚 Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès
(Arsène Lupin #2)

by Maurice Leblanc
French mystery
Published in 1908
222 pages
Available in English as
Arsène Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes
It counts for The Classics Club
Read with French student E.

I had a lot of fun rereading the first book in this series a few years ago, and book 3 more recently. 

This one is a bit more disappointing, though it gets better, with lots of humor and hilarious characterizations of both Herlock Sholmès and Wilson (the author neatly changed the names of the famous detective and his help, so he would avoid copyright problems, while making them recognizable by every reader).
It actually features two interconnected mysteries (and both have common elements, for instance an object hidden inside another object, and stolen), in which Lupin and Sherlock Holmes, two very proud characters (“le choc formidable de leurs deux orgueils”), play a game of cat and mouse (even though Lupin address Sholmès as “mon cher maitre”!). Obviously I won’t tell you who wins at the end, though I thought the end was well done.
As usual with both Conan Doyle’s and Leblanc’s hero, there are lots of disguises, coded messages, and hidden rooms. And cops are not presented in the best of lights!

One element that surprised me, was how mean Holmes appearad to be towards Watson, as a result from his self-centeredness. I didn’t feel that in Conan Doyle’s work, even though I listened to the whole Sherlock Holmes’ canon
Holmes is actually presented as too sure of himself, and extremely upset when things don’t turn out as he expected. He doesn’t understand Lupin’s character, who seems childish and insolent to him, with his pranks.

Here is a good illustration (begining of Chapter 8):

Voyez-vous, mon vieux camarade, disait Sholmès à Wilson, en brandissant le pneumatique d’Arsène Lupin, ce qui m’exaspère dans cette aventure, c’est de sentir continuellement posé sur moi l’œil de ce satané gentleman. Aucune de mes pensées les plus secrètes ne lui échappe. J’agis comme un acteur dont tous les pas sont réglés par une mise en scène rigoureuse, qui va là et qui dit cela, parce que le voulut ainsi une volonté supérieure. Comprenez-vous, Wilson ?
Wilson eût certainement compris s’il n’avait dormi le profond sommeil d’un homme dont la température varie entre quarante et quarante et un degrés. Mais qu’il entendît ou non, cela n’avait aucune importance pour Sholmès qui continuait.

So it was ok, and I’m debating if I will continue with this series. There are 21 volumes. Have you read later volumes?

The Hunting Gun📚 The Hunting Gun,
by Yasushi Inoue
Translated by Michael Emmerich
was first published in 1949
Published in English by Pushkin Press
in 2014
112 pages
Japanese short-story/Literary fiction

It counts for The Classics Club
and the Japanese Literature Challenge

VERDICT: Not a happy piece, but nonetheless a Japanese masterpiece on a very sad love triangle. Exquisitely described, and translated.

Click on the cover to read my full review – and also see an interesting sample of other book covers.

🎧 I still have a few hours to go to finish my current audiobook. It’s over 21 hours long.
See below.


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

As I explained last week, only the first essay is on “Why Read the Classics?”. The other 35 essays each tackle a different classic.
So far, I have read the one of The Odyssey and on Xenophon (430-355 BC – The Anabasis), and am currently reading the one on Ovid (The Metamorphoses).
Ashamed to say I have yet to read Homer‘s books, though a student shared her happy experience with listening to them, so it’s now in my plans for the future.
I haven’t read Xenophon either! And apparently only excepts of The Metamorphoses.
These essays are not very easy, and I am reading them in Italian, so I’m slower, but enjoying their richness of ideas, and of vocabulary!

Arvo Pärt_Out of Silence📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy
Published in 2015
231 pages

Also still working on this one. Fascinating reflections, that ask for more time to stop and reflect.

“Listeners often speak of a certain mystery in the way that Arvo Pärt evokes spirituality through his music, but no one has taken a sustained, close look at how he achieves this. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence examines the powerful interplay between Pärt’s music and the composer’s own deep roots in the Orthodox Christian faith—a relationship that has born much creative fruit and won the hearts of countless listeners across the globe.”

L'Arabe du future #1

📚 L’Arabe du futur :
Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984
(L’Arabe du futur, #1)
by Riad Sattouf
French nonfiction – Graphic novel
Memoir – History
Published in 2014
158 pages
Available in English as
The Arab of the Future:
A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984

Reading with French student F.

My French student F. enjoys exploring different genre, so she chose this nonfiction graphic “novel”.
It’s a nice way of reviewing a major page in world history! 
I like how the artist plays the different background colors.
There are 6 volumes in the series, covering the author’s life from 1978 to 2011.

The Arab of the Future, the #1 French best-seller, tells the unforgettable story of Riad Sattouf’s childhood, spent in the shadows of 3 dictators—Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, and his father.
In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.
Riad, delicate and wide-eyed, follows in the trail of his mismatched parents; his mother, a bookish French student, is as modest as his father is flamboyant. Venturing first to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State and then joining the family tribe in Homs, Syria, they hold fast to the vision of the paradise that always lies just around the corner. And hold they do, though food is scarce, children kill dogs for sport, and with locks banned, the Sattoufs come home one day to discover another family occupying their apartment. The ultimate outsider, Riad, with his flowing blond hair, is called the ultimate insult… Jewish. And in no time at all, his father has come up with yet another grand plan, moving from building a new people to building his own great palace.
Brimming with life and dark humor, The Arab of the Future reveals the truth and texture of one eccentric family in an absurd Middle East, and also introduces a master cartoonist in a work destined to stand alongside Maus and Persepolis.”

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
Narrated by David Shih
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

The synopsis highlights the fact that it “satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era”, but I think that most of it can actually apply to human foolishness and hypocrisy in general!

Parts are unequal in value, I believe, and interest. But I persevere, as some passages are really hilarious views of humans, from the perspective of a cat.
The focus is definitely on the social satire of Japanese people of the time, on authors, neighbors, problems to find a husband for the daughters, though there are also lots of funny passages on what humans physically look like, obviously from a feline perspective!
There are fun passages on clothins, on common baths, on cleaning.


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman📚  The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,
by Laurence
Literary fiction / Humor
735 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

Some years ago, I listened to My Great Books, an excellent lecture given by Salman Rushdie at Emory University, where he shares about the great books in his life.
If you love classics, I highly encourage you to watch this video. The first classic he mentions is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, published in 1767, yes, you read this right, by the Anglo-Irish author Laurence Sterne (1713-1768).
What Rushdie said about it was so inspiring that I added it to my TBR. That was five years ago apparently, though I thought this was way before that.
Anyway, I have bumped it several times recently (it is mentioned in Rouvrir le roman, and in I Am A Cat – my current audiobook), so the time has fially come for me to dive in!
My library has a good audiobook version of it available through Hoopla, so I’m planning on partially listening to it. But I will also probably read some passages, or at least check a print book, to read important relevant notes.

“Endlessly digressive, boundlessly imaginative and unmatched in its absurd and timeless wit.
Laurence Sterne’s great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it, with a rich metafictional narrative that might classify it as the first ‘postmodern’ novel. Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate ‘hero’ Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick. A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations.”

Have you read it? Your thoughts? Any recommended edition for the notes?


The Family Chao


📚  The Family Chao,
Lan Samantha Chang
320 pages

I was very impressed a few years ago, by Chang’s literary novel All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost.
In fact, I have always had a very positive experience with authors emerging from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, of which she is the current director in fact.
So when I saw this recent book of hers featured on the rich book blog EIGER, MÖNCH & JUNGFRAU, I didn’t hesitate to add it to my TBR. I’m indeed quite curious to see what Chang can do in the mystery genre.

“The residents of Haven, Wisconsin, have dined on the Fine Chao Restaurant’s delicious Americanized Chinese food for thirty-five years, happy to ignore any unsavory whispers about the family owners. But when brash, charismatic, and tyrannical patriarch Leo Chao is found dead―presumed murdered―his sons discover that they’ve drawn the exacting gaze of the entire town.”


Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday




Throwback Thursday: March 2011

Throwback Thursday


Revisiting what I posted 10 years ago,
following the idea I found at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog
(click on this link or the logo to see where the idea started from,
and to post the link to your own post).

On the first Thursday of the month available on my site,
I’m planning to post about the previous month, 10 years before.

  📚 📚 📚 

So today, I’ll be revisiting March 2011.

I published 15 posts, 4 of these were reviews.
Here is the one which received most views:

Madame Tussaud

It is still the best historical novel I have read on the French Revolution, and I have recommended many times since I read it ten years ago.

Another book reviewed hat month that has stayed with me, for the beauty of its writing:

  all is forgotten

Click on the cover to know more

  📚 📚 📚 

Next post will be on May 6

All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost

All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost

by Lan Samantha CHANG

205 pages


This book is so hauntingly beautiful!
The intensity of the prose reads like poetry – see the little excerpt here below, a line I kept reading and rereading.
The characters are very real, their feelings and emotion so aptly described and evoked. I felt drawn by these people all along, and read this book in one sitting. This is the sort of book after which the characters remain in you, you seem to know them like other acquaintances. How fascinating would it be to have such a writer leading your writer workshop!


“He would not take comfort in the banality of the present,
but would instead continue striving,
with all of the energy and confidence he could muster,
for the as yet unseen magnificence of the future.”  p. 26


A haunting story of art, ambition, love, and friendship by a writer of elegant, exacting prose. At the renowned writing school in Bonneville, every student is simultaneously terrified of and attracted to the charismatic and mysterious poet and professor Miranda Sturgis, whose high standards for art are both intimidating and inspiring. As two students, Roman and Bernard, strive to win her admiration, the lines between mentorship, friendship, and love are blurred.

Roman’s star rises early, and his first book wins a prestigious prize. Meanwhile, Bernard labors for years over a single poem. Secrets of the past begin to surface, friendships are broken, and Miranda continues to cast a shadow over their lives. What is the hidden burden of early promise? What are the personal costs of a life devoted to the pursuit of art? All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost is a brilliant evocation of the demands of ambition and vocation, personal loyalty and poetic truth. [Product description]


Lan Samantha Chang‘s fiction has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Story and The Best American Short Stories 1994 and 1996. Chang is the author of the award-winning books Hunger and Inheritance, and the novel All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. She is the recipient of the Wallace Stegner and Truman Capote fellowships at Stanford University. She also received, from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a Teaching-Writing fellowship and a Michener-Copernicus fellowship. Her many awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where she directs the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.