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Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
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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.
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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:
- Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors I discovered in 2022
- Thursday: Book review: Death of a Red Heroine
- Friday Face Off: Death of a Red Heroine
Here are the 5 books I finished this past week:
JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧
📚 Death of a Red Heroine
(Inspector Chen Cao #1),
by Qiu Xialong
First published in 2000 (in English)
Read for my public library winter challenge
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,
by Georges Simenon
Mystery – short stories collection
Published in 1944
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,
by Hayao Miyazaki
Translated by Alex Dudok de Wit
Published in 2022
was first published in 1983
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,
by Kobi Yamada,
illustrated by Mae Besom
Published in 2018
Original language: English
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!
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
📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Okamoto Kidō
Japanese short stories
Published between 1897-1931
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
Published in 2020
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.”
“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!
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,
(Nestor Burma #1)
by Léo Malet
Published in 1946
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
by Sylvain Tesson
“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 📚
See description above
Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday