Sunday Post #83 – 03/19/2023

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


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Sunday Salon      Mailbox Monday2

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

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#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

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Nothing really special this week, except I am happy I managed to find the time, in the midst of lots of hours of teaching (French, online), to finish the lecture I’ll be giving to the sisterhood at my church on March 25.
And one result of exhaustion is reading more manga and comics!

I only posted once since last Sunday:


Arvo Pärt_Out of Silence

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

This was really excellent, and I need some time to write a review.
I really enjoyed how the author closely connected Arvo’s art with Orthodox theology.
Though his section of tintinnabuli could have been a bit clearer.
I discovered so many layers in his music I didn’t know were there.
Definitely making me want to relisten to so many pieces.

Éclipses japonaises📚 Éclipses japonaises,
by Éric Faye
240 pages
Historical fiction

I finished this one late Saturday night, so I haven’t had time to write a review.
This is an excellent and quite eye-opening historical novel focusing on (mostly Japanese) people kidnapped and taken to North Korea, to use them as teachers to teach Korean spies to speak and behave as real Japanese people.
And possibly to perform some “special missions.”
This is very good, and it confirms I need to read more books by the author of Nagasaki.

Department of Mind Blowing Theories

📚 Department of
Mind-blowing Theories,

by Tom Gauld
160 pages
Comics / Humor/ Science

This author/illustrator is absolutely amazing!
This time, this is not about authors/books/editors, but about science, all kinds of sciences, and all kinds of invention.
It’s both so hilarious and so smartly done, plus the illustrations are fabulous.
Very neat and detailed, the type of art I really enjoy.

Baking With Kafka


📚 Baking With Kafka,
by Tom Gauld
160 pages
Comics / Humor/ Book about books

Maybe I like this volume slightly less than the others, because it’s not on one particular theme. And I’m afraid there are a few pages I actually didn’t understand.
Still, it’s always great to open a book by Tom Gaud: I love his humor (here on books, pop culture, and various themes) and his beautiful art is totally on target for the messages he wants to convey.
This is the kind of books I would love to own and revisit often, but I’m fortunate that my public library is walking distance from my house!
If you want to give a beautiful and smart book, Tom’s books are gold, lol.

Astra lost in Space 5


📚 Astra Lost in Space, #5
by Kenta Shinohara
彼方のアストラ 5
was originally published in 2018
Translated from the Japanese by
Adrienne Beck
12/4/2018, by VIZ Media LLC
288 pages
Manga / Science-fiction

Oh wow, this was a fabulous series.
I really enjoy all the events, discoveries, revelations of the last volume, and how things turned out at the end.
This is a very positive series, illustrating the difficult stages of growing up, but how a group of friends can stick together to make it eaier and even enjoyable – even if some pain is involved.
It’s also about finding one’s own identity, and learning to think – which may imply not always taking for granted what adults have told us.
There are very few books these days inviting people to think, this was refreshing.
There’s also the hope that newer generations could find better solutions to major problems than what previous generations did.
I also loved all the scifi and scientific details.
My only regret: this is already the last book in the series.
Shinohara says it’s the first time he writes scifi manga, he should definitely keep going, plus the last pages make me hope more discoveries could be in store for at least a couple of the main characters.

What's Michael Fatcat collection 1📚  What’s Michael?:
Fatcat Collection Volume 1,
by Makoto Kobayashi
Volumes 1-6
originally published 1990-2000
Translated from the Japanese by
Alan Gleason &  Hisashi Kotobuki
2/25/2020, by Dark Horse Manga
528 pages
Manga / Cats / Humor

This is a great collection of the first 6 volumes of the What’s Michael? manga series – though this collection is not presented in the usual manga manner, in the sense that you read it as a Western book, from left to right.
It’s full of hilarious details on cats’ personalities and quirky behavior, and common scenes for cat owners.
There are really funny passages, like with these 2 tough Yakuza members: Yakuza K has a cat, but works hard to hide the fact from his rival Yakuza M, for fear of looking too weak or sentimental.
The drawings are so well done, very detailed and with clean lines.
Every cat owner should have this book!
I hope to be able to read volume 2 of the fatcat collection soon.

Not done yet with my long but fabulous current audio – see below.


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

Hmm, I don’t think I have read any pages from this one this week, too tired I guess.
Though it’s really good
and I’ll definitely keep going.

I am currently reading the essay on Orlando furioso, an Italian epic poem by Ariosto (early 16th century).

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

Almost done with this one. Really fascinating to see the evolution of his father’s ideas, as he decides to take his young family back to Syria.
Some scenes of daily life are quite appaling!

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.


Babel 🎧  Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence:
An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,
by R. F. Kuang
544 pages
22 hours
Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi
Fantasy / Historical fiction

OMG, I can see now why all the hype on this one, and definitely well deserved!
I love linguistics, and I almost made it my career, so there’s so much to enjoy for me in this book.
I love all the explanations, examples between languages, and data on research.
The author did an awesome job at finding a fantasy element that would fit with languages and with world history – here the growth and decline of the Birtish Empire. A very brilliant idea.
And the characters are so well described, you can’t but feel with them.
I’m glad I decided to listen to it, the narrator Chris Lew Kum Hoi is excellent, plus other voices insert words pronounced correctly in various foreign languages. This is unusual in an audio production and so so refreshing!


Les trois mousquetaires📚 Les trois mousquetaires,
by Alexandre Dumas
896 pages
Historical fiction
I’ll be reading it with French student E.
It counts for The Classics Club

I read this novel a few decades ago, and at this point, I was actually not considering rereading it.
But my French student E. thought it would be good for her to read it, as she bumped into so many references to this novel.
I’m actually delighted to revisit it with her!

“Alexandre Dumas’s most famous tale— and possibly the most famous historical novel of all time.
This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense.
Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining.”



Fenêtres sur le Japon

📚 Fenêtres sur le Japon : ses écrivains et cinéastes, by Éric Faye
330 pages

I did mention above how I definitely wanted to read more books by Faye.
So I added this one to my TBR: a portrait of old and new Japan, through its famous authors and movies. Perfect for me.


A History of the Island

📚 A History of the Island, by Eugene Vodolazkin
Оправдание Острова
was first published in 2020
Translated from the Russian by Lisa C. Hayden
To be published on May 23, 2023 by Plough Publishing
320 pages
Historical fiction

I enjoyed a lot Laurus, so when I discovered there was a type of sequel, to be soon published in English, and that it was available through Netgalley, I didn’t hesitate.
My thanks to the publisher!

“Monks devious and devout – and an age-defying royal pair – chronicle the history of their fictional island in this witty critique of Western civilization and history itself.
Eugene Vodolazkin, internationally acclaimed novelist and scholar of medieval literature, returns with a satirical parable about European and Russian history, the myth of progress, and the futility of war.
This ingenious novel, described by critics as a coda to his bestselling Laurus, is presented as a chronicle of an island from medieval to modern times. The island is not on the map, but it is real beyond doubt. It cannot be found in history books, yet the events are painfully recognizable. The monastic chroniclers dutifully narrate events they witness: quests for power, betrayals, civil wars, pandemics, droughts, invasions, innovations, and revolutions. The entries mostly seem objective, but at least one monk simultaneously drafts and hides a “true” history, to be discovered centuries later. And why has someone snipped out a key prophesy about the island’s fate?
These chronicles receive commentary today from an elderly couple who are the island’s former rulers. Prince Parfeny and Princess Ksenia are truly extraordinary: they are now 347 years old. Eyewitnesses to much of their island’s turbulent history, they offer sharp-eyed observations on the changing flow of time and their people’s persistent delusions. Why is the royal couple still alive? Is there a chance that an old prophecy comes to pass and two righteous persons save the island from catastrophe?
In the tradition of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, Vodolazkin is at his best recasting history, in all its hubris and horror, by finding the humor in its absurdity. For readers with an appetite for more than a dry, rational, scientific view of what motivates, divides, and unites people, A History of the Island conjures a world still suffused with mystical powers.

Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday




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
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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!

Sunday Post #79 – 02/19/2023

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

We are already in the yoyo weather season (as I call it) here in Chicagoland, going from mid 50s to snow and ice, back to the 50s. Much earlier than usual!

I just posted a (looooong) review this week (on Rouvrir le roman), but have devoured a few other books – I have entered a manga obsession again, as I finally restarted finding some that work for my picky tastes. See more about this below.

And I forgot to mention last week, the list of reviews posted on this blog is now over 1,000. So far, exactly 1,0005, though I know there are actually more, that I forgot to list on my Authors List recap page.

Here are the 4 books I finished this past week.


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

VERDICT: Some basic reflections on the future of the novel, and its place in our society and culture.

I hadn’t opened a literary criticism book for a while, and I had seen good things about Rouvrir le roman (not sure where), so I decided to read it with one of my French students who has read vastly and even attends some classes on literature.
Click on the cover to access my review

Cat + Gamer #1

📚 Cat + Gamer, #1
by Wataru Nadatani
猫暮らしのゲーマーさん 1
was originally published in 2019
Translated from the Japanese by
Zack Davisson
5/11/2022, by Dark Horse Manga
200 pages
Manga/ Literary fiction
Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16

OMG, this is so good!
I love manga, but I am super super picky. It has to be a good story, but not too YA, not too romantic, not too violent, and with nice art as well!
Well, Cat + Gamer fits perfectly the bill!
The cat owner, Riko, is 29. So, away from YA dramas. Plus, she’s a gamer, which has some attraction for me. She’s on the shy and private side, but as soon as she leaves her place of work, she kind of leads a very different life, with online games, where she is fiesty and very competitive.
But her life is changing quite a bit when a kitten is found on the grounds of her company.

I loved all the details related to games, but also to cats. Plus cute drawings.
Don’t you LOOOVE that cover??
The kitten, I’m not going to reveal his/her name, as this takes a good part of book 1, is all you can imagine about cats, with your dreams and nightmares, lol.
I can’t wait to read more adventures about Riko and her cat.

So far, there are 8 volumes, 2 only in English, but 6 available in French!
That will do. Nice incentive to speed up my Japanese learning!

Astra Lost in Space #1

📚 Astra Lost in Space, #1
by Kenta Shinohara
彼方のアストラ 1
was originally published in 2016
Translated from the Japanese by
Adrienne Beck
12/5/2017, by VIZ Media LLC
208 pages
Manga / Science-fiction
Read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 16

Suddenly really lucky with manga, as I just found another one that I really like, so far.
This high school organizes Planet Camp: they send a group of teenagers on another planet for a week, and they have to find ways to survive there before a ship comes to take them back home.
When this group of 9 teenagers arrive on planet McPa, something weird happens: an orb absorbs them and send them deeper in space, 5,000 light-years away!
They have to figure out where they are, and how to get back home, if that’s even possible.
Was this orb part of a test? They have no idea so far.

It’s a cool evocation of the world of teens, each very different, and some not really happy or even open to collaborate, even if it seems to be the only way of surviving.
And of course I like all the scifi gadgets that are supposed to exist in 2063, when the story takes place, and the weird fauna and flora they discover on wherever they landed!

They make a very important discovery at the end of volume 1, and I need to know what happens next, so I just got the next 4 volumes from my library!


📚 Mooncop,
by Tom Gauld
Graphic novel / Science fiction
Published in 2016
94 pages

Tom Gauld’s art is fabulous (another cool cover!), but I have enjoyed some other of his books better as far as the story is concerned (check for instance The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess).

This is about this cop sent to work on the Moon, but he is a bit sad, because really there’s nothing much to do there. Plus, little by little, people ask to go back and live on Earth.
The very end sounds a bit flat too me. It would be ok as the first book in a series, but this book was published in 2016, and so far it has no sequel.
So a bit disappointing for the story, but I enjoyed every page for its art sake.

I didn’t finish any audiobook this week, as my current one is over 21 hours – 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

Some time ago, I decided to teach myself how to read Italian, to be able to better enjoy my favorite Italian author: Italo Calvino.
Last year, I read my first novel in Italian by him (The Cloven Viscount is the English title), so I’m now reading this collection of essays by him in Italian – as part of my plan to read more books in Italian and Spanish this year.
I originally thought the whole book was Perché leggere i classici?, but I realized this is actually the title of the first essay only. But all the other essays deal about various classics, so I’ll definitely be reading the whole book.
The edition has a long and detailed biography on Calvino as well.
I am almost done with the first essay, and I so enjoy the Calvino’s 14 definitions of the classics. So he come sup with these various definitions and explains what he means by them.
If you want to have a quick look at the definitions and relevant excerpts, here is a good free pdf with them (in English). The whole pdf are quotes from this book.

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
Reading 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. 

But so far, this one is a bit disappointing. The first quarter of the book seems a bit disjointed, with three separate plots.
Though I just started the second quarter, when Lupin and Herlock Sholmès finally meet, and this part is more fun, with some hilarious comments.
I am curious to see how the three plots connect, and how the author s going to deal about the smarter man of the two!

Here is the English synopsis:
“LeBlanc’s creation, gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, is everything you would expect from a French aristocrat — witty, charming, brilliant, sly . . . and possibly the greatest thief in the world. In this classic tale, Lupin comes up against the only man who may be able to stop him . . . no less than the great British gentleman-detective Herlock Sholmes! Who will emerge triumphant?”

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

I bought this book several years ago and was planning to read it last year for the TBR challenge, but never had time for it. So it’s finally time.

If you are not familiar with Arvo Pärt’s music, please try listening to it right away! I don’t think you can remai n neutral, even if you are not Orthodox.
I actually discovered him many years before my conversion, so I’m very interested to understand more deeply how Orthodoxy is articulated in his work.

The author is slow in going into that, as he focuses first on more general matters, such as religion vs. spirituality, and the link between text and music. But these reflections are fascinating anway.

“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.”

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

How come I have read many books by Soseki, The Gate for instance, but not this one, which might be his most famous!
I usually read books translated from the Japanese, because I think I can better enjoy the style, but I saw this was available as audiobook on Hoopla, so for once, I have decided to listen to a book translated from the Japanese. 
So far, it’s working beautifully, thanks to the wonderful narrator David Shih (who narrates mostly books related to Asia, it seems).
Though I may also access the ebook version, especially to reread the excellent introduction.
The book is written in the first person narrative, and the narrator is a nameless cat. The work is a satire, as what humans do are considered ftrom the perspective of a smart and rather proud cat.
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!

The very beginning is excellent. Now, I’m in a less interesting part, where the narrator sometimes is no longer the 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!


The Hunting Gun📚 The Hunting Gun,
by Yasushi Inoue
Japanese short story
was first published in 1949
80 pages
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I have read only one book by Yasushi Inoue, and it was slightly disappointing, but I have decided to give himanother chance with this short story.

The Hunting Gun, set in the period immediately following WWII, follows the consequences of a tragic love affair among well-to-do people in an exclusive suburb of the great commercial cities of Osaka and Kobe.
Told from the viewpoints of three different women, this is a story of the psychological impact of illicit love. First viewed through the eyes of Shoko, who learns of the affair through reading her mother’s diary, then through the eyes of Midori, who had long known about the affair of her husband with Saiko, and finally through the eyes of Saiko herself.”


La Médaille


📚  La Médaille,
Lydie Salvayre
Literary fiction
168 pages

One of the books added to my TBR because of the last book I finished!
It was actually published in English as The Award, so here is the synopsis:

“A story of an awards ceremony of a massive automotive factory takes acceptance speeches and presentations, makes them into individual minibiographies, and explores the insanity and chaos that is a reflection of human life.”


Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday