The Japan Diary: The summer of waiting

Moving back home

Moving back home from University halls is a battle that every student faces, the sudden realisation of the accumulation of stuff over the past year and how on earth you will fit it inside of the car to get it all back home again. (Although I feel that I did pretty well with packing this year)

Now I am back home It begins the long summer of waiting, It is a month until we find out our results, if all this hard work will be worth it, We also are still waiting to hear back from our placements to find out if they have accepted us, then there is the whole process of Visa’s not to mention packing my whole life into one suitcase for the year. This is going to be a long but jam packed summer (how on earth will I make all these things fit)

What are your summer plans?

 

No Place Like Somewhere Else

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No Place like somewhere Else Caesar J.M Kauftheil

I first requested this book on Net galley because it was under the LGBT section, (it has been a while since I have reviewed some LGBT books) the title and the cover firstly caught my attention, I am a sucker for a cover I like, and then I was drawn in by the description.

Josie has a passion for running away—or, as her girlfriend Marjorie would say, a fear of commitment. She runs away from home, from making decisions, and most recently, from having a serious discussion about her crumbling relationship.
Upon discovering a pair of tennis shoes outside a Chinese restaurant, Josie feels a sense of lightness on her feet, but each time she wears them, she finds herself running into trouble—in the form of a strange man named Jay, who might just be what she needs to break her own bad habits.

I was expecting to be getting into a long and dramatic read, however, this is a very short novella which can probably be read in a leisurely half an hour on a sunny afternoon in the garden. This is what I Feel is this story’s downfall. It has so much potential so much room for character development and it is just all crushed into one tiny little story – that isn’t to say that the story isn’t enjoyable.

Josie the main character, is one of those characters you just love to hate, she is stubborn, impulsive and unwilling to face her problems, to put it shortly she has commitment problems – I was hoping to see through this story a big arch of her growing as a character, instead she ends up just running away further from her problems. and maybe that is the point of the story, not everyone changes and not everyone learns from their mistakes and that my hopes as a reader are wrongly placed.  Josie’s relationship is very wrong for her, but she is too stubborn to end it, or too afraid of being alone. Her partner seems very aggressive and puts Josie down because of her Bisexuality, saying that she can’t even commit to a sexual orientation. This left me uncomfortable as I know that this is a slur that is often used towards Bisexual people. However, I think that the characters within the story are all supposed to be flawed, Josie is flawed in her fear of commitment, her girlfriend is flawed in her miss-trust and they do not work together as a pair.

Some of the lines within the story really made me laugh for example

“She pushed the lid up and too her surprise she found a pair of shoes. Immediately after, she realised that there was no reason to be surprised by finding shoes in a shoe box”

and

” ‘I read your Name tag on the bus’
‘I thought you were staring at my tits’ Josie said
Jay Shrugged ‘ I can multitask’ ”

Although this book wasn’t what I was expecting, I still enjoyed the story i just wish that there had been more of it.  I am torn on what to rate this story, as I don’t think it is quite as High as 3 stars but is definitely better than a 2 so I am going to settle with the upper side of 2.5 short, sweet but not what I was looking for.

I was able to read and Reveiw this ARC thanks to Net Galley and this book will be avaliable to buy on the 15 June 2016

Zoo – Otsuichi

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Zoo by Otsuichi

This is a collection of short stories that you can really get your teeth into. litrally. well possibly. Otsuichi has created somthing that will awaken your morbid curiosity and drive you to keep reading on . The discription is chilling but leaves you wanting to know more, But each story is so diffrent from the next, the themes and Ideas that Otsuichi brings to the table will leave you asking questions that you didn’t even know you wanted to know the answer too, and maybe you don’t keep reading and you will see.

Discription : A man watches his girlfriend decompose, one Polaroid at a time. A salesman offers a euthanasia drug at an exorbitant price to a man on a hijacked airplane. An abused boy builds a house in the woods out of dead bodies. These are some of the stories in Otsuichi’s ZOO. Creepy, funny, strange, and sad, these stories will fire up your imagination. Let one of Japan’s brightest young authors into your mind. Welcome to the ZOO.

The collection is made up of 11 diffrent stories, each so diffrent from the next, often with this kind of genre the stories can become the same and all merge into one heap, this is not the case with Zoo, Otsuichi’s voice is fresh, if not some what dark, and definatly morbid, the story “Find the blood” Left me Squirming in my seat  but  “In a falling Airplane” Left me Asking so many questions, on the edge of my seat through the whole story.  I Actually read this book  on the train and found people looking at me as I Actually gaspped allowed. If you are a fan of the horror Genre, let Zoo become a new cult classic.

I find Otsuichi’s voice one that will draw you through the stories and the twists will leave you reeling. to find out what is going on. but parts will also make you laugh aloud, and the sheer simplisity of some of the stories will leave you refreshed. as it is a collection of short stories, people often will cast it aside however, I feel that short stories are really making a comeback

As with all collections of Short stories, you will probably like some of the stories more than the others, I think that this is the downfall of the collection there were one or two stories that were just personally not for me, however, I feel that as a whole the collection works well and the overarching themes flow well from one to another with particular stories standing out as the shining stars, The title story Zoo stands out, but  so does “In a park at Twilight, A long time ago” and “In a falling airplane”  all the stories are different lengths so you could have this book as a bit of light reading one story every so often, or Read them all as a collective as I did.

Overall I have been very excited about this collection of stories and I think that it gets a very well deserved 4 out of 5 stars.

I Was given the opportunity to review  this ARC through Net galley

Word and Geeks Book Club June Title announcement

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That’s right! It’s the first book club I have been able to host since January, thankfully the Emma over at the lovely Wandering Words has been keeping things ticking over while I have been gone (she has just moved over to self-hosting so, go give her some love and a follow )

Its the 20th of the month and that means Book club Title announcement time to give you all plenty of time to get a hold of a copy, either from the store, library or a digital copy in time for the 1st of June.

For those of you who are new to the Words and Geeks book club – here is how it works,

On 20th of the month we announce the next month’s title, in time for you to get a copy

On the 1st of the month we write about our first impressions of the book and what we hope that it has in store for us

On the 15th of the month it is time for our Half way check point – you don’t have to be half way through the book, but it is just a chance to check  in on our thoughts of the book so far ( no spoilers!)

And on the Last day of the month we post our Final review of the book!

If you want to take part don’t forget to give us a comment or drop us a link to your Blog posts so we can make this really interactive! or give us a tweet on twitter with the hashtag #wordsandgeeks follow me @GeekUndergrad or Emma@words_wandering

This month we Have not only Wandering words and Myself  hosting but have our very own special guest over at The Teacup Library joining us.

So without further ado here is this month’s title

 

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The Girl Of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Don’t forget If you have any suggestions for future books that you would like to see in the book club – leave a comment :)

 

 

 

Risuko – by David Kudler

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Risuko – David Kudler

 

 

When I found this title available on netgalley as an ARC I got very excited, as many of you know I study Asian Studies and Japanese language, so a historical novel about japan had me sold. here is the description for you to sink your teeth into:

Can One Girl Win A War?

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Every so often their comes along a book whose voice makes the book no longer a book and the book is a reality, the narration might as well be the character sat beside you chatting and telling the story alongside you, Risuko hit this nail right upon the head. Risuko with her curiosity, and childhood wonder, It feels like you are right beside her on the long trek away from her home, the chores she is made to do in the school
Risuko is the first book in a series, and for some people this can be a put off as a series can be a long time investment, But Risuko is worth the investment – the first book is the first section of a longer story arc, but doesn’t feel lacking, the story within the first book is a complete arc of this part of the story. The author David Kudler has not rushed the story into one book, and this is a story that needs a series. To be honest Risuko has swept away my heart..
The author has used Japanese terms through the book, which made me happy, As I speak Japanese, my mind just read over them without having to look them up, however for someone without the language background, there is a handy little glossary at the back. so if you don’t know your Oto-san from your Oka-san or you Kitsune form your Kimchi – don’t fear, everything will be explained although David does also explain a lot of the terms within text too so I feel this book has a great level of inclusion.

Moving onto the plot – This book has everything you could want from a story, History, Backstory, Assassination, and a school where nothing is quite as it seems, and even a little hint of romance, but maybe not how you would be expecting it.
Risuko has been pulled away from her home, sold by her own mother to a noble lady who is taking her away without explanation, however, she soon discovers that she is going to a school owned by the women, to become a shrine maiden ( these are the girls at shrines in japan who look after the shrines, preform rituals and tea ceremonies they are often seen donning White and red traditional clothing )  but on arriving at the school there is mystery afoot as the tasks she is set seem barely fit for the task of a shrine maiden, and when things start going missing it is Risuko who is to blame.

Can Risuko stay out of trouble? Will she discover the truth behind the school? Who is really sneaking around and causing trouble? Because she doubts it is a Kitsune (Fox spirit that are known for being tricksters)

This book will bring The Muromachi Period of Japan to life. I am so impressed with this book, the storyline and the characterisation that I am giving it an Impressive 5/5

and with that I thank the kind people of NetGalley and Still Point Digital Press and the author David Kudler himself for the opportunity of reading this book in return for an honest review

This book is Avaliable to buy on Jun 30 2016

 

The Long Way Home -by Linda Gould

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The Long Way Home By Linda Gould

Description :Peaches Packer swore she didn’t burn the house down. And because of the accident Peaches and her brother Matthew bought an almost new RV called The Bounder. The RV salesman was surprised that two individuals each weighing around 300 pounds would be comfortable in a motor home. This wasn’t a worry for the Packers. The adventure started out as a lark. But quickly the voids in their lives gnawed their way into the escapade. What Peaches really wanted was a man to love and take care of her. But, recently divorced, she wasn’t sure how to find one. Matthew wanted someone in his life too and it wasn’t his sister.

 

Things aren’t going quiet right in Peaches and matthews Life. After a horrible dessert related accident on Matthews 40th birthday which resulted in the burning down of their home Peaches is determined to discover herself. and buying a RV with their late fathers life insurance is her way of starting this journey of self discovery.

however it seems that Peaches isn’t as peachy keen as she makes out. It seems that Peaches has her own ideas and she is certainly doing the driving in this family, It seems that her brother admires her for her strongwilled attituted at first, but the more time he spends with Peaches, the more unstable her behaviour seems, and peaches may be Leading us astray as an unreliable narrator of events.

All Peaches wants from this holiday is to escape it all, find herself, and find love, but what is she really trying to escape, as more and more details come to light, it seems that peaches is being rather libral with the truth.

Enter, Aunty Blossom, Quirky, Elderly, overbearing, it would be enough to drive you around the bend, let alone being trapped inside the small RV. Not to mention some of her home truths hit a little too close to home.  The story is a rollercoster from start to finish but lighthearted and intreasting  consistantly.

The Writting style is gripping, when I first started reading The Long Way Home, I wasn’t sure what to expect, Two siblings in a RV, sounds like a bit of a comdy right? well there are moments which are funny, but as the story goes the the characters develop and what started out as a innocent sibling vacation may be much more than that. A Long Way Home plunges you right into the depths of a family politics, and much we hear is the “He said… She said” and most of this is fed to Mathew via Peaches.

The Characters really come to life on the page, the bossy big sisster and the more  little brother, reminds me of dynamics which we have all seen, this makes the character more beliveable, and the interfamily politics certainly add an intreasting twist to the tale.

The pacing of the story is quite fast, but still indepth, I was suprised to see when I looked at my e-copy that there were only 14 chapters, and I seemed to be zooming through them, I finished the book in a period of 4 hours, so it is a comfortable read if you want a gripping tale to read maybe a good story to take with you to the beach? or on your own RV trip?

I was able to read this book thought the kind people of Netgalley and BlackRose Writing, who sent me a free copy of the ebook in return for an honest reveiw.

 

 

 

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Laplatia – Or The City That Could Not Dream

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Laplatia – Or the city that could not dream By  Alexandre A.Loch

Description: How would it be to live in a city where no one was allowed to use his imagination freely? Where dreams and fantasy had to be used for socioeconomic purposes? Laplatia is a dystopian city in the near future where natural resources for the production of electrical power on Earth have been depleted. With increasing chaos due to this shortage, civilization invented the Extractors, machines capable of extracting human imagination and turning it into Fos, electricity’s raw material. Consequently, citizens were prohibited to “spend useless thoughts,” such as those provided by imagination, dreams, and fantasy, unless they were destined to the Extractors.
In this city, we follow the story of seven characters, their anguishes, their relationships, and their solitude. Laplatia is an erratic story that emotionally moves the reader and urges him to reflect about himself and the society. After all, who said one’s thought is free?

Reading Laplatia was like being in a dream-like state, funny, because in Laplatia dreaming is illegal. I was drawn in by the premises of this story straight away, Dystopian future where imagination and creative thought is restricted and extracted from people to create a power source. written in an abstract way but with enough reality injected to make it believable – I think you will wake up from this book Questioning it, however, just like a dream accepting it’s obscureness due to the lack of reality.

  First lines: The Neurosurgeon looked at the boy, languid, unconscious on a gurney, he turned to the nurse.
“What has he done wrong?”
“It seems something went wrong in the extraction process. He went psychotic,” Said the nurse through her mask.

This book is full of little moments like this that draw you into this abstract world, then make you realise with horrible consideration the truth of the matter – people who loose their minds through the extraction an epidemic of mental health problems, self harming and other issues.

in the first chapter that the self harming was mentioned, I felt like it hadn’t been dealt with very well, it felt like it was just a shock factor, however as the story develops the emotions of the character and her situation are expanded, and it fits in place with in this dark and horrible world.  for those of you who may be sensitive to such things, this book may be distressing as there are topics of Self harm, domestic abuse and other violent things.

I kept reading drawn more and more into this world, there are so many lines which have stuck with me, the authors descriptive powers really create the world around you without giving too much away, yet keeping you hooked on just enough

One of my Favourite lines has been

“However time was against her. It Had slowly corroded her happiness like a sugar cube in tea.”

The pace of the story moves quickly, Jumping almost erratically chapter by chapter between the characters piecing together the story bit by bit. how ever it doesn’t feel rushed and the story is well put together as it really keeps you wondering where the story is going to go as all the lives are slowly pulled together by the threads of plot. However, the ending continues beyond where it feels it should and these threads are slowly pulled apart again one by one and dissected. which sadly left the ending a bit fragmented for my taste.

The concept of the story is good, and it is a good reflection upon dissatisfaction of society in itself. Dispite the weaker ending I feel that this story makes up for it in ways of imagination so if you are willing to push through that then this story is for you, As I wasn’t overwhelmed with the ending  I feel that this story is in a midpoint between 2 and 3 stars, 3 for the begining and the middle of the story and the ideas which are explored and a 2 for the weaker drawn out ending.

This book was  a free e-reader copy from netgalley to reveiw :)

 

 

 

 

Back Online

I'M BAck

The Geek Undergraduate – Coming to a screen near you! That’s right everyone, deadline season is over at last and the poor neglected blog that is The Geek Undergraduate is back in full swing; and boy Have I got a summer line up for you;

I am returning to the hosting of the Words and Geeks Book Club:
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There are some Exciting titles I have had my eyes on and the book we have lined up for June Is looking pretty awesome (the title will be announced later this week May 20th)

30 days of confidence

There is a new Project coming this summer, In collaboration with Wandering words  I am Launching the 30 days of confidence Project. This will be all about pushing my comfort zone and my confidence all through July. There will be more on this throughout June – If you would like more information or would like to join in, don’t forget to leave a message or tweet me @GeekUndergrad

 

Not to mention there will be more adventures and comics with the Japanese Diary as the summer progresses.

It’s going to be a good summer!

Catch you Later – Emily

 

 

The Japan Dairies: Bilingual Things

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Do you speak another language? Have you ever done this? Have you ever been caught talking about other people?

Thankfully I have never had the problem illustrated in the comic, however I have heard people talking about me in Japanese, the look on their faces when they discovered that I understood what they had just said – Lesson be learnt , you never know who can understand you.

For me I think the best moment of using another language is using it without being Aware of the fact you are using it – you may not yet be fluent ( what dose fluent mean anyway?) however, you are able to use the language without over thinking about what you want to say and are just able to speak aloud.

 

I’m Going to be an Anime Girl?!

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Regular comics will return to your screens next week! ( the holidays have been kind of busy sorry)

Hope you enjoy the image! Happy April 1st ( I don’t like mean pranks  – my Anxiety says no) so I hope you all forgive me for this little fun –   I’m not really going to be a magical anime girl who goes on adventures in japan  but hey It’s fun to draw.

what are the worst and best April fools pranks you have ever had pulled on you?