Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Salon: Book Coveting

I've been pretty absent around the blogosphere this past week, but I did finally post my review of Mother Superior by Saleema Nawaz, a book of short stories that I really enjoyed. And I've still been reading, a little bit anyway. After finishing Looking for Alaska, which I stayed up way too late one night reading, I've now started into No Great Mischief by Alastair Macleod. It's a Canadian award-winning book so it's perfect for my challenges, and one I've had on my shelves for a few years so it seemed a good time to pull it out. It's kind of a family saga and I've enjoyed what I've read of it so far.

I haven't had a chance to post any Friday Finds recently, but Debi's mini-challenge this month for the Dewey's Books Reading Challenge is the perfect opportunity to take a look at some of the books I'm looking forward to. Dewey's Book Coveting posts were some of my favourites of her regular features as well, and it's always fun to see everyone's lists of what they'd like to read. So here are a few of the books that I'm coveting these days.

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
I really enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind and am looking forward to returning to the Barcelona filled with books and mystery that he introduced to us in it.
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man - David Martin - makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books, and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house are letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.
The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland
I first heard about this book on the Simon Mayo Book Reviews podcast that I listen to each week, and it sounded fascinating. Set in England in 1321, a little plague, a little witchcraft, what's not to like? It won't be released until the end of September in the US but is available now in the UK.
England, 1321. Deep in the heart of countryside lies an isolated village governed by a sinister regime of Owl Masters - theirs is a pagan world of terror and blackmail, where neighbour denounces neighbour and sin is punishable by murder. This dark status quo is disturbed by the arrival of a house of religious women, who establish a community outside the village. Why do their crops succeed when village crops fail; their cattle survive despite the plague? But petty jealousy turns deadly when the women give refuge to a young martyr.
Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe
I found this one while browsing the Alma Books website. Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball, which I read recently, is one of their titles.
As a young girl from a wealthy family, Ginko Ogino seems set for a conventional life in the male-dominated society of nineteenth-century Japan. But when she contracts gonorrhoea from her husband, she suffers the ignominy of divorce. Forced to bear the humiliation of being treated by male doctors, she resolves to become a doctor herself in order to treat fellow female sufferers and spare them some of the shame she had to endure.

Her struggle is not an easy one: her family disown her, and she has to convince the authorities to take seriously the very idea of a female doctor, and allow her to study alongside male medical students and sit the licensing exam.

Based on the real-life story of Ginko Ogino – Japan’s first female doctor – Beyond the Blossoming Fields does full justice to the complexity of her character and her world in a fascinating and inspirational work of fiction.
Then I was updating my Orange Prize list today and added this book from this year's shortlist to my wishlist.

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
I'm always interested in stories with a Japanese connection, and this sounds like a slightly different look at the after-effects of the war.
August 9, 1945, Nagasaki. Hiroko Tanaka steps out onto her veranda, taking in the view of the terraced slopes leading up to the sky. Wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back, she is twenty-one, in love with the man she is to marry, Konrad Weiss.

In a split second, the world turns white. In the next, it explodes with the sound of fire and the horror of realization. In the numbing aftermath of a bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost.
And I'm still lusting after Kabuki: The Alchemy by David Mack. I first heard about this graphic novel from Carl, and the art in it looks fantastic. Visit Carl's post to see some of the awesome images with a strong Japanese flavour. As I mentioned above, I'm always intrigued by all things Japanese so how could I possibly resist this one?

I could go on but I think I'll stop there. I haven't bought a single book this month, although I did receive a couple last week that I'll mention tomorrow, and am refraining until after we move. I have far too many books to move as it is, it seems silly to add more right now. A little book buying post-move sounds like a nice incentive though. As I mentioned last week we'll be moving sometime in June to a different area of Tokyo so I won't be around too much over the next few weeks, but will try to stop in when I have time. I hope you all have a great week! Happy reading!


  1. Good luck with the move! I'm really looking forward to reading The Angel's Game as well.

  2. I just ordered SHADOW OF THE WIND I am happy to read you liked it.
    Have a nice week Nat, hope you will like your new place.

  3. Mother Superior sounds like a great collection of stories. Thank you for your review.

    I always enjoyed Dewey's Book Coveting posts too. It's fun to see others carrying on the tradition.

    I'm looking forward to reading The Angel's Game--although I've still yet to read The Shadow of the Wind. Terrible, I know.

    Burnt Shadows is another one I'm eager to read. I recently picked up a discounted copy at the store.

    I hope you have a great week!

  4. I've just finished Karen Maitland's first book and it moved rapidly up my list when I saw 'The Owl Killers' was out (because how can you really justify buying a massive hardback from an author if you still have another massive hardback by them sitting round your house?).

    Beyond the Blossoming Fields sound fascinating, it's going on the list.

    Good luck with the move, I hope your new home is everything you want.

  5. I really want Kabuki too! And The Angel's Game sounds wonderful, but I think I'll read The Shadow of the Wind first.

  6. I'm SO glad you mentioned The Angel's Game! I need to go to my library website and reserve it RIGHT NOW!

  7. I want to read most of those books, too! I wish there were more hours in a day!

  8. I'm halfway through Burnt Shadows. It's a bit slow going for me.

  9. I'm looking forward to the Zafon book too! Now the others you mention sounds so good, especially the Owl Killers. Now that I think of it, Karen Maitland, has another book that is also on my wish list. Ah, so hard to catch up with all of these books!

    Hope you are having a great week!

  10. I liked your review of "Mother Superior"; the stories sound pretty good.

    I can't WAIT until The Angel's Game comes out! I loved Shadow of the Wind.

    Hope your move goes well :o)

  11. Kristen M. - Thanks! I'm looking forward to revisiting Zafon's Barcelona.

    Sylvie - It's been a few years since I read The Shadow of the Wind, but that book is responsible for making me want to visit Barcelona. :)
    Our new place isn't perfect but some things about it should be better than our current apartment.

    Wendy - I think I might like to start doing a Book Coveting post in the spirit of Dewey every once in a while instead of Friday Finds which I never get around to lately.

    I actually don't remember much of The Shadow of the Wind anymore. Another book I should reread someday. Maybe after The Angel's Game to see how they're linked.

    Jodie - I'm the same way about feeling guilty buying a hardcover book when I still have the author's previous hardcover unread. I've never read anything by Karen Maitland but am looking forward to trying one now.

    Nymeth - We have to blame Carl! He made Kabuki so irresistible! :P

    Andi - I rarely buy hardbacks but am very tempted to splurge on The Angel's Game next month.

    Kailana - You and me both! I definitely could use more hours in the day.

    mee - I'll be interested to hear what you think of Burnt Shadows once you're done.

    Iliana - I don't really want them to stop, but sometimes I think it would be nice if no one published anything new for a couple of years so we could all catch up a bit! LOL.

    Terri B. - I'm really looking forward to The Angel's Game too. Like I said to Andi, I'm thinking I may have to splurge on the hardback.

  12. Hmmm--I haven't heard of any of those books!! Sometimes I wonder how as readers we'll ever get around to all the books we want to read. I haven't been book shopping in a while either--well, except for yesterday when I HAD to use my Borders coupon. Would be a shame to let that go to waste! :)

    How's the home search going?

  13. Trish - I know what you mean! As much as I love finding new-to-me authors, it kind of overwhelms me sometimes all the books I want to read and will probably never get to.

    And yes, you definitely couldn't waste a perfectly good coupon! :P

    We found an apartment so now we're arranging the moving company and I'll have to start hardcore packing soon. We're just renting and there's not a lot of choice because most places don't allow pets. So it's not perfect but should be nicer than the one we're in now and the area is much greener so I'm really looking forward to that.

  14. I have totally been coveting Burnt Shadows, too - so much so that I broke my book ban and purchased it! Can't wait to start reading it.

  15. Good luck with the move--hope everything goes smoothly. I hate the "hardcore packing" and unpacking! There are still a few boxes that we haven't unpacked from our move 2 years ago! We're renting, so we will definitely be moving sometime and I just haven't wanted to bother with it when I know I'll eventually have to pack it all up again.

  16. megan - Sometimes book bans need to be broken! I hope you enjoy the book!

    Trish - Thanks! I'm surrounded by boxes right now and still have quite a ways to go. We've been in our current apartment for 3.5 years and we realized it's the longest we've ever lived anywhere since we got married. In almost 9 years of marriage this will be our 6th move! Kind of makes me tired thinking about it. LOL.


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