Note: I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon this Saturday, October 18th, but I will not be posting any updates here.
When I'm not reading or cheering, I'll be hanging out on Twitter and Instagram. Come say hi!

Friday, October 30, 2009

'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror'

by Robert Louis Stevenson
Fiction/Classic, 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', 1886; ‘Olalla,’ 1885; ‘The Body Snatcher,’ 1884
Penguin Classics, trade pb, 205 p.
Published as a ‘shilling shocker’, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll’s strange association with ‘damnable young man’ Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde’s true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil. The other stories in this volume also testify to Stevenson’s inventiveness within the Gothic tradition: ‘Olalla’, a tale of vampirism and tainted family blood, and ‘The Body Snatcher’, a gruesome fictionalization of the exploits of the notorious Burke and Hare. [From the back cover]
For a long time I never had any particular desire to read this, or any of the other horror classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. I’ve never been into reading horror but over the last couple of years I’ve become much more open to it. It all started with the ridiculously addictive Twilight series, and then Colleen Gleason’s Gardella Vampire Chronicles, which surprisingly, to me, I really enjoyed. That led me to finally read Dracula. While it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, I was so glad to have finally read for myself what is often considered the origin of our modern day vampire fascination. After years of dismissing them I now seem to be a fan of vampire novels!

Well, as far as horror classics go, this year was Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’s turn. We stumbled upon the BBC TV series of Jekyll in the DVD rental shop so we watched the first couple of episodes and quite enjoyed it. Then preparations for moving this summer and all that entailed prevented us from watching any more and we didn’t get back to it until earlier this month. However, it was enough to make me curious to read the original. As it turned out, I ended up reading the book while we watched the show and that definitely added to my overall enjoyment. The TV series was not a straight re-telling so it was fun to see how they played with the original text, even having the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, showing up at one point.

As for the book itself, it was quite satisfying. Sure, Jekyll and Hyde embodying the dual nature of man is so ingrained in our collective consciousness that the story itself certainly held no surprise, but I enjoyed it all the same for the language and Stevenson’s storytelling. How much more fun it must’ve been though to read it back when it first came out in 1886, without any spoilers!

The two other tales included in this volume were also suitably spooky and atmospheric. The vampire tale, Olalla, is very gothic, set in an isolated house in the mountains in Spain. And ‘The Body Snatcher’ was a perfect R.I.P. tale with plenty of grave robbing and murder.

Again, I’m so glad to have finally read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as well as the two additional stories. I suppose I’ll be reading Frankenstein too now. Maybe for next year’s R.I.P. Challenge. In the meantime, I’m now quite intrigued to read Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly, about Dr Jekyll’s maid. I guess I can no longer say that I don’t read horror!

Read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde online (courtesy of Project Gutenberg)

Buy this book at:  Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | BookDepository.co.uk | BookDepository.com

My Rating: 4/5
(#51 for 2009, R.I.P. IV Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
A Work in Progress
Becky's Book Reviews
Between the Covers
Bluestalking
BooksPlease
Educating Petunia
things mean a lot
The Zen Leaf
If you have also reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.

The small print: Links in this post to Amazon (including book covers) and The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively.  Purchases made via these links earn me a small commission.  For more information visit my About Page.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

'The Road from La Cueva'

by Sheila Ortego
Fiction, 2008
Sunstone Press, pb, 134 p.
Ana Howland is at a crisis point. As a constrained yet passionate woman, she finds few outlets for her desires in her role as mother and wife. She is subsumed by a controlling husband, but is craving her own fulfillment.

Her frustrations find outlet through a friendship with an eccentric neighbor and an affair with a man who respects her and nurtures her spirit and independence. Through hardship and grim determination, she learns to look with her own eyes, to feel with her own heart. She discovers a deep well of resilience and compassion, with room for growth and freedom. Her story is one of a leap of faith, away from despair and toward life at its fullest. Despite all odds, she navigates herself, through small but profound changes, into new ways of living, of relating to her friends, her daughter, herself.
                                                                                  [From the back cover]
This was a beautifully written story of a woman struggling to lead a life of her own choosing, trapped in a marriage by her overbearing, controlling husband but afraid to leave for the sake of their daughter. The story follows Ana as she comes to some realisations about herself and the people around her, and as she essentially learns how to become her own person. The author said in her guest post at Tip of the Iceberg that she “basically used [her] own life as material”, and the story did feel very real and personal.

The author is also a poet, and I think that careful wordsmanship comes through very clearly in her prose. There were some wonderful descriptions throughout, as well as some clever metaphors that beautifully express Ana’s struggle to become free.
He ran his fingers around the rim of the cup. “See how this isn’t even? The Japanese call this 'shibui', the flaw that makes something beautiful. The shape has to have some room, some freedom.” …. “Like with people,” he said, and she nodded.
As an aside, I loved this quote because I, too, admire the natural, 'flawed' beauty often seen in Japanese pottery. We don't have any really fancy dishes but some of my favourites are the ones that we picked up in Mashiko, one of the areas in Japan famous for pottery, quite a few years ago.  Some might consider them rough, and asymmetrical, but I think they're beautiful.
She pictured how he must have looked when he wrote the letter, saw his hands, his chapped, strong, tender hands, as he penned it. … He hadn’t needed to say more. … The words lay cruelly on the thick gray paper.

She imagined him planning it while chopping wood or wedging clay, giving his anger back to the earth, to hold for him. He would hold the anger in while he was at work. It would still be waiting for him when he got home. The anger would sleep with him at night, wrapping itself around his heart like the parasitic mistletoe on the juniper trees. It would reveal itself in the pots he made, in crude, squat stoneware heavy with the weight of their emptiness.
I thoroughly enjoyed this slim novel and in fact, I would’ve been quite happy if it had been longer, but as it is, it’s a touching story with an important message. Namely, that no matter how we have ended up in a situation, whether through our own poor choices or not, we do have the power to change our circumstances, to escape if needed, if only we can find the strength within ourselves to do so. Truly, a lovely little book.

The author is working on her next book, apparently to be set in Canada, and I very much look forward to reading more by Sheila Ortego in the future.

For more information on the author or the book, visit Sheila Ortego's blog, and this article in the Huffington Post.

Thank you to the author, Sheila Ortego, for the opportunity to read this book.

Buy this book at:  Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | BookDepository.co.uk | BookDepository.com

My Rating: 4/5
(#50 for 2009, ARC Reading Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
Tip of the Iceberg
Terra's Book Blog
Puss Reboots
If you have reviewed this book, let me know and I'll link to it here.

The small print:  This book was received free of charge from the author for review purposes.  
Links in this post to Amazon (including book cover) and The Book Depository contain my Associates or Affiliates ID respectively.  Purchases made via these links earn me a small commission.  For more information visit my About Page.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two new books, green tea ice cream, and a couple of reminders

A couple of books have arrived in my mailbox over the last week.  The first is Hell by Yasutaka Tsutsui.  You might remember that I recently read Paprika by the same author, which I read and reviewed courtesy of Alma Books.  They then wondered if I'd be interested in trying another of his books and of course I said yes!  Unexpectedly, they also sent along another copy of Paprika so expect a giveaway for that one at some point.

The second book, which only just arrived today, is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  I actually ordered this at the beginning of October so I was getting worried about it as the books I order from The Book Depository usually arrive quite quickly.  Anyway, I'm glad it's finally here, even though I don't have time to read it quite yet. 

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.



So, has everyone recovered from the read-a-thon?  As I mentioned, I didn't quite reach my goal of 1000 pages for this read-a-thon but it was certainly still a lot of fun to spend the weekend reading and blogging with over 300 other people from around the world!  Thank you again to Eva, Nymeth, Hannah and Trish! And thank you to everyone who stopped by to cheer me on.  Your comments were very appreciated!

In Read-a-thon Update 5 yesterday, I mentioned that H decided to make some ice cream, and that I'd post a photo.  Well, here it is... homemade matcha (green tea) ice cream.  I know the bitter green tea powder is often an acquired taste for us foreigners but I love it!  And it's such a fun colour!

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PhotobucketAlso, a reminder that this is the last week of October, which means it's also the last week to get your links up for October's Hello Japan! mini-challenge, which was, in case you've forgotten, to read or watch something scary, spooky or suspenseful, and Japanese in origin.  Even if you haven't done anything yet, you still have time.  You could read a manga or a short story online, or watch a movie. And you don't have to do a full-fledged review, just tell us about what you read or watched.  I'll be posting the round-up on November 1st, and announcing the November task shortly thereafter. 

As well, the discussion of the first volume of I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki, for our Japanese Literature Read-along group will take place on November 15th. Of course you can always join in the discussion anytime. The discussion for Volumes 2 and 3 will start on December 15th and January 15th respectively, so there's still plenty of time to grab a book if you'd like to read along with us.  Gnoegnoe of Graasland was reading I Am a Cat during the read-a-thon and she has me really looking forward to it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Read-a-thon: Update (6) - And that's a wrap!

It's now after 9 PM on Sunday here in Japan and the read-a-thon has officially ended.  Wow!  The time just flew by!  I kind of gave up on reading during the last couple of hours and spent the time bloghopping instead.  Along with a dinner break.  So I didn't quite make my goal of 1000 pages but I had fun all the same, and it was great to see so many people reading together this weekend.

Total Time Spent Reading:  8 hours 35 min.
Total Pages Read:  723
Books Completed: 3

Food/Drink Consumed:  We ordered sushi for dinner, which we had with more green tea.

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Mood:  Amused.  As proof that I'm in the wrong time zone, because even though it's getting late, and I'm a little tired, I usually read at night in bed so I'm now in the mood to read again!  LOL. 


End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  Hour 6 since that's 3 AM in Japan and by then I was having trouble concentrating so I headed to bed for a few hours.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, or any fast-paced YA fiction.  Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi, or any graphic novel, or manga.  Generally anything fun, and easy to read.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  Nope.  You guys do such a fantastic job making this a truly wonderful event!  Thank you!!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  All of it.  Everything seemed to work seamlessly. 
5. How many books did you read?  Only 3 this time around.
6. What were the names of the books you read?  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen, and The Vampire of Ropraz by Jacques Chessex
7. Which book did you enjoy most?  All of them for different reasons.  Don't make me choose!
8. Which did you enjoy least?  See #7.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  I wasn't an official cheerleader but I tried to bloghop some and visit other readers.  It took quite a while though and I wish I could've gotten around to more.  I apologize if I didn't get by yours, but I hope you had a wonderful time!  I really appreciate all the people who cheered, their support and enthusiasm truly helps to make this event so enjoyable!
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  Oh yes, I'm sure to participate again!  I still struggle with balancing reading and computer time so I think I may just do one, then the other next time (12 hours reading, 12 hours cheering), instead of trying to do both throughout.  But it's such a fun event, I'm already looking forward to April!

Thank you Eva, Nymeth, Hannah and Trish!  Dewey would be proud!

Read-a-thon: Update (5) - Final Stretch

It's now a little after 6 PM on Sunday here in Japan. I spent some time visiting other blogs but I have to say that blog-hopping has taken much longer than I expected, plus it's so easy to get distracted so I haven't visited nearly as many as I would like. Whether I made it by to leave a comment or not though, I hope you're all having a great read-a-thon! As a result of blog-hopping, making ice cream, and doing the dishes (see Other Activities below), I really didn't start reading again until about 4 PM Japan time. Gah! With the hours quickly counting down, it's now that I always start feeling panicky about not having read enough.  I did finally sit down with The Vampire of Ropraz by Jacques Chessex.  A super slim novella that I just finished a few minutes ago.

Actual Time Spent Reading (since last update): 70 min.
Pages Read (since last update): 89

Total Time Spent Reading:  8 hours 35 min.
Total Pages Read:  723
Books Completed: 3 (The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 - David Petersen, The Vampire of Ropraz - Jacques Chessex)

Food/Drink Consumed: For lunch, a bagel sandwich, and sparkling water.  Then later as a snack, senbei (rice crackers), and iced green tea.

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Other Activities:  H decided to make ice cream (the ice cream maker was one of our best purchases this past summer, homemade ice cream is delish!) so I helped with that a bit.  Hopefully it'll be hardened enough to have some near the end of the read-a-thon and I'll post a picture.  Then we did the dishes and some other tidying up.

Mood:  A little disappointed that I haven't accomplished more, but having fun all the same.  Why does the read-a-thon always go by so so very quickly?  

It's hard to believe the read-a-thon is almost over already! Just under 3 hours left.  For anyone who has been awake for the whole thing so far and is still up, you can do it!!! You're almost there!

BTW, just a note, especially to my regular readers, that even though I'm not replying to comments on my blog during the read-a-thon, I will do so tomorrow. So if you've asked a question you can expect a response.



Mini-challenge completed (since last update): The Page 23: "I'd rather read..." Mini-challenge

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Read-a-thon: Update (4) - Up and at 'em!

It's now 12:30 PM on Sunday afternoon here in Japan.  Yikes! We're already into Hour 16 of the Read-a-thon! Only 8 more hours to go, guys! As you can see I'm up again after having a nice sleep. I slept a bit longer than I wanted to but the bed was so warm and comfy, it was hard to get up. I took Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 with me to bed and I did manage to read for a while before I fell asleep. Then I finished the rest of it off while having breakfast a little while ago.

Actual Time Spent Reading (since last update): 70 min.
Pages Read (since last update): 180

Total Time Spent Reading: 7 hours 30 min.
Total Pages Read: 634
Books Completed: 2 (The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 - David Petersen)

Food/Drink Consumed:  Tea and toast.

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Other Activities:  Zzzzzz.....
Mood:  A little sad that I missed so many great mini-challenges.  And still a little sleepy.  I plan to spend another hour or so blog-hopping and then get back to reading.


Mini-challenge completed (since last update):
Wisdom of Age mini-challenge

Read-a-thon: Update (3) - Oh so sleepy!

It's now 3 AM on Sunday morning here in Japan.  I haven't been doing much reading at all since my last update almost 6 hours ago (really! 6 hours? Where does the time go?). I finished The Hunger Games and then spent longer than I should have looking at my shelves to come up with something for Bart's Mini-challenge. And then I've been round a few bloggers and cheerleaders to leave comments.

Actual Time Spent Reading (since last update): 70 min.
Pages Read (since last update):  88

Total Time Spent Reading: 6 hours 20 min.
Total Pages Read: 454
Books Completed:  1 (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Food/Drink Consumed:  Just some iced green tea, water, juice - not all at once.
Other Activities:  The boys were demanding attention so I played with them for a bit. 

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Random Fact:  H was away during the afternoon but he came back and was watching baseball on TV this evening so I took my book to the bedroom.  As I get older, I seem to prefer reading in quiet.  ;)
Mood: Sleepy! My eyes are dragging down and feeling dry, and I'm having a hard time concentrating. So I'm going to take a book to bed with me but I don't think I'll last too long.  My plan is to sleep for about 5 or 6 hours (I'll be setting my alarm) and then to spend a couple of hours on the computer catching up and cheering some of the other readers on.  So don't expect to see me for several hours, but I will be back later.  Hope everyone's having fun!


Mini-challenges completed (since last update):
Where in the World is the Read-a-thon?  - Added my location to the Google Map, the first one in Japan.
Bart's Mini-challenge - Came up with a couple of possibilies: Something might happen in the woods after dark.

Read-a-thon: Fun with Titles

Bart's Mini-challenge asks us "to pull three or four books off of your bookshelves and use them to form a sentence, from the book titles..."

As he warned, I spent far too long looking at my bookshelves to come up with these, but I think I was needing a break after The Hunger Games, or at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it! And I know we were only asked to do one but I kind of stumbled upon the second one while I was searching the shelves for the books in the first one so I thought I'd include it too even though it's not entirely grammatical.

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Something might happen in the woods after dark.

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Lying awake after you'd gone, gone for good.

Hope everyone's reading is going well.

Read-a-thon: Update (2) - On Your Mark, Get Set, ... Go!

It's now past 9 PM on Saturday evening here in Japan and the 24 Hour Read-a-thon has officially begun.  Since my last update at 7 PM, I read for another 65 minutes and only have about 80 pages left to go in The Hunger Games.  So I should have my first book completed by the next update.

Actual Time Spent Reading (since last update): 65 min.
Pages Read (since last update): 86

Total Time Spent Reading:  5 hours 10 minutes
Total Pages Read:  366
Books Completed: 0

Food/Drink Consumed:  Had some dinner, not terribly exciting just leftovers from yesterday, but including Japanese style flavoured-rice...yum.
Other Activities:  Fed the boys (aka the cats) their dinner too. 
Random Fact:  It's raining out, which really is great curling up on the sofa and reading weather!
Mood:  Eager to get back to The Hunger Games as it's in the last stretch now.   And I'm looking forward to the read-a-thon proper now that it has officially begun!  Yay! 


Introduction meme:

Where are you reading from today?  Tokyo, Japan
3 facts about me …  I'm addicted to chocolate.  One of my favourite things is having a warm cat curled up beside me while I read.  I'm blonde, which means I really stand out in Japan.     
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?  10, although I don't expect to get all of them read.
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?  Not specifically although I would like to read more than 1000 pages.  This is my third read-a-thon, and for the first one I only read 605 pages. For the second I read 948 pages, which was very close, so this time I'd like to better that.  I'm also planning to spend more time cheering other readers on this time.  I hope to visit everyone who visits here and then see how many others I can get to.
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?  I posted some tips on my Read-a-thon post earlier in the week, but mainly I'd say 'variety' is key. To keep from burning out on reading, read several short or fast-paced books, change the position where you read (bed, sofa, etc), have a selection of snacks on hand, check out the various mini-challenges. In other words, mix things up a bit.  There are so many ways to enjoy the read-a-thon, the most important thing though is simply to have fun!

Happy reading everyone!

Read-a-thon: Update (1) - Oh so hungry!

It's about 7 PM on Saturday evening here in Japan.  The read-a-thon hasn't officially started yet but I started reading about 6 hours ago, taking a few short breaks here and there.

Actual Time Spent Reading: 4 hours 5 min.
Pages Read: 280

Food/Drink Consumed:  Reading The Hunger Games seems to be making me hungry! I've already been into my stash of junk food, and had some chips, ginger ale, and chocolate (chocolate really is a read-a-thon essential), but that was a couple of hours ago now so I think it's time to have a break for dinner.
Mood: Loving the intensive reading! If you follow my blog you'll know that I haven't been doing much reading over the last couple of weeks so it's so wonderful to be really reading again! I'm also quite caught up in The Hunger Games, it's definitely the page-turner that everyone says it is. I'm well into Part Two now and am looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I'll be back at 9 PM when the read-a-thon officially begins.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Read-a-thon: Let the Reading Begin!

It's just past 1 PM on Saturday here in Japan and as I mentioned earlier in the week, I'm starting Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon a few hours early, 8 hours to be exact. I was originally planning to start at noon but I ended up doing some chores around the house. However, now that the floors have been vacuumed, the cat's litter box cleaned, and a load of laundry done, I can read this weekend without any guilt. So, while the read-a-thon doesn't officially start for another few hours, my read-a-thon begins... now!

I'll be posting progress updates approximately every 4 hours or so (as long as I'm awake) with some photos of books and snacks and whatever else comes up over the weekend.  In the meantime, here's what I'm going to dive into first...

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See you in a few hours.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon: The Books

I've got a plan, now for the books.  Following my own tips in the previous post, the books in my stack for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon this weekend are all either short, and/or include pictures, or are YA ones that are supposedly very quick, suspenseful reads. 

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The stack:
Big in Japan: A Ghost Story by M. Thomas Gammarino -- A new book coming out at the beginning of November from the lovely people at Chin Music Press.  It would be great if I could read it this weekend but either way I'll be reading it soon.
The Vampire of Ropraz by Jacques Chessex -- This one is so short, it's a novella really. I'm thinking of reading this one late at night, when the house is quiet....
The Frozen Deep by Wilkie Collins -- Another short one, this is the book I'll be reviewing for The Classics Circuit Wilkie Collins' tour next month.
The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins -- I'm leaning towards starting with The Hunger Games since I'll be starting my reading early and will have a few hours of uninterrupted reading before the read-a-thon officially begins.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness -- I'm not sure I'll read this during the read-a-thon, especially if I read The Hunger Games and maybe Catching Fire as well, but I've heard such good things about it it's on the stack anyway. 
French Milk by Lucy Knisley -- A graphic novel for when I'm getting sleepy.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie -- Not a graphic novel but it does have lots of illustrations and generally looks like it'll be a fun read.
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen -- The art in these books is so gorgeous; perfect for tired eyes.
The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger (not shown) -- Ditto on being good for when my eyes are tired of too many words.

I'm looking forward to all of them but am probably most excited to finally read The Hunger Games since there's been so much buzz about this series.

What book(s) are you most looking forward to reading during the read-a-thon?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon: The Plan

If possible this past week has been even worse in terms of not reading than the previous week. I didn't mean to neglect my blog as well but there ended up being almost no reading OR blogging happening around here last week. Work and some personal stuff going on made the weekdays pretty much a wash, but then I have a fun excuse for the weekend. Our two-year mobile phone contracts were almost up so on Saturday we went out and got iPhones! We also spent a few hours on Sunday afternoon at a local park admiring all the pretty pink cosmos flowers, but otherwise most of my weekend was spent figuring out my new toy, and trying to decide which applications to download. I found a manga one so I've started reading the Vampire Knight series, as it seemed suitably seasonal, on my phone. Quite cool! If you have an iPhone I would love to know which are your favourite and/or essential apps.
Image © Apple Inc.



Are you planning on participating in the upcoming 24 Hour Read-a-thon (either as a reader or cheerleader)? Have you made any preparations for the event? And, veterans out there, any tips you’d like to share with the newbies?

Absolutely, and I can't wait! This will be my third read-a-thon (my first was last October) as a reader, and I'm going to try to do things a little differently this time. One of the main difficulties for me, and anyone else in this corner of the globe, is that with the time difference, the read-a-thon doesn't officially start until 9 PM on Saturday here in Japan. For my first one, I tried to stay up for the whole thing, after already having been up all day, but I ended up crashing for a couple of hours and boy were my eyes dry and tired. Then this April I took about 4 hours out about halfway through to have a nap, which was a bit better but I was still quite groggy for a while after starting again and of course I did miss some of the read-a-thon. And with missing a few hours, reading for charity so feeling like I should be reading instead of the other stuff, and just with all the events going on I felt a little overwhelmed, and didn't get a chance to do much cheering on of the other readers which I would've liked to have done.

So this time I'm going to try to read more, sleep longer and cheerlead too! Sounds impossible, right? Well, I've decided on the following rough schedule, which may get shuffled around a bit on the day:
  • Start reading on Saturday at 12 PM JST (Japan Standard Time), in other words, 9 hours early.
  • Read for 6 or 7 hours, with occasional breaks and a couple of updates. Since I'll be reading on my own, ideally without too many distractions, I hope to make some considerable progress.
  • Take 2 hours off for dinner and to chat a bit with H before the craziness begins.
  • The read-a-thon officially starts at 9 PM. Keep reading until I can't keep awake. I'm aiming for 4 or 5 hours, until 1 or 2 AM or thereabouts.  Perhaps cheer for an hour.
  • Sleep for 6 or 7 hours.
  • Wake up. Stop by Galleysmith's Read-a-thon Slumber Party which I think will be in full swing by then.
  • Spend the next couple of hours on the computer catching up and mostly visiting other readers to cheer them on.
  • By around noon on Saturday (JST) I'll hopefully be awake enough and ready to read again. Depending on my mood and attention span, I'll spend the next several hours reading, cheerleading, or slumber partying.
  • Take an hour off for dinner.
  • If possible, spend the last couple of hours in a mad spurt to read more pages.
  • At 9 PM JST the read-a-thon officially ends. Spend a couple of hours de-briefing, then sleep. Best of all I don't have to work the following Monday, so it'll give me a chance to recover.
Therefore, by starting early and taking that time out in the middle I should end up with a total close to 24 hours. What do you think? Do-able? Ridiculous? Regardless, I'm looking forward to having fun trying. I've already warned H that the whole weekend will be pretty much devoted to reading so he'll just have to amuse himself those two days.

As for tips, just the usual ones, like those already mentioned at the dedicated read-a-thon blog.
  • Have a variety of food, snacks and drinks. Don't forget fruit and other healthy food along with the essentials, like chocolate!
  • Don't load up on too much caffeine. If you're getting sleepy, getting up to stretch or go for a short walk will wake you up and will be better in the long run than more coffee/tea/cola.
  • Change locations. 24 hours in one place is pretty tedious.
  • Wear comfortable clothes but remember that if you're too warm and cozy, you might fall asleep.
  • Choose books that are fun, and easy to read. Page-turners that you can get lost in for a few hours.
  • Several shorter books are better than one or two long ones as you have a feeling of accomplishment when you finish each book.
  • Graphic novels, manga, books with pictures are great when you're eyes are tired and your attention span may be fading.
  • If you'll be doing updates on your blog throughout, you might want to get some posts started in draft beforehand.
  • It's not a competition or a job. There's no obligation to stay awake the whole time, join in as much as you can or want to. 
  • And most importantly, have fun!
Anything else that you'd suggest?
Let me know if you'll be reading along this weekend and I'll make sure to come cheer you on! Happy read-a-thon, everyone!

Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Three new books

I received three books in the post this past week, and I have to say they all look very good.  Add them to last week's haul, plus the other books residing in Mt. To-Be-Read pile and I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed with all the choices.  The fact that I'm reading even more slowly than usual recently doesn't help the feeling that I wish I could be reading them all Right Now.  But anyway, here's what I got:

Away by Amy Bloom, which I won from Sandy at You've GOTTA Read This! during Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  Thank you Sandy!

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen.  I read the first one, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, during the spring read-a-thon, so now that this second volume is out I thought it would be appropriate to read during the upcoming fall read-a-thon.

The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku. I stumbled upon this one recently and the fact that the author's been called the "Neil Gaiman of Japanese mystery fiction" caught my eye.  I'm hoping to read it this month as it would be perfect for the R.I.P. Challenge and the October task for my own Hello Japan! mini-challenge.



Have you acquired any new books lately?

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Salon: Jekyll and Hyde, Captain Wentworth, and blog awards

My reading has been so painfully slow this past week, you could barely call it reading at all.  It seems each time I try to read, I get no more than a few pages before my eyes refuse to stay open and all I can do then is sleep.  I have been feeling a bit under the weather the last couple of days, which probably explains it.  I did manage to finish reading The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde though, and I really enjoyed it.  I'm now wondering why I never read it before, but I'm so glad I finally did.  Adding to my enjoyment of the story was the fact that we've been watching the BBC TV series of Jekyll, a modern re-telling of the story, and we just watched the last episode this week as well.  It was very fun to experience them both at the same time and to see how they played with the original.  The Penguin edition that I'm reading also includes a couple other stories. I've read The Body Snatcher, which was spooky indeed, and am just about to start on Olalla, which is apparently a vampire story. I'm quite looking forward to it!

Anyway, since I'm still feeling rather blah today, I decided to spend some time with Jane Austen.  She's always good company on a day when you're stuck indoors. A little while ago Iliana mentioned Persuasion which inspired me to add the DVD to a recent order. The one I got was the 1995 BBC adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds. Somehow I'd never seen it before and now I can whole-heartedly agree with those who said it's better than the more recent ITV version. The actors were much better suited to the parts, the acting more natural, and even though it's been a while since I've read the book, I thought they did a good job of portraying the book as well as possible in only 2 hours. And that Captain Wentworth does write a fantastic letter, doesn't he? *swoon*  This is the second film I've watched for the Everything Austen Challenge. I wonder which one of her stories I'll read or watch next.

I'd also like to take this time to say thank you for some blog awards that I've received over the last little while from some very kind bloggers who have wonderful blogs that you should visit. So a very big thank you to ...
Mark David of Absorbed in Words for giving me the Kreativ Blogger Award,
Gnoegnoe of Graasland for passing on the Let's Be Friends Award,
BrownGirl BookSpeak for the Beautiful Blog Bingo Award, for which she gave me O, for Outstanding,
and Gavin of Page247 also for the Beautiful Blog Bingo Award, for which she gave me G for Gorgeous!


I'm going to be a spoilsport and not pass these on but I sincerely appreciate them, and am honoured that you thought of me. I'm sure we all have days when we wonder if it's worth the time and effort to keep blogging, or have doubts about our own blog, but you keep me going. Thank you so much!

Well, I'm off to go try to read again. As you can imagine I'm terribly behind in blogging again but I hope you're all keeping well and that you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

September in review

September was a pretty busy month both in real life, and blog land, what with Book Blogger Appreciation Week and everything, so I didn't get nearly as much reading in as I would've liked, and only finished 3 books. Despite the small number though, it was still an interesting month as my reading took me from Japan and a different kind of love story, to Iran for a chat about love, and sex, and lastly to Darfur, and later England as I followed the life of one very courageous woman.



Books completed
(click on the titles below to read my reviews, the book covers above are linked to Amazon)
47. Be With You - Takuji Ichikawa
48. Embroideries - Marjane Satrapi
49. Tears of the Desert - Halima Bashir & Damien Lewis (review pending)

I only read the three but my favourite book of the month is Tears of the Desert. It was just such a moving story. Embroideries would be a close second though. I didn't enjoy Be With You as much as I'd hoped but at least it was a quick, easy read.

New-to-me authors: 2
Books in Translation: 3

Books in: 9
Books out: 0
I've been trying to be good but I had a little book-buying splurge at the end of the month, plus I received a couple of books for review. Most of the books are either YA dystopian, or Japanese literature for the new Japanese Literature Book Group that I launched recently along with the Japanese Literature Read-along group. You can see all of my new acquisitions in last week's Mailbox Monday post.

The Year of Readers: Reading for the Book Wish Foundation.
Money raised this month: $12
Total raised (year to date): $141

Reading Challenges Progress Report
(see sidebar for current challenges)
Completed
Non-Fiction Five Challenge:  5/5
World Citizen Challenge:  4/3

Ongoing
R.I.P. IV Challenge (by Oct. 31, 2009): 0/4
Dewey's Books Reading Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 3/5
Lost in Translation Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - 14/6
Orbis Terrarum Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 8/10
What's in a Name? 2 Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 5/6
Herding Cats II: Attach of the Hairballs (until Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - 3
Manga Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - 6/6
Graphic Novels Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): 3/6
ARC Reading Challenge (by Dec. 31, 2009): Completed - Current ARC/Review status (for 2009): 14 read, 7 to go
Everything Austen Challenge (July 1, 2009 - Jan. 1, 2010): 1/6
Japanese Literature Challenge 3 (July 30, 2009 - Jan. 30, 2010): Completed - 3/1
Canadian Book Challenge 3 (July 1, 2009 - July 1, 2010): 1/13

Long-term Reading Projects (Total read in 2009)
Reading Japan Project: 15 (including manga, 1 in September)
Orange Prize Project: 0

Reading plans for October
Well, I have a couple of review books I should read this month, but I also want to read some more books for the R.I.P. Challenge, as well as hopefully read something for the first Hello Japan! task. Plus I've signed up for the Wilkie Collins author tour with The Classics Circuit and need to read my selected title by early next month. Thank goodness for the read-a-thon coming up in two weeks. I'm hoping to catch up on some of my reading then. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Reading Non-Fiction, and YA Dystopian Fiction

I had a slow start to the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, which ran for five months starting in May, as I didn't actually read any non-fiction until August, but I did manage to complete five books by the end of September when the challenge ended. Four of those were on my original list of possibilities and are all ones I'd been wanting to read for some time.  With the exception of Nick Hornby's essays on reading, these were primarily the personal stories of women in very different countries and circumstances, from Japan to Iran to Darfur, and it was quite fascinating to read about their lives. 

Books completed:
(clicking on the title will take you to my review)
1. Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman - Sumie Kawakami
2. Shakespeare Wrote for Money - Nick Hornby
3. Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures - Kyoko Mori
4. Embroideries - Marjane Satrapi
5. Tears of the Desert - Halima Bashir & Damien Lewis (review pending)

Best book(s) I read for the challenge?
I don't think I could possibly choose.  They were all very good, and I found them all interesting, and informative.  Living in Japan as I do, Goodbye Madame Butterfly and Polite Lies were especially interesting to me as they discussed life for women in modern Japan.  Nick Hornby's columns on his reading adventures are always amusing and this collection was no exception.  Then, it was wonderful to revisit some of the people in Marjane's life that I'd first been introduced to in Persepolis, and finally, Tears of the Desert was a very touching, courageous, important story in putting a human face on the tragedy occurring in Darfur.

Book(s) I could have done without?
None.  They were all very worth reading, and then some.

Any new authors? Will I read them again?
Since I'd previously read a short article by Sumie Kawakami, I suppose technically the only new authors for me were Kyoko Mori and Halima Bashir but I'd very much like to read something else by all of these authors. 

Best thing about the challenge?
I know I've mentioned it before, that I do enjoy reading non-fiction when I get down to it but I seem to need a virtual kick in the butt to get me going.  So a big thank you to Trish for hosting the challenge and motivating me to read these books that I'd been intending to for some time.  I have a whole shelf of unread non-fiction just waiting to be read, so you can definitely count me in for next year's challenge. 

With the exception of Shakespeare Wrote for Money, I counted the other 4 for the World Citizen Challenge as well. I originally signed up for the Minor Level with a goal to read 3 books from 2 different categories (of the 6 defined for the challenge:  politics, economics, history, culture or anthropology/sociology, worldwide issues, and memoirs/autobiographies).  Looking at the books I've read I figure I've got sociology, worldwide issues and memoirs covered.  Although this challenge officially runs to the end of the year, my reading looks like it'll be pretty fiction-centric over the next couple of months so I'm going to consider this challenge completed and wrapped-up as well.  Thank you Eva for organizing this challenge.



Speaking of finishing challenges, I've decided to concede defeat on one of the ones I signed up for this year. I've only read one story that qualifies since this round of the 1% Well-Read Challenge started in March, and it's highly unlikely that I'd be able to read 9 more by the end of the year. I like the idea behind the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, and I'm sure I'll read some more of them at some point, but it's not my priority at the moment. So I'm going to humbly withdraw and focus on the other challenges that I do have a good chance of completing.  Thanks so much for hosting though 3M and good luck to everyone else who joined the challenge this year. I hope you're all becoming a little bit more well-read in the process.



However, even though I've completed two challenges and am bowing out from another, I've decided to join two more! But really it's only one more since they are essentially the same challenge. Bart of Bart's Bookshelf set up a YA Dystopian Reading Challenge, and then shortly thereafter, Books on the Nightstand launched their own DystopYA Reading Challenge. I guess you could call it great minds thinking alike!  As for the requirements, Bart asks us to read between 1 and 4 Dystopian YA novels between October 15th and the end of the year. Whereas according to Ann and Michael (Books on the Nightstand), we are "hereby commanded to read 3 works of dystopic fiction that were written or published primarily for young adults" between October 5, 2009 and December 31, 2009. (Click on the buttons for more info on each challenge.) I'm up for trying to read 3 books by the end of the year, and will most likely choose from the following:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
or anything else that crosses my path in the next couple of months and becomes irresistible.

What other YA Dystopian fiction would you recommend?

Monday, October 05, 2009

New books that I can't wait to read!

I had a little bit of a book-buying splurge near the end of last month. A couple more are still on their way but here are some of my pretty new temptations.  If only I could read them all right now!

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
I've been meaning to read this since I read The Woman in White a few years ago, but when I heard that Drood by Dan Simmons (which I have waiting for me on the shelf) contains spoilers about The Moonstone, I knew I had to get to it sooner rather than later, which meant actually owning a copy first.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
After hearing so much buzz about these books, especially on Twitter, I've given in and plan to read at least the first one during the read-a-thon later this month.

Big in Japan: A Ghost Story by M. Thomas Gammarino (an ARC, it'll be published on November 1st)
Oh! A Mystery of 'mono no aware' by Todd Shimoda
These are both from the wonderful Chin Music Press.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
This is another book that I ended up having to buy because of all the talk about it on Twitter. But Nymeth loved it and that's good enough for me!

A Quiet Life by Kenzaburo Oe
Mark David has mentioned this one a few times to I added it to my order along with the other Japanese literature titles below.

The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
These are both for the newly started Japanese Literature Book Group. Anyone is welcome to participate and you still have plenty of time to grab a book and join in. The discussion for The Old Capital will begin on November 30th, and for The Housekeeper and the Professor on January 25th, 2010. I'm really looking forward to discussing these with some of you.

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What new books have you got recently?

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

'Embroideries'

Written and Illustrated by Marjane Satrapi
Translated from the French by Anjali Singh
Original title:  Broderies
Non-Fiction/Memoir/Graphic Novel, 2003 (France), 2005 (English translation)
Pantheon Books, hardcover, 132 p.
From the best-selling author of Persepolis comes this gloriously entertaining and enlightening look into the sex lives of Iranian women. Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough-talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men.

As the afternoon progresses, these vibrant women share their secrets, their regrets and their often outrageous stories about, among other things, how to fake one’s virginity, how to escape an arranged marriage, how to enjoy the miracles of plastic surgery and how to delight in being a mistress. By turns revealing and hilarious, these are stories about the lengths to which some women will go to find a man, keep a man or, most importantly, keep up appearances.

Full of surprises, this introduction to the private lives of some fascinating women, whose life stories and lovers and will strike us as at once deeply familiar and profoundly different from our own, is sure to bring smiles of recognition to the faces of women everywhere – and to teach us all a thing or two.                                              [From the dust jacket]
It’s been a few years since I read the Persepolis books and I enjoyed returning to Marjane’s world. Plus, having recently read a couple of non-fiction books about the lives of women in Japan, it was quite interesting to then read this short graphic novel about the lives of women in Iran, and to notice some of the similarities and the obvious differences. Reading this short graphic novel was a little like being a fly on the wall while the women gossiped and shared stories of their own loves and losses and disappointments. The black and white drawings were again in Marjane’s simple, yet vibrant style and my only complaint is that since it’s such a short novel, it was over far too quickly. I would’ve been happy to stay with the women for a while longer and hearing more about their lives.

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click on the images to enlarge

Marjane Satrapi Returns: An Interview at Powell's Books
An Interview with Marjane Satrapi at Bookslut

Buy this book at: Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | BookDepository.co.uk | BookDepository.com

My Rating: 4/5
(#48 for 2009, Non-Fiction Five Challenge, Orbis Terrarum Challenge, Graphic Novels Challenge, Lost in Translation Challenge, Herding Cats II Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
A High and Hidden Place: Tales of a Capricious Reader: It was like sitting with your best friends and trying to out-shock each other but also a glimpse into another culture, another life, so familiar and so unfamiliar from my own.
Books of Mee: The art style is simpler than Persepolis in a glance, but it’s entertaining indeed.
Lotus Reads: While the book didn't bore me into a stupor, it did nothing to entertain me either... In the book's favor, I will say that the drawings are creative and vivid and I loved that the author opted for a non-grid layout---it made the book seem more of a novel and less of a cartoon.
things mean a lot: Embroideries is a very quick read, but it’s one that stays with you. It’s more lighthearted than Persepolis, and so it doesn’t quite have the same emotional impact, but it touches important issues all the same.
Tripping Toward Lucidity: What's most apparent in all of Satrapi's work is how universal our human experiences are.
Valentina's Room: I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It's clever, bold, and definitely too damn short!
The Written World: She infuses humour into the telling and brings to life women who have had to deal with things that we can only begin to imagine in the western world. At the same time, though, it is not that different from the way things are here. I think we forget that sometimes, so it was wonderful for Satrapi to humanize the story.
The Zen Leaf: I loved the simplicity of the artwork and style, and the simplicity of the story itself, which was nothing more than conversation... It reminded me of get-togethers with my cousins.
If you've reviewed this title too, let me know and I'll link to it here.


Continuing in the same vein, a couple of weeks ago we watched the animation film of Persepolis and they really did a fabulous job of bringing the comic book to life! Marjane Satrapi was apparently very involved in the production of the film and seeing that the film accurately depicted her story, and it really shows. My husband isn’t a fan of typical animation (superheroes, mystical creatures and whatnot) but I told him it was a different kind of anime so he agreed to watch it with me and he ended up really enjoying it. He commented that they never really heard much about the problems in Iran and the Middle East, in Japan when he was growing up. As an adult now, he’s much more interested in international politics so he found it really quite interesting. Well worth watching! I heard she's now working on a film version of Chicken with Plums. I still need to read that one, but I'll definitely be interested in seeing it once it's out.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Introducing Hello Japan! - a mini-challenge about Japan

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Introducing Hello Japan!, a monthly mini-challenge* for all things Japanese. Each month there will be a topic and/or activity relating to some aspect of Japanese literature or culture. Each task shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, unless you opt to do more, and is meant to be a fun way to let you experience a little taste of Japan no matter where you live.  A new topic will be posted at the beginning of each month and you'll have the full month to complete it and post about it on your blog. Once you've done so be sure to come back and submit your link into the Mr. Linky for the appropriate month. At the end of the month I'll compile a post to highlight some of the contributions from participants that month. If you don't have a blog but would still like to play along, you can either write about what you did for this month's task in a comment on this post, or you can email me (inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com) and I'll include it in the wrap-up post at the end of the month.

Oh, and did I mention that each month there will be small prize? Each month a winner will be selected randomly from those that participated in that month's activity.  There's no commitment to join in every month but I hope that you'll enjoy it so much you'll want to participate every month, and perhaps even learn something in the process.

Feel free to grab the button if you'd like but please save it to your own server. Here is a smaller version (200 pixels by 175 pixels) for your convenience. If you would like a different size or need help re-sizing, just let me know.

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*Thank you to Dewey's Weekly Geeks, the various Read-a-thon mini-challenges, and Bellezza and her Japanese Literature Challenge for inspiring me, and giving me the motivation to go ahead with this idea. Also thank you to Paperback Reader and Kristen M. for suggesting the name. There were some great ideas but I liked the shortness and catchiness of Hello Japan! Plus, the objective of the mini-challenge is, after all, to introduce Japan so it seemed appropriate.

October's Topic

In many countries in the West, autumn brings with it it a crispness to the air, colourful leaves crunching underfoot, pumpkins and other assorted autumn fare, and especially in North America, Halloween.  The season also seems to inspire a desire to read spooky, atmospheric stories, as fans of Carl's R.I.P. Challenge know very well.

Autumn is a beautiful season in Japan, but Japan doesn't really do Halloween.  Sure, in recent years, you can see Halloween and autumn-themed decorations in some shops, and there may be some adult parties primarily in ex-pat communities, but you're not going to see kids trick-or-treating in your neighbourhood on October 31st.  The Japanese do, however, love their horror movies, and scary stories.  There are plenty of tales of ghosts and the supernatural going back hundreds of years. Summertime is actually the peak season for horror movies in Japan.  Apparently the idea is that watching a frightening, spine-tingling, chilling movie helps cool you down from the oppressive heat and humidity of the Japanese summer.  While it may not be summer anymore, we're going to indulge in some Japanese frights anyway.

October's Task

As this is the first month of the mini-challenge, I thought we'd keep it very flexible.  The task this month is to read or watch something scary, spooky, or suspenseful, and Japanese of course!  You can read a book (for those that like to multi-task, remember that a Japanese spooky read would also count for both the R.I.P. IV Challenge and the Japanese Literature Challenge 3!), but if you don't have time this month for a whole book you can read a short story, a ghostly folktale (there are some available to read online, see below), or a manga.  Or you could watch a movie, or an anime. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm sure there are plenty of stories and movies out there that I'm not even aware of.

Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Akinari Ueda - Ghost stories and tales of the supernatural.
Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn. You can read the stories online.
Out by Natsuo Kirino, or any of her other books.
(The) Ring - the book by Koji Suzuki, the original Japanese movie, or the American remake, or any of the sequels.
Battle Royale - the book by Koushun Takami, the movie starring Takeshi Kitano, or the manga.
Death Note - the manga, the movie, or the anime.

This post of Halloween Manga suggestions might also give you some ideas. Or this list of Thirteen Horror Manga for Halloween. Or this list of J-Horror on wikipedia.

If you're feeling particularly in the mood you could read the book and watch the movie based on the book, or watch the original Japanese movie and the American remake where available, and compare them, or whatever else you feel inspired to do. 

You don't even need to buy, rent, or borrow any of the above. Instead, you could read an article online, like this one about Ghosts, Demons and Spirits in Japanese Lore, and tell us what you learned, or how the Japanese beliefs and superstitions compare to the folklore in your country.

Be creative and, most importantly, have fun! 

October's Prize:

Since we're paying a small homage to Hello Kitty with the name, it seemed only right to have a Hello Kitty prize this month. (Don't worry there will also be plenty of non-Kitty prizes too!) Also, to celebrate the launch of Hello Japan!, and because I couldn't decide, this month we'll have two winners. So, in fitting with the October theme, it's Punk/Gothic Kitty and Halloween Kitty!

One winner will receive this notepad and pen designed by fashion designer h. NAOTO.

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And one winner will receive this little bean-bag stuffed Halloween Kitty.
Kawaii desu ne!

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Once you've completed the task and posted on your blog, don't forget to come back here to fill out the Mr. Linky below. Please submit the link to the actual post, not just to your top page, and please please please only submit links to posts relating to the Hello Japan! task for this month. All other links will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding!


Hello Japan! October Participants

1. Terri B. (Tip of the Iceberg)
2. Mel U (Ring by Koji Suzuki)
3. Gnoe's Graasland (Dark Water)
4. Velvet (Japanese Female Ghosts)
5. Tineke Schaap
6. We Be Reading (The Cain Saga: Forgotten Juliet)
7. Michelle (Shadow Family - Miyuki Miyabe)
8. Bellezza
9. Claire (Paperback_Reader) Battle Royale film
10. Velvet (Black Hair)
11. Novroz (Natsume Yuujinchou)
12. chasing bawa (Grotesque)
13. Velvet (Woman in the Snow)
14. Velvet (Ring)
15. Natakiya
16. Velvet (Hoichi, the Earless)
17. Lynda (Real world)
18. Travis (Kwaidan)
19. Velvet (In A Cup of Tea)