Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'The Quiet Gentleman' by Georgette Heyer

Fiction/Regency Romance
First published in 1951
(re-issued by Sourcebooks in 2011)
trade pb, 334 p.
Source: Publisher/Sourcebooks
From the back cover:
Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars. And when he begins to fall for his half-brother’s sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous.

One of Heyer’s most suspenseful Regency romances, The Quiet Gentleman combines an ingenious mystery plot with her signature witty style and effervescently engaging characters.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

'Thousand Cranes' by Yasunari Kawabata (JLit Book Group)

Thousand Cranes 
by Yasunari Kawabata
千羽鶴 (senbazuru)
Originally serialized from 1949 - 1952
(English translation, 1958)
Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker
Vintage International, trade pb, 148 p.
With a restraint that barely conceals the ferocity of his characters' passions, one of Japan's great postwar novelists tells a luminous story of desire, regret, and the almost sensual nostalgia that binds the living to the dead.

When Kikuji is invited to a tea ceremony by a mistress of his dead father, he does not expect to become involved with her rival and successor, Mrs. Ota. Nor does he anticipate the depth of suffering that will arise from their liaison. But in the tea ceremony every gesture has a meaning. And in Thousand Cranes, even the most fleeting touch or casual utterance has the power to illuminate entire lives - sometimes in the same moment that it destroys them.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer holiday in Hokkaido: The Food


Hokkaido, situated as it is in the north, is known for its fresh and plentiful fish. So of course a trip to Hokkaido would not be complete without some sushi. Even better, we had dinner at a popular sushi restaurant in the port city of Otaru. (See yesterday's Summer holiday in Hokkaido: The Sights post for photos of Otaru's historical canal).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer holiday in Hokkaido: The Sights

Furano Hokkaido

In Japan, most companies close for a few days around August 15th for the celebration of Obon. This year, because of setsuden (energy conservation) due to the power shortage in the Tokyo area, many companies gave their employees longer than the usual 3 or 4 days off. H had 10 days off so we decided to make the most of it and travel to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

'Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France' by Karen Wheeler

First published in the UK in 2009,
US publication, 2011
Memoir, trade pb, 311 p.
Source: Sourcebooks
From the back cover:
Fashion editor Karen Wheeler thought she had it all: a glamorous job, a handsome boyfriend, a fabulous home, and an even more fabulous assortment of gorgeous shoes. But not all is as it seems, and on an impulse she decides to wave good-bye to her glamorous city lifestyle and go it alone in a run-down house in rural France.

Tout Sweet is the perfect read for anyone who dreams of chucking away her Blackberry in favor of real blackberrying and downshifting to a romantic, alluring locale where new friendships, and new loves, are just some of the treasures to be found amongst life’s simple pleasures.

'Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle' by Georgette Heyer

Fiction/Historical Romance
First published in 1957,
Re-issued by Sourcebooks in 2011
trade pb, 400 p.
Source: Publisher - Sourcebooks
From the back cover:
Rank, wealth, and elegance are no match for a young lady who writes novels … Sylvester, Duke of Salford, has exacting requirements for a bride. Then he encounters Phoebe Marlow, a young lady with literary aspirations, and suddenly life becomes very complicated. She meets none of his criteria, and even worse, she has written a novel that is sweeping through the ton and causing all kinds of gossip … and he’s the main character!

Friday, August 12, 2011

'The Restaurant of Love Regained' by Ito Ogawa

Original title: 食堂かたつむり
(Shokudou Katatsumuri)
Translated from the Japanese by David Karashima
Fiction, Published in Japan in 2008
(English translation, 2011)
Alma Books, trade pb, 193 p.
Source: From the publisher, Alma Books
From the back cover:
An extraordinary novel about food, love and the relationship between mother and daughter.

Returning home from work, Rinko is shocked to find that her flat is totally empty. Gone are her TV set, fridge and furniture, gone are all her kitchen tools, including the old Meiji mortar she has inherited from her grandmother and the Le Creuset casserole she has bought with her first salary. Gone, above all, is her Indian boyfriend, the maître d’ of the restaurant next door to the one she works in. She has no choice but to go back to her native village and her mother, on which she turned her back ten years ago as a fifteen-year-old girl.

Monday, August 08, 2011

It's Monday, what are you reading?

The first week and a bit of August has been a pretty good one for me reading-wise. As a carry over from my July book travels, I'm still making my way slowly through The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo. It's interesting to read about the history and importance of tea to Japanese culture, moreso as it was written specifically for a western audience. I always seem to take longer when reading non-fiction though and part of the problem is that I keep getting distracted by other books. Ah, the allure of fiction.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: July links

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for July. The topic was Non-Fiction and the task was to enjoy some non-fiction about Japan. Read some of the contributions below and click on the links to visit the dedicated posts.

Hello Japan! August mini-challenge: Origami

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above.

August's Topic

Origami (折り紙) is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding. Beginning with a single square of paper, folded in a specific way, to create a miniature paper sculpture. One of the most recognizable origami patterns is, of course, the Japanese paper crane. Folding a thousand paper cranes is said to make a person's wish come true, and has also come to represent peace. But there are a wide variety of different shapes and designs, from simple boxes to intricate animals and everything in between.