Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Books: Mini Reviews

I feel like I don't really post enough book reviews on this blog, which is a shame because I absolutely love talking about books. I also have books that I freakin' adore (and some that I HATE) that haven't been mentioned on here much. What better way to share them than to write some mini reviews, hey?
mini book reviews
memoirs of a geisha book
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden 5/5
I read this book when I was in high school and quickly became obsessed with it. I can't count the number of times I've read this but you can tell it's a lot by the state of the spine. Anyway, on to the review.

This is quite a long book, with around 512 pages but don't let that put you off. It doesn't feel like a chore to read and I found myself rushing through because I just needed to know how it ended. The basic story is of a young girl named Chiyo living in a small fishing town in Japan. Her parents become sick and her father sells her and her sister to a businessman, who then sells them on to become Geisha. Chiyo falls in love with a man, the Chairman, whilst she is training to become a Geisha and the story is about how she lives her life in the hope that she will find him again.

It is a love story, but with the historical and cultural element I thought it was unlike anything I'd ever read before. I re-read it every now and then and love it just as much as I did the first time round. I always find the Japanese have such a beautiful way of describing such mundane things and this book absolutely proves it.
sputnik sweetheart book review
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami 4/5
Following on from one Japanese book, a book written by a Japanese author. My boyfriend introduced me to Murakami and after reading Norwegian Wood, I was eager to read some more of his work. I'll be honest, I chose to read Sputnik Sweetheart next as it was the shortest one on my bookcase and the story seemed to be pretty light and one I could relate to.

The book is narrated by a male known simply as K. K is in love with his friend, Sumire. Sumire is in love with an older married lady named Miu. I think love triangles must be a common theme in Murakami's works as Norwegian Wood almost had a similar dilemma. Sumire is a typical Murakami character - she's a free-spirited, oversize coat and heavy boot wearing writer with a Kerouac obsession. Sumire and Miu go on a business trip around Europe and find themselves staying in an apartment on a small island in Greece. Sumire goes missing on this trip, and at a lost end Miu contacts K and asks him to help her find him.

I really enjoyed this book and read it in a couple of days. I find Murakami has a way of making his characters very different to any I've discovered before, but he manages to get me on their side and makes them very likeable. Murakami perfectly describes the feeling of longing for something you can never have - I really felt for K at times. He also manages to maintain an air of mystery around the storylines, which I really love. I love analysing a book once I've read it and making my own opinion of what really happened. I'm not sure what really happened to Sumire, but I have my own opinions on that. The ending of Norwegian Wood was perfect for this, too. I would recommend this for first time Murakami readers.
girl interrupted book review
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen 4/5
What intrigued me the most about this book is that it is a true story. What Kaysen writes about in this book is what actually happened to her. The book is Kaysen's day-to-day diary from her time on a psychiatric ward.

Mental health has always interested me and after watching the film adaptation of this book, I really wanted to read about Kaysen's personal experience of mental illness. Whilst reading Girl, Interrupted I couldn't help imagining myself as the narrator. Wondering how I would have coped in the same situation. I always think people are interested in mental illness because it is something that can easily happen to all of us without any warning. I don't know if enjoyed is the right word, but this book is important to me and I find myself flicking through and reading it from time to time.

I would recommend reading this if you enjoyed Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar - Kaysen was on the same psychiatric ward.
lolita book review
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 2/5
Let me start by saying it took me almost three years to finish this book. I can't count the amount of times I started it - I just couldn't get on with it. It was a chore to read which is a shame because the subject of the book is quite interesting and very controversial. It was Nabokov's writing style that really annoyed me.

The book is narrated by a European scholar, Humbert Humbert, with an obsession with young girls - in particular a 12-year-old girl by the name of Lolita (Dolores Haze). Humbert is living in Lolita's house, with  her and her mother, as a lodger. He comes so obsessed with Lolita that he even marries her mother to ensure he gets to stay in the house. This is when he starts taking advantage of Lolita, and this is where it started getting confusing for me. In a tragic accident, Humbert and Lolita are forced to leave home and spend the rest of their time on the run around the USA. What confused me was that Lolita, the 12-year-old girl, seems to enjoy the attention from creepy old Humbert and seems to encourage it.. but at other times despises him and is repulsed by him.

I really struggled to read this book. Like I said, it took me a couple of years to struggle through it as I didn't like any of the characters, I didn't like the storyline, I struggled to get through Nabokov's difficult writing style. I was so relieved when I read it. I did enjoy the ending, however! Not what I was expecting.

I know this is a modern classic and people absolutely love it, but we just did not get on.
the cuckoos calling book review
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith 5/5
I was one of those people who wasn't aware of Robert Galbraith until it was leaked that it was actually J. K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym, at which point I ran out to my local WH Smiths and bought it straight away. I didn't know much about it at all other than it was classed as crime fiction - not a genre I was familiar with.

The Cuckoo's Calling is the first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Strike is a one-legged ex-army private detective living in his office. When he gets hired to investigate the suicide of the famous model named Lula Landry, he acquires the help of his receptionist/assistant Robin. Robin is the opposite of Strike; she's enthusiastic, optimistic and eager to help. I really don't want to go too much in to the story line as I hate giving away spoilers, so you'll just have to read it for yourself. Rowling is perfect at making typical scenarios much more exciting than they usually are (hello.. The Casual Vacancy, anyone?). She is also fantastic at writing likeable characters that you really root for. Strike is probably not a nice person on the outside, but I can't help but hope that good things will happen to him.

The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series, and there is also a third one coming out soon! YAY. I'd recommend this book if you're looking to get in to crime fiction but have no idea where to start. It's definitely opened my eyes to a new genre.

Rachael Amy

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  1. I have only read Memoirs of a Geisha and Girl, Interupted out of these but I loved them both, especially Memoirs of a Geisha, like you say it is long but doesn't feel like a chore at all. x


  2. I had a similar experience with Lolita. I had to struggle through the second part, because it just seemed like nothing was happening.
    I've read Norwegian Wood a few years ago and really liked it, even though the pace of the book was kind of slow. Maybe I'll try reading Sputnik Sweetheart, because I've been thinking of reading some more books by Murakami, but just couldn't decide where to start (or continue). :)

    1. Becky Bedbug has a great post on where to start with Murakami on her blog! :)

  3. I haven't read any of these books which is uhm.. well terrifying. The reviews seems interesting. I really want to read Memoirs of Geisha though.

  4. Great post! I haven't read any of the books yet but some of them sound like they could take my fancy :)

  5. I just bought Sputnik Sweetheart and I can't wait to read it! x

    Bethan Likes

  6. I love reading Murakami! great author! xx

  7. I've never read any of these books, but I'm really interested in reading Memoirs of a Geisha and Girl Interrupted. I think Girl Interrupted sounds so interesting, everyone's take on Mental Health is so different and I love reading different views of it!


    1. Me too, I'm always interested in reading books on mental health!

  8. Ahh I am excited to hear that the Cuckoo's Calling is good as I bought it second hand a few weeks ago. I'll look forward to reading it now! :)

    Danielle xo


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