Thursday, April 13, 2006
Book Reviews At Last!
The Cherry Blossoms are very important in Japan. Every year they bloom and fall and the people of Japan set up parties to watch this and celebrate. It is said to begin in the south and work its way up through to the north. During this season there are constant updates on the news and it is a permanent topic of conversation. The fall of these flowers shows the beginning of spring. Will Ferguson is a Canadian who had been teaching English in Japan for two years. One drunken night he announces that he will follow the Cherry Blossoms across Japan. And he will do it hitchhiking. It really was only one of those moments of drunkenness but in the end he carries out his plan and keeps a record. The characters he meets along this journey alone is worth picking up this book. He has a nack for telling a story and I found myself laughing out loud a number of times. One of my favourite parts is near the start. He is making fun of people who believe monkeys to be wise because of something they can do. As he wonders away he encounters a snake. He makes fun of his fear and you can't help but laugh with him. I also learnt a lot about Japan through this book. A lot about the customs and the people. Even if you aren't a fan of travel writing and just want a fun read I recommend this. Will Fergusons website is here.
"Wrong About Japan" by Peter Carey
The son of author Peter Carey has taken a great interest in Japanese anime and manga. Carey becomes interested through him and it becomes a father and son hobby. It is actually quite sweet reading about them competing to bring back something really good. Carey then asks his son if he would like to go to Japan and things grow from there. Carey sets up interviews with famous manga writers and directors through friends. His son while interested at the start becomes withdrawn once in Japan. Only interested in his new found friend. I guess he was just being a typical teen but it was a little frustrating to read about this boy wasting such a great opportunity. However, you do enjoy the experience through Carey. I did manage to learn a lot about anime (not really that much about manga) and a little about Japanese culture. It is enjoyable but I would only recommend it for those who have a real interest in Japan or manga and who don't mind the presence of sullen teenagers.
"Blood Fever" By Charlie Higgson
James is back at school after his last adventure. Everything is far from normal however. A nightly escapade leads him to suspect that one of his teachers is up to no good. The father and sister of a friend disappears and a lot of art work has been going missing. Could all these things be connected? The holidays soon arrive and James decides to go on a school trip abroad then a stay with his cousins. However, the strange occurrences follow him and once again James is sucked into the evil plot of a madman.
I am loving these young bond books. They are enough like the films (I haven't read the books) to make you feel familiar with the character. Admittedly trouble seems to find James in these books but that just makes it all the more fun. How can James get out of these scrapes without all of the usual gadgets? A kids book but a good one for any James Bond fan (or anyone who might be a fan of Charlie Higson). You will find the young bond website here.
"The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova.
A young girl becomes interested in a book and some letters she finds in her fathers study. She asks him about them and from this she learns of her mother and fathers past. Both are linked to the study of Vlad the Impaler. Her father is rather reluctant to reveal everything and so the girl does a lot of studying on her own. She learns that Vlad the Impaler really is Dracula and is very much alive or rather very much undead. Her father and others like him were meant to search through history and find the evil being.
I have heard so many bad reviews of this book but I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the long winded descritions. I also like the detailed search through historical documents. I guess it appeals to my student days when I studied history (although it was never to such great depth). I also like the traveling through countries. It gave me itchy feet for a while there. I was a little disappointed with the ending though.You might like this if you enjoyed Bram Stokers "Dracula".