All posts filed under: books review

Book review: 「虚ろな十字架」by 東野圭吾

「虚ろな十字架」is both a typical Keigo HIGASHINO and a surprising one. Typical in its setting, its characters and the way the story unfolds. From the very beginning, I felt that I was on familiar grounds, reading an author that I appreciate and whose writing style seems to be unchanging throughout the years. The novelty of this novel was in the topic it chooses to handle: the capital punishment. The whole story, though absorbing in itself, can also be read as a debate over the death penalty. In this respect, the novel has a social dimension and an interest that reaches much farther than the pleasure of reading a mystery novel. As for the story in itself, it reminded me of some other novels by Higashino that I have read. It is not a traditional detective story with an investigation made by the police. Murder is to be solved, but instead of tracking down a murderer, the reader will start a journey into the characters’ past. Also, Higashino forces his characters to face difficult moral choices, a …

Book Review 「君たちはどう生きるか」by 吉野源三郎

I have finished reading 「君たちはどう生きるか」by 吉野源三郎 (よしの・げんざぶろう), and as I said in my monthly review on Monday, I did not enjoy reading this book. This being said, I do think that the novel has a lot of qualities and a unique format that makes it interesting, but it just wasn’t for me. This book was first published in 1937. It is a novel for children or at least, young readers, and it has gained considerable popularity with the publication of a manga adaptation last year. It seems now that this story is very popular among adults. (learn more) Why I did not enjoy reading this book I have no intention to criticise the novel in itself, but I cannot start to understand why it is so popular among adults now… Though I usually appreciate reading books for younger readers (sometimes I even wonder if I am not learning languages only to have a good excuse to read books for children), I read this one without real enthusiasm. Children book? I am confused concerning who should read …

Book Review: 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」by 北川恵海

「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」(read: かぶしきがいしゃ) is a novel by 北川恵海(きたがわ・えみ). It is the second book by Emi KITAGAWA, the first one being 「ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる」. It was this last title that drew my attention when I saw it in a bookshop. But I chose 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」because the wrapper band said: 読んだ後はきっと元気になれます… haha, I let myself be influenced by a commercial catchphrase! Even if it the novel is not explicitly categorised as “light novel”, I think that it can be defined as such, given that the author herself uses this word in her afterword. Light Novels I have never read light novels before because their cover is generally very manga-like, or at least this is the impression I have. As I am not really interested in reading mangas, I naturally never have been particularly interested in reading light novels. I don’t even know what “ライトノベル” actually means and I have seen on Wikipedia that there is no strict definition of the genre. (I should maybe just add that there is no illustration in our book). In fact, I didn’t know that 「ヒーローズ(株)!!!」 could …

Book review: 「赤い指」by 東野圭吾

「赤い指」is the seventh book of the detective Kaga series “加賀恭一郎シリーズ” (かが・きょういちろう) by Keigo HIGASHINO. Before starting the review of this novel, I would like to say a word about the series. The series First, you don’t have to read them in order. Even though they follow a chronological order (starting when Kaga is still a student), it would not impact the comprehension of each story to read them separately or in a random order. I also find that the books are very different from each other in terms of structure. The first two novels were very similar with two main focalisations that alternate (a chapter seen from the point of view of Kaga, then a chapter seen from the point of view of another character). The third book, 「悪意」was very unique and different from the other novels. The following two books were very similar: we read the story from the point of view of another or other characters of the story and we don’t know what detective Kaga is up to. The sixth book was …

Book Review: 「放送禁止」by 長江俊和

I finished reading the three stories of the book 「放送禁止」by 長江俊和 (ながえとしかず), and it was much better than I thought it might be. First of all, I should say that the three short stories in the book are a written adaptation of the TV series of the same name. If you prefer to watch the TV version, then it’s better not to read the book first. Nice mysteries The stories are all told from the point of view of a reporter who is filming a documentary. The reader sees the things through the camera and listens to what the protagonists have to say during their interview or while the reporter films their daily life. First, I thought that it would be more some kind of horror stories that keep you awake at night. Therefore, I was surprised to see that they are not at all “horror” stories, even though I could imagine that the TV series might be scarier than the book. To me, they were more mysteries, involving social topics (family violence, stocker, suicide). …

Book review: 「イノセント・デイズ」by 早見和真

I have finished reading 「イノセント・デイズ」by 早見和真(はやみ・かずまさ) and loved this novel very much. I found the story interesting, I like the themes encompassed in it, and I appreciated the structure of the novel very much. Some themes of the novel The novel starts with what we call in French a “fait divers” (tragic events like criminal cases that don’t concern politics or international matters). Right from the beginning, the reader is given a position: we belong to the public, we read the news, we nod at what reporters and judges have to say, we attend the trial discretely and rejoice ourselves to be reading such an exciting novel. Or at least, this is how I felt that the novel positioned me. A feeling even more strongly felt because I often read similar events in the news on NHK, whereas the French news portal I usually read rarely reports these “faits divers”. On NHK News, on the contrary, there are a lot of criminal cases that echo our novel, and I started reading the novel and the news on NHK almost …

Korean resources: monthly listening magazine for Japanese

I always have doubts when I present Korean resources to learn Japanese because I don’t know if they can be ordered overseas. I have no experience with it myself, but I think that buying Korean books is more complicated than buying Japanese books. But I hope that it will change someday and that it will become easier to receive books shipped from Korea. Anyway, the magazine I want to talk about is NHK 일어. (pronounce: NHK ilo) I can’t really make out much about the publisher http://www.sisafl.co.kr because their website does not seem to have been updated for a while. Anyway, they publish two monthly magazines, one to learn English and one to learn Japanese. How the magazine is structured The magazine has a glossy cover but the 100 pages inside are all in black and white. The only exception is the first two pages with the table of contents (you can see them on the Aladin page). If you just look at the printing quality and the interior design, the magazine does not seem very attractive …

Book Review: 「ぶたぶたラジオ」by 矢崎存美

When I was doing my book haul in Kyoto last December, I took this book only because the cover design was cute:   I also fancied that it would be easy to read, and I was right. It took me a week to read it, and I haven’t even had time to post about it in my “currently reading” category. It definitely was the recreational title of my 2018 reading challenge! Let’s have a closer look! The series The author 矢崎存美 (やざき・ありみ) has written a whole series of stories around ぶたぶたさん. As far as I can tell, there are 21 books and 「ぶたぶたラジオ」is the newest one. There are titles like 「ぶたぶたカフェ」、「ぶたぶた図書館」、「学校のぶたぶた」or 「居酒屋ぶたぶた」. As the author tells the reader in her afterword, our book 「ぶたぶたラジオ」follows a previous one called 「ぶたぶたの本屋さん」, something easily guessed given that ぶたぶた works in a bookshop when our story opens. However, you don’t need to have read the bookshop title to understand the radio one. The book A brief word about the story The cover design and the fact that the main character of …