November Wrap-Up – What did I even read during November?

Hello, everyone! I decided that in order to post some things that are not tags but are still slightly bookish, I’d start doing a monthly wrap-up. This way I could motivate myself to read more next month, eh? I was also thinking about doing an anime wrap-up because I know a lot of bloggers love anime as well.

Still, November was a very unproductive month for me. I read a fair amount of books, but I didn’t review very much, and my post count is pathetic. I guess I got caught up in my new job and contributed all of my remaining energy to things outside of my blog.

Well, that’s going to change.


Books

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The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino (✮✮✮ +½)

I read a lot of Keigo Higashino this month. This one wasn’t my favorite, but I still enjoyed it a lot, and I think it was infinitely better than the previous one I’d read, Under the Midnight Sun.

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Schoolgirl, by Osamu Dazai (✮✮✮✮✮)

I didn’t write a review for Schoolgirl, but by god, I wish I had. I might sometime in the future when I read it again. This little novella was so raw and exquisitely written, and I haven’t had a character relate to me as well as this one did in such a long time. This is by far my favorite of Dazai’s work.

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Salvation of a Saint, by Keigo Higashino (✮✮✮ +½)

I was still riding the high of The Devotion of Suspect X, so I jumped right back into another Detective Galileo mystery. It didn’t feel very different in comparison, but I loved the addition of Utsumi, the level-headed rookie detective.

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A Midsummer’s Equation, by Keigo Higashino (✮✮✮✮)

The last of the Detective Galileo mysteries to be translated into English, I finished this one bittersweetly. The mystery itself was pretty lackluster, but I enjoyed it more than the rest because Yukawa played a much bigger role than he did the rest of them.

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Vita Sexualis, by Ōgai Mori (✮✮✮)

This was a very interesting read, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I will admit that it did lag a few times despite being such a short book.


Anime

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge (Tanaka-kun is Always Listless) (7/10)

This was really sweet, pleasant, and surprisingly funny to watch. Kensho Ono is one of my favorite seiyuus, and I have to say, he killed Tanaka’s character. I was impressed with the rest of the cast as well. This is definitely the kind of anime you want to watch if you ever need to wind down.

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Shinsekai Yori (From the New World) (2/10)

I’m the black sheep on this one. Honestly, I don’t know why I wasted my time. The characters are inconsistent, the world-building is scattered and confusing, and overall, the plot is boring. It started out all right, but by the end, I was pushing myself to finish it for the sake of it.

Kuroko no Basket: Last Game

Kuroko no Basket: Last Game (Kuroko’s Basketball: Last Game) (10/10)

No, don’t mind me. I’m just…screaming.

I love Kuroko no BasketFor a sports anime, it’s completely unrealistic, but its surrealism is a part of its charm. This reunion was something that I desperately needed. It was intense, exhilarating, and completely bad-ass. It was definitely worth the wait.


And…that’s all! I hope to have a lot more for my December wrap-up, but until then~!

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^I still desperately love this stupid little shit.

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Project Bungou Stray Dogs: Vita Sexualis, by Ōgai Mori

Original Title: ヰタ・セクスアリス (Wita Sekusuarisu)

Author: Ōgai Mori (森 鷗外 / 森 鴎外, Mori Ōgai)

Translator: Kazuji Ninomiya and Sanford Goldstein

Genres: Literature, Japanese Literature

Rating: ✮✮✮

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Even someone like me couldn’t help but reason that some relationship exists between love and sexual desire. Yet even though I had a longing for love and affection, I didn’t feel, as one normally would have expected, any real sexual drive.


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(Let’s get this project up and running again, shall we? 😉 )

I was hesitant to read Vita Sexualis, mostly because I wasn’t sure that I would find it interesting. It chronicles the sexual awakening of a young man, from childhood all the way to early adulthood. It’s not that I’m prude, it’s just that I’m really, really not interested in sex. Like, at all.

However, despite its misleading title (In Latin, somewhere along the lines of The Sexual Life), Vita Sexualis is not the book that I thought it would be. Mori was interested in how sexual desire affected everyday life, and he wanted to disprove those that claimed sex was vital to human beings. When Vita Sexualis was published in 1909, it was censored four weeks after publication due to the strict morality of the Meiji era, since by discussing sexual desire, the censorship authorities automatically viewed it as an erotic novel. Honestly, I think that’s ridiculous. I’ve read children’s books more scandalous than this.

I was surprised at how liberal it was. Even though there aren’t any explicit depictions of sex, it alludes to prostitution and masturbation, and even homosexuality. This was the thing that I was really worried about. The introduction mentions that the narrator, Kanai, carries a dagger around with him to protect himself from the “queers.” I immediately assumed the worst, but it turns out that my concern wasn’t necessary. The “queers,” as they are referred to in this book, are actually viewed as more superior than the “mashers.” (This is because they are homosocial and it was considered to be more masculine.) The reason why Kanai carries a dagger around with him is due to a time when he was eleven when he was attacked by his upperclassmen after refusing to sleep with one of them. (Thankfully, someone stops them before things go too far.)

The other thing I loved about Vita Sexualis is when Kanai discussed his views on arranged marriage:

The woman herself did not say whether she liked the candidate or not. Only the male had to indicate his likes or dislikes. It was as if the parents of the daughter were selling her while the groom was doing the buying. The daughter was treated as if she were a commodity. If she were set down in Roman law, the word res would be used, the same as our word for slave. I had no interest in going out to buy a beautiful toy.

He also discusses “marriage in terms of soul,” and how he would hate to marry a woman he didn’t like, or for the woman to marry a man that she didn’t like. Since arranged marriages were based on looks, status, or wealth, this way of thinking was considered appalling. To me, it was the best part of the whole novel.

It’s a little dry, which is why the rating was reduced to three stars. The writing style is very analytical, as the narration is being told by a philosopher. (He criticizes his own work at the end, saying that it’s neither worthy of a novel or an autobiography and for some reason, I found that amusing.) However, to call this book “unessential” is incorrect. It’s more than just a book about sexual desire; Mori published this book knowing that it was going to be censored, putting his reputation as a writer and as surgeon general of the Japanese Imperial Army on the line, presenting Vita Sexualis to Japan in a time of strict moral codes that would continue through the second world war, decades after the Meiji era had ended. By writing and publishing Vita Sexualis, Mori was opening a door in a time when everyone else wanted to keep them closed.

I am a horrible book blogger + the Blogger Aesthetic Award/Tag!

Blogger Aesthetic Tag

So, yes, I am a horrible book blogger. Why? Because I have been reading, but I have not been reviewing, and that is just blasphemous. My mind does not seem to want to write at all. I’ll sit in front of the screen, watch the cursor for hours, and then I’ll open up a new tab and watch some YouTube videos. I can’t even do tags because my mind is absolutely empty. It’s worse than empty. It’s a black hole.

However, I need to do something, and I’ve been wanting to do this tag for a long time, but I also wanted to be nominated. Unfortunately, I am not very good at self-control. Heh. Oh well.


The Rules:

  1. Collect any number of images that you feel represent you as a person—your personality, aspirations, favorite things, anything at all that makes you, you.
  2. Put your chosen images together into a collage of whatever size and shape you find pleasing.
  3. Share your masterpiece with everyone, in all the places.
  4. Maybe nominate other bloggers as a way to tell them, “Hey, you, I think you’re awesome, and we should celebrate that awesomeness.”
  5. Share these rules (and maybe the below tips, if you’re feeling helpful).

Nobody tagged me, of course, but I did first discover this tag over at Delphine’s Babble on Some Good Reads, so it’s only suiting that I mention her. 😀


My Aesthetic


So, yes, this is my aesthetic. ;_;

As my blog foretells, I am very attracted to pastel pink. (Don’t tell my younger self this – she might explode.) I’m also fond of blues and black and white, and I’m always relaxed by the sound of the water. I included the piano because even though I don’t play very well, I love to play and I love listening to piano sonatas. Books, of course, are a very big part of my aesthetic, as is Japan. The quotes are meant to illustrate feminism, my inclination toward intellectual superiority above all things (because I love being a smartass), and also my tendency to be a bit of an airhead. 😅

This was a lot of fun! It says to tag people, but since I wasn’t tagged, I’m going to leave this open for anyone who wants to do it. 😀

Bye everyone~. I’ll be back soon, ready or not.

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Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of any of these images. 

The Would You Rather Book Tag!

The Would You RatherBook Tag


I have not posted anything for a week and a half. I am terrible. Please forgive me.

This is mostly due to the fact that I pick up and DNF books really, really easily. If it doesn’t grab my attention right away – if I find myself glancing at my TBR pile with longing – that’s almost a given that it’s done for.

I stole this from icebreaker694 – with permission, this time! – not only because it sounded interesting, but because I haven’t done a tag in a while. I have others to do, but let’s not think about that.

I also chose to do her question, as well as add my own! 😀

Let us begin!


Have an unlimited money for Ebooks, or a 5,000 dollar B&N giftcard?

This one is a no-brainer for me. Really. I almost never read Ebooks, so I would totally go with the B&N gift card. (And probably rent a truck, while I was at it.)


Meet any deceased poet, or J.K. Rowling?

DUDE.

GIVE ME MY DEAD POETS.


Write the world’s most famous book, or visit the world of your favorite book for one day?

I definitely want to be a famous author someday, but I don’t want to write one famous book and have that be all that I’m known for. I’d rather have a series of exceptional or well-received books instead. So, yeah. Drop me into Cabeswater any time, any day.


Choose ______ or ______ ? (Insert characters from your favorite fictional love triangle.)

I think the only love triangle that I really like is the one in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, which is between Ash and Puck. I know everybody loves Puck, but in terms of love interests, I vote for Ash. Kagawa’s attempt to create a romance between Meghan and Puck in The Iron Daughter felt really forced.


Experience Hogwarts in a very realistic and accurate virtual reality, or travel around the world for a year, at no cost.

Travel around the world. I’ve always wanted to, and as much as I love Hogwarts, there are so many places that I want to go.


Icebreaker694’s question: Be a character nobody likes/looks up to, or a character no one minds, but isn’t important, and doesn’t show up a lot.

Okay, this one is the hardest one in the whole batch. :I I think I would prefer the former, because I’d rather be infamous than have no one remember me at all.


My question: Have your favorite character be real, or live in the fictional character’s world?

For me, I’d much rather live in the fictional world. Why would I want to take them into my world? Who cares that I’ll probably die in ten seconds in theirs? It would be the best ten seconds of my life.


I’m done~.

I TAG EVERYBODY because I always feel like I’m annoying people when I tag them.

See you next time! I’ll try to be more active. I’ll give myself a kick in the ass.

For now, I will bless you with this angel.

Goodbye~.

Review: The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino

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The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino

Genres: Adult, Japanese Literature, Mystery-Thriller

Rating: ✮✮✮ +½

Sometimes, all you had to do was exist in order to be someone’s saviour.

This is the third of Higashino’s books that I’ve read. I was impressed with Malice but not so much with Under the Midnight Sun, whereas The Devotion of Suspect X falls somewhere in-between.

I’ve begun to notice that his books follow a pattern. For one, Higashino writes really unorthodox mysteries. He doesn’t focus on whodunit so much as why or how. He has a knack for inserting twists at just the right moment, ones that turn the entire book on its head, and the ending is usually cataclysmic. Overall, his books are addictive page-turners that won’t let you rest until you have reached the very end.

I never reviewed Malice, but it as well as The Devotion of Suspect X are perfect examples of Higashino as the Master of the Plot Twist. He has this way of leaving you literally speechless. He never lets you suspect anything, and instead lies in wait, preparing for his chance to strike. My favorite part about reading his books is that I never finish them without being completely mind-blown.

My disappointment only arises from the fact that I don’t think The Devotion of Suspect X is quite what the hype made it out to be. Clever it was, but not the best mystery that I’ve ever read. I really liked Yukawa’s character, though I don’t think Higashino has convinced me quite yet of his mental prowess. That could be because, even though he played a central role in the story and the series is named after him, he felt a little absent and so I didn’t get to see as much of him as I would’ve liked. (Kusanagi is all right, but I couldn’t shake the sense that he was kind of a dumbass.)

I love Higashino’s work, but The Devotion of Suspect X is definitely not my favorite thus far. I’m still going to have to recommend Malice as my top vote.

Review: Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie

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Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

“The fool strikes. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.”

This book is marketed as YA, but to tell you the truth, that is not how it feels when you go into it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t know, but it could also be because there is something about this book that is very mature, and its brutality is something different from what I’ve experienced in YA before.

Half a King really hit it out of the park. It had me hooked the moment it introduced Yarvi, the second son of King Uthrik of Gettland, who has a crippled hand and is thus perceived as a weakling by his family and his kingdom. When his father and older brother are murdered, Yarvi is forced to take the throne in his father’s place, a task that he is completely unprepared for. However, circumstances arise that throw Yarvi in a desperate fight for his life out on the high seas, and he must find a way to return to Gettland and reclaim his stolen throne.

High fantasy is a genre that has been so recycled, it’s hard to find anything original as one story bleeds into the next. It’s a genre that I’m drawn to but wary of due to its tendency to become very condensed. Half a King doesn’t have a strong, detailed world, nor a complex religion or political structure – but that’s actually its strongest point. It’s not dense, but it’s not light, either. It’s the kind of fantasy that is developed enough to be enjoyable but not so much as to weigh it down.

Plus, the characters are fantastic. Yarvi may have been stripped of his birthright, but he is not exactly a tragic hero. He shows on various occasions his ability to manipulate and deceive. He is vengeful; his malevolence is controlled and calculative. He may not know how to wield a blade, but that doesn’t make him any less terrifying. The others – Jaud, Rulf, Ankran, Sumael, and Nothing – were well-developed, intricately-written characters that I came to adore and fear for as they faced turmoil after turmoil.

I think the best part about Half a King is that there aren’t any clichés. Abercrombie doesn’t put his characters in a box, nor does he insert any plot devices to coax the story along. In a sense, he doesn’t use any cheat codes. There’s no deus ex machina. He tells the story honestly. (Though that doesn’t stop him from throwing in a couple screwdriver plot twists, which you will NEVER SEE COMING.)

Joe Abercrombie? This guy? He knows how to tell a story. I will definitely be picking up the sequel and more of his books in the future.

The Book Aesthetics Tag!

The Book AestheticTag (1)

Rules

  • Thank whoever nominated you (maybe you’re bitter that you have another tag to do on top of the billions you already need to do (#relatable), still though. Someone thought of you. Be thankful. At least pretend to be.)
  • Credit the creator of this tag; Michelle at The Writing Hufflepuff.
  • There’s no limit of how many aesthetics you can make for a question, but think of your poor readers.
  • Make your own aesthetics, please don’t steal them from someone else. Also what’s the fun in that?

I was bored, and I felt like changing my pace a bit, and so I decided to do the Book Aesthetics Tag!

I really wanted to do the Blogger Aesthetic tag/award but I thought that I should probably wait to be tagged for that one. ;;

A warning in advance: This is my first, and I mean my very first time creating aesthetic boards, so I’m sorry if these aren’t up to snuff. :I

Also, I own nothing. I found most of these pictures on Pinterest, and the rest I found on Google.

Favourite book of the year

Hate List, by Jennifer Brown

I have quite a few books that would fit the “favorite of the year” description, but I decided to go with Hate List because I feel like it’s the most generalized out there. It really impressed me with its empathy and realistic characters, and it’s important to understanding the psychology behind school shootings.


Character you relate to a lot

Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

Honestly, there wasn’t anybody else. Even though Simon and I aren’t exactly alike (though he is the one that introduced me to Elliott Smith <3), I relate to him on a spiritual level. We have the same personality, I think, though he’s more confident in himself.


A character you look up to

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

I was pleasantly surprised with Pride and Prejudice and I loved Elizabeth on the spot. She’s smart, knows who she is, and doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do, even if it’s what’s accepted by society. She’s not perfect, as seen by her initial prejudice toward Mr. Darcy, but she’s still the kind of woman I hope to grow up to be.


An underrated gem 

What Angels Fear, by C.S. Harris

I loved What Angels Fear and was surprised when I found out that it wasn’t as popular as I thought it would be. It’s a really invigorating and complex mystery, set during the later years of the Georgian era under the reign of King George III. The history was so well-researched and detailed, and it didn’t hurt that Sebastian was such a strong protagonist who followed his own rules. It’s my favorite historical fiction to date.


Dearly, Departed, by Lia Habel

I read this one years ago, so my rating can’t be trusted. I get it: zombies don’t make good boyfriends, so a zombie romance is ridiculous and was probably just swept up in the overwhelming zombie craze a few years back. Still, I don’t think it was all that bad. I remember liking the characters and finding the world of New Vitoria very interesting.


A character that deserves more love

Rhy Maresh from A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

I don’t think people hate Rhy – I just don’t think they love him as much as I do. I understand that he wasn’t as much of a character in the first book, but I adored the small parts that he had and I cared about him very much. I was attracted to his personality, from his bubbly, flirtatious side to the dark layers beneath. He was my favorite character throughout all three books. Personally, I love him more than Kell.


An underrated OTP

Alex and Miles from Made You Up, by Francesca Zappia

It’s no secret that I love this book, but please do not underestimate just how much. Re-reading books is a rarity for me, and I have to really, really love a book in order to do it – as seen by my thrice read The Raven Cycle. I re-read this book earlier this year to hype myself up for Eliza and Her Monsters, and I fell in love with it all over again. I love the dynamic between Alex and Miles, that subtle line between “I can’t stand you” and “I’m desperately in love with you”.


All right, I’m done~.

I tag Delphine @ Delphine’s Babble on Some Good Reads | icebreaker694 | Sophie @ Blame Chocolate.

Please only do it if you want to.

Until next time!

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My website has not been hacked, + HAPPY 100TH POST ON THE GRUMPY LIBRARIAN!!!!

First off, I just checked my stats and learned that I am at 99 posts, which makes this one the 100th post!

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(K-Pop gifs because K-POP.)

Secondly, if you glance at my homepage, you will discover that my blog looks a little different.

Just a little.

No, someone did not hack into my account and throw a bucket of pink paint onto my blog – I did this. I’ve been wanting to remodel my blog for a very, very long time because every time I stared at it I felt very…unsatisfied. It made me anxious because I didn’t feel like the person who designed this blog was the person I am now. So, I changed it.

That’s right. This is supposed to represent who I am on the inside.

I am a giant ball of cotton candy.

I’m much happier with how it looks now, though it does make the title a bit ironic. (Though that was kind of the whole point anyway.) Regardless, I have finally done it.

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That is all I wanted to say. I plan to post more soon, since work is finally settling down a bit. (Though I am getting scheduled more hours. D: ) I may not be reading as much, but I have more motivation to read than ever before!

Until next time! ❤

Review: Under the Midnight Sun, by Keigo Higashino

28220706Under the Midnight Sun, by Keigo Higashino

Genres: Adult, Mystery-Thriller, Japanese Literature

Rating: ✮✮

“Sometimes I feel like I spend my life under a midnight sun.”

TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains depictions of rape. Please be advised.

I was enjoying this book up until the very end – and I mean the last few pages. Perhaps two stars is too bitter, but to tell you the truth, I’m pissed off.

For the past week, my life has been work, K-Pop, and Under the Midnight Sun. I would squeeze as many pages as I could into my break and before I went to bed, sometimes staying up until 3:00 a.m. because I couldn’t put it down. Keigo Higashino has an engrossing and yet somewhat straightforward way of telling his stories, as I saw when I read Malice not too long ago. Under the Midnight Sun is broader and more character-driven, which meant dedicating not just more time, but more energy into reading it.

The plot is like a target: one giant bulls-eye surrounded by other, smaller points that span over the length of twenty years. It branches off to explore both Yukiho and Ryo’s lives after the murder, sometimes telling the story from the most obscure characters to get the picture of how it affected them. Toward the end when Sasagaki, the detective who was first assigned to the case, gets back into the picture, things began to move toward the center as everything that has happened points back to twenty years ago.

But not everything gets answered.

A lot of things are assumed, but not everything is answered directly, especially the finer points concerning the connection between Yukiho and Ryo. This is critical because it would define the terms of their relationship, their individual personalities, and motive. Questions are asked and never clarified – for instance, was Yukiho in love with Kazunari? Did she set up the attack on Eriko, her best friend, because she was dating him? Or was Kazunari’s ex-girlfriend to blame?

These are all things that are brought up, and a reader can imagine it however they like, but what’s more fun than figuring the mystery out for yourself is getting the answers to find out if you’re right. The biggest one – who the murderer is, obviously – is easy in comparison. What’s more interesting is everything that is tied to it.

Also, this is is just a personal opinion, because I can see how they relate to the story in the end, but the sex scenes made me uncomfortable. They’re abrupt and fly a bit out of nowhere, and I was relieved to get through them.

Reading this book is a commitment, but I don’t think it is a very gratifying one.