Friday, 27 February 2015

#5 Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 

This story follows teens Naoko and Toru. What seemed from the outset to be a romantic story turned into a tragic rollercoaster, filled with suicide. 

Sadness is a very complicated emotion. It has the ability of dissolving the edges of reality surrounding you and immersing you completely in an alternate world, where only you and that feeling exist together in complete harmony. And nothing else matters. You luxuriate in the richness of its beauty and marvel at the tranquility it offers you.

Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood evokes exactly similar kind of emotions in the reader.

There are some books you read, which leave you with stories-bitter, exciting, adrenaline-driven, romantic, depressing or grisly. And then there are books which leave you with feelings. Norwegian Wood, most definitely, belongs to the second category.
And in my opinion, it is infinitely easier to deconstruct a story in a review rather than the feeling it leaves you with. But here's an attempt anyway.

This is a beautifully crafted, sombre but incredibly sensual tale of unfulfilled love where the central characters are, in all essence, broken individuals.
In a most indolent manner, the book begins with our narrator Toru Watanabe, catching the strains of an orchestral version of The Beatles' 'Norwegian wood' on a flight to Hamburg and beginning to reminisce about a certain girl named Naoko, from the days of his youth in Tokyo. From hereon, the story is told as a flashback, as a sliver of memory that the 37-year old Toru has carefully preserved or perhaps is struggling not to forget.
Majorly the story revolves around the trials and tribulations of the 3 key characters - Toru, Naoko and Midori.

Toru, a reserved young college student, is shown to be somewhat anti-social, not quite opening up to others as easily as others open up to him. There is a sense of profound sadness about him hidden skilfully under a veneer of indifference, probably arising out of the loss of his childhood friend Kizuki, who committed suicide at 17. While Naoko, Kizuki's first and only girlfriend, is a beautiful and emotionally fragile being who has been unable to grapple with the tragedy of Kizuki's untimely death. Still in mourning, bound by a mutual feeling of isolation, Toru and Naoko, forge an unnatural connection of sorts, when they cross each other's paths years later in Tokyo. Toru falls in love right away and even she feels something love-like for him, but sadly enough it is not enough to heal them both. Soon the emotionally unstable Naoko recedes to a sanatorium in mountainous Kyoto while Toru tries to continue with his life as an unremarkable university student, seeking comfort in sleeping with random women. In Naoko's continued absence from his life, he makes friends with the bright, sassy, sexually liberated Midori Kobayashi, who has had her fair share of tragedies too but still manages to be optimistic. An unlikely friendship with Midori, helps dissipate some of the darkness in Toru's life but he is still unable to get Naoko off his mind and keeps writing her letters irrespective of whether she sends a reply or not. The rest of the book details Toru's dilemma as he is torn between these two women, never too sure of whether to shun his troubled past and embrace reality as it comes or keep waiting for Naoko to fully recover from her festering psychological wounds.

Written in a lucid language, the book is full of metaphors usually represented by the description of natural scenery. Murakami's obsession with western classics and music is reflected in the countless references to Beatles numbers like "Yesterday", "Michelle", "Something", Bach, Mozart, Scarlatti and literary works of Joseph Conrad, Fitzgerald, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx and so on.

The brief overview of the plot does not, in any way, do justice to the story. For a book like Norwegian Wood cannot be summarized.
It is about human relationships which cannot be given a name or a clear definition. It is about the ghastly spectre of death and the way the people who are no longer with us, sometimes leave us in a permanent state of damage. It is about friendship and love and sexuality. And most important of all, it is about sadness. In its cruelest yet most beautiful form. The inherent dreariness of the book gets to you at some point or the other, but Murakami's compelling story-telling ways, make sure you keep reading till the very end.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

#4 Book Review- The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

On first impressions i was a little worried by how many pages there were, over 500 so pretty chunky. I always worry when books are over 400 pages as i find it very difficult to stay captivated until the end. I shouldnt of worried, from the first 3 pages i knew i was going to love this book. The writing alone was phenomenal.

This book is exactly what it says on the tin per se, it is about a circus that opens only at night. Each chapter follows a different character, some are circus attendees and some are the circus acts. There are some interesting side plots outside of the main circus story. Personally my favourite chapters followed Baileys story, i found him to be a very complex and interesting character.

Ive always had a slight fear of the circus from when i was a young child but this book made me want to go. Morgenstern has a very unique ability of setting the scene so beautifully but at the same time not over doing it. I wanted to instantly read everything she had every written, i was prepared to throw all my money at her for a few more hours of amazement. Alas, this is her only book *sigh*

I dont want to say too much as i want this review to remain as spoiler free as possible. I would recommend
this for the writing style alone but its also a great twist on the typical fantasy story plots that follow dragons, fairies and vampires. This book is so much more than i was expecting and definitely worth picking up.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

#3 book review

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

My initial thoughts on this one where that it was beautifully written and powerfully gripping. The way it switches from past to present tense (Mitch's college days and present day when Morrie was really ill). The flashbacks work very well and tie into the story strengthening the context.

This is a story of one mans deterioration. Mitch Albom is both the writer and the real narrator of the story. Morrie was a sociology professor and Mitch Albom's favourite and most inspiring teacher. It begins with Morrie teaching Mitch and college and the story flits between the college days and 16 years later when Morrie is in the grips of suffering from ALS. They meet every Tuesday until Morrie's last breath, a tradition that started in college as the class was every Tuesday.  This story will teach you a lot, not just about death but it is packed with life lessons that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

This story was written with the intent to share Morrie's story and to raise money to pay his medical bills. This story is a reminder of how easy it is to get wrapped up in the treadmill of life and the chase for what we think is really important or what will make us feel worthy or important enough.

What i want to take from this book  is a little bit of his attitude and the hope to apply it in my own life. This helped shape my perspective of what dying means to someone in which it is imminent. This story ultimately taught me that we have to make each day count. 

People often say that life is unfair, which is true. Life being frequently unfair is a fact. You make your own life, make you own decisions, live, laugh, complain and do anything you want on your own but it will never change the fact the life is unfair. That's the irony of life. Death is a part of living and it should not be feared. This for me is what you should take from this book, not to shy away from death or to get bogged down by it but to embrace the time you have left and to laugh and most importantly to love.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

#2 book review

Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill <Review- spoiler free!>

Rating: 3/5 stars

The story follows Thirrin, a 14 year old girl who must inherit her fathers throne and defend her war stricken kingdom The Icemark against its enemies. 

When i first starting reading this i thought it reeked of Game of Thrones, there was a few similar references. When i got past the 100 page the story really came into its on. This book was published in 2005, i really wish i had read this as a 15 year old as Thirrin is a bad ass protagonist and i find that thats sometimes lacking in YA and 'middle grade' books. Quite often women/girls in YA are submissive and pining over boys. Thirrin was a breath of fresh air, she was mouthy and fiesty. I liked that. She also wasnt blindly following a boy.

The story was about 200 pages long, it felt really drawn out at some parts. I needed to skim some chapters as they felt like fillers. Upon reading the blurb you immediately find out that Thirrin's father dies leaving her to inherit his throne and his war. I expected this to happen a lot sooner than it did. He dies about 150 pages in. Not sure why you find out about his death as it would have been a nice plot twist, instead of just expecting it.

Things i liked:
  • How badass Thirrin was- i wish more protagonists were like her!
  • Snow leopards!!! enough said. 
  • The world building, it was cleverly thought out and well delivered. 
Things i didn't like:
  • The length- seriously too long!
  • The amount of paranormal elements packed into one book- vampires, talking snow leopards, werewolves, witches, warlocks. It all got a little much!
When i looked this book up on Goodreads i found out that it was a trilogy. I dont think i will carry on with the series but if i see them somewhere for cheap i will pick them up as the covers are gorgeous! 

Saturday, 7 February 2015


First Post- A bit about me!

Hello Everyone! My name is Rachel, im 24. A recent criminology graduate who now works for an internet company. My favorite books  and Series are:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Viscous by V.E Scwab
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin &
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

I used to have a book blog a few years ago called 'Under the Never Sky' which i created long before the Veronica Rossi book came out *sigh* but i decided it was time for a fresh start and a fresh blog. 

I intend to post about books and reading, this will be my main content but i dont want to be limited to this so occasionally i will post about other things too but not very often. I intend to write book reviews (mainly spoiler free- dont you just hate getting spoiled before reading a book!), i will also do monthly 'TBR- to be read' lists which i intend to stick to, if not i will let you know. Reading is my biggest passion and ideally i would love to meet like-minded people for discussions.

You can follow me on social media if you like:

I will wrap this post up here, i intend to post (at first) twice a week but it will probably be more than that once i get into the swing of things :D