Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store WomanConvenience Store Woman
By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator)
Source Library
Published by Grove Press on June 12, 2018

four-stars

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis—but will it be for the better?

I was on the library holds list for this book for months! I’ve long forgotten where I first heard about it, but I was so intrigued by the pretty, eye-catching cover and its description.

I finally received my copy from the library (I read the book on the Libby app. I keep saying I don’t like reading on my phone, but I keep using Libby because it’s so convenient for reading on the bus, waiting at the bus stop, on my lunch hour, etc.).

This turned out to be a very quick read. It was strange but compelling, and I was drawn to Keiko. In some ways, I identified with aspects of her personality.

I really enjoyed Convenience Store Woman. It made me think, and I always love reading translated works which show me something about another person’s culture or lived experience that is different from mine.

While I think this may not be everyone’s taste I quite liked this. It was well worth the library wait. Recommended!

four-stars

Wicked Saints

Wicked SaintsWicked Saints
By Emily A. Duncan
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Source Received from the publisher
Published by Wednesday Books on April 2, 2019

four-stars

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

I wanted to read Wicked Saints because it sounded like a dark YA fantasy, which I like, and the synopsis gave me Leigh Bardugo vibes (and I love her books).

I don’t know why it took me so long to get into this. I know I was trying to read some library books before they were due back, but I also just struggled to feel pulled into this story. After the first couple of chapters, though, I got so into it! Wicked Saints is definitely a dark YA fantasy, and I’m here for it! I really liked the story and the world (although the world-building and different magic systems were a bit confusing for me to follow at first). Once I understood, I thought the magic system was really interesting.

There were some exciting scenes, and I liked the romance. And I loved that the story took a surprising turn once or twice. I loved all the main characters, but I think I was most interested in Serefin’s story.

I definitely got Leigh Bardugo vibes as I read: there was a very similar dark, moody, tense atmosphere that reminded me of the way I felt reading the Six of Crows duology, so that was a definite plus for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed Wicked Saints and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series. Recommended!

four-stars

Week In Review

April 8 – 14

Somehow, I survived the BTS comeback weekend! Their new music video and album dropped at the same time on Friday, and then on Saturday they had a comeback special online and their majorly anticipated performance on SNL!

This week, I’m going to save all of my BTS-related thoughts until the end of the post.

New books:

I received some e-ARCs that I’m really excited about:

There’s Something About Sweetie, Sandhya Menon; and

Love From A to Z, S.K. Ali (both via Netgalley).

I also received a few e-ARCs via Edelweiss:

Dear Sweet Pea, Julie Murphy;

The How and the Why, Cynthia Hand;

Kingdom of Souls, Rena Barron; and

Now Entering Addamsville, Francesca Zappia; and

I Hope You Get This Message, Farah Naz Rishi.

Books read:

I have been doing some reading this week, but I haven’t finished anything yet!

Current reads:

I borrowed the ebook of For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt from the library, and I should be able to finish it today.

I also started reading an eARC of Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins, which I’m enjoying so far.

Reviews:

I posted my sister’s review of Deadly Vows by Jody Holford, and my review of The Last by Hanna Jameson.

BTS:

So! Friday morning, 5 am in my time zone, BTS released their new album, Map of the Soul: Persona, and the music video for the song Boy With Luv. Of course I was up that early to watch the video a zillion times and listen to the seven-song mini album before work (I will probably write a separate post about the album very soon, because every song is fantastic and Dionysus is my new swagger song).

The song is a major bop and the video is so fun. I cannot stop smiling when I watch it (here’s the link if you don’t see it embedded below) :

The video currently has over 118 million views, and set a record for most-watched YouTube video in 24 hours (78 million views). I love the song, I love the video, the wardrobe, the colours, their hair, the choreography, and Halsey’s voice works so well with theirs.

Last night, they performed on Saturday Night Live, and I was so excited! I haven’t watched that show in forever, but I drank a lot of coffee so I could stay up to watch the whole thing.

First, they performed Boy With Luv. The stage at SNL is so small, but they performed perfectly. I love that they did the song with a live band, and they definitely sing live.

They sounded great, and they looked like they were having fun.

The second song they performed was Mic Drop (remix), which at first surprised me because it’s an older song, but it was actually a great choice because it’s such a different vibe from Boy With Luv. It’s a harder, more aggressive song with some really intense, tricky choreography so I loved that they got to show off more of their dance skills. Plus, I think they have done that song and choreo so many times that they were so confident about the performance. It also lets the rap line and the vocal line and the dance line all show off their skills. They killed it.

Anyway, there are still some performances on the horizon (comeback stages, BBMA performance with Halsey), but the initial frenzy of the comeback has passed, which is kind of good, because I feel like I haven’t slept in four days!

Time to get back to some reading, while listening to Persona!

Happy Sunday!

Lil’ Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Deadly Vows

Lil’ Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Deadly VowsDeadly Vows
By Jody Holford
Series: A Britton Bay Mystery #2
Source Received from the publisher
Published by Lyrical Underground on April 9, 2019

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

four-stars

Britton Bay is buzzing with preparations for a wedding at the bed and breakfast where Molly rents a small carriage home. Molly is even helping out and plans to interview the rising star caterer—until the woman is found dead. And then the bride-to-be goes missing. To make matters worse, the venue is owned by Molly’s new boyfriend’s mother—and Molly was among the last people to see the victim alive. All of which makes solving the crime her top priority . . .

With the nuptials indefinitely on hold, Molly will have to sift through a sticky mix of suspects, including a rival caterer with a short fuse, a groom with an illicit secret, and a wedding party riddled with personal drama. And if she doesn’t discover the truth soon, Molly might be her own front-page news . . .

I was so excited to receive an advance copy of Deadly Vows! I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Deadly News, and couldn’t wait to see what Molly and her friends were up to now!

Molly is still settling in to her new life in Britton Bay, and her new job as editor of the local newspaper. She has a new boyfriend, Sam, whose mother owns the bed and breakfast that Molly’s carriage house is set on. The bed and breakfast has been taken over by a flurry of activity due to a local wedding, complete with a high-maintenance chef. When the difficult chef is found dead before the wedding has arrived, Molly must investigate to find out what happened, and to identify the killer!!!

I really liked this book — I was happy that the murder didn’t take place too soon after the start of the book because I was just happy to read about Molly and her life. And I was really excited to see that there was some continuity in this book — there is still some tension between Molly and the girlfriend of someone that Molly accused of being a killer in the last book. I’ll admit that I’ve gotten a little tired of reading books where the main character just accuses half the town of being a murderer and then there are no consequences for it in future books. So I was happy to see that Molly had to make some amends for her previous actions. It was refreshing.

I also liked the mystery of the murder itself — the police knew that the victim had an allergic reaction, but they didn’t know what it was from or how she ingested it. I wish more time had been spent on that part of the mystery, because it was really cool.

The only downside to the book is that the ending moved a bit too fast. The killer was revealed really suddenly and then it felt like lots of things happened at once, and the book was over. I wish that the author had been able to spread it out over another 50 pages or so. It just felt a bit too quick. I guess that means I didn’t want to stop reading the book!

This is a very sweet series. I’d recommend it for anyone who was new to the cozy mystery genre, is a dog lover, or just wanted a light-hearted book to read. I look forward to the next in the series!

four-stars

The Last

The LastThe Last
By Hanna Jameson
Source Received from the publisher
Published by Atria Books on April 9, 2019

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

two-half-stars

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.

Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.

As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?

I was drawn to this book because I’m intrigued by apocalypse and survival stories. I also loved the novels mentioned in the blurb (Annihilation and The Girl With All the Gifts). It also sounded as though it contained a mystery, set against the backdrop of nuclear devastation.

Unfortunately, as much as I tried to like this book, it wasn’t for me. While the story was intriguing at first, the “mystery” that lured me in was not as prominent as the synopsis made it seem.

The characters were tiresome and felt like sketches of characters, making it very difficult for me to care about them or what happened to them, or to even recall who was who. The story dragged on, characters did things that frustrated me, and while there was occasionally a nice turn of phrase or interesting occurrence, I only kept reading because I wanted to know if the mystery would ever get solved. View Spoiler »

So as much as I wanted to enjoy this one, sadly, it just wasn’t for me.

two-half-stars

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