#aww2018 “But just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside. And it is in the world that we have to live.” // Review of “Across the Nightingale Floor” by Lian Hearn

Title: Across the Nightingale Floor
Author: Lian Hearn
Audio book narrator:
Anna Steen, Tamblyn Lord
Dates read: 14/02/18 – 20/02/18
Rating: ★★★


The reason this book doesn’t get a higher rating from me is because I could never quite work out what it was trying to be. The characters were in their late teens, yet it felt more like a middle-grade novel in writing style. But then there’d be an attempted rape or some other kind of mature content that definitely does not fit into middle-grade fiction. So I just felt sligthly off-balance the whole time.

I am hoping that one day I will come across a Japanese-inspired fantasy that I really love, but I guess this is not that book.

The magic system in this one is interesting, though I would have liked to see a bit more detail. Takeo’s abilities just seem to come to him. Even in training, there is no real sense of his powers developing; one second, he can’t do things, the next second he can. The only time this wasn’t as apparent was when he was teaching himself to cross the Nightingale Floor.

I am torn about the heroine, Kaede. In some ways, she just seemed useless, though I did realise that part of the point was that she was pawn in other people’s games. She did develop a bit more gusto by the end of the book. I groaned and rolled my eyes at the insta-love between her and Takeo, particularly considering it is all based on nothing more than gazing at each other from afar for such a long time!

I did find myself getting a bit more involved in the story towards the end, but I still don’t find myself feeling the need to go on to the next book in the series.

This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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#BeatTheBacklist Book Review: “the Mother of Dreams: Portrayals of Women in Modern Japanese Fiction” ed. Makoto Ueda

Title: The Mother of Dreams: Portrayals of Women in Modern Japanese Fiction
Author: Makoto Ueda (editor), various authors and translators
Short stories
Date Read:
22/12/2016 – 04/01/2017
Rating: ★★★


This anthology is divided into five sections: the Maiden, the Mistress, the Wife, the Mother and the Working Woman. As with all short story anthologies, some of the stories in this volume impressed me more than others.

To be honest, I found that many of the stories featured displayed a rather grim outlook on womanhood, regardless of the archetype being explored. This book was originally published in 1986, so the “modern” of the title is actually the post-war period. Of course, there was a lot of tension regarding the roles of women the world over at the time, and I wonder if that had something to do with the overall tone that I was experiencing.

The language used in these English translations also felt very formal, so while some of the stories did capture my interest, they still came across as somewhat dull. I don’t speak Japanese, so I don’t know if this was to capture the tone of the originals, or again perhaps a product of the time.

I feel like I’m doing a lot of moaning about this book, so I should also mention the things I did like. I enjoyed getting a peek into Japanese culture, and witnessing how everyday routines differ between Japanese people and Westerners. There were also some stories where I thought the premise was quite good, and if the above complaints hadn’t been quite so obvious, I could have found them really engaging. Overall, though, this was not a terribly exciting read.

This review is part of my 2017 Beat the Backlist Challenge. For more information, click here.

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December 2016 TBR

Who else can’t believe it’s already December? I certainly can’t! I’ve still got two reading challenges to finish, and while I have the various things I need to finish over this month recorded in various places, I thought it might be a good idea to list it all here. In any other month, I wouldn’t be too worried about trying to finish this number of books, but December is always so busy, and I barely have a free weekend between now and Christmas. We can only hope!

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge

lettersendoflovecoverThe goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year was to read and review at least 12 books by Australian Women, including two by Indigenous authors and two by LGBTQI* authors. While I have reviewed 15, I still need to read one more by a lGBTQI* author. The book I have chosen is Letters to the End of Love by Yvette Walker. This book sounds really enjoyable from the blurb and the reviews, so I’m hoping I enjoy it. I have this one out from the library at the moment, so I can get to it asap.

The 2016 Choose Your Own Challenge Challenge

This challenge has been run out of a GoodReads group. At the beginning of the year, I chose 20 prompts, and I still have five to go, but I’ve worked out which books to read to fill them, and I have copies of all of them, so here’s hoping!

elenorecoverElenore by Faith Rivens = a book with a protagonist who has your occupation

Librarian, that is, not demon hunter. I’d be no good at that. Faith was good enough to provide me with an ARC of this book, and I’m really excited to read her debut.

motherofdreamscoverMother of Dreams edited by Makoto Ueda = a book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with

A colleague who recently passed away wanted her library to given away to family and friends. She was very interested in Japanese culture and had a lot of books pertaining to that among her shelves. This is one of the, uh, seventeen that I ended up with.

fairestcoverFairest by Marissa Meyer = an “in between the books” book (i.e. Book 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 of a series)

I recently replaced “the 16th book on your TBR” with this prompt, as for various reasons, that one wasn’t going to happen. But I’m gradually working my way through Marissa Meyer’s books that I am yet to read, and I’m excited to finally get to this one.

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett = a book published on the year you were born pyramidscover

I already had this on my list and was planning to get it from the library when I picked up a copy from a local market stall. It’s been a while since I read any Terry Pratchett, and this one is quite short, so I think it will be a good one to get back into his books with.

annefrankcoverDiary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank = a book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge

I remember starting Anne Frank’s diary once before, but I never finished it. I understand a lot more about the Second World War now, though, and I have seen the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam (I didn’t go in as the queue was around the block and I was quite sick; I ended up going back to the hotel and sleeping). I have a feeling this one is going to result in lots of tears.

So that’s it! I have 29 days and six books to get through (plus the one I’m reading at the moment)! Wish me luck!

~ Emily