Review: Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

sputnik-sweetheart1Ah. Murakami. It’s a long time since I’ve completely immersed myself in a Murakami – by that I mean it’s a long time since I found one of his novels so utterly readable. Murakami is a very hit and miss author for me, while I sometimes love his work there have been a number of books that I’ve read and really struggled through.

Sputnik Sweetheart was one of the more readable and approachable of Murakami’s work from what I’ve experienced. While not as packed full of his usual magical realism elements, it was still a good read once I got in to it.

We follow the story of Sumire, a young woman who falls in love with another woman – Miu. It’s told from the perspective of Sumire’s friend, who we only know as K. We follow the period of Sumire’s life in which she meets Miu and how their lives overlap and fall in to sync with each other, we follow them on a tour of Europe when something then happens to Sumire.

It’s an interesting look at passion and the borderline with obsession. It was an interesting look at sexual fluidity and desire. But there was something lacking, some of this felt rushed and some felt that it wasn’t giving me all it could. The ending was just “boom and I’m done” and that frustrated me somewhat because, as always, Murakami left the ending up to interpretation for the reader rather than closing it all nicely and putting a bow on it!

This was a very passive narration which I think really fitted the story well. It was fluid and easy to read, it was quick to read. It just left me feeling a little empty. I think with Murakami, instant impressions are not a fair representation of his work because often I have to settle down and think about what I’ve actually read and process it fully. Sometimes my impressions are improved, or in the case of Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, my initial impressions are generous!

My main thought with this book is that I really need to go and read 1Q84 again because this reminded me of it so much! Mainly the focus on the moon which was a really big focus in 1Q84.

So, ultimately this is one of the better of Murakami’s books I’ve read but still left me wanting more. First impressions give this a 3/5!

Review: Heidi – Johanna Spyri

heidiThis book has been on my radar for a long while and, this edition is one that I just couldn’t resist! As it is a beautiful shade of green it was a perfect pick for the ‘green’ section of the rainbow read-a-thon which is happening this week!

So, Heidi if you didn’t know is a children’s classic and is one of the most loved children’s books in Switzerland! This is just the most wonderfully optimistic children’s books I’ve read. I absolutely devoured this in only a couple of hours because it was just so lovely.

The story follows Heidi, who at the start of this novel is 5 and is sent up a mountain to live with her grandfather – a hermit who noone really likes. In the fashion of books of this era, our little protagonist brings out the best in the old man, and he brings out the best in her. Her life up the mountain, with her grandfather, the goats and the goatherd – Peter – is idyllic. The first half is her exploring this life and falling in to it and some of it is just beautiful; descriptions of sunsets and mountaintops that are so rich I felt I was there.

The second half is following Heidi after she’s taken from the mountain to live in Frankfurt to be a companion to a young disabled girl. She deals with homesickness but she also finds friendship and faith. I don’t often like books with a religious overtone, however this book the Christianity was done with such grace and understanding it didn’t feel preachy (unlike Little Women!)

The ending of this book is just one that gave me the warm fuzzies, it’s the only way I can describe it. This book was just a delightful read and one I can see myself rereading in the future! I’d happily give this a 4/5 – it’s not my favourite children’s novel but it’s definitely up there!

Readathon: Rainbow Read-a-Thon

Ahhh! Another read-a-thon. Yes, I am crazy. Yes, I did only just finish my previous read-a-thon TBR but what can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment! But I couldn’t, absolutely could not, pass up the chance to make a pretty rainbow TBR.

So, the premise of this is to create a rainbow for your TBR – 6 books with rainbow spines (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple), I could have done the alternate 4 books (two of which contain two of the requisite colours) but I’m crazy. The original video can be found here which contains all the information! Now, I think 6 books in a week is a bit ambitious and pretty much impossible how I am reading right now, however I’d like to get a bulk of them read at the very least and then take the remainder with me on holiday next week!

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So I think this is a very pretty rainbow. I could have made loads of bookish rainbows. It would have kept me occupied for hours. Now, on to the books.

Starting from the top we have the red book, Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. This is one I’ve wanted to read for a while and actually started once or twice but never actually got more than 10 pages in. It’s not too long at 229 pages so I feel it’s an achievable one!

Orange is an author I’ve heard a lot about recently – just mentions here and there, but enough to pique my interest to the point I bought The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I know very little about this book, I picked it up for the author alone, so I’m hoping to be blown away!

Yellow is another by Kazuo Ishiguro, and it’s the one I’ve heard the best things about. The Remains of the Day is apparently his best work, at least that’s what I’ve heard from most people I respect the opinions of.

Green is one I’ve actually already read today! Heidi is a children’s book by Johanna Spyri and I absolutely adored it (and the beautiful Puffin in Bloom edition of it!) It was a quick read, I devoured it in only a couple of hours and was just what I needed to get going in this readathon!

Blue is Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. Again, this is one I picked up because of the author rather than the plot of the book. It’s not too long and I’m actually looking forward to getting in to this one.

Finally, we have the book I’m most looking forward to but probably going to put off to last and that is The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I love Sarah Waters and this came out in paperback last week and I genuinely cannot wait to read it (I put off buying in order to have matching editions of her books). But I’m going to be patient as I think this might be a good one to take on holiday with me Friday!

So that’s my ambitious TBR for the week (15th-21st!) As I said, it’s unlikely I’ll finish all of these this week but I’m good with that. I just wanted to make a pretty rainbow, truth be known! Let me know if you have read any of the above books or if you’re taking part!

Thanks for reading!