Convenience Store Woman [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 15, 2020

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

#throwbackthursday

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (cover) Image: white text on blue background....below it is a small plate with a traditional Japanese snack lying on a pink and white cloth napkin

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Japanese Culture, Conformity, Short Fiction, Book in Translation

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Convenience Store Woman, the story of self aware and determined Keiko who is torn between self fulfillment and cultural conformity

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Convenience Store Woman

“Keiko Furukura grows up labeled a “strange child,” and her parents worry about her ability to function in the real world and about her future success.  While at university, Keiko begins a job at a local convenience store. After eighteen years, her parents and friends worry that she doesn’t have a real career and has never had a boyfriend. Even though Keiko is successful as a convenience store worker and enjoys her job, she feels the pressure to live up to her parents’ cultural expectations. What will she do?”

Quirky character…Japanese culture…finding your niche……conformity…

 Continue here for my review of Convenience Store Woman

QOTD: Have you read Convenience Store Woman or is it on your TBR?

Beartown and Us Against You [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

October 8, 2020

Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman #throwbackthursday

Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (covers)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my reviews of Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, atmospheric stories of sports, small towns, and community…

This week’s Throw Back Thursday is a bit different because I’m throwing back to TWO books: Beartown and Us Against You. They are a series and Us Against You cannot be read as a stand-alone.

I read Beartown before I started blogging, so I don’t have a full blog review for linking ….I’ll include a brief review of it below and then link to my Us Against You blog review.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Thoughts on Beartown

As the author develops characters and establishes the setting in his unique style, tension builds like the distant rumbling of an approaching severe thunderstorm The action is a bit slow in he beginning but once it picks up, the tension is sustained as the story plays out. Hockey fans will find this story particularly enjoyable. Filled with fascinating characters and infused with complex and important themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, and a girl’s “no.” This multilayed, thoughtful, and challenging read would make a highly discussable book club selection.

TW: a rape storyline and some crude locker room language and humor

A few favorite lines from Beartown include:
“People are standing in silent lines with their eyes half-open and their minds half-closed.”
“We’re not supposed to develop ‘products.’ We don’t manufacture anything at all. We nurture human beings. Those [hockey] guys are flesh and blood, not business plans and investment targets. The youth program isn’t some factory, regardless of what some of our sponsors seem to think.”
“Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing.”
“Bitterness can be corrosive; it can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.”
“In the summer the rain seeps into the cracks in the bricks, then when the temperature slips below zero the moisture freezes to ice, and the bricks break. She will remember that that’s how it felt to grow up as the little sister of a dead big brother. A childhood that was one long, desperate attempt not to be liquid, not to seek out the cracks in your parents.”
“Maya knows all too well that this silence can be like water. If you let it make its way too far in, it can freeze into ice and break your heart.”
“And when enough people are quiet for long enough, a handful of voices can give the impression that everyone is screaming.”
“Sometimes life doesn’t let you choose your battles. Just the company you keep.”
“She and the girl rest their foreheads together. Say nothing, because they couldn’t have heard anything anyway, the echo of the screams in their hearts is deafening.”

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (Beartown #2)

My Summary:

“In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey (yes, it’s important to read Beartown first).  After the act of violence in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi-layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand-alone story; reading Beartown first is essential.”

Continue here for my review of Us Against You by Fredrik Backman …

So much more than hockey….

QOTD: Have you read Beartown or Us Against You or are they on your TBR? Are you a Backman fan?

The Music Shop [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 17, 2020

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
#throwbackthursday

The Music Shop Review

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Friendship

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Music Shop by favorite author Rachel Joyce, a story of friendship and music…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…quirky character overcomes a difficult and turbulent past and takes risks to create a better life……

My Summary:

“Set in the 1980s on a run-down street in a forgotten suburb of London, there is a small indie music shop that is jam-packed with vinyl records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with the exact piece of music they never knew they needed, he welcomes the lonely, and he goes out of his way to help others. One ordinary day, a beautiful young woman in a green coat, Ilse Brauchmann, comes into his music shop and changes his life. Frank feels an attraction to her and yet he fears developing any closeness; in spite of his reservations, he begins to teach her about music and they develop a close friendship based on their common musical interests. Frank is terrified of his feelings for Ilse, yet he’s drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. It’s complicated because Ilse has secrets and Frank has a past that haunts him. Readers find out about Frank’s life with his eccentric mother through flashbacks; however, Ilse remains mysterious. While Frank and Ilse contemplate the risks of a relationship, there are events in the community that threaten the livelihood of all the small, independent shops including Frank’s music shop. A further complication for Frank is the growing popularity of cassette tapes and CDs while Frank cherishes the world of vinyl.

In The Music Shop, Frank’s greatest gift is the ability to listen, his greatest heartache is his devotion to and preservation of vinyl, and his greatest fear is having what he most wants…the love of mysterious Ilse.”

Continue here for my review of The Music Shop

QOTD: Have you read The Music Shop or is it on your TBR?

Of Literature and Lattes [Book Review]

May 12, 2020

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay (cover) Image: a large red coffee cup sits on a stack of books against a blue background....whimsical flowers as an accent

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #netgalley @thomasnelson for providing a complimentary e copy of #ofliteratureandlattes … all opinions in this review are completely my own.

Thirty-something Alyssa never planned to return home. Suddenly, the company she works for implodes, and she is broke, under FBI investigation, and returns to her home in Winsome, Illinois to regroup. Once in her quaint and charming hometown, Alyssa faces the challenges of reconciling with her mother, earning money to fix her car, and dealing with a health crisis. She meets Jeremy who is struggling to establish a coffee shop, working toward a functional relationship with his ex, and fighting for consistent, quality time with his daughter.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Convenience Store Woman [Book Review]

June 22, 2018

Quirky character…Japanese culture…finding your niche……conformity…

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (cover) Image: white text on blue background....below it is a small plate with a traditional Japanese snack lying on a pink and white cloth napkin

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Japanese Culture, Conformity, Short Fiction

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Keiko Furukura grows up labeled a “strange child,” and her parents worry about her ability to function in the real world and about her future success.  While at university, Keiko begins a job at a local convenience store. After eighteen years, her parents and friends worry that she doesn’t have a real career and has never had a boyfriend. Even though Keiko is successful as a convenience store worker and enjoys her job, she feels the pressure to live up to her parents’ cultural expectations. What will she do?

In addition to an interesting character study, the story also provides readers a glimpse into the Japanese popular convenience store culture.

My Thoughts:

“What does society do with people who live on the edges who don’t pursue what others have declared as acceptable? Who don’t live according to the unwritten manual? Are they disposable and useless?”

Japanese Convenience Stores: Quirky characters striving to live their best lives interest me, and Keiko captured my heart. As we get to know Keiko as a convenience store worker, readers learn a bit about convenience stores (konbinis) in Japanese culture as a bonus. Different from a U. S. 7-Eleven Store, well-stocked Japanese convenience stores (konbinis) offer healthier prepared food, pride themselves on excellent customer service, and offer services not offered by a U.S. 7-Eleven. Here’s one link you can follow to find out more about Japanese Convenience Stores.

Quirky Character: Despite being labeled as a strange child, Keiko feels secure and safe at work, and she loves that all the workers are equal when they’re in their uniforms. The routine tasks of the store help her feel normal. She buys most of her meals at the convenience store and doesn’t know how to be normal outside of her work environment. Keiko is dedicated to her job and the sounds of the store comfort and calm her and become the soundtrack of her life.

It occurs to me that Keiko might fall on the autism spectrum (undiagnosed and not mentioned as a possibility in the story). Keiko knows she’s different from others and copies clothing styles, mannerisms, and speech patterns of her peers in smart, valiant, and innovative attempts to gain acceptance. Keiko loves her job as a convenience store worker and excels in the position (organization, stocking, customer service, selling, etc). Her job is everything to her. After eighteen years, her family and friends think she should get a real career or at least get married. Keiko earnestly and bravely attempts to meet their cultural expectations. Will she find happiness outside the comfort and security of the convenience store?

Unlikable Character: The only part of the story I am less than thrilled with is a certain male character (former employee in the convenience store) whom she “adopts.” I’m certain he’s an important symbol that we’d all have a great time discussing in a lit class! He goes beyond quirky and in my opinion is a creepy manipulator and opportunist. I’d love to hear the author expound on why she chose this character for her story.

Themes: Overall, I love Keiko and admire her self awareness and determination. Pressure to conform versus self fulfillment is a strong theme in this short fiction work. Days after reading the last page, I still think about her and wish her the best.

Recommended? Convenience Store Woman is recommended for readers who have lived in or are from Japan, for those who love a quirky character fighting against the odds, and for readers who might be looking for a short fiction read in translation.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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convenience store women

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Sayaka Murata

sayaka MurataSayaka Murata is one of Japan’s most exciting contemporary writers. She still works part time in a convenience store, which was the inspiration to write Convenience Store Woman, her English-language debut and winner of one of Japan’s most prestigious literary prizes, the Akutagawa Prize. She was named a Freeman’s “Future of New Writing” author, and her work has appeared in Granta and elsewhere. In 2016, Vogue Japan selected her as a Woman of the Year.



QOTD:

Do you like reading about quirky characters? A few favs are Eleanor (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), Ginny (Ginny Moon), Ove (A Man Called Ove), Britt-Marie (Britt-Marie Was Here), and Frank (The Music Shop). Who are yours?

What are you reading this week?



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Links I Love:

SAVE THE DATE: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie is releasing on Netflix August 10!!!

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids.

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll be revealing my most memorable and compelling character from my June reading.

Also, I hope to be reading The Ensemble and reviewing it soon. I’ve been #1 on the library hold list for at least 3 weeks, so it should be coming in any day.

ensemble.

***Cover Love***

The Ensemble Information Here



Let’s Get Social:

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

© WWW.ReadingLadies..com

Us Against You [Book Review]

June 15, 2018

So much more than hockey…

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: two kids stand with ice skates on at the edge of a snowy village

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey (yes, it’s important to read Beartown first).  After the act of violence in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi-layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand alone story; reading Beartown first is essential.

Amazon Early Rating (June): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

A dedicated Backman fan, I’ve read all of his work. As a fan and reader, I appreciate his thought-provoking writing, his courage to take a creative risk, and his commitment to writing about important and difficult topics. I think he’s an exciting and provocative author worth reading even though your appreciation of his individual works may vary. He’s on my list of respected writers from whom I’ll automatically preorder a new work without considering reviews.

Us Against You is an emotional read and filled with pain and sadness. Backman’s writing ability, thought filled observations, and unique style moved me forward. The hope readers find in the story comes through individual determination and courage and in the community standing together to support, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and heal.

A professional reviewer (Green Valley News) refers to Backman as “the Charles Dickens of our age.” You might know that Dickens is a great English writer and social critic, and this comparison is an important consideration when reviewing Backman’s work. When looked at solely from this perspective, I would award Us Against You 5 stars.

When considering Beartown and Us Against You, I notice they have slightly different tones and Us Against You is more focused on social issues (similar to Dickens). Overall, Beartown is my favorite. The difference for me in the two stories is that in Beartown I felt immersed in the story and bonded with the characters as if I were a community member. Whereas in Us Against You, I felt like an observer. It seemed like Backman was asking me to analyze and form an opinion rather than participate in the story. Instead of the story capturing me and allowing me to draw my own conclusions, I was aware of Backman’s analysis of social issues. In place of investing in the story alongside the characters, I spent time pondering Backman’s statements and wondering to what extent I agreed or not. Like Dickens, his story is focused on social issues, and his points are important, thought-provoking, and promote engagement. Although my preference is for more story telling, Backman is a gifted writer and the story is filled with quotable passages such as these (I could have filled a journal):

“People always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.”

“No one bows their heads around here, for the simple reason that many of our worst deeds are the result of never wanting to admit that we’re wrong. The greater the mistake and the worse the consequences, the more pride we stand to lose if we back down.”

“You become someone else’s property the first time you hear your child cry. You belong to that little person now. Before everything else. So when something happens to your child, it never stops being your fault.”

“A long marriage consists of such small things that when they get lost we don’t even know where to start looking for them….In the end the weight of carrying each other’s broken hearts becomes unbearable.”

Recommended for readers who have read Beartown and wouldn’t mind something grittier, darker, and sadder; for those who love sports and competition; for readers who like issue-centered books; and for readers who appreciate thoughtful, excellent, and creative writing. If you have more questions after reading my review, please consider reading additional reviews before making your reading choice.

Trigger Warnings for locker room talk, homophobia, fighting and conflict, and references to suicide and rape.

RELATED:
My brief review of Beartown by Fredrik Backman here.
My review of Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.
My review of Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman here.

My Rating: 4 Hockey Stars

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Us Against You

Us Against You Information Here

Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman

Frederick BackmanFredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. He has also written BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE in addition to the BEARTOWN books and a few novellas. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk or @backmansports.



QOTD:

Have you read Beartown and Us Against You or are they on your TBR?

Are you a Fredrik Backman fan?



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love:

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

I’ll be reading and reviewing “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Mukata from my Summer TBR. By the way, I’m updating my Summer TBR with star ratings as I read titles (if you want to check my progress from time to time).

convenience store women

Convenience Store Woman Information Here



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

The Music Shop [Book Review]

May 25, 2018

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (cover) Image: a woman in a green coat and bobbed brown hair stands with her back to the camera

Genre/categories: Fiction, Friendship, Music

Summary:

Set in the 1980s on a run-down street in a forgotten suburb of London, there is a small indie music shop that is jam-packed with vinyl records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with the exact piece of music they never knew they needed, he welcomes the lonely, and he goes out of his way to help others. One ordinary day, a beautiful young woman in a green coat, Ilse Brauchmann, comes into his music shop and changes his life. Frank feels an attraction to her and yet he fears developing any closeness; in spite of his reservations, he begins to teach her about music and they develop a close friendship based on their common musical interests. Frank is terrified of his feelings for Ilse, yet he’s drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. It’s complicated because Ilse has secrets and Frank has a past that haunts him. Readers find out about Frank’s life with his eccentric mother through flashbacks; however, Ilse remains mysterious. While Frank and Ilse contemplate the risks of a relationship, there are events in the community that threaten the livelihood of all the small, independent shops including Frank’s music shop. A further complication for Frank is the growing popularity of cassette tapes and CDs while Frank cherishes the world of vinyl.

My Thoughts

(more…)