The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

November 19, 2020

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
#throwbackthursday

the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (cover) Image: purple and blue text on a light background with two small figures walking and a road in the distance

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Life Reflection, Quirky Character

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 thrilled to share my review of the popular The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce…a reflection on life.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

In this well-loved story…

“Harold Fry is recently retired and lives in a small English village with his wife. After a long marriage, they have their differences but have settled into an amicable, predictable, and manageable daily routine. One day, a letter arrives for Harold from a woman (former co worker) that he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie is writing from a hospice to say goodbye. In the process of mailing his reply, Harold decides that he must deliver his message in person and decides to walk. As Harold impulsively sets out on his quest, he figures out the logistics of the six hundred mile journey as he goes. On the way he meets interesting people, finds plenty of time to reflect back on his life, and confronts some unsettling thoughts and feelings that he has buried.”

Shoe held together with duct tape

Continue here for my full review of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry or is it on your TBR?

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?

Reading Memories and a Review: One-In-A-Million Boy #throwbackthursday

March 12, 2020

One-In-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
#throwbackthursday

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 short review of One-In-a-Million Boy and personal reading memories. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood (cover)

Genre/Categories: fiction, family

My Summary:

A unique 11-year-old boy is sent to help 104-year-old Ona every Saturday morning as part of a community service project. As he refills the bird feeders and helps with other odd jobs, he and Ona share cookies and milk and Ona tells him about her long life. He records her responses as part of a school interview project.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed….

Click here to continue reading my review and I also share a few reading memories….

QOTD: Have you read One-In-a-Million Boy or is it on your TBR?

This Won’t End Well: A Review

March 6, 2020

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

This Won't End Well (cover) .... a young woman peeking through some bushes

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thank Jaymi @ Orange County Readers for the free copy! All opinions are my own.

Summary:

No new people….

In the long tradition of other beloved, quirky characters, Annie Mercer feels best when she limits her interactions with new people. As a scientist, she analyzes her life experiences through the lens of science. Suddenly her organized life is turned upside down: she loses her job, curiosity about a new neighbor consumes her, her fiance takes a leave of absence, and a personable and charismatic private investigator surprises her. Ultimately Annie is faced with some big, life-changing decisions.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Favorite Quirky Literary Characters

June 9, 2019

My Favorite Quirky Literary Characters

Aren’t we all just a bit quirky?!

Favorite Quirky Characters

Quirky Defined

Definition of quirky: having many quirks : unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way (a quirky sense of humor, quirky ideas/behavior, a quirky and creative artist)

My personal definition also includes the word endearing. My favorite quirky characters have a story behind their quirkiness and often quirky is a survival strategy. Their quirkiness is understandable when a reader sees the entire picture and their quirkiness becomes endearing in light of the challenges they are bravely overcoming.

top ten tuesdayI’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Character Freebie.

Although I love characters of all types, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent abundance of stories with quirky characters. I love to hear their stories and celebrate their determination to live their best lives in spite of the circumstances. Even though my star ratings vary on the following books, I’ve loved all the quirky characters. My favorites are brave Eleanor and grumpy Ove. Do you love quirky? Who are your favorite quirky characters?

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links. Listed in order of Star ratings. And, yes, I realize I have eleven and not ten! I couldn’t leave any of them out! 



Quirky Favorites



Eleanor from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5 Stars. My Brief Review.

Eleanor Oliphant


Ove from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

5 Stars. No Written Review.

man called ove


Frank from The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

5 Stars. My Review.

music shop


Loveday from The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

5 Stars. My Review.

The Lost for Words Bookshop

(more…)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry [Book Review]

July 29, 2018

Harold of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is a Most Compelling Character

At month’s end I enjoy reflecting on the most memorable, compelling, or unforgettable character from the month’s reading.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (cover) Image: purple and blue text on a light background with two small figures walking and a road in the distance

Genre/categories: Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Life Reflection, Quirky Character

Summary:

Harold Fry is recently retired and lives in a small English village with his wife. After a long marriage, they have their differences but have settled into an amicable, predictable, and manageable daily routine. One day, a letter arrives for Harold from a woman (former co worker) that he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie is writing from a hospice to say goodbye. In the process of mailing his reply, Harold decides that he must deliver his message in person and decides to walk. As Harold impulsively sets out on his quest, he figures out the logistics of the six hundred mile journey as he goes. On the way he meets interesting people, finds plenty of time to reflect back on his life, and confronts some unsettling thoughts and feelings that he has buried.

Amazon Rating: 4.3 Stars

shoe with duct tape

Meet Harold Fry

Like many of us, Harold has managed to survive life’s circumstances. His mother abandoned him and his father had little time for him and shoved him out the door when he was sixteen. Harold survived a less than meaningful job, an angry boss, and his marriage has lost its shine. Despite difficult circumstances, he was a responsible employee, a faithful and loyal husband, and did the best he could. Like some of us, he also suffered a personal tragedy (which I can’t describe here because it is a spoiler). On this pilgrimage to deliver his letter to Queenie, Harold finds that the solitary act of walking offers a new perspective and this new pace gives him time to notice things and the time to thoughtfully reflect on the past and evaluate his actions and decisions. On this sometimes treacherous journey, he examines regrets and accepts loss, wrestles with grief and faith, and finds joy, healing, and acceptance.

“Life was very different when you walked through it.”

The journey itself is a metaphor for life. Despite life’s disappointments, he’s determined to do something about it. Harold sets a goal, is faced with challenges, overcomes difficulties, meets an assortment of people, and benefits from the help and compassion of many good people along the way.

“He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others.”

Honest and authentic, Harold is truly an unforgettable and compelling character.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is recommended for readers who appreciate poignant themes, a quest for meaning and purpose, and beautiful, thoughtful, and reflective writing. Even though it’s character driven, this endearing story has just enough drama and plot to keep you engaged. This story might appeal more to older readers who have faced more of life’s challenges and disappointments. Great book club selection, too!

Rachel Joyce, author of The Music Shop, has become one of my favorite authors, and I’m glad I read this back title that I missed somehow when it was first published.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded up to 5 Stars on Goodreads)

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Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Information Here

Meet the Author, Rachel Joyce

Rachel JoyceRachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was short-listed for the Commonwealth Book Prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Joyce was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards New Writer of the Year in 2012. She is also the author of the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and is the award-winning writer of more than thirty original afternoon plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4. Rachel Joyce lives with her family in Gloucestershire.



QOTD:

Who was the most compelling character from your reading this month?

(Edited to add) Have you read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, or The Music Shop, or Miss Benson’s Beetle?



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 about half of the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

 I look forward to providing a July wrap up on 7/31. I’m currently reading An American Marriage (I’ve read mixed reviews of this Oprah Book Club selection so we’ll see how it goes).

An American Marriage

Amazon 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 WP 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.

© WWW.ReadingLadies.com

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

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

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