By: Haruki Murakami
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
The year is 1984. Aomame is riding in a taxi on the expressway, in a hurry to carry out an assignment. Her work is not the kind that can be discussed in public. When they get tied up in traffic, the taxi driver suggests a bizarre ‘proposal’ to her. Having no other choice she agrees, but as a result of her actions she starts to feel as though she is gradually becoming detached from the real world. She has been on a top secret mission, and her next job leads her to encounter the superhuman founder of a religious cult. Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange disturbance that develops over a literary prize. While Aomame and Tengo impact on each other in various ways, at times by accident and at times intentionally, they come closer and closer to meeting. Eventually the two of them notice that they are indispensable to each other. Is it possible for them to ever meet in the real world?
OMG guys, this book has been sitting on my to-read pile for the longest time now O_O He has two books published and translated in English since and I still didn’t start reading this book (despite telling myself year in and year out that I will get around to it), lol =/ I’ve read quite a number of books recently and tackled my TBR list considerably that I decided now is a good time to start reading it (or else I won’t get around to it at all again this year). Contains spoilers ahead! (because this is going to be a very long review; you may just want to jump to the “Overall” heading at the bottom)
The Book of Lost Things
By: John Connolly
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.
I first read this book back in 2009 after hearing so many good things about it. I loved it so much then that I listed it as one of my favourite books, but never got around to posting a review here on the blog. I had been meaning to re-read it for some time and only got around to it now thanks to the challenge I’m participating in (plus, I needed a bit of a break from some of the hefty titles on my TBR pile) 😉
This book is part of the A Year in Re-Reading: a 2014 Reading Challenge that I am participating in.
Like Water for Chocolate
By: Laura Esquivel
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy
A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.
I wanted to read this book for such a long time. I first heard of it as I was looking up titles involving the magical realism theme and this book came highly recommended. Not sure why I kept putting off picking this book up but I finally did recently; one of my favourite bookstores was closing and they were selling hardback copies of this book for a very good price. Looking for something light to read while studying for my exams, I decided to read this book (again, at long last).
By: Sarah Addison Allen
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme
Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.
A new Sarah Addison Allen novel! *insert flailing here* If you regularly read/drop by my blog, you’ll know that I’m quite a big fan of her books; The Girl Who Chased the Moon (review) is one of my favourite books <3 I was quite happy to learn last year that she had a new novel coming out, and that she was doing well (I think I only found out short after the announcement about the book that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer but is now doing well).
The Golem and the Jinni
By: Helene Wecker
Format/Source: Paperback; courtesy of a book giveaway contest held by Cate from Boxes of Paper
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master-the husband who commissioned her-dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free-an unbreakable band of iron around his wrist binds him to the physical world.
Overwhelmed by the incessant longing and fears of the humans around her, the cautious and tentative Chava-imbued with extraordinary physical strength-fears losing control and inflicting harm. Baptized by the tinsmith who makes him his apprentice, the handsome and capricious Ahmad-an entity of inquisitive intelligence and carefree pleasure-chafes at monotony and human dullness. Like their immigrant neighbors, the Golem and the Jinni struggle to make their way in this strange new place while masking the supernatural origins that could destroy them.
Surrounding them is a colorful cast of supporting characters who inhabit the immigrant communities in lower Manhattan at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century: the café owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary Ice Cream Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish immigrants; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the mysterious Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.
Meeting by chance, Chava and Ahmad become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing nature-until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
This book has been on my to-read pile for a good part of last year (and on my wishlist for longer); I had won a copy of it courtesy of a book giveaway contest hosted by Cate from Boxes of Paper but somehow remained on the to-read pile for the rest of the year. Well, I made sure that I got around to it this year (a-ha!); the weather seemed perfect to read this novel 🙂