Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Title: Kitchen
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Publication date: March 1994 (first published January 1988)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
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From Goodreads:
'Two stories, "Kitchen" and "Moonlight Shadow," told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young Japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy.





There are some books that you pick up and know that you’re going to love them. You don’t even read the summary on the book jacket or care what the book is about – you set your eyes on them and you know you need to read it. I was lucky enough to experience it with The Hunger Games, Just One Day, Poison Study, and now with Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto.

Kitchen consists of three stories: “Kitchen”, “Full Moon” (or “Kitchen”: part two), and “Moonlight Shadow”. The story of “Kitchen” deals with a girl’s loneliness after her grandmother’s death. Being left alone in the world, she finds solace in the form of kitchen and later, in the company of Tanabe family. I love the interactions between Mikage, the heroine, with the Tanabes. The Tanabes pick up Mikage as if she were a lost puppy, and they heal her heart like they water the plants in their apartment.

I loved the Tanabes’ sofa as much as I loved their kitchen. I came to crave sleeping on it. Listening to the quiet breathing of the plants, sensing the night view through the curtains, I slept like a baby. There wasn’t anything more I wanted. I was happy.

“Moonlight Shadow” is a story about a lover left alone after her boyfriend’s death. Her grief is so overwhelming she is almost drown in her sea of sadness. Satsuki, the main character, is coping by jogging in every dawn, while her boyfriend’s brother, Hiiragi, is coping of the loss of both her brother and her girlfriend by wearing his girlfriend’s uniform to school. The sadness is so profound in the story I almost felt I were the one experiencing it.

I love how Banana Yoshimoto-sensei seamlessly weaves tales of love, death, loss, and loneliness in her works but still manages to include threads of hope in the stories. I didn’t know it was possible to feel so attached to a character in 40 pages or so. I cared for them like they were my longtime friends, and I wished for their happiness in every page I flipped. Kitchen is so intimate, so beautiful. It was genuine sadness when the story was coming to end – why can’t it go longer? Like a real parting with friends, I don’t want to let them go yet. I even read the Afterword!

The gradual recovery of the characters is not rushed at all. It reminds me of plants, growing steadily with much love from sun and water. The writing might be deceptively simple, but it will touch your heart nonetheless. I guess there’s none of my words that can do justice in conveying the beauty of Kitchen. It’s the kind of book that you have to read yourself to find out. If you just immerse yourself in their world – you would understand why so many readers, including me, fall head over heels in love with Kitchen.

”With a cold”—she spoke evenly, lowering her eyes a little—“now is the hardest time. Maybe even harder than dying. But this is probably as bad as it can get. You might come to fear the next time you get a cold; it will be as bad as this, but if you just hold steady, it won’t be. For the rest of your life. That’s how it works. You could take the negative view and live in fear: Will it happen again? But it won’t hurt so much if you just accept it as a part of life.”




5 cups of tea!
I wish I could rewind the experience reading this over and over.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Blitz: Frost by Kate Avery Ellison


Hello everyone! Today I'm going to share a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time, but still haven't got the time yet! Frost by Kate Avery Ellison! Check out the blurb below:


Title: Frost
Author: Kate Avery Ellison
Publication date: April 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, compassion might get a person killed, and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After the monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides, she can't afford to let her emotions lead her astray. But when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest, a young man from beyond the Frost named Gabe, Lia does the unthinkable. She saves his life. Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the "Farthers," as ruthless and cruel. Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent-and handsome. And she might even be falling for him. But time is running out. The monsters in the forest are growing bold and restless. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Is compassion-and love-worth the risk? Finally, when a startling discovery challenges everything she thought was true about her life, Lia realizes exactly what she must do.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 
I live in Georgia with my wonderful husband and two spoiled cats. When I'm not writing, I'm usually catching up on my extensive Netflix queue, reading a book, giggling at something funny online, or trying to convince my husband to give me just ONE bite of whatever he's eating.

Learn more about my writing and books at my blog (http://thesouthernscrawl.blogspot.com/), find teasers for upcoming works on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kateaveryellison), and subscribe to my new releases newsletter to be notified of new novels as soon as they hit stores (https://tinyletter.com/kateaveryellison)!



 


He came out of nowhere, hitting me hard from one side and knocking me over. We rolled together across the floor and he came out on top, his hands on either side of my head, holding my wrists down against the stones. His burning eyes bored into mine.

I couldn’t seem to find my breath. The whole world slowed down, and I realized with perfect clarity that he might kill me.

“Don’t scream,” he hissed.

I shook my head.

“How far is the village?” He whispered it, the words harsh and raspy in the air between us. I could see his mind working behind his eyes—was he calculating how long it would take him to try to struggle away on his own, how long before they found my lifeless body?

I was neither brave nor stupid. I told him what he wanted to know. “The village is less than a mile.”

He grimaced, and I realized he must be half-mad with the pain. Maybe if I moved suddenly, I could throw him off and get to the door...

He must have sensed my plan, for he pressed down harder on my wrists, keeping me pinned. “And the gate?”

“What gate? You mean the village gate?”

He didn’t explain. “The mountains, then.”

“The farm sits in its shadow,” I gasped. His hands were cutting off my circulation. “But killing me does nothing to help you. You are too weak to get far, and the Watchers fill the woods.”

His eyebrows drew together sharply, and he coughed. He was weakening—I could see it. “Kill you?”

His grip on my wrists slackened. I saw my chance, and I took advantage of it.

I slammed my elbow into his face. The Farther cried out, falling sideways like a puppet with its strings cut. I scrambled up for the door and yanked it open.

“Stop—wait—”

I turned. He was crumpled on the ground, his limbs shaking. I could see that he had no strength left.

“I’m sorry if I hurt you,” he gasped. “I just needed answers.”

I lingered, not running but not relaxing, either. “You would kill me for information, then?”

He pressed a hand against his side and wheezed a bewildered laugh. “I’m not a murderer of farm girls. Not even those who plan to harm me.”

“Harm you?” My words were sharp. “I’m sticking my neck out for you. I’m putting my family in danger for you. I’m sheltering and feeding you—and for what? It’s you who just tried to harm me.”

“I just needed information about my location,” he said, wincing at my words. He struggled up into a kneeling position and raised his dazzling blue eyes to mine. Blood colored his lip red. “I won’t try anything again, I promise, even though I know you want me dead.”

It was my turn to laugh, breathlessly. “You make no sense.” I grabbed the herbs from my pocket and brandished them at him. “I came to bring you these for your wound. I’m not going to kill you. I just want you gone before you can cause any more trouble.”

His expression turned inside out—the planes of his face softened in surprise, and his eyes widened slightly. But then they slitted shut, and I could tell he didn’t believe me. “You’re lying.”

“Why would I lie?” I snapped. “If I wanted to kill you, I’d have done it by now. I could have simply left you in the snow, or refused to clean your wounds, or refused to feed you.”

He was silent, considering this. Some of the wild terror on his face eased at the logic of what I’d said. “Why haven’t you? Left me to die, I mean?”

I didn’t answer that, because I didn’t know how to put my reasons into words. I didn’t even quite know what the reasons were.

 ****


Oh wow! That excerpt really gets me interested. Who is this mysterious guy? Why does Lia save him? Is it because he's impossibly handsome or maybe something bigger than that?

Raise your hand if you're planning to read this, because I sure do! ;)

Thanks for reading this, and I hope you're having a wonderful day! :)


 This book blitz is hosted by:
 
http://xpressobooktours.com/



Monday, October 06, 2014

Monday Muse: My Blog and Things I’ll Never Understand in It


 Happy Monday, awesome readers! :)

I was looking at my blog stats, and of course, things I found there never cease to amaze me. People seem to find Catch the Lune using every kind of unimaginable keywords. Some people lurk in this site from place I’ve never thought. Posts when I babble seem to get higher stats (why oh why). Those stuffs make me think about when I first start blogging, and all the goods that come from it.


Being a good procrastinator I am, of course I have to put down whatever I'm supposed to do and write these things in my Monday Muse post. (In fact I was supposed to be writing my essay by the time I wrote this, but well… some things can wait #legitprocrastinator)


 My Blog and Things I’ll Never Understand in It


“PICTURES OF BOYS” KEYWORD IN GOOGLE SEARCH

 

Let’s see. Some of you type “pictures of boys” and you got yourself here. Interesting.



I know I’m supposed to gush about cute guys’ abs and Ian Somerholder and Matt Bomer. What am I doing writing reviews about books. Huh.



Too bad, I’m not too good in writing about cute guys. I can’t ever get past “OMG IAN MATT CHACE TOO PERFECT GAAAH TAKE OFF MY MONEY AND SHOWS US THOSE ABS”.

Not good enough to make blog post, no.


Oh yeah, definitely the kind of stuff that I actually want to write about.

But here’s Douglas to compensate little lambs who are lost here. Yeah, I’m perfectly content with Chace for now, thank you.

Ugh. Those looking-through-your-soul-eyes. *wipe drools*

 LARGE RUSSIAN AUDIENCE



Interestingly, my biggest blog audience after USA (Americans! I love you!) is Russia. Strange, because:


1. I've only read a handful books set in Russia.

2. As you see, this blog is written in English.

3. I don’t remember having interacted much with any Russian blogger.

And thus, the reason why my 2nd biggest audience are Russians is my biggest mystery.
 

Here's a shoutout to my silent Russian readers! Please don’t be lurkers and talk to me, guys! I occasionally serve biscuits and tea, and I promise I don’t bite. Let’s talk about the beauty of St. Petersburg and the aching love story of Tatiana and Alexander in The Bronze Horseman series! x)

Как дела? Меня зовут Хилда. Приятно познакомиться! (finally my Russian class pays off. I promise it’s not Google Translate)


HIGHEST ALL-TIME STATISTICAL HITS FOR MONDAY MUSE POSTS

 

Come on, guys. Catch the Lune is a serious literary blog (please let me dream) and it’s not like I gush about cute guys every week. Somehow the posts with the biggest hits are giveaway (understandable) and my Monday Muse series (questionable) though. I don’t remember ever put anything important in this… I think I only talk about something slightly serious things sometimes. For some reasons, people seem to find this blog more amusing when I rave nonstop about cute guys / the sweetness of Peeta / Finnick and how hot he is. Wait, they are basically the same thing.

I’m not going to clutter this blog with my rambling, but I’ll do my best to post Monday Muse regularly. Please do check out every Monday to read a little bit of silliness (and whatever in my mind at that time haha)! ;)


COMMENTS ON MY ABOUT ME PAGE

It’s so lovely that you guys take some time commenting in my "About Me "page! It’s also the page with biggest hits in this blog. Originally, I forgot to turn off comment section in that page but now I’m so grateful. You guys are so kind for taking your time reading it. <3




LETTERS INSIDE OUT AS ONE OF THE TOP REFERRERS TO THIS BLOG

Letters Inside Out is a wonderful blog managed by Amanda, and I remember participating in one book tour she organizes. It’s a bit confusing though that people seems to find my blog through her site! I don’t interact much with lovely Amanda, and I think my blog is not listed in her blogroll. In addition, she has quit blogging for the meantime so her site is down now. So why… is it still top referrer?
 



CONCLUSION
  • I guess some things are never meant to be solved.
  • You guys could be from any nation and I'd still thank you for reading this blog! Thanks! :)
  • I hope you guys will be okay with me posting totally strange things like this!
  • Yeah yeah, this post is mainly slightly an excuse for me to post Chace Crawford's picture in my blog. Major needs to blog about him, sorry! :P
 

Is there anything in your blog that confuses you as well? Like many hits on unexpected posts or hilarious keyword search on your stats? :)

Thank you for reading this week's Monday Muse! Have a wonderful day, everyone! :)


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Publication date: September 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Goodreads | Book Depository | AbeBooks

From Goodreads:
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.



 
The Jewel starts out with everything I love: gorgeous cover, detailed prose, and conflicted heroine. The main character, Violet, lives in a society where the royalty need girls with special ability to be surrogate mothers for their babies. Those surrogate mothers come from the poorest part of the country, and their somehow genetic mutation allows them to bring royalty’s babies without any flaws. Not only that, those surrogates have auguries: special ability that enable them to modify growth, color, and shape of anything, even living things. Violet has the most impressive ability in growth; a quality that is most prized by Duchess of Lake who bought her. Thrown into swirls of luxuries, dirty royal scandals, and everyone’s own scenarios, Violet must learn how to survive in this glittering community.

When I first picked up The Jewels, it started out wonderful. I love the intricate details of the gowns, the beautiful rooms, and the dazzling city of Jewel.

The room is enormous. Glowglobes cast a warm light on the walls, papered in pale green, and the furniture scattered about the room is upholstered in shades of green and gold. There are dressers, an armoire, a vanity, plush armchairs with footstools, a sofa, a small breakfast table, and a large fireplace. Dark green curtains cover the windows, gold tasseled ropes hanging at their sides—they block out the light completely, so I can’t tell whether it’s day or night outside.

That sounds absolutely gorgeous! Violet seems to share the same sentiment with me, and she can’t keep herself from gushing over her new room and her beautiful shiny violin. Of course, however, she later learns that there is monster hidden in seemingly picture-perfect things.

I devoured this book until I reached the romance part. Then, the story went downhill so fast. The instant attraction and what-they-call-true-love come very very soon after they meet. I’m sorry but I can’t see you putting your life in danger for someone whom you’ve barely talked to. No just no sorry.

The Jewel ends in an okay way, leaving some questions to be answered in the second book. I guess I’ll be waiting for reviews to come before picking up the second book. Fans of The Selection series by Kiera Cass would love the echo of royals life and beautiful details in The Jewel. The Jewel has great premise and flowy writing, and if you can get past the insta-love, I think you might enjoy this book.

I see the rose-shaped bars on the windows of the dormitories, set in the pale pink stone of the holding facility. I see the faces of the other surrogates, the girls who will go back inside once this train leaves and never think of us again. My gaze falls on a twelve-year-old girl with bulging brown eyes. She is so thin, and clearly malnourished; she must be new. Our eyes meet, and she crosses the fingers on her right hand and presses them against her heart.

I step into the carriage and the doors close behind me.




 

 3 cups of tea!
The writing is beautiful. Good light read.

 

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