Killing Commendatore

1787300196.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 05/01/2020-22/01/2020

Rating 4 stars

First published in Japan in two volumes in 2017 and issued in English translation in 2018, Killing Commendatore is the fourteenth of Haruki Murakami’s novels to be published in the English language.

In this instalment of his epic tale of men who don’t understand women and don’t fully understand themselves, Murakami has chosen to tell the story of an unnamed artist. The novel incorporates a trio of mysteries. Continue reading

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War

1598742582.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 24/11/2019-12/12/2019

Rating 4 stars

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse legacies of the Cold War is a collection of academic essays on the material culture of the Cold War and a multidisciplinary approach to its history. It makes a case for the influence that the Cold War has had on the world, from the domestic lives of those living under its psychological shadow in Europe and the USA, to those living alongside nuclear power stations (also sites of manufacture of weapons grade nuclear material) and nuclear test sites. It takes in archaeology, history, art, architecture and cultural studies in its examination of material culture and what that material culture can tell us about something that has been hidden behind military classification for so long. Continue reading

Escape from Earth: A secret history of the space rocket

1781259704.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 09/11/2019-24/11/2019

Rating 4 stars

Fraser MacDonald’s debut is a fascinating account of the birth of rocket science and space exploration. It’s a hidden history brought to light thanks to MacDonald’s interest in unlocking public records that governments have deemed secret.

This is a history of a group of people who came together in 1930s California, as Fascism was taking hold in Europe. Some were the children of immigrants, others were immigrants themselves, fleeing the persecution building across the Atlantic ocean. At the heart of the group is a scientist called Frank Malina. He was researching at the same time as Robert Oppenheimer, but he isn’t as well known as Oppenheimer, because he has been largely written out of the history of rocket science. Continue reading

The Diary of a Bookseller

1781258635.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 06/09/2019-08/09/2019

Rating 5 stars

Weezelle at Words and Leaves recommended Shaun Bythell’s memoir of running The Book Shop in Wigtown before I’d been to Wigtown or knew The Book Shop existed. Indeed, when I visited by accident in 2018 on the way home from a holiday the other side of the Galloway Forest, diverted by the Misogynist in Chief sojourning at his gaudy golf shack, I didn’t even realise that the book Weezelle had recommended was about that shop. Continue reading

The Nakano Thrift Shop

1846276020.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 08/08/2019-12/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month and the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

Hiromi Kawakami’s second novel was a change of pace from my previous read this month. Set in a thrift shop that definitely isn’t an antique shop, it follows the lives of shop owner Mr Nakano, his sister Masayo and his two employees Takeo and Hitomi. Hitomi narrates the day to day happenings around the shop. Continue reading

Plastic Emotions

1910312312.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 16/06/2019-24/06/2019

Rating 4 stars

Plastic Emotions is my second book towards the 20 Books of Summer readathon, and it’s perfect summer reading, full of sultry tropical heat and drowsy meanders through the glare of the afternoon sun.

With this, her second novel, Shiromi Pinto has woven a narrative that mingles fact with fiction to shine a light on an almost forgotten woman. It’s a book that made me want to bunk off work so that I could immerse myself in its world. Continue reading

Spring

0241207045.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 22/04/2019-24/04/2019

Rating 3 stars

The third installment in Ali Smith’s seasons quartet, Spring, begins with Spring herself addressing the reader in all her rude vitality. I’ve been waiting to read this novel since I finished reading Winter, and also worrying about how Smith could possibly maintain the standard set in the first two books in the sequence. I enjoyed it very much. It has a different tone to the previous two books, slightly weary at times, but the central thrust of the story is beautiful. Continue reading

The Break

1487001118.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Read 01/03/2019-07/03/2019

Rating 5 stars

The Break is set in the North End area of Winnipeg, Manitoba, an area with a large First Nations and Métis population. It tells the story of a family of Métis women and the abuse they experience and witness at the hands of First Nations, Métis and white men. It’s an incredible debut novel and worthy of the list of accolades at the front of the book. Continue reading