Sunday, October 14, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Diving Pool by Yōko Ogawa

It's always warm here: I feel as though I've been swallowed by a huge animal. ~ Opening of The Diving Pool

The Diving Pool: Three Novellas  by Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
Picador, 2008 (originally published 1990)
Fiction (Short Stories); 164 pgs

This was my first experience reading this author. I have had this little slip of a book sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, but am just now getting to it. I have mixed feelings about each of the stories. The first with the same title as the collection, The Diving Pool, about a girl with a crush on her foster brother, took me by surprise in the cruelty of the main character. She is the only child to parents who run the Light House, an orphanage. She has seen children come and go from the home, never quite feeling the sense of family life—or that of a home—she wishes she could have. Something normal. She is lonely and bitter. And at times jealous. Jun, the boy she has a crush on, has lived at the Light House for a number of years, the two growing up together in a sense. As Aya secretly watches Jun, sneaking into the pool where he dives every day, observing him at home and plotting to run into him at various times where they can be alone, she does not realize that Jun is also aware of her. He sees how she treats the orphan toddler and knows she visits the pool where he dives. I was satisfied with the way this story was wrapped up, but overall found it disturbing and at times difficult to stomach.

The second story titled Pregnancy Diary was interesting to say the least. A unmarried woman is living with her sister and her husband. She keeps a diary of her sister’s pregnancy, noting the moment the pregnancy was announced to her sister’s behavior and habits during the pregnancy. The woman records her own feelings of discontent and even disgust and eventual retaliation. The story takes a dark turn, just as the first one did, and the reader cannot help but wonder what is real and what isn’t. Not to mention what it is behind the disturbing thoughts and actions of the narrator.

The final story in this trilogy of novellas, Dormitory, is about a woman waiting for word from her husband about their pending move out of the country. She is feeling restless and lonely when approached by a young cousin setting off to college. He needs a place to stay, and she recommends the old dormitory in which she had once stayed. When she first takes her cousin to meet the landlord of the building, I could not help but feel sorry for the landlord. Armless and with one-leg, he has managed to get along on his own for many years, and yet it is clear he is lonely and his health his beginning to fail. The young wife returns to the dormitory under the guise of wanting to visit her cousin (who is never there), and often falls into conversation with the landlord. He tells her the story of a missing student, the subsequent police investigation, and the decrease in interest in his dormitory by students that followed. The story then takes a weird turn, which I have come to expect from Ogawa. Would this turn into a mystery to be solved or a horror story? I wasn’t sure. The ending was a surprise, and I am still not sure what to make of it. Was this a story of a woman’s descent into insanity or was it more of a horror story, the events happening just as she narrates to the reader?

I imagine each reader could take something different away from these three stories. There is a lot left open for interpretation. When all is said and done, my favorite is probably the first story, even despite how disturbed I was by it, only because I seemed to have a better handle on what that story was about. Did I like this collection? I am not sure I can say yes. Not exactly. These three stories will definitely stay with me awhile though. Haunting, indeed.

For more information about the author and her books, visit her author page on Goodreads.

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

My October TBR List Poll Winner

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Sunday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

(last night)

I do not think I have ever had such a close race between all three titles. When I went to close the poll last night, I discovered I had a three way tie. I sent out a tweet asking for help in breaking it--only for it to land in another three way tie! While I would love to read all three books this month, I know that is not realistic. So, I turned to my daughter this morning. She examined the covers, considered the titles, and chose the ultimate winner (because of the lion, she told me).
(this morning after my daughter's vote)

I may still try to read all three. We'll see . . .

The winner is: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Thank you to all who took the time to vote! 

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#18)

The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!

U is for Undertow (Kinsey Millhone #21) by Sue Grafton (Putnam, 2009)
It's April 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone's thirty-eighth birthday, and she's alone in her office catching up on paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he'd be carded if he tried to buy a beer, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout. More than two decades ago, a four-year-old girl disappeared, and a recent newspaper story about her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial and could identify the killers if he saw them again. He wants Kinsey's help in locating the grave and finding the men. It's way more than a long shot, but he's persistent and willing to pay cash up front. Reluctantly, Kinsey agrees to give him one day of her time.

But it isn't long before she discovers Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he's the boy who cried wolf. Is his story true, or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?

Moving between the 1980s and the 1960s, and changing points of view as Kinsey pursues witnesses whose accounts often clash, Grafton builds multiple subplots and memorable characters. Gradually we see how everything connects in this thriller. And as always, at the heart of her fiction is Kinsey Millhone, a sharp-tongued, observant loner who never forgets that under the thin veneer of civility is a roiling dark side to the soul. [
Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: Sue Grafton's series is one of my favorite all-time mystery series, but I have not yet managed to read all the books in the series. Yet. This is next up. I just need to make time for it.


The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
Date of Release: October 23, 2018 by William Morrow
A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: Mostly because Sarah McCoy's name is on this one. I have yet to read a book by her I have not liked. Although I haven't yet read Anne of Green Gables, this novel sounds good on its own.

Well-Read Black Girls edited by Glory Edim
Release Date: October 30, 2018 by Ballantine Books
An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.  
Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, "well-read black girl" Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone--no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities--can find themselves there. Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves.

Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (
Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.  [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: One of my favorite quotes about reading is about how a reader can find pieces of themselves scattered in the books we read. I can't remember who said it. It is probably from some random meme on Facebook or Pinterest. Regardless, it is true. And unfortunately, not everyone is able to see themselves as clearly in books as others of us. Whether it be the color of our skin, gender or sexual identity, religion or abilities, among other things. I am so excited about this book, and I am looking forward to reading each of these amazing women's essays.

Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is the Longest Books I’ve Ever Read, at least according to Goodreads. Whether I read a longer book before I began keeping track, I cannot say. By the end of the year, I hope to add two more books to this list, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

The Stand by Stephen King (1,439 pgs)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke (1,006 pgs)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (973 pgs)

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (944 pgs)

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb (897 pgs)

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (848 pgs)

The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald (848 pgs)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (838 pgs)

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (768 pgs)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (759 pgs)

What are some the longest  books you have read? 

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang

The baby was small. ~ Opening of The Impossible Girl

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang
Lake Union Publishing, 2018
Fiction (Historical); 364 pgs
Source: NetGalley for TLC Tour

I admit I have been shying away from doing book tours as of late, but when I was offered the chance to read and review this one, I jumped right on it. I love historical fiction and throw in a woman in an unconventional role, and I cannot resist. I knew resurrectionists existed, but did not know much about the field or their role in society. Lydia Kang certainly whet my appetite for wanting to know more. I especially like it when historical fiction novels have strands of truth running through them--and it's clear the author did a lot of research on the time period her novel is set in, Manhattan, 1850. 

I was taken by Cora Lee's confidence and double life immediately. By day she is a lady and by night a rough and tumble man. To the outside world, she is Cora and her twin brother Jacob. She's mastered the two roles she plays so well that they each have their own distinct personalities. Having spent a good part of her life having to pretend to be a boy in order to keep her true identity hidden, it is no wonder she is so well able to fool those around her. Diagnosed at birth with having two hearts, Cora has spent her life protecting her secret. Grave robbers like herself and those, particularly anatomists, who buy the bodies she procures would pay a pretty penny for a woman with two hearts after all.

When a young medical student, Theodore Flint, steps in her path, Cora wants nothing to do with him. He takes a shine to the unusual woman though, struck by her beauty, wit and no nonsense attitude. Not to mention he has heard she, her brother and their team are the best resurrectionists around--and he wants to learn the trade.

Cora has long had an agreement with several doctors in the city that upon the deaths of certain individuals with special health conditions, she will be informed first so that she can collect their bodies. Whether for research or spectacle, these bodies are a hot commodity. Just as hers would be if she were to end up dead. When some of these people seem to be turning up murdered, Cora comes to realize she might be next. Does someone know her secret? She no longer trusts those around her, not even those who claim to be on her side.

Lydia Kang sets the stage for the novel quite well, wrapping it in history, not only capturing the time period in terms of the setting, questionable and medical advances, roles and treatment of women, and the profitability of the strange and the odd. I loved every minute of this deliciously dark novel. I was drawn to both the mystery and the romance, as well as Cora's personal history and relationship--or lack there of--with her biological family. I was hopeful I would like this novel, and I came away loving it--every suspenseful twist and bit of drama.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Lydia

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Impossible Girl on the TLC Book Tours route!

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.  Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.