Friday, July 30, 2010

Nihon no Kinyoubi (7)

Before anything, have you checked out my Make Me A Button Contest?!? I'm asking people to make a cool button for this feature. Some fun Japanese themed books are up for grabs, so be sure to check it out, if you haven't already! I haven't received any entries yet, so get on it! I'm dying to see what you'll come up with!

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a new feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

This week, let's look at something bookish.
Most Japanese (globally) best-selling authors write, oddly enough, mysteries. Now, I'm a mystery fan, but I've never actually read a Japanese mystery.
One of the few Japanese bestselling authors that does not write mystery just so happens to write in one of my favorite genres - Historical Fiction.

Perhaps you've heard of him: 司馬遼太郎 Or, in English, Ryotaro Shiba. Author of the Last Shogun.

I love this book, and I'm guessing you would, too! This week, I thought we'd look at the English and the Japanese covers of this book, as they are amazingly different.
English cover

Japanese cover

Don't even ask me to try to translate that title! Tokugawa something.
It's amazing how plain the Japanese one is compared to the English one.
What do you guys think?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why Do You Read?

When people ask me why I read, my response is always the same. "I read for entertainment, to be distracted, as an escape from the real world."

And in a sense, this is true. I LOVE to read, and the term "escaping in a book" holds real validity for me, as that is exactly what I like to do. I like to leave my daily life and be in the book. Therefore, I've always thought that my favorite kinds of books were the kind that are there to entertain.

Not to give some moral lesson or to teach or to make me aware of something.

But lately, I've been reading more and more books that are doing just that - making me sit back and think. About world issues, about personal and/or political problems, about things external to me. But more importantly than that, about ME. And about the issues and ideas that are important to me and WHY. Why do I care about what I care about, why do I believe in what I believe in, and how and why is it different (and the same) as what other people have chosen to care about. (Because, when you really think about it, caring is a choice).

And all this thinking has INSPIRED me - I've been feeling inspired to be a better person (by my definition, not someone else's), to go out and do something about the things I care about, to make myself more aware of my surroundings, on a personal and on a global level.

And I've been loving it.

As such, I'm thinking I might have to redefine "the reason for which I read." Yes, I read to be entertained and to escape from the real world, but I also read to be INSPIRED. I am finding more and more that, if a book doesn't make me think at all, I am quickly bored with it, but I might still enjoy it. But if it doesn't inspire me at all, well then, I might as well have just spent 4 hours playing Dr. Mario (aka awesomest game ever) instead.

So now, when people ask me why I read, I will have to say "I read for entertainment, to be distracted, as an escape from the real world, but most importantly, to be INSPIRED."

So now I want to know: Why do YOU read?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

the Thirteenth Chime

Publisher:Bokheim Publishing
Publising Date:August 13, 2010

Summary:No one knew of its existence until it was removed from the attic upstairs.

In a beautiful house that overlooks the sea, an antique clock has the power to change the course of their lives.

The power the clock resonates will not only force Destiny and ex-boyfriend David on a journey into the depths of one man's mind long dead, but into the mind of a man filled with hatred and bent on revenge.

With the only clues to the nature of the clock having disappeared into the sea, Destiny and David must retrace the steps the man had taken into the darkness, before they fall prey to the trap he had set in motion over half a century ago.

Hatred never dies.

Because really - how can you not be excited about a book by a book blogger turned YA author. Especially when it has a cover as awesome as that?!?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Things I Love As Much As Books (3)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

Cooking dinner tonight, I burnt my finger, and there is now a huge, sweltering blister throbbing painfully right on the edge of it. This is making typing extraordinarily painful. That is something I do not love.

Before we get to what I love, at the suggestion of Jessica from Park Benches and Bookends, a blog I love, I am thinking of turning this weekly feature into a meme.
What do you guys think? Would anyone participate?

Now, this week, I have been mega rocking out to one of the awesomest TV shows I have seen in a long time. It's fun, it's fresh, it's unique, it's emotional, it will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and it is oh so totally absolutely worth watching (though make sure you have time, because it is so addictive that you will most likely feel the need to watch all of the episodes you've missed at once).

What is it?

Life Unexpected. If you haven't heard of it, it's time to change that. The second season premiere is on the CW on September 14 at 9/8 central.

To be honest, I feel like the CW has been going downhill lately. . .they canceled Privileged, which I totally loved, and then they canceled the Beautiful Life, which I was also loving, 3 episodes in. And then they've been taking on all these shows that don't interest me at all.
The only reason I decided to check this one out is because Sherri Appleby is in it, and I ADORED her in Roswell
Because it's SO awesome that, when there was a possibility that it wouldn't be taken on for a second season, I nearly cried.

So, if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to tune in for the season premiere. I KNOW you will love it, and I want to make sure this show gets the ratings it needs to be guaranteed a third season!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: the Mortal Instruments, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: the Mortal Instruments Book One: City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? If you don't mind watered down derivatives of YA urban fantasy books you love, this book could be for you. I think this book might appeal more to true fans of URBAN fantasy than it did to me.

What I Have to Say:
I'm sad to say that I was disappointed with this book. It was good, and I liked it, but I was expecting to extraordinarily love it, and the sad fact of the matter is that there is really nothing extraordinary about it.

In City of Bones, Clary, a normal girl finds herself thrown unexpectedly into the world of shadowhunters, unseen people who have dedicated their lives to hunting the evil of the world - the vampires and werewolves and other things that would prefer to kill humans than live with them. Supposedly.

We'll start with things I liked about the book. Cassandra Clare has a vivid way of explaining herself and describing things. She has an evident love of adjectives that translates well into writing (if you like to be hit in the face with clear, to the point descriptions, that is. I guess I occasionally do). It almost seems like she had FUN writing, and that made the reading fun. At the same time, I occasionally felt like she was having too much fun. There was the occasional point in which I felt like she needed to remember that she was writing for a general audience and not just her inner circle.

And the dialogue - if there is one thing that Clare should be known for, it is her ability to write engaging, believable dialogue. The conversations between the characters were real and emotional and, well, satisfying. I was especially impressed with some of the conversations between Clary and Jace, a shadowhunter. While I occasionally found the dialogue between Clary and her best human friend, Simon, to be forced and awkward, Clary and Jace had deep yet believable conversations that made me think and made me love them together. This is a book that makes you feel like you have to pick teams, and I am totally Team Jace. All the way. I liked the way that she used conversation to have aspects of the Shadow world explained to Clary. It seems like it could have been hard to bring her up to date, but I liked that most of her knowledge came through talking to Jace. It was much more real than, say, if she had just picked up a book and suddenly known everything (this happened, too, for the record, and it sort-of rubbed me the wrong way).

The PROBLEM with the book, though, was it's overwhelming lack of originality. Clary, while well-developed, was a well-developed character that I have read a million times over. And while reading through some of the situations that she managed to get herself into, I couldn't help but feel that I was reading a slightly more adult, slightly more feminine Harry Potter.
I'm serious. I sometimes thought I was reading Harry Potter minus all of the characters and places that I have grown to know and love. And as such, it was frustrating to read. I feel like I already knew not only what was going to happen but HOW before the initial storyline was even set-up.
It was so derivative wasn't fresh, it wasn't unique, and as such, it wasn't engaging. I always finish books, but if I hadn't been sitting for several hours in an airplane followed by a train followed by a bus, I think it would have been hard for me to finish this one. Simply because it was so hard for me to care about anything happening, because it felt like a watered down version of something I'd already read a thousand times over.

That said, I feel oddly compelled to pick up City of Ashes, the second book in the series. And I guess that means I was slightly more engaged than I thought I was. I'm sort of curious to see what happens between Clary and Simon and Jace. And then there's the expectations thing - I had such HIGH expectations of this book, and I can't wonder if that plays some minor role in my disappointment. I will start the second one with lower expectations. I also feel that Clare has the potential to be a truly good author, and I am curious to see if she will grow is an author.

Summary: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder commi...more When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Cover Story: This cover is stunning! It was actually more for this cover that I wanted to read the book than for all of the raving reviews!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Make Me A Button Giveaway!

So, my blogiversary, which was July 3, 2009, came and went, and I didn't make a fuss about it. I was going to have a giveaway, but I realized that, while I started my blog in July, I didn't really star BLOGGING, per say, until August 29, 2009. So I thought it would be more fun to celebrate then.
So be looking out for a big giveaway at the end of August (and if you've got any suggestions about what should be given away, don't hesitate to let me know).

In the meantime, though, I've been itching for a reason for a giveaway, and I need a button for my newish feature, Nihon no Kinyoubi (aka Japanese Friday). And soooo, welcome to my

Make Me A Button Giveaway!


1)I'm looking for something fun and funky, hardore yet cute, to match my blog theme.

2)The button should say Nihon no Kinyoubi somewhere on it.

3)Once the button is made, e-mail it to me at zedster.tbb(at)gmail(dot)com

4)And that's it really - have fun and remember what the button is for!

Once the contest is over, I'll ask my readers to vote (and hopefully they will!), and then we'll pick a winner! There will be two winners - the one who makes the button I use and the one who gets the most votes (in the event that they are the same, second place will go to those with the second highest number of votes)

Now for the exciting part: THE PRIZES! Since it's for a Japanese feature, the winners will get to pick one of the following Japanese-themed books of their choice:

Option 1: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami - my favorite book by my favorite Japanese author!

Option 2: A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro - another fabulous book by a fabulous Japanese author!

Option 3:Battle Royale by Koushun Takami - fabulous Japanese dystopian fiction! If you loved the Hunger games, you will love this!

Option 4: Real World by Natsuo Kirino - absolutely amazing Japanese horror!

So, since the books will be coming from the Book Depository (most likely!), it's open internationally! And I will keep it open for two weeks - so until August 8.

1)Make me a button for Nihon no Kinyoubi
2)mail it to me at zedster.tbb(at)gmail(dot)com
3)pick the book you want to win
5)closes August 8

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nihon no Kinyoubi (6)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a new feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

I for some reason have been really into the books of my youth lately. Right now, I'm rereading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (oooooo good! be expecting a review soon!), and I've recently acquired a copy of Pippi Longstocking, which I adored when I was little.

So I thought this week we could see some covers of Japanese versions of the fabulous books!

Japanese Pippi Longstocking! If I had to venture a guess, I would say that that title is pronounced "Chuukutsushita no Pippi," which would loosely translate to "Pippi, chief of socks." My Japanese isn't THAT fabulous, though, so don't quote me on that. Somehow Pippi looks totally different from how I imagined her on this Japanese cover. What do you think?

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the Japanese cover of A Wrinkle in Time (well, I found one, but it's SUPER small and hard to see), so we'll look at Bridge to Terabithia instead. How I loved that book!

I like how the Japanese covers are sort of pretty and watercolory. I think the Bridge to Terabithia is serene and beautiful to fit with a serene and beautiful but intense book. This title would be "Terebishia ni kakeru hashi," which translates (again, very loosely - the whole not good at Japanese thing) to "the bridge built in Terabithia."

What do you guys think?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview: Ellen Bryson, author of the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno

I'm so excited!!!! You might recall how much I loved "the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno" by Ellen Bryson. Well, Ellen was SO kind as to answer a few questions I had for her, and I am thrilled to be sharing them with you today! I hope you'll read, as she gave some great answers! Let's give her a big, warm welcome!

BBB:Hi Ellen! Thank you SO MUCH for taking time to answer a few questions for Brizmus Blogs Books. I was incredibly impressed by the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, and I am so excited to be hosting an interview with you.

First question: I know that the inspiration for the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno came from a dream/vision you had after reading Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus. Were there other things that also inspired it? For example, I read that you used to be a modern dancer. How much of this experience went into Fortuno?

Ellen Bryson:While being a dancer taught me a lot about being a performer, what really inspired me was being 13 years old. You can’t walk down a junior high school hallway in a borrowed skirt and a new haircut without knowing you’re a freak. That feeling of omission. Separation. It was terrible. And I was a quiet and strange girl, which didn’t help. So I found others like me and had my little group of likeminded kids and we bonded against the world. Not so dramatically as Barnum’s Curiosities, perhaps, but the feeling has to be the same.

BBB:It seems to me that you must have done a lot of research about P.T. Barnum (and circus “freaks” in general) in order to make this book come to life. What was the most interesting thing you learned about him? What was the most exciting thing you discovered, in general?

E B:The most obvious surprises about Barnum were that he did not say, “A sucker is born every minute” and that he wasn’t involved in the circus until he was in his 60s. But what was amazing was how formative a force Barnum was and how modern his sensibilities. The idea of popular culture did not exist in the mid 19th century, only small, personal entertainments: the theater, the saloon, card games and books at home. Barnum created a central location, stuffed it full of marvels and silliness, and lured in folks of all types and sensibilities and classes. To get them there, he made things up. He tapped into the delight people get from being tricked. For example, he had a sign in his museum saying THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, and as most folks did not know that egress meant exit, they follow the sign in search of the egress, only to find themselves out in the street, forced to pay another quarter for readmission. He moved people and created the very first buzz. I shudder to think what he would do in today’s world.

BBB: I know I for one was SHOCKED to hear that Barnum didn't get into the circus until he was in his 60's. He sounds like a really amazing, inspiring human being.
Anyhow, next question. As a character, Fortuno really came alive for me. He just felt so real! How much of his personality and his beliefs were based on the known personality of Barnum’s actual human skeleton, Isaac Sprague?

E B:I have no idea about Isaac Sprague’s personality or his circumstances. The only thing I know was what he looked like. Interestingly, I found next to nothing on the lives of people like my characters. As far as I know, nothing was written about how they managed, how they aged, how they lived. Fortuno sprung fully from the imagination, and once sprung, exerted his personality on the text.
4) I read somewhere that the book didn’t start off as being Fortuno’s story. Is this true? And what I am really curious about: Fortuno’s belief that his body was his gift. Did you start off knowing that he would believe this or is it something that developed as you got to know your character?
The book started out as Iell’s story, but once Fortuno came alive, the writing was on the wall. His was the voice, and who better to see and appreciate a creature like Iell than Fortuno. From the very beginning, it was his adoration of the unique self that made him the perfect narrator. He was so sure of his place in the world and his entire sense of pride came from being different. From his eyes, Iell could only be seen as perfection.

BBB:While I thought the book was amazing from Fortuno's point of view, Iell was a prominent, well-developed character, and I think the story from her point of view would have been amazing as well. Perhaps that's a story of another time. That said, are you working on anything else right now? (I know I’m already excited about your next book!)

E B:I am working on a concept that keeps changing. Suffice it to say it’s a modified ghost story.

BBB:A modified ghost story - exciting! Now, for something totally unrelated to writing: You lived in Buenos Aires. What was life in Argentina like?

E B: Buenos Aires was crazy. Living there was a little like living in New York but it’s not a first world country so the sidewalks were treacherous (and they still don’t have the concept of cleaning up after their dogs) and the traffic had a life of it’s own. Its’ also very European with it’s cafes on every block and a 10:00pm dinner hour (family in tow), but in essence it’s Latino. The best part was how creative the people were, and what book lovers! Everyone was a reader.

BBB:EVERYONE a reader?!? That sounds amazing! Okay, now give me some quick one-word answers!

Favorite place to write: Bed.
Literary Idol: Too many.
Favorite music to listen to while writing: Silence.
Favorite food to eat while writing: Ha!
Favorite place to which you have traveled: Iceland or Oman.

BBB: Again, thank you SO much for answering my questions! I know I said 7 was the last, but is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you wanted to be asked but weren’t?

E B: I think you covered it!

I think my favorite answer was the "Ha!" about the food she eats while writing. I also love that she loved Iceland, as I've been dying to go there!
Once again, thanks so much, Ellen for answering some questions for me! It's been so much fun having you here today, and I know I'll be first in line to buy your next book when it comes out!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

This week, I'm waiting on the follow up to a book that I absolutely ADORED, "Water for Elephants."

Ape House by Sara Gruen

Publisher: Spiegel and Grau
Release Date: September 7, 2010

Summary:Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Now Gruen has moved from a circus elephant to family of bonobo apes, whose kidnapping from a language laboratory and mysterious appearance on a reality TV show calls into question our assumptions about the relation between apes and humans, and humans’ relationships to each other.

A devoted animal lover, Gruen has had a life-long fascination with human-ape discourse, and a particular interest in bonobo apes, who share 99.4% of our DNA. She has studied linguistics and a system of lexigrams in order to communicate with them, and is one of the few visitors who have been allowed access to the apes at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, where the apes have come to love her. In bringing her experience and research to bear on this novel, she opens the animal world to us as few novelists have done. Ape House is a riveting, funny, compassionate and, finally, deeply moving new novel that secures Sara Gruen’s place as a master storyteller who allows us to see ourselves as we never have before.

I actually haven't read the summary, as I know I'm going to read it no matter what, so I'm totally okay with going into it completely blind. I've really been meaning to read some of the other books she wrote as well. I should get on that.
Here's to hoping she can do it again, that it wasn't just a fluke! :-)

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Things I Love As Much As Books (2)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

As much as I do love things that aren't books, this week I really feel the need to write about something I love that IS book related.
And that thing is a book character, Ramona Quimby.
Growing up, I absolutely ADORED Beverly Cleary, and the Ramona and Beezus books were some of my favorite books. And then there was the TV show, which I also recall adoring.
It was impossible not to fall in love with Ramona and her spirited, curious, engaging, troublemaking personality. She reminded me of the person I would have liked to be. And sometimes of the person I was.

One of the reasons that Ramona (and Beezus, of course) is so awesome is that every child can relate to the things she does and the situations into which she gets herself. And then, as an adult, I can still relate to her in a childish, wondrous way.

You've really just got to love Ramona. Which is why I am SO psyched about the upcoming movie!!!!

I'm also a Selena Gomez fan, so I have to say I'm psyched! Doesn't it look like it's going to be amazing?
I'm thinking I might have to pick up all the old Ramona books and give them a read before seeing the movie! Yay!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Lucas Manson by Thomas Hauck

Title: Lucas Manson

Author: Thomas Hauck


Who Should Read It? This is great for adults interested in a fresh new take on vampires that don't mind "this happened and then this happened" style novels.

What I Have to Say:
Lucas Manson is a solid, extraordinarily creative story. It's engaging and refreshing in a totally unexpected way. It's a totally fresh and unique take on the idea of vampires and vampirism (though really, vampire is the wrong word here), and I was thrilled to finally have a book that doesn't look on vampires in a completely positive light. I loved his explanation for what "vampires" are and how they came to be. The idea of two different "homo" species diverging in such a way, creating homo sapiens and homo cruentus, who are addicted to blood, came across as absolutely brilliant to me.

This book revolves around Mark Dylan, an FBI agent, and the Kingdom Seven Family Temple. The Kingdom Seven Family Temple was basically a cult, but because of all of their good deeds, they are world-renowned and respected. In a way, this seemed ridiculous and unbelievable to me. Some of their beliefs were just so ridiculous that the fact that so many people were following them was also ridiculous. At the same time, looking at it from a satirical point of view, it was quite funny. Almost as if Hauck was taking a stab at religions and cults of the world and just how ludicrous they can sometimes get. And in a sense, the way that Hauck played up this aspect of the book was brilliant.

With so many great things about this book, you would think that I loved it. I liked it, but I definitely didn't love it. Reading this book really got me to thinking about what it is about certain writing styles that just doesn't jive for me. And I think I might have finally figured it out. A book NEEDS introspection. Readers need to be able to understand and feel what the characters are thinking. It doesn't matter if the book is written in first person or third person, a book can't just be "and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened." There has to be emotion, introspection.

And unfortunately, "Lucas Manson" was lacking in introspection. One thing happened after another. Even when Mark Dylan was thinking about things, it seemed more like his thoughts were happening, if that makes sense. "He thought this, he thought that." It seemed, in a way, forced and unreal and lacking in depth. Mark Dylan, as a character, wasn't very well developed, and the majority of distinct personality traits that he was given (like his pseudo fantasizing about the other woman in his life and then remembering his wife) once again seemed forced and unreal and sometimes just plain annoying.

Still, despite this, I enjoyed the book. The idea behind it was fabulous, and I'm sure there are some people that actually enjoy this writing style. I think those people will actually love this book for its uniqueness and creativity. I think the fact that I enjoyed it despite not enjoying the style is definitely saying something.

When Special Agent Mark Dylan investigates a homicide, he uncovers the terrifying world of the Kingdom Seven Family Temple and its leader, Minister Lu...more When Special Agent Mark Dylan investigates a homicide, he uncovers the terrifying world of the Kingdom Seven Family Temple and its leader, Minister Lucas Manson. As Dylan penetrates the temple, he learns secrets that will change his life forever

Cover Story: Honestly, I find this cover horrifying. It's so ugly that sometimes I would want to read and then pick up the book and not be able to read because I had no desire to read a book with that cover. I really feel like they could have done a better job.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the author. This in no way affected my review.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nihon no Kinyoubi (5)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a new feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

And this week, I am definitely writing about something that has NOTHING to do with books. And that thing is VENDING machines. The Japanese are OBSESSED with them. Seriously, to the point of ridiculous obsessed. One of the weird things about their obsession, though, is that the majority of these vending machines only sell drinks. You can find vending machines in the most RANDOM of places here, but it is very rare to find one that sells things other than drinks. Seriously - in the middle of abandoned buildings, on the side of the road, in front of places that look like stores but are actually just for vending machines. . . I think you have to see the random places in which they put them to really understand.
ANd they all look something like this:

Which is why I was surprised to read this article.

It's about Japan's first banana vending machine in Tokyo. Seriously. . . it's a vending machine. That just sells BANANAS. And it looks super awesome and next time I go to Tokyo I am totally going to have to check it out. I wish I would have known it was there last time, as I would have definitely visited and bought a banana.

Apparently it's going over pretty well.
I don't know about you guys, but I think that's cooool! :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

This week's pick is:

Out of the Dark by David Weber

Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: September 28, 2010

Summary:Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.

Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed. His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity, but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force.

Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity… until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for starships, and this one looks like it's going to be great. Not to mention that fact that it's David Weber, who wrote the Honor Harrington books. I've only read the first one, but I SO loved it! After the last practically pornographic sci-fi/starship esque book I read, I'm hoping this one will remind me that they can be awesome!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things I Love As Much As Books (1)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

Recently, I took my Kanji dictionary out of the DS and put in Zelda spirit tracks. And I've found myself addicted. When the Phantom Hourglass came out, I played basically nonstop until I beat it. And, while I'm only at the beginning, so far Spirit tracks is proving to be just as awesome!

I TOTALLY love the Zelda games just as much as I love reading. I think I might even have a slight fangirl crush on Link. Sometimes I feel jealous of Zelda. I actually am almost excited to get back to my Wii in order to play the newest Zelda: the Skyward Sword. Not that I am in any way ready to leave Japan, but it is nice to have things to look forward to, so I won't feel toooooo terribly sad when the time comes that I have to leave.

Yay <3Link<3!!!!

What do you love as much as reading? I'd love to hear what you guys love as mhave to say, so feel free to copy, but you know the drill; just be sure to mention this post if you do!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson

Title: the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno

Author: Ellen Bryson

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? If you liked Water for Elephants, definitely read this book! Even if you didn't, if you've ever felt like an outcast, this may just be the book for you! I loved it, and I highly recommend it!

What I Have to Say:
Let me just start off by saying "Go Ellen Bryson!" With "the Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno" she has created an easily readable, easily enjoyable story that touches on the one thing from which, at some point in time, all humans have suffered: the feeling of being an outcast. And she has done it well. This book, though it be a first novel, makes it obvious that, when it comes to writing Bryson knows her stuff. I had almost forgotten how pleasant it can be to read a genuinely well-written book. This book has been compared to "Water for Elephants," and the circus feel and pseudo-autobiographical point of view paired with the unique yet plain writing style make this view, in my opinion, right on. Though I would stay that Bryson takes it a notch up stylistically. Her prose is so fluid and vivid that I am still wondering what parts of the story were true and which not.

Bryson's book is told from the point of view of Bartholomew Fortuno who, at 6 feet tall, 67 pounds, is the self/Barnum-appointed skinniest man in the world. He lives in Barnum's museum in Manhanttan along with Barnum's other "curiosities." He, unlike his best friend, Matina, the token fat woman, believes that his body is a gift. He knows that he is a freak, an outcast, but he loves his body despite this, and he believes that it is his job to teach others with his gift. By showing all of himself, he believes that people will take a deeper look into themselves.

When the bearded lady comes along, though, his entire world is turned upside down. Through conversations with her and about her, he begins to see the world in a slightly different way and to question his beliefs about himself and his body. Does he have a choice? And if he does have a choice, can his body actually be a god-given gift?

Through her use of such an extreme as the "freak" circus, Bryson has really captured what it means to be an outcast. Through Fortuno, his friends, and his transformation, we see the world from all of the different possible points of view of "outcast." We see that it is possible to accept and love ourselves no matter what our situation. As all people have at some point in time felt different, it will be hard not to find something or someone to relate to in Bryon's medley of curiosities. Through the questions asked and the transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, we see just how possible it is to feel stuck without even realizing it. We also see just how possible it is to unstick ourselves.

As you can tell, I loved this book, and I will definitely be looking forward to Ellen Bryson's next work! My biggest problem with this book, though, was that the end just seemed to easy. It seemed like there was all this build-up and then she just sort-of took the easy way out. I also found Forutno's ridiculous obsession with the bearded lady to be at times frustrating, especially in regard to how it caused him to act (or not act) with Matina. It was an integral part of the book, but I thought that it could have been better explained.

This book was a joy to read. It was incredibly simply written and yet, at the end of each chapter, I stopped to think about what I had read. It wasn't necessary, but I feel like I got so much more out of it this way. This book has been billed as a love story, and maybe that's what the author meant it to be, but I didn't see it that way. I almost feel it is a degradation of the book's worth to call it such. It, as the title says, is a book of growth, development, TRANSFORMATION. It is a story of beauty and love and uniqueness, but I fear that if you go in expecting a love story, you will be disappointed. And this book is so great that I really wouldn't want that.

Thanks, Ellen Bryson, for such a new, refreshing read! Now, go out and read this book!

Summary: Water for Elephants meets Geek Love in this riveting first novel, an enchanting love story set in P. T. Barnum's American Museum in 1865 New York City

Bartholomew Fortuno, the World's Thinnest Man, believes that his unusual body is a gift. Hired by none other than P. T. Barnum to work at his spectacular American Museum—a modern marvel of macabre displays, breathtaking theatrical performances, and live shows by Barnum's cast of freaks and oddities—Fortuno has reached the pinnacle of his career. But after a decade of constant work, he finds his sense of self, and his contentment within the walls of the museum, flagging. When a carriage pulls up outside the museum in the dead of night, bearing Barnum and a mysterious veiled woman—rumored to be a new performer—Fortuno's curiosity is piqued. And when Barnum asks Fortuno to follow her and report back on her whereabouts, his world is turned upside down. Why is Barnum so obsessed with this woman? Who is she, really? And why has she taken such a hold on the hearts of those around her?

Set in the New York of 1865, a time when carriages rattled down cobblestone streets, raucous bordellos near the docks thrived, and the country was mourning the death of President Lincoln, The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno is a moving novel about human appetites and longings. With pitch-perfect prose, Ellen Bryson explores what it means to be profoundly unique—and how the power of love can transcend even the greatest divisions.

Cover Story: I think this cover, with the curtains and the bird escaping from the cage, is oddly appropriate. Through it's lack of too much detail, it manages to convey the deeper meaning of the book. I love it!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the publisher. This in no way affected my review.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Nihon no Kinyoubi (4)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a new feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

So, living in Japan for three months now, I have come to discover that the Japanese are absolutely ADDICTED to cute. I knew this before I came, but I think that, without living here, it's impossible to really understand the true extent to which they are, as I said, absolutely and utterly addicted to cuteness.

And one of the cute things that Japanese people seem to love is Rilakkuma, which basically means lazy bear. And that is exactly what Rilakkuma is. He is this adorable little bear that seems to spend all of his time lazing around eating. One of the things he especially likes to eat is mochi (basically glutionous rice), and in some of the most adorable pictures of him, he has a cheek full of the sticky, glutionous mochi, and is pulling out the gooeyness.

Basically, you can find Rilakkuma EVERYTHING in Japan. They have key chains and stuffed animals and notebooks and clothes and umbrellas and, really, if you can dream of it, they have it Rilakkuma.

Which means, of course, that they also have Rilakkuma books.  Well, more manga than anything else. I haven't read one yet, but, as I've been seeing Rilakkuma everywhere, and as he really is adorable, I find myself falling more and more for him. Especially when he is eating strawberry cake and is thus surrounded by pink. And so, I really want to read one of the books. They're also, for the most part, in really simple Japanese, so maybe I would actually be able to understand! I'll be sure to post a review if I ever do get around to reading one.

Hopefully, I'll be featuring more cute Japanese things here in the future. I hope you guys will love them all as much as I do!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How much do you read?

So, as most of you know, 3 months ago I moved to Japan from France. This move was pretty major and pretty exciting for me, and I knew that a lot of things were going to change. Some changes, though, took me completely by surprise.

One of those changes that took me completely by surprise: my reading habits. When I was in France, I had a TON of free time. I had Wednesdays off, but aside from that, I worked every morning until around noon. When I got home, the rest of my time was mine. I found that I was so exhausted from one morning of teaching, though, that I never wanted to do anything.

I would literally get home, put on my sweatpants, and plop myself down in front of the TV, where I would stay until I HAD to get up to cook dinner or something. (I should perhaps mention that I also had a daily exercise routine from which I rarely strayed) So, I would spend almost all day everyday either reading or watching TV. I had a ton of time to read, and I read a ton, and I loved it.

I also feel, though, as if reading had sort-of lost its spark for me. It was no longer that exciting, fun thing I got to do for pleasure. It was just what I did. Since I've moved to Japan, though, I hardly have ANY time to read (much less blog - ::sob:: I'm really going to start trying to change that), and I find that I want to read more than ever. I get excited every time I have a spare moment to read - like this morning, when I woke up, I had NOTHING TO DO, and I read half a book. Read isn't really the word. I DEVOURED half a book.

I couldn't put it down, and I have NO clue if it is because of how awesome the book is or more because I have rediscovered that I acutally ADORE reading. It's a weird thing to rediscover when I didn't realize I had lost it. I read in every spare second I can find. I find myself escaping to the bathroom just to read a sentence. Anywhere, anyway, anyhow, I read.

And all that because I don't have time to read. If I manage to get in about half an hour of reading in a day, that's a good day. I think also, though, that I am SO loving reading again because I am happy again, wheras in France I was not very happy. I'm rediscovering the things that I love to love, and it is fabulous.

So what about you? How much do you read in a day? Do you have to sneak in reading time like I am having to do, or is it just a natural part of your day? Are there times in your life when you like reading more than others, and if so, have you found a pattern?

All I've got to say for now is

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

This week's pick is:

Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bassette

Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publication Date: August 5, 2010

Summary:A luminous, tender-hearted debut novel about a young widow, a nine-year-old girl, and a baking contest that will change both their lives.

Rose-Ellen “Zell” Carmichael Roy wears her late husband Nick’s camouflage apron even when she’s not in the kitchen. She can’t remember the last time she wore a bra, and she speaks to her dog in the voice of a pirate. That’s her widow style.

It’s been over a year since Nick died tragically during a post-Katrina relief mission in New Orleans. Long enough, according to the grief pamphlets, to have begun moving on with her life. But Zell is still unable to enter her attic, which is full of Nick memories. She hasn’t even turned on her oven because cooking was Nick’s chore. That is, until she decides to enter celebrity chef Polly Pinch’s first annual Desserts that Warm the Soul baking contest, hoping to win the $20,000 grand prize to donate to Katrina survivors in Nick’s honor.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent apartment of Zell’s two-family house, nine-year-old Ingrid Knox is learning to cope with the loneliness of growing up without a mother. With an imagination as big as her heart, Ingrid treasures her doting father but begins to plot how she will meet her mother, whom she fiercely believes is Polly Pinch.

When an embarrassing baking mishap brings Zell and Ingrid together, they form an unlikely friendship that will alter both of their lives forever. Together, and with the help of a lively and loveable cast of friends and family, they embark on winning the Desserts that Warm the Soul contest – and learn that through the many sorrows and joys of life, with a little bit of flour and a pinch of love, anything is possible.

I love (vegan) baking, and I love things about Louisiana, so this one is TOTALLY for me! Doesn't it look awesome?!?

What are you guys waiting on this week?

My Contests

None for now!