Five! Giveaway result

22 July, 2014

Five

Thank you all so much for stopping by and leaving comments.

I asked a friend to pick a name out of a plastic cup and the lucky winner of chasing bawa‘s 5th birthday giveaway is ………….. MAGDALENA! Congratulations!

Let me know what you would like to read and I’ll wing it over to you asap.

Five!

16 July, 2014

Five

It’s hard to believe but chasing bawa has just turned 5. This blog began as a means to focus my reading and thoughts and it’s turned out to be so much more enjoyable and enriching, far more than I expected. And it’s all down to you. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading, lurking, commenting. This year has already proven to be rather hectic and ultra busy and I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like, but my aim is to keep this blog fun for you and me so I will continue to post a little haphazardly until I settle back into my usual reading and writing routine. So please bear with me!

And as birthdays usually involve presents, do pop your name in the comments and I will pick one lucky reader who can choose a book they’d like to read from The Book Depository up to the value of £20. I will pick a name next Tuesday, 22nd July. And please let me know what you are currently reading as I’m nosy like that (I’m currently reading Mohawk’s Brood by Amanda Prantera and will be starting The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness).

Please let me know if you don’t want to be included in the draw otherwise your name will go in the hat. And please note that the giveaway is only open to the countries to which The Book Depository offers free delivery (which should be most of you, I think. If not, SORRY!)

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The second issue of Shiny New Books! is now online where you will find my review of Lauren Owen’s sensational debut, The Quick. Do go and have a gander to see what’s on offer, what other bloggers have been reading and what they recommend. Hope you are all enjoying your summer and trying out new books!

The Quick

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To celebrate the paperback publication of Revenge by Yoko Ogawa, Vintage Books has kindly handed over a bundle of books by Ogawa to give away to a lucky winner.

The winner of this wonderful prize is MEE!

Mee

Congratulations and please e-mail me your address whereupon I will fly to the post office and send off the bundle. Enjoy the books!

Thank you all for kindly commenting and RTing about the giveaway. I’m a little surprised that not more of you commented for the books but I do realise that the giveaway was only open to UK readers (sorry!) and perhaps many of you have already read Ogawa’s novels? I do hope that you will all give Yoko Ogawa’s books a try if you haven’t already – Ogawa certainly writes about contemporary Japan in an interesting way.

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa is published in paperback on 3 July (Vintage, £7.99). To coincide with the paperback release of Revenge, Vintage will be reissuing The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor and Hotel Iris in paperback.

Girl is a Half Formed Thing

Eimear McBride’s debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing seems to have burst onto the literary scene out of nowhere. First published by the independant Galley Beggar Press and now Faber & Faber, it has scooped the Goldsmiths Prize, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Incredible. And the reviews have all used the word ‘genius’.

And it is. Its experimental, stream of consciousness style is probably not for everyone. It’s a slim book which took a good two weeks for me to read because its staccato rhythm and incomplete sentences, often just words or a jumble of words, stick in your throat and kick out at you, screaming for help. The reading experience is as painful as the experiences of the unnamed narrator, a young girl with an older brother who survived cancer as a child. They live with their mother, their father long gone, abandoned. It’s a harsh world, the siblings trying their best to dodge bullying at school, the indifference of adults, the unwanted attentions of a dodgy relative.

McBride’s raw and visceral style is so difficult. Her themes in her novel, illness, dysfunctional families, abuse, despair and pain, are so tough to take in at times. And there were many times when I didn’t want to continue reading the book. But you want to know why the girl keeps choosing such destructive options for herself. And then you start to see. The little glimpses of why people would act in such a way. How only pain can erase pain. And that if you have been deprived of love and warmth, you would search for love wherever you can get it even if you know that there is something not quite right.

I can’t say I liked A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. It’s bleak and oh so grim. So grim that you begin to see the oppressive quality of religion as warmth. It is probably the second most depressing book I’ve read since Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. But I can’t deny that it is one of the few books which has hit me like a sledgehammer. McBride says that readers don’t need to be drip fed literature, that we want and need difficult writing and to be challenged. And she’s right. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is like nothing I’ve read before and it is brilliant.

Do also check out interviews with McBride here and here.

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To celebrate the paperback release of Yoko Ogawa’s beautiful and edgy collection of intertwined stories, Revenge, Vintage Books has kindly offered four of Ogawa’s books to one lucky reader of chasing bawa.

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I loved both The Housekeeper and the Professor and Revenge which were so different from each other and yet left an indelible impression and have my mitts on The Diving Pool and Hotel Iris which I’ve heard are a little darker and subversive. Perfect reading for summer and #ReadWomen2014, no?

So if you have yet to try Ogawa’s work, make sure you leave a comment and I will pick a winner on July 3rd. The giveaway is open to UK readers only. Good luck! If you can also let me know your favourite Japanese book, film, manga or J-drama, that would make me a happy bunny too.

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa is published in paperback on 3 July (Vintage, £7.99). To coincide with the paperback release of Revenge, Vintage will be reissuing The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor and Hotel Iris in paperback.

Dead in their Vaulted Arches

The Dead in their Vaulted Arches is the sixth volume in Alan Bradley’s wonderful mysteries featuring the intrepid sleuth Flavia de Luce and completes a story arc first begun in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. But don’t fret, there is still more to come from Bradley’s pen and a tv adaptation in the works. Because, of course, we can’t get enough of Flavia.

The story arc in question is the mystery surrounding the disappearance and supposed death of Flavia’s mother Harriet, who was rumoured to have crashed in the Himalayas 11 years ago. But Harriet’s body, preserved in the Himalayan ice, has been found and finally she is coming home to be buried amongst her family. For Flavia, this brings as much joy as sorrow as she has little or no memory of her beloved mother. As Harriet returns to Buckshaw, all manner of people start turning up, from Winston Churchill to more suspicious figures as well as Flavia’s scary Aunt Felicity, Harriet’s cousin Lena and her equally strange daughter Undine, who may or may not be as capricious as Flavia. Amidst the dismantling of her father’s carefully built grief, Flavia begins to notice that there are several discrepancies in the account surrounding her mother’s death. What exactly was Harriet doing flying her plane into the Himalayas in the middle of war and leaving behind three small children? And who was she trying to warn in the film Flavia happens to find by chance, one of the last recorded memories of her mother? As the de Luces and almost everyone of importance descend upon Buckshaw to bid Harriet farewell, Flavia begins to realise that the long arm of the war is still reaching out for her and that there are still things about her family which will surprise her.

Finally, we will find out what happened to Harriet. Unlike the other mysteries in the series, this volume is the conclusion of a story told in the last five volumes and not a stand-alone. Although I’ve wanted to know what happened to Harriet since volume 1, I did feel there could have been a little more mystery and substance to the story rather than it being solely a conclusion with an introduction to further mysteries for Flavia (which sound really exciting though!) I don’t want to give anything away so you’ll just have to read it, and although this isn’t my favourite episode in Flavia’s colourful history, it’s still a necessary part, just to offer some closure and I’m glad Flavia finally got to see Harriet again. However, I did wish there was more of a motive and explanation and back story behind Harriet’s tale, which would make fascinating reading and I do hope Bradley would consider writing some short stories with Harriet as the protagonist. I love Flavia but her mother is fascinating too.

One of the strongest things about Bradley’s series is the notion of family in its myriad incarnations from blood ties, honour, loyalty and love to its more ugly side, jealousy, envy and hate. The characters that people the quintessentially English village of Bishop’s Lacey are colourful, compassionate and often full of surprises as are those in Flavia’s family including their faithful retainer Dogger, suffering from shell shock, and whose history we uncover a little more in The Dead in their Vaulted Arches.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Hurry!

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