February 28, 2015

Info on The Bone Clocks

The sixth novel of David Mitchell was published in 2014.

Summary: 

One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for "asylum". Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking...

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly's life, from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up - a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.



The author discusses the book



David Mitchell reads an extract from The Bone Clocks:



Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell



Title:
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Random House

Date of Publication: 2010

Number of Pages: 479


Summary


The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in Holland.

But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”

Review


The fifth novel by David Mitchell is a historical one. The hero is a Dutch clerk working in Japan at the beginning of the 19th century, a country also called the Land of the Thousand Autumns. So, these are, in a sense, the unwritten memoirs of clerk de Zoet of all those years he spent in the Orient. And what story do these memoirs tell!

Japan at the end of 18th century, when our hero arrives, is a very closed country. In fact, the Dutch are the only Europeans "allowed" in Nagasaki. The truth is that they are strictly prohibited from entering Nagasaki or have any kind of relation to any local, apart from the interpreters. Moreover, upon their arrival they have to give to the authorities any kind of religious symbol, any Bible, cross or rosary they might possess. Under such circumstances Jacob meets Orito Aibagawa, a japanese midwife who is one of the apprentices of dutch medicine. 

If a romance should develop between those characters, it should be pretty impossible too. A dutch could not marry a local, he could only have a concubine. Miss Aibagawa was a scholar, from a family well-established in the japanese status, so such thoughts were unacceptable. Despite all those obstacles Jacob proposes to her, with the help of an interpreter, and then the least possible thing happens: she disappears! 

This is the point where the novel gets complicated. It's more like a crossroad between two different timelines. The first, which unravels in the second part of the book, is related to what happened to Orito Aibagawa and the second storyline, which returns with the third part of the book, follows Jacob's actions and a conflict with a british frigate. This is also the part when I was most disappointed with this book. Although both of the storylines where interesting and thrilling and I genuinely wanted to know what happens next I was torn in half. Jacob didn't appear in the story of Orito, although I was waiting for it and eventually he was the one that gave her her life back. For me the catharsis didn't actually happen. The resolution was determined through the course of events and chance (once again in a David Mitchell novel), not from the initiative of the hero.

When eventually everything ends the story goes a decade later. Jacob is still in Japan, he had a son with a local and became chief of the dutch establishment in Nagasaki. The mother of his son though isn't Orito, in fact he hasn't met her up to this day. And when they do meet, it's just for a few minutes and a brief explanation from Jacob's part as to what had happened. 

Then we go another five years later and we find Jacob on a ship leaving Japan. It's quite an emotional chapter, it devastated me to be honest. He will never return to Japan or meet his son again. Back in the Netherlands he will make another family and spend his days wishing he could find some time to write his memoirs. And when he finally dies the last image will be that of a japanese woman with a half burnt face.

The world is a vale of tears.

I would consider this novel the most difficult one comparing it to the others of David Mitchell. The author's language reminded me of that in various japanese novels I have read from time to time. The descriptions of Japan and of this particular era were amazing. Furthermore there were some of my favourite characters in this book. I adored Dr. Marinus with his scientific ways and his groundbreaking ideas for the japanese minds and Lord Abbot Enomoto is one of the most interesting villains I have encountered in literature. 

All in all, this is a novel strongly recommended for those who love both demanding and devastating reads. But if you haven't read anything by David Mitchell before I would advise to turn to his other novels first. 

So, my advice is...

A historical thriller to exercise the brain!
      

February 24, 2015

The Versatile Blogger Award


First of all thanks to Ranu @ The Bookish Life for nominating me. It's always nice when you feel your work is appreciated, so check her blog out! I loved it!

If you are nominated by someone, then you have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award and there are some simple rules that you have to follow.


  • Thank the person that gave you this award, it's the simplest thing you have to do!
  • Include a link to their blog, it will surely be aprreciated
  • Select 15 bloggers that you've found out recently or that you regularly follow
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself 

So, here are my nominees:
Shanny @ Shanny Reads
Maisha @ Books Equal Awesomeness
Carina @ My Addiction: Books
Jane @ Beyond Seventeen Reviews
Jennifer @ The Bibliofile
Carole @ Carole's Random Life
Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Kaitlyn @ One Night Book Stand Blog
Sophie @ A Cheeky Book Addict's Thoughts
Eli @ Dragonsworn
Cristy @ Lady in Read
BookAddict @ Rendezvous With A Romance
Vamp @ Dorky Girl
Maddy @ Portals Within Pages
One Curvy Blogger


7 things about myself:

  • I am a huge anime and manga fan.
  • I'm also very fond of games (I own a Wii and a Nintendo 2DS).
  • I love all things DIY, the past 2 years I wear all jewels made by myself.
  • My mother language is Greek, and apart from English I also speak French and Spanish.
  • I studied audiovisual arts.
  • I am a huge cinema fan. A nice, touching film always gets me!
  • My favourite sport is tennis, although I don't know how to play very well.



February 17, 2015

Kino by Haruki Murakami

This is exciting news! Today a new short story by the japanese author Haruki Murakami was published by The New Yorker's website. It's called Kino and it was part of a short story collection that was published only in Japan named Men Without Women and is yet to be translated. 

So for whoever is interested can read the short story here: Kino, Murakami, The New Yorker

Check it out and let me know what you think!

February 16, 2015

Info on The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

In 1799, Jacob de Zoet disembarks on the tiny island of Dejima, the Dutch East India Company’s remotest trading post in a Japan otherwise closed to the outside world. A junior clerk, his task is to uncover evidence of the previous Chief Resident’s corruption.


Cold-shouldered by his compatriots, Jacob earns the trust of a local interpreter and, more dangerously, becomes intrigued by a rare woman—a midwife permitted to study on Dejima under the company physician. He cannot foresee how disastrously each will be betrayed by someone they trust, nor how intertwined and far-reaching the consequences.


Duplicity and integrity, love and lust, guilt and faith, cold murder and strange immortality stalk the stage in this enthralling novel, which brings to vivid life the ordinary—and extraordinary—people caught up in a tectonic shift between East and West.






David Mitchell on Bookworm 2010



Review: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell



Title: Black Swan Green

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Random House

Date of Publication: 2007

Number of Pages: 296


Summary



Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys’ games on a frozen lake; of “nightcreeping” through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigré who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason’s search to replace his dead grandfather’s irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher’s recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.

Review


Do you remember how it's like to be thirteen? You are neither a child nor a grown-up and you constantly try to persuade everyone that you have indeed grown. This is the age when you experience your first love, your first kiss, your first cigarette. You feel that the world is against you and you struggle to be accepted by those around you, especially if you are a boy. But if you happen to be different in some way, or possess a unique trait, you are sure to be bullied.  

This is exactly what our hero, Jason Taylor, has to face during his adventures in a year that proved to be critical for his growing up. And what a year it was! After trying so hard to be accepted by the cool and tough guys at school he ends up being bullied, turning his life at school a living hell. But he breaks through, making his friendship with the not-so-cool kid even stronger and handling the whole situation in a surprisingly mature way. Even when things get really tough, when his parents get a divorce and he has to leave the house of his childhood, his friends, his school, he tries to remain calm and finally realises that this is the road to growing up. 

The structure of this novel is simpler compared to the rest of David Mitchell's other works. It's a book containing 13 chapters and each one is a short story. In one of them we meet a somewhat familiar character, Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, a character first appeared in Cloud Atlas that introduces Jason to french literature and the Cloud Atlas Sextet by Robert Frobisher. 

My favourite parts of this novel were the most emotionally charged ones. The chapter in which Jason feels guilty about the injury of his worst bully is one of them and it's so hard not to feel bad for him, because it is obviously not his fault. How can a thirteen year-old boy react to the consequences of consequences? But the scene that made me cry was the one in which he was sitting in his empty bedroom. The memories he shared with his sister, their games of hide and seek and him thinking of another kid sitting in that very same room in the future makes it really hard not to shed a tear.

So, my advice is...

A coming-of-age journey worth taking! 

February 9, 2015

Info on Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green is the fourth novel by David Mitchell and it was published in 2006. 

Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirtheen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys' games on a frozen lake; of "nightcreeping" through summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falkland War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian immigrant who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason's search to replace his dead grandfather's irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher's recession; of Gypsies comping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.

David Mitchell on Bookworm, 2006

Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell



Title: Cloud Atlas

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Random House

Date of Publication: 2004

Number of Pages: 509


Summary


A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profund as it is playful. Now in his new novel, David Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity.

Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . .

Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.

But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Review



Cloud Atlas is a unique case of a novel. It's definitely a novel by David Mitchell, but the writing is even more thrilling, exploring a great range of genres. Traces of both Ghostwritten and number9dream are evident, that I clearly felt a witness of some kind of an evolution in ideas and structure. Both of those previous novels are based upon certain ideas and so is this one. Indeed, the main idea in Cloud Atlas is reincarnation.

The story begins in the 19th century, progresses through many decades we have lived, explores a future when the man is very technologically developed and ends in a post-apocalyptic distant future. In its own way, it's like a history of this world that David Mitchell has created. Most of the narrations end in despair, but there are also those who let hope crawl inside. Sonmi-451 is imprisoned and dies, but later in a the post-apocalyptic society she is worshipped like a god. 

All the characters of those six stories that consist Cloud Atlas are reincarnations of the same soul through time. The reincarnations are easily recognisable from the comet-shaped mark that they all share. The interesting fact is that the narrator of the sixth story doesn't have the mark and nothing really indicates that he shares anything with the rest of the characters, but his companion most probably is. 

It is also really interesting to discover how all those different characters interacted with each other through time and how their actions translated into a common language in order to travel from the one period to the other (in some cases centuries have gone by before the soul was reincarnated). But, no matter what the current character finds the action that reaches him is from his previous reincarnation. For example, Robert Frobisher, the composer from the second story, finds and becomes obsessed with the diary that Adam Ewing wrote on the ship the previous century, or when Luisa Rey, the young reporter from the third story discovers the correspondence between Frobisher and his friend and becomes so enthralled by him that she orders the Cloud Atlas Sextet, the only published work of the composer and so on. Every action each protagonist makes leaves a ripple in time and reaches the next one and in the end we have the echoes of all those ripples combined. I wouldn't be surprised if the author had the chaos theory in mind. 

The structure of Cloud Atlas, as I have already said, is unique. It includes six stories and the five of them are divided into two parts. This way a pyramid-shaped structure is formed where each story starts and then it continues in reverse order. For example, the first story continues last and so forth. The only story that ends without an interruption is the sixth one. Furthermore, each story is written in a different genre. This way we have diary entries, correspondence, interview, noir novel style, memoirs and folktale.

To sum things up, Cloud Atlas is a novel considered as a new classic. Personally, it's one of my all-time favourite books and I would reread it any time. I would recommend it to everyone. The stories are all intriguing, the writing is diverse and I believe that it will be very enjoyable and thought-provoking to all of you.

So my advice is...

A jewel for your bookshelf!