Review: Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9780099448471, 2006, 224pp.)

The Short of It:

In true Murakami fashion, all of the elements are here. A love triangle, a mysterious protagonist known only as K, a beautiful setting and buckets of ennui.

The Rest of It:

It’s no secret how much I love Murakami but this book seemed the most balanced to me. The characters are strange and deep, in the way they usually are but not overly so and the conflict presented, happens to be something any reader can relate to.

Sumire, is this deep, untouchable writer-type who has the talent to write, but can’t seem to effectively gather her thoughts into anything more than just a few words on a page. She’s frustrated and shares her angst with her male friend, known only as K. He sees her potential but at the same time is blinded by his passion for her. Sumire is not interested in K as a lover. Instead, she meets an older woman by the name of Miu, and falls in love with her. Miu shares a very special friendship with Sumire, but does not want to be her lover. This rejection, throws Sumire into a deep well of despair and when Sumire goes missing while vacationing with Miu in Greece, Miu calls K to help find her.

So. Much. Angst. Oh, how I love angst!

These characters are torn between love and passion. They love each other and have passion for one another but the feeling is not mutual. As hard as this is for K, his concern over Sumire outweighs his frustration over the situation. He drops everything to find Sumire and in the process, realizes that some alternate universe exists and that the world as he knows it, will never be the same.

The beauty of this book is the writing itself. It’s delicate. Like taking tiny, measured tastes of a delicious pastry. So many people ask me which Murakami to read first. I am always torn because it really depends on your mood at the time, your tolerance for ennui and angst, etc. But this one would be great for anyone wanting to give Murakami a try. His books can be sexually explicit, but this was tame in comparison and the tone, mild.

Out of all of his books, this is one of my faves. I read this with a couple of other readers for #readingsputnik and it was just what I needed to jolt me out of the reading rut I was in.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

The Sunday Salon: Reading Sputnik, The Holidays and Good Coffee

Reading Sputnik

What a week. The last week before vacation is always super long, and this week was painful to get through. I COULD NOT wait for it be over. We had the normal stuff going on but with the holidays approaching, I was forced to buy a few gifts and I committed to donating some things so I found myself at the MALL after my dental appointment yesterday.

Oh my.

The mall was all decked out and crowded. I do not like crowds but I managed to get a premium parking spot (good timing) which  made me want to stay there longer and for a split second, I had it in my head that I’d do my shopping, all of it. Ha! Don’t worry though, I came to my senses quickly and picked up what I went there for and took off like a bat out of hell.

Right now, on this super chilly morning, I am enjoying cheese grits and some really good coffee while listening to Bing Crosby. The Otter Pup found a ray of sunshine to bask in, and the house is nice and quiet. We don’t have anywhere to go to today as I finished all my errands yesterday so today is all about relaxing.

Sunday Salon

What am I reading?

Nadia and I decided to read Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami this week. We were both hankering for Murakami’s writing so I put it out there for others and a few decided to drink the Kool-aid with us. We’ll be on Twitter off and on this week chatting about the book (#readingsputnik).

I just finished World War Z and will be writing up my thoughts on that one soon. Not sure what I expected exactly but I thought it was a tad tame. The Abominable by Dan Simmons is soooo good that I find myself savoring it a bit too much. It’s a library check out and I’ve already renewed it once. I have to finish it soon or risk an overdue notice. Eeep.

Do you find yourself gravitating towards certain kinds of books this time of year? The Abominable is all about Mount Everest so I am literally freezing my tush off every time I pick it up.

As some of you know I am off all this week and planning our annual Thanksgiving in PJs. BUT, this week my nephews are coming to visit. My one nephew is bringing his family which includes three sweet little girls so we will be visiting with them at some point after the holiday itself. The Girl is really looking forward to seeing them.

What am I cooking?

Another Sunday without any cooking. We are hitting a Mexican market later to pick up a Chicken Picnic which is rotisserie chicken (2), fresh tortillas, rice beans and salsa. Why cook when someone else can do it for you?

What am I watching?

Last night we watched Weird Science. It’s not the weekend around here unless we work an 80’s movie into the mix. Tonight is The Walking Dead but in between, I may watch a Christmas movie in there somewhere. Maybe, Love Actually. I ADORE that movie and isn’t Andrew Lincoln in it? Yes, he is the hunky guy with the signs, right?

I’m really in the mood to see Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, but I don’t own it and my DVR says it’s coming on the first week in December so I must wait. It’s the perfect movie to watch around Thanksgiving.  Crazy family, good acting and Robert Downey, Jr.

What are you doing today?

Impromptu Reading Plans – Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart

After mentioning that I had an itch to read Murakami before the year ends, Nadia from A Bookish Way of Life said she’d join me. We both have Sputnik Sweetheart sitting on our shelves so if you have it too and want to read it with us, we plan to read it over Thanksgiving break. It’s on the short side, 224 pages. No formal read along, just some fun reading to break up the rut I am apparently in.

Let me know if you are up for it by leaving a comment. I will use the hash tag #readingsputnik to talk about it.

Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep
By Stephen King
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781476727653, September 2013, 544pp.)

The Short of It:

A solid follow-up to The Shining as far as the story goes,  but I was disappointed with the execution.

The Rest of It:

Readers of this blog know that I am a King fan through and through. A Constant Reader, if you will. He writes a book, and I read it no matter what it’s about because the man can write. And yes, I did enjoy The Shining quite a bit and for those of you that aren’t in the know, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to that much-loved book. So going in, King had a lot up against him since the first book was written so many years ago and written when he was battling alcoholism. I’m sure that writing Doctor Sleep in a sober state presented its own challenges too.

But, I was not all that impressed with Doctor Sleep and it pains me a little to say it. The story is a about a young man, Dan Torrance, who finds himself battling the demons of his youth. He sees things and he has special talents that even he has yet to fully understand. He’s also an alcoholic because the drink, is just about the only thing that puts his “shining” to rest. As he moves through life, he encounters a young girl who shares his talent and the two get to know each other quite well when they are forced to fight a band of wandering life suckers called the True Knot.

Doctor Sleep is ultimately a battle between the good and the not-so-good. Some of the characters are more developed than others. I felt that King took more time with Dan and I expected that since he is one of the original characters from The Shining. But Abra, the young girl he encounters, seemed cartoonish to me. I had a problem with her age. She felt younger to me than she was. I also had a problem with the main villain, Rose. I never really saw her as a viable threat and I think that is what really disappointed me about the book. You need a really evil villain, one that you can really remember, and Rose was weak in my opinion.

The ending wrapped-up too quickly, whereas other parts of the story seemed to plod along. Was it entertaining? Yes. I’d say that most of King’s books are and there are glimmers of wonderful-ness here and there, but overall, it was a little too safe for me to love it. However, I did feel as if King did Dan justice in the story itself. It was not a bad story line at all. I just wish it had finished a little stronger than it did.

I read this as part of a read along so if you are interested in those posts, you can read them below. I never did a final wrap-up post, just this review so count this as the wrap-up!

Doctor Sleep Read Along (Chapters 1-6)

Doctor Sleep Read Along (Chapters 7-13)

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Doctor Sleep Read Along (The Wrap-Up!)

Doctor Sleep Read Along

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t been reading along with us, save this post for another day. There will be spoilers!

Before we started reading, we asked if you had any expectations for Doctor Sleep. Did you get what you were hoping for out of the book?

Unfortunately, no. I really wanted a continuation of Danny’s story and it was that, loosely but this story took on a life of its own and sort of went an entirely different way. It didn’t feel like a sequel and it lacked action. Seemed almost too safe at times which is not what I expect to feel when reading a King book. It was a bit of a snoozer towards the end and it seriously pains me to say that.

On a positive note, I do feel as if King had a firm grasp of Dan’s character but I can’t say the same for the other characters. Rose was just a shell of what she should have been and Abra ended up bugging the shit out of me at the end. Rose was comical in a way, and I don’t think that is how King intended her to come across. The hat and her little tirades were a bit much and I never felt her power or that she was a real threat to anyone.

Abra’s youthfulness got old after a while. She was a teenager by the end of the book and she was still acting like a small child. Didn’t feel believable. It’s harsh but I really didn’t care what happened to her.

I wanted more of Dan. His story was much more interesting to me.

Having finished the book, do you think having read The Shining is important for enjoying this one?

Doctor Sleep was technically the sequel to The Shining, but I don’t think you have to read The Shining to understand what is going on. Sure, it adds to the story but King does a good job of bringing a reader up-to-speed.

In one word, one phrase, one sentence, describe Doctor Sleep. 

Plodding. As with most unpleasant things in life, facing your fears and your wrongdoings can be a tedious task and it felt that way while reading. I felt as if I was along for the ride and at times, it seemed like too much. Not too much like it was way too intense, because it wasn’t, but too much like… get it over with already. I saw the ending long before I read it, so the last few chapters took forever for me to get through.

Anything else you feel like discussing about the end of the book? Or, about the book as a whole?

Oh man, I thought the ending was on the weak side. The blood-tie that was revealed was not a surprise at all. I saw it coming and hoped with all hope that it would go a different route but nope, it didn’t.

I felt that Rose’s demise was really, really played down. So much so that I missed it! I had to flip back to see how it happened. I mean, how could I have missed it the first time? I am not sure but I did and then when I did find it, I was like… meh. No wonder I missed it.

I thought it was nifty how Dan was able to use the contents of his lock boxes. I was wondering about them and it seemed fitting for him to use the boxes the way he did. Plus, it was a nice way to give him the closure that he needed.

Was anyone else sad to see Crow Daddy go so soon? I was really liking him. He seemed a lot more complex than Rose and more in line with what I’ve come to expect from King.

That’s all I have to say for now. My review is going to be interesting, to say the least. I hope to get it written soon.


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