|The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs, by Cylin Busby
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review
Jacob Tibbs is the runt of his litter. He watches as, one-by-one, sailors buy and bear away his brothers and sisters to be ship cats on other ships – leaving only him and his mother. The captain’s daughter begs her father to save Jacob despite his small size and his white paws (that are glow-in-the-dark beacons to the ship rats). And it’s a good thing the captain saves Jacob, because he has his mother’s talent for predicting weather…and a huge storm is brewing.
I know I bragged about how awesome my last NetGalley book was, but this book was equally awesome for different reasons. This was just an adorable and fun book to read. I actually learned some interesting tidbits about ships from this book – Busby must have done a lot of research. I’m a cat person, and I loved the way Jacob always explained his actions with cat-like anthropomorphic reasoning (instead of just sounding like a human mind in a cat). I was surprised at how much action could be packed into a book this short. There was always something going on that made me want to read the next chapter. This book was so sweet and fun! I wish I had an appropriately-aged kid to read it to.
I highly recommend this book for middle grade readers starting with precocious third graders. While you’re getting it for your child, read it yourself. You won’t regret it.
2012 Book 162: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Written by J. K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: Harry Potter Read-along hosted by Lost Generation Reader.
In this fourth installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry is thrust against his will into the Triwizard Tournament – a competition for which he is his underaged and underqualified. Is someone trying to get him killed? Furthermore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are experiencing the first pangs of teenaged angst. They all feel misunderstood and a bit angry at times. Will they be able to overcome their emotions in order to quash the rising power of Lord Voldemort? Well, at least they’ll have a lot of adventure while they’re trying. One of the highlights of this book is meeting the students of the two other large wizarding schools in Europe: The dark and broody students from Durmstrang and the too-formal sissies from Beauxbatons. (Ok, maybe they’re not ALL sissies.) 😉 This is my favorite book of the series because it has *swoon* Viktor Krum. It is also the first book in the series with “mature” content. It’s longer, moodier, and more dangerous than the first three. And, it’s the first book in the series to leave significant strings untied – leaving room for more plot development. I’m SO glad Rowling knew what to tie up and what to leave open though. She’s managed to leave a reasonable opening without cliffhangers. I really appreciate that. Thank you Ms. Rowling!
2012 Book 155: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Written by J. K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: I read this for Lost Generation Reader’s Harry Potter Readalong. On which I’m falling catastrophically behind. But at least I’ll get some of them read before the end of the readalong.
Harry Potter thinks he’s in big trouble when he accidentally blows up his aunt, but luckily for him the powers-that-be are distracted by the shocking escape of Sirius Black from the wizard’s prison Azkaban. Black is purported to be “You-Know-Who’s biggest supporter.” (Though I’m not certain what made everyone decide that Black was the most dedicated supporter, rather than the one who’d made the biggest bang? But let’s not question the Rowling.) With the dementors out in force – ready to snatch Black up the moment he rears his unkempt head, Harry, Ron, and Hermione don’t have much chance to misbehave. Will they catch Black before Black kills again? I loved this book more this time around than I did the first time. (Mainly because I have a fondness for the entire story now, whereas when I read it, I was just continuing a series that I’d started.) I DID notice, however, a few snafus that made me chuckle. Just little inconsistencies here and there. I didn’t notice anything like that in the first two books. Usually I ignore little inconsistencies in YA lit, but these surprised me because I’d always thought Rowling had done an amazing job tying up all the loose ends. I suppose inconsistencies are almost impossible to avoid this TIME around though. 😉 I remember reading some comments a while back that said that Rowling’s writing developed from a bit amateurish to more skilled as the series progressed. Now I see what they mean. I’ll keep an eye out for loopholes in the future, now that I know she has them. :p I’m curious if she gets a lot better at avoiding them in the later books. Overall, though, excellent stuff. I’m enjoying Dale’s narrations more and more now that I’m getting used to his style.
2012 Book 137: Kafka on the Shore
Written by Haruki Murakami; Narrated by Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur
Reason for Reading: In order to increase awareness of speculative fiction authors-of-color for A More Diverse Universe blog tour, I have read and reviewed Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami, which is Japanese magical realism / surrealism. This is one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and it won “best novel” for the World Fantasy Award in 2006.
Kafka on the Shore follows two seemingly unrelated characters whose stories collide in surreality. The first character is a 15-year-old runaway boy who has renamed himself Kafka Tamura. Kafka runs away from his father for reasons that slowly reveal themselves as the plot thickens. He ends up in an obscure library, where he must overcome a dark curse. The second character is Nakata, an old man who suffered an injury as a child and lives as on a stipend for the mentally disabled. Nakata may not be very smart, but he can talk to cats, and he has an uncanny ability to accept surreal events at face value, thus providing a unique perspective to the strange plot twists. Kafka on the Shore highlights the extreme effects alienation can have on a person’s psyche. It had some VERY dark undercurrents (and even one scene of brutality that was quite shocking). It was a fascinating story, but after thinking about it for several days, I’m still unable to figure out quite what it meant. Perhaps it was only an expression of dark loneliness and nothing more? Whether I’m missing the deeper meaning or not, I greatly enjoyed reading my first Murakami book, and look forward to reading many more of these fascinating works.
About the Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan in 1949 to parents who taught Japanese literature. Murakami was greatly influenced by Western culture. His “modernist” books invoke an interesting mixture of classical music, Western literature, and Japanese culture. Like many surreal / modernist writers, his novels depict alienation, loneliness, and trauma.
It’s interesting that I followed up The Blind Owl with Kafka on the Shore. Both are Asian surrealism (which I haven’t read too very much of) and both have explicit use of the Oedipus complex. Is the Oedipus complex a common characteristic of surreal literature? Or a common characteristic of Asian modernist fiction? Or maybe the Oedipus complex is a defining characteristic of alienated characters? Maybe it was just a coincidence. I guess I’ll see as I read more of these types of books. 🙂 I have decided to include Kafka on the Shore in the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII challenge because of the unexpected dark undercurrents.