Books 3 and 4 are both read, my totals now stand at 5 hours 10 minutes reading, and 1,213 pages read.
Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes. Quercus.
Yukio’s two best friends are dead. Tormented and blackmailed by the Yakuza – the Japanese mafia – they have taken their own lives. Yukio is a kendo champion and he knows all the stories of the samurai. Heartbroken and furious, he is determined to avenge the deaths of his beloved Hiroshi and Miko.
And so begins a deadly struggle between Yukio and the Yakuza, and between Yukio’s capacity for love, and his thirst for revenge. Shot through with the beauty of Tokyo in spring, this is an unforgettable and uncompromising read.
Wow, this was such a contrast to the first two books I read this morning. A tale of grief and vengeance, this is a dark and at times disturbing read. It’s utterly captivating, I put off stopping to have lunch because I was so desperate to find out what was going to happen.
It feels quite claustrophobic at times, the way it is written really evokes the sense of the hot, bustling city – I felt that this worked so well to mirror how everything is weighing down on Yukio. This was paired with the lighter, almost redemptive sub plot focusing on Yukio’s visiting niece – a really welcome addition to the story.
One thing I did find was that I had to remind myself at times that Yukio is only 14 years old. I found that the decisions he makes and actions he takes often made it feel like he is much older than he is. I think this book’s probably better suited to slightly older teens than Yukio, I think it could make an excellent book group title – there’s certainly lots of scope for discussion.
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver. Hodder & Stoughton.
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
How I loved this book! It’s an absolute gem of a read, a lovely fairytale-esque story complete with the most beautiful illustrations courtesy of Kei Acedera. I fell in love with the book within the first few pages, it was a reading experience I didn’t really want to see end.
The story is relatively simple, a number of mix ups send the various characters on paths that cross each others’ throughout, but it is the deeper themes that really make this book sing. Liesl’s quest to take her father’s ashes and bury them under the willow tree where they buried her mother years before really tugs at the heartstrings, even though I could see the problems with this plan I was still willing her to achieve her aim.
This book feels like the childrens’ books I read and loved as a child. There is a timeless quality to it that I think would make it as enjoyable for the parent reading aloud as for the child listening to it. It’s a real departure from the author’s YA books, but I think it’s going to be the one I will return to time and time again.