Wakizashi

Like Tom Waits sang, “I’m big in Japan”; six foot two inches to be precise. They use centimeters over here, so that makes me around 189~190cm. Not significantly tall for a “Westerner”, but taller than a lot of Japanese people. I’m always easy to find in a crowd over here. That can have both its good points and bad points😉.

from IDW Publishing’s current run of Usagi Yojimbo
Continue reading

Why Write Reviews?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about why I keep writing this blog. It is one of my hobbies, and also something I enjoy doing, but why keep doing it? There are countless blogs out there that offer the same kind of content as this one. Many of them are much better written, more interesting, funnier, and more inspiring than mine. Yet, by some incredible stroke of luck, I’ve managed to pick up a few subscribers and regular readers over the last five years.

To pose another question, why do we read book reviews? Aside from a love of stories and reading in general? Our book reviews are always subjective to our personal tastes. A book we adore and rave about may be another reader’s idea of boredom or even torture. But we go on writing our reviews with the simple desire to spread the word about stories that we love, hate, and everything in between. So, is it just about spreading the word or the love?

What brought you, the reader, to this blog? What made you click that subscribe button? I’m hoping it was because you enjoyed reading one of my reviews. We probably have similar tastes in our reading choices. Even better would be you reading one of my many recommendations and really enjoying it. Then, letting me know about that experience via a comment or message. Which goes back to the idea of sharing the love of reading a really good story.

Continue reading

The Best Introduction to the Mountains (2001) by Gene Wolfe

I want to share this fascinating essay on J.R.R. Tolkien by the American writer Gene Wolfe. I am a fan of both writers and I think that this is one of the best essays about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings I’ve ever read. I will post selected highlights from Wolfe’s essay, but I wholeheartedly recommend that you read the whole essay. There is a link to the essay at the end of this post. I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what Wolfe wrote about Tolkien’s most famous books.


Continue reading

Who’s Dreaming Who?

A Dream Within a Dream
by Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?


Am I dreaming you or are you dreaming me? If you dream about someone, does that mean they are also dreaming about you at the same time?..

Nicolas Dipre, The dream of Jacob, ca. 1500.

I’m not trying to be all philosophical or “far out, man”. I wanted to write a post about why I chose “Who’s Dreaming Who” as the title of this blog and this is what happened. I was led to that beautiful poem by Poe because the final two lines from the first stanza were in my head: “All that we see or seem // Is but a dream within a dream.” Which then led me to share this quote I’ve always liked by Alan Watts about life and dreams:


Continue reading

Halloween Reads 2020

It has finally cooled down over here in Yonago, Japan, after a late and hot end to the summer. The leaves are starting to fall and we can feel autumn in the air. This time of the year is one of my favourite times for reading and I like to bring in a Halloween theme to my selections for October.

I don’t read as much horror as I used to. As I get older, I find that I enjoy weird fiction more than the gore-soaked horror of my teenage years. So, what exactly is weird fiction? Instead of consulting wikipedia, here is a brief definition from Penguin Random House:

 “It’s a literary style that can blend speculative fiction with elements of horror, fantasy, magical realism, Lovecraftian Cosmicism, and others to create a genre that is surreal and deeply unnerving.” 

Continue reading

Christopher Priest’s “Black Panther”

Like many, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Chadwick Boseman’s passing last month. I enjoyed his performances as Black Panther in the Marvel movies, especially his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It got me thinking about the Black Panther comic book, a title I’ve never read. I’ve only read Fantastic Four issue #52 (July 1966) in which the character made his debut, penned by the legendary creative combo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Continue reading

Favourite Author?

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Do you have a favourite author? By that I mean an author who you drop everything for and buy their new book on its release day. After buying their new book, you start reading it immediately. You know, an author who gets you excited about reading, about getting lost in their written worlds. An author whose book you wake up early to read before you have to leave for work. And, conversely, an author whose book you stay up way past your usual bedtime to read just one more chapter. For me, it used to be Haruki Murakami–sorry, Haruki. Now it is David Mitchell.

“Who?” You may cry. The David Mitchell who wrote Cloud Atlas, one of my favourite books of all time. (Much, much better than the movie, which I actually have a soft spot for.) Now, I know it’s all subjective. We all have our own tastes, thank goodness! But I just wanted to share with you some of the excitement I’m feeling right now.

Continue reading

Audiobooks? Yes or No?

Recently, Lashaan over at Bookidote wrote a post about audiobooks. It’s a really good article about the format and I recommend you check it out. If you do, make sure to read the comments too, as there are some great points made about the pros and cons of the audiobook. This got me thinking about some of the reasons why I listen to them, so I thought I would write a few words on the topic.

I’m quite late to the practice as I only started listening to audiobooks last year. When I was a child, I loved listening to stories so I thought I would see if I still enjoyed the process. I have a 30-minute drive to-and-from work during which I would listen to music or podcasts. After joining Audible, I started using my commute to listen to a book instead. (I still listen to music sometimes–it depends on my mood or how tired I am.)

Continue reading

Dennis (Denny) O’Neil (1939~2020)

“Make me laugh. Make me cry. Tell me my place in the world. Lift me out of my skin and place me in another. Show me places I have never visited and carry me to the ends of time and space.”
–Dennis O’Neil

Dennis O’Neil pictured with his ‘DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics’

I was very sad to hear the news today of the passing of Dennis (Denny) O’Neil. I got to know his work back in the late 1980s when I started buying comic books. At that time, O’Neil was editor of the two main Batman titles: Batman and Detective Comics. I used to buy them regularly. I remember being excited to hear that a new Batman title was going to launch in November 1989. That title was Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. Denny O’Neil wrote the opening five-part story: Shaman.

Continue reading

“Face Front, True Believers!”

“What can you get for a dollar? How about the Marvel Universe? Marvel is proud to present TRUE BELIEVERS – special introductory comics for the low price of only $1 each. Marvel history costs only a buck!”

I was able to get my hands on some physical copies of a few of Marvel Comics’ True Believers $1 reprints, so I thought I would share them with you. Look at that brilliant Jack Kirby artwork on the Mighty Thor title:-)

Reprint of Journey into Mystery Vol 1 #114 featuring the Mighty Thor (March 1965)
Continue reading