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
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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.

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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:


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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.” 

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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.

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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.)

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Retrospective for 2019

View of the Inland Sea, seen from Awashima shrine

Well, another year draws to a close so it’s time to reveal Who’s Dreaming Who’s most viewed posts for 2019. Which authors and books attracted the most clicks this year? Without further ado, here’s 2019’s Top 20 viewed posts:

(Clicking on the number will take you to the review.)

1. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011) Edited by Pamela Jackson & Jonathan Lethem
2. Impostor (1953) by Philip K. Dick
3. Pyramids (1989) by Terry Pratchett
4. Inverted World (1974) by Christopher Priest
5. The Big Time (1958) by Fritz Leiber
6. The Fog Horn (1951) by Ray Bradbury
7. Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson
8. Groo versus Conan (2013) by Sergio Aragones et al
9. Ubik (1969) by Philip K. Dick
10. Burning Chrome (1986) by William Gibson
11. Fairyland (1995) by Paul McAuley
12. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982) by Philip K. Dick
13. Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) by William Gibson
14. Good Omens (1990) by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
15. Rosewater (2016) by Tade Thompson
16. The City and the City (2009) by China Mieville
17. Oh, to be a Blobel (1964) by Philip K. Dick
18. White Time (2000) by Margo Lanagan
19. Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (1973) by James Tiptree, Jr
20. The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: Vol.12 (2018) Edited by Jonathan Strahan

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Long Time No Review

My life

Help! I’ve lost my book review mojo. It’s been almost two months since my last post and it’s not just the blogging. I’m finding it really hard to stick with one book to the end. Since July, I’ve only manged to complete Jeff Noon’s A Man of Shadows and Safraz Manzoor’s Greetings from Bury Park. I’m working on my review for the Noon book but it’s taking far too long.

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The same thing happened during summer last year. I wrote a post called “Summer Meltdown” in an attempt to get some advice from fellow bloggers. It worked, jump-starting me back into reading and reviewing. So I thought I would try it again and ask the few of you still out there reading this blog to recommend a must-read book or short story. What has gripped you recently? Any genre is fine! Continue reading

Hallowe’en Reads 2018

The sky before a typhoon. View from my garden.

Happy Autumn!

As the days cool and grow shorter and the darkness spreads its ebony fingers, are you ready for some chills and thrills?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I make – and often fail to complete – a plan for my October reading. As the theme is Hallowe’en, my chosen genre is horror or any kind of weird fiction. I’m planning to focus on novellas and short stories this year as my reading-time has shrunk over the last few months. So, without further ado, here is my list of stories to read as I tentatively set foot into the October country. Continue reading

Rediscover a Sense of Wonder

white teddy bear reading book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In my last post, I wrote of a “Summer Meltdown” which had left me struggling to read – and especially finish – books. To those who responded, thank you so much for taking the time to read and offer advice or support, I really appreciate it.

The boiling heat of 2018’s summer has finally subsided, and autumn’s cooling touch has brought some welcome relief. BUT I still haven’t reached the end of a book. Wtf?

I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching, trying to find a deeper reason than the summer’s heat knocking everyone out, and I think I’ve discovered what’s been missing.

black and white blank challenge connect

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let me ask you a question. What was the last book you read that you truly couldn’t put down? You know, the kind of story in which you become so caught up that you resent the time spent NOT reading it. A book or story that you keep thinking about when you’re not reading it. One which you can’t wait to get back to reading once your work or chores are done. Continue reading