Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – Five Sentence Book Review

Back again with another five sentence book review, this time for Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It’s a book originally written & published in Japanese and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

This book was a confusing read, and felt like a literary rollercoaster ride where I wanted to sometimes scream at the main character, and at other times scream at everyone else.

It felt like equal parts memoir, fiction, and ethnographic study, which would have been perfect had it not been so weird.

I found myself feeling utterly conflicted and as time went on, I went from enjoying the book, to essentially hate-reading it.

I don’t know if it’s cultural differences, but I found some of the book to be frustratingly offensive, and while I think that was in some ways perhaps the point, it made it no less bearable.

I expected a lot of things from this book, and the only thing it delivered on was that it was a short & quick read.

⭐️

If you’ve read this book, I’m curious to know what you thought of it! I picked it up and read it in a matter of hours and I’m now sitting here wondering what exactly I just experienced!

Dinner & a Show – Misuta Chows, Buffalo NY

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My sister is awesome and for my birthday in January, she gifted me with tickets for us to go see the 20th anniversary touring production of Rent when it came to Buffalo. For a long time, Rent was the only musical that I liked. I actually thought I hated musicals with Rent being the exception (yeah….that’s not true at all). But when I first saw Rent in High School (on video) I just fell in love. It’s such a wonderful story and I was so happy to be able to see it live (I’ve seen a smaller production when my sister’s college did the musical, and it was great there too)!!

Seeing Rent at Shea’s was the second time I’d seen a proper production of a musical. The first being when Hamilton came to town (and was everything I hoped and then some). I used to go to a lot of concerts, but I haven’t in a long time because unfortunately, all the flashing lights and the noise often meant every concert I attended came with a bonus migraine. I miss going out and experiencing live music, but I’ve found that musical theater is a wonderful alternative. I’m able to sit, it’s indoors (I swear I’ve been rained on at nearly every concert I’ve ever attended), there’s generally no massive exodus of traffic afterwards, and so far, there hasn’t been any insane flashing lights to trigger my cranky head.

The show itself was great. Somehow I behaved myself and didn’t sing along to every song, though trust me – I wanted to! The cast really did a great job and if the show is coming to your town, I highly recommend getting tickets. Even after seeing it here and there, and watching different versions of the show, it still gets me in the feels. Even all these years later – it’s still such a relevant and wonderful show.

My only real issue were the seats but that was part my body – I overdid it the day before and my back was in a REAL MOOD – and part the historical (read: uncomfortable) nature of the venue. I was in a lot of pain during the show and of course, I switched bags before leaving and didn’t have anything to take for it. As soon as the show was over though, walking started to help and I felt a lot better.

After the show we walked down to a restaurant we were both really wanting to check out: Misuta Chows. I’ve got to admit, the fact that Buffalo is now a place where there’s stuff to walk to on Main st. is sort of a crazy prospect. I mean, there’s always been something here and there, but the city is changing into something I never imagined.

Misuta Chows is part Japanese restaurant and part arcade/bar. The attention to detail in terms of design is excellent. It’s got the feel like you’re in some alleyway Japanese restaurant and despite feeling small, it doesn’t feel too cramped – more cozy. There’s a faux roof on the kitchen area with a little counter, and paper lanterns hang throughout the space. The noise level in the dining area wasn’t bad which I really appreciated. 80s tunes wafted in (also appreciated) and as we were seated at the counter facing the kitchen, it actually felt quite private. The lighting was also great  – I know, perhaps weird details to comment on, but some places are just too bright and too loud for me to deal with and this just felt right, so they get points for ambiance for sure. Also, the Maneki Neko banners on the roof over the kitchen space was adorable. Can I have that please??

 

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Upstairs is a second bar and an arcade, which you get to via a pink glittery Hello Kitty adorned stairway. Because, why not?? The arcade itself is a fun little space with a bunch of pinball machines and about a dozen older video game machines. The games are $0.50 a play, with the pinball machines costing $1.00 a play so they’re not the cheapest thing in the world, but it’s definitely a nice feature and one I can get down with. I think it’d be neat if they did something where you got a token or two to play when you ate there. That’d be a really nice little detail!

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In terms of the food, we started with two appetizers – the cucumber slices and the pork gyoza’s. Missy also got a drink – the “Hey Samurai” which she felt was really nothing like it’s description, and at their drink prices, that was a little bit disappointing. Being seated by the kitchen meant that our food was placed directly on the counter in front of us for us to grab which was nice in a way.

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For our entree’s we both went with the Shio Ramen. I have wanted to try real ramen for years now, but I just haven’t found myself in a place to do so until now, so I was excited to finally try it. Overall it was pretty good. I LOOOOVED the soft boiled egg!! I would have liked more bamboo shoots/scallions as I felt that was a bit sparse, and I personally wasn’t a fan of the large pieces of pork due to all the fat. I’m not a fan of fat because the texture really bothers me, so that might be more a personal issue – but I was sort of anticipating thinner slices of pork. The broth itself was good, but definitely super salty as Shio ramen is meant to be. I’d really love to try a Tonkatsu ramen sometime!

In the grand scheme of things, Misuta Chows is a great little place and I think it’s a welcome addition to downtown Buffalo. I like that while it’s a place with two bars, it’s still a welcoming environment for people who don’t really drink (hi), although we were there early on a Saturday evening and I’m sure it’s likely a different atmosphere later at night.

If I found myself in the area and wanting a place to eat, I’d definitely keep Misuta Chows in mind. I’d love to see them expand their menu options!

 

The Cafe by the Sea – Jenny Colgan – REVIEW


Lately I’ve been having such a hard time finding my reading “groove”. I read a variety of different genres and sometimes, deciding what I’m in the mood for is easier said than done. I’ve started quite a few books over the past couple of weeks, only to abandon them because they just didn’t feel right. I’ve picked up countless library holds, and then brought them back not fully read. I definitely have favorite genres though, and there’s a certain style of fiction that I find absolutely comforting, which generally speaking, seems to always get me out of a reading rut!

I’m talking the light hearted, vaguely romantic, “chick-lit” type of fiction. Ideally set somewhere in the UK because I’m an unashamed Anglophile who has a serious longing for a place she’s never even been (don’t we all?). I read a lot of different genres and there was admittedly a point in time where I felt ashamed to admit that I enjoyed anything that would classify as chick-lit but really, I think it’s stupid that we should feel any ounce of shame for what we enjoy reading! I’ve come to embrace what I like and I feel much better for it. 🙂 When I find that nothing I try to read is really working for me, a little escapism from reality through chick-lit seems to always do the trick. Thankfully, I picked up The Cafe by the Sea, by Jenny Colgan from the library on Thursday because it has totally turned my reading mood around.

I’ve read one other Jenny Colgan book before (The Book Shop on the Corner), and now I have to say, that I want to read them all! Her writing is so enjoyable and it was so easy to devour this book, just like the last one. I actually had to force myself to go to bed the first night because I wanted to stay up all night reading. Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that kind of pull with a book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up — and she hasn’t looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious… and hopeleslly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she’s suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers — all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework — and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking — and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.

But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes — and work out exactly where her future lies…

There may be spoilers beyond this point!

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Hope Never Dies – Andrew Shaffer – REVIEW

Politics right now in this country are complicated and draining. We don’t dive into it much, but it doesn’t mean we’re not distressed. So when I heard about this book, I felt like it was just what the doctor ordered!


Hope Never Dies, written by New York Times best-selling author Andrew Shaffer was released in early July. As soon as I heard about it on Twitter, I quickly reserved it from our local library (Seriously go support your local libraries, folks!!) Shaffer has also authored parody works including Catsby: A Parody (a feline riff on the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby), Fifty Shames of Earl Grey (a parody on Fifty Shades of Grey) in addition to other humor works such as the yuletide-themed It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like F*ck This and the amusingly-titled How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attack.

Published by Quirk Books, Hope Never Dies is about 300 pages worth of mystery intrigue in what seems to be the first in a possible series of Obama/Biden fiction. Classified as a Mystery/Thriller fiction, this book isn’t just your run of the mill Sherlock Holmes-inspired mystery! The premise really says it all:

Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted—the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

If you were to combine elements of any Sherlock Holmes mystery, pepper in antics seen in many comedy films such as The Hangover, and of course sprinkle in elements of our beloved political bromance – you’d get this book. Is it cheesy at times? Oh YES! But in these chaotic times isn’t that something we kind of all need?

CAUTION: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!

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Rat Queens Volume One: Sass and Sorcery REVIEW

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I’ve really been getting into graphic novels lately. I’ve always been a reader but its a particular genre that I haven’t really delved into much before. There’s been a few books that I’ve read in the past that I really enjoyed (March, Persepolis), but recently, I’ve more or less, jumped head first into the world of graphic novels, and I’m honestly loving it. It’s a great break from the heavier reading of grad school and I love how easily I can get through a book. I think that after this past semester I felt like I was in a rather deep reading rut and graphic novels have been the perfect way to dig myself out and find my reading groove again!

I wish I could remember how exactly I came across Rat Queens because I’m so happy that I did. I requested it in my library system and picked it up a couple of days ago. Today I finished another book (Bitch Planet – pretty good), and felt like reading something else so I dove into Rat Queens right after. I recently finished a couple other graphic novels, but none has been as pleasurable as Rat Queens has been. I think I’ve fallen for this series hard. I know. I’m only on volume one, but I just have a sense that I’m really going to enjoy this series. Have you ever felt that way about a series? There’s just a vibe that you get!

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