More tears than a John Green novel

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The Protected is the second novel published by 2014 CBCA short listed author Claire Zorn. It also happened to be launched at the place where I work earlier this week, so I was lucky enough to hear Zorn talk about herself and her writing process.

I really liked Zorn’s first novel The Sky So Heavy

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a post nuclear war novel set in the Blue Mountains. It was so different to all the other post apocalyptic novels that were out at the time and so interesting for that reason. No factions, or competitions, just the factionalism and competition that goes along with being human.

Her new novel is totally different.
Totally.
It is about a girl whose sister has died and the fallout from that. But not in the way you would expect. Again, it is so different to all those other teenage drama novels that are out there and so amazing.
And so so sad.
If you thought you cried a lot reading The Fault in Our Stars, think again. This is one of the saddest things I have ever read. It’s up there with The First Third

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another great novel by an Australian author about a boy also dealing with ideas of mortality.

Read them.
Read them now.
Just keep the tissues handy.

Coming up on my next blog: More books and cats.

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Take me out to the ball game – For Real

I think the only place I like sport is Japan. Last time I was here I saw a sumo competition which was just amazing. This time I went to the baseball.
The first most impressive thing is Tokyo Dome itself.

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It is an enclosed arena, which is air conditioned. That’s right, AIR CONDITIONED. which on a day like yesterday of 35, feels more like 40 degrees, was just an amazing human feat. It also had a shop that sold the best souvenir I have bought all trip. It is for someone else so I will not spoil their surprise with a picture here but trust me, it is just the epitome of souvenir goodness.

The second best thing, also linked to the venues about sport in Japan is the food.

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I had chicken wings and chicken nuggets and a tomato and cucumber sandwich (yay, vegetables) and a pretzel and churros. Plus a helmet shaped bucket full of popcorn. What’s better though is that you can bring in anything you like. Including alcohol. They even give you free cups to pour it into. And if you didn’t bring your own, no worries. There are girls with kegs on their backs running up and down the stairs just waiting to pour you a cold beer. It is mind blowing.

But what makes sport the best in Japan are the fans. I decided to barrack for the Hanshin Tigers because their supporters has the best songs and practically a full orchestra.

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It is quite a spectacle to behold. And because the audience are always participating you never get bored. The match went for four hours but felt like it was over in minutes (that’s obviously and exaggeration, he second part at least, but you get my drift). In cricket or AFL or soccer or NRL I am bored after five.

Even the entertainment on field can keep one amused for ages.

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The baseball itself is somewhat secondary to everything else going on.

And of course, because it was there, we went to see more cats in captivity. This time not a cafe but a ‘playground’.

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A lot cheaper than the cat cafe in Shinjuku and a lot more fun. This is nekobukuro at the Sun City shopping centre in Ikebukuro. Honestly, if you saw my holiday snaps all you’d think I was interested in was cats. I have enough photos for a very nice collage.

Coming up on my next blog: Cats of Japan.

Travel Blues

I’ve come to that point in the holiday where he prospect of home is looking pretty good.
For me, that point is usually accompanied by some sort of holiday affliction that I can’t help but catch when I travel for an extended period of time. It’s usually some form of head cold, though this time has taken hold in my throat, making me feel like something has died in there and is wanting to resurrect itself through my mouth (I know that’s not the nicest image, but it is totally how I feel).
That means today was pretty much a write off.
No sightseeing.
No awesome food.
No souvenirs.
Just a lie in, some TV, a long train trip and KFC.

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And they don’t even have potato and gravy in Japanese KFC outlets. That’s the one thing I have been craving since yesterday.
Tomorrow I will be better (or at least that’s what I tell myself) and at the very least I need to get myself to a Forever 21 for some serious shopping.

Coming up on my next blog: I’ll probably be home by the time I feel like writing again.

Book to the Future

I am very sorry for this very bad pun in the title but it’s the best I could do. To tell you the truth, I don’t even like the Back to the Future film franchise. I’ve only seen the first one and refused to watch the second the whole way through because it was exactly the same as the first.
As a rule I don’t really like 80’s movies, as I’ve probably said before. There are a few exceptions to this, The Breakfast Club being one, and I didn’t mind The Karate Kid either, though I haven’t felt the need to watch anymore of those either. And of course Footloose, but who doesn’t love a dancing Kevin Bacon and preachy John Lithgow?

Despite my previous predictions about not being able to read while on holiday I have proved myself wrong. Over the last two days I read Popular: A Memoir by Maya Van Wagenen which I got as a freebie at the Penguin PTA Live event a few weeks ago. It was one that I had seen advertised and thought might be interesting to read and was happy to be getting it for free.

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Basically this 8th grade student in America uses an etiquette book from the 1950s to try and become popular at school. It and she cover everything from diet to dress to how to interact with others.
What this book taught me was that I would definitely not want to be a school kid in America. It sounds truly horrendous, and even worse if. You live in a druggy area like she does on the Mexican border.
I know kids can be horrible and bullying is a thing but I don’t think there is quite the caste system going on in Australian schools as there seems to be in American ones. I know popular culture can be hyperbolic, and TV and film may not represent the norm, but this is a memoir, a real story about a real girl and it’s not pretty.
It is, however, really well written. And if this girl becomes an author like she says she wants to (more than what she has published already I mean) I will totally be buying what she writes.
Probably the best thing to come out of it is that she has me sitting up straighter.

Coming up on my next blog: Will I be blue to read another book while away? I did pick up Eleanor and Park at Kinokuniya despite promising myself I wouldn’t buy anymore books while overseas.

Beyond Books

I am not doing terribly well in my 100 book reading challenge this year. We are already past the half way done time mark and I haven’t even made it to 50.

I have even been on holidays for four days and have only read two books so far.

The reason for this is because I am in Japan and there are too many exciting and crazy things to do here that are taking away from my book reading time.

Things like:

Eating – my favourite past time even more than reading books.

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Sightseeing – being especially on the lookout for cute foreign cats.

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And just your general, whoa isn’t this amazing moments that you have in a place so different from your own, you know, the ones you have to take a photo of for instagram.

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If you want a better and more detailed account of my trip you should check out my husband’s blog also on wordpress. He is a little more eloquent than I and usually has less typos.

Coming up on my next blog: Nihongo a go go