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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

Two Mini Reviews for October

Sometimes I just don't have enough to say about a particular book to feel like it needs a "full" review. Here are a couple recent reads with mini reviews. Have you read either of them? What did you think?

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel

Published 2019; 272 pages


Translated from Japanese, this short book is a story of time travel and follows four different people and their experiences. It's set in a very special coffee shop, one in which limited time travel is possible - but there are rules. You have to sit in a specific seat, you can only see people who have also been to the coffee shop, nothing you do will change the future (present), and you have to return before your coffee gets cold. So, short visit.

Told in four sections, each focuses on the specific person traveling and why they want to go back in the past with only a little about their history or personality. The time travel element is clever but not enough to save the book for me. The language feels stilted and uneven, which may be due to the translation or to the fact that the author is a playwright and it was originally a play. The characters are pretty flat and seem to be chosen just to illustrate 'usual' reasons someone might want to revisit a past moment. There is a subtle 'lesson learned' with each of the four travelers we meet, but again, ultimately not particularly interesting. I didn't dislike it, just not my favorite read.

Donna enjoyed it more than I and while she noticed the stiffness in the writing style, after a few pages, it didn't bother her.

COYER challenge 4/54

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Genre: SciFi, Thriller

Published July 2022; 352 pages

I listened to this book and I'll tell you right off the bat, it wasn't for me (unpopular opinion I know). I wonder if I'd like it better if I read it on the page where I could skim the monumentally long DNA strands. Boring.

The premise of the book is that a man notices some changes in his memory and body - as in, they are improving. He discovers his genomes have been hacked and his body is on track to keep improving dramatically. He realizes that there's an ulterior motive to his upgrade and it creates a moral dilemma - what's the best way forward for mankind? It's an interesting question that is explored along with some other thought provoking societal questions. It read sort of like a thriller but felt a little slow paced too. I sound confused.

Like Andy Weir's books, it's very science heavy. However, unlike Weir's books, I just couldn't get past the staggering amount of science. Like Weir's books, you don't have to understand the specifics of the science (genetic engineering here) to follow the story. So that tells me that the fault is maybe in the characters or the general plot. Comparing this to Project Hail Mary which is also very science/engineering heavy, the difference seems to be the entertaining interaction between the characters. Upgrade didn't have that for me - I didn't care about them enough to override the scifi elements.

“We don’t have an intelligence problem. We have a compassion problem. That, more than any other single factor, is what’s driving us toward extinction.”

These are two books that came VERY highly recommended and I feel like everyone in the world liked them. So what am I missing? What did you think of them? Did you review one/both of them? Leave me a link and I'll check out your review.

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys.

It's my goal to provide real reviews of the books I read without totally rehashing every plot. I'll never spoil a story by giving away a plot twist! Hopefully you'll find one or two of interest and will discover a new book or author to add to YOUR TBR list.  Take a moment to explore, read a couple reviews, and let me know what you think.


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The review ratings are based on a 5 star  (1/2 stars sometimes) system with a 3 being an average read for me. I hope you find that helpful. Knowing, of course, that all opinions are just that - my opinion!  Let me know if you agree or disagree - I'd love to hear from you.

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