Book Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

travellingcatchroniclesSometimes you have to leave behind everything you know to find the place you truly belong…
Nana the cat is on a road trip. He is not sure where he’s going or why, but it means that he gets to sit in the front seat of a silver van with his beloved owner, Satoru. Side by side, they cruise around Japan through the changing seasons, visiting Satoru’s old friends. He meets Yoshimine, the brusque and unsentimental farmer for whom cats are just ratters; Sugi and Chikako, the warm-hearted couple who run a pet-friendly B&B; and Kosuke, the mournful husband whose cat-loving wife has just left him. There’s even a very special dog who forces Nana to reassess his disdain for the canine species.
But what is the purpose of this road trip? And why is everyone so interested in Nana? Nana does not know and Satoru won’t say. But when Nana finally works it out, his small heart will break…

Welcome to my first book review of 2020! I intend to up my reading game this year, so hopefully I’ll have a few more reviews this year than I have had in the last while…

This book broke my heart, ladies and gentlemen. It was one of those books where I probably shouldn’t have read it when I did… I started reading it back in November, and then life just got in the way and I put it down. Then in December, a few days before Christmas, my dog Bing passed away unexpectedly. So when I picked this back up last week to finish it off, its safe to say my emotions were very raw.

The book is told from the perspective of Nana the cat, and how he is found by the human Satoru, and how he takes him in after finding him injured, making sure he gets better and feeding him his crunchies. It is a very innocent story, and seeing everything from a cat’s perspective really makes you think about how we as humans act, and how we interact with animals, and what they think of us.

Every second chapter in the book is a flashback/prequel to the upcoming chapter, and looks back at Satoru’s childhood. Each of these chapters gives us insight into the people we’re going to meet in the following chapter so we can get a better perspective of why we’re there and what’s happening/going to happen.

I love that we’re not immediately told why we’re going on this little adventure with Nana and Satoru–we’re very much left to our own imaginations as to why Satoru is visiting all these old friends and asking if they would take Nana into their home.

The last twenty pages really got me though. It was like a penny dropped, and all of a sudden knew why, and it really is heartbreaking, because as you’re reading, it is still through little Nana’s perspective and he can’t understand why… just have some tissues ready…

Overall The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a beautiful read, and I 100% recommend it for any animal lover! (maybe just don’t read it too close to having lost one… )

Have you read this book before? I’d love to know you’re thoughts, and if you haven’t read it yet, would you be interested in reading? Let’s chat in the comments 🙂

My Commonplace Book

commonplace book
noun: commonplace book; plural noun: commonplace books
  • a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.

I was first introduced to the commonplace book format a few years ago, back when I first got into bullet journals, and was looking up other forms of journaling. At the time, I decided to start my own commonplace journal, which was in a sketchbook style of journal, but I ended up not using correctly and ended up just doing regular ‘dear diary’ style writing in it, and ended up quickly scrapping it shortly after.

Skip forward to a few weeks ago, I came across a video on YouTube by Jordan Clark called ‘You should start a commonplace book’. It was from this video I decided to revisit the concept of the commonplace book, and I decided to start my own. Please check out the video if you would like to see another perspective/more visually pleasing description.

I had just been to my local TK Maxx, and picked up a small A6/pocket sized notebook, and was really looking for a use for it, and then I came across this video, and decided that the notebook would be perfect for this little project.

2019-06-14 16.46.35

My first entry in my commonplace book was a passage I found while looking a little more into commonplace books, from Jonathan Swift’s ‘A letter of advice to a young poet’:

A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories’ and, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there.

Since then I’ve been slowly adding a few little bits, including a quote I really liked about accountability, a photo from Instagram I found really inspiring and a few passages from one of my favourite books ‘A Note to Self’ by Connor Franta. No doubt I’ll surely go on to add more, but like Jordan talks about in her video, there is no pressure with a commonplace book. It is simply something that is there, something for you to add to whenever you feel like you might like to look back on that at some point in the future, or if you come across a photo of something truly beautiful that you know you just have to capture it somewhere.

That is my/the commonplace book, and hopefully this was enough to inspire or encourage you to start your own.

See you in my next post


Recently Read || June Edition

Welcome back to another Recently Read post here on the blog! This one should have been posted back in May, but I decided I’d do a binge of 8 seasons of a TV series instead of actually sitting down to read a book–Oops!

I will admit that 2 out of these 3 books were a little harder to get into than I thought. Norse Mythology was surprisingly trickier, it being a collection of short stories as opposed to one long running story, and The Secret, well that’s a real mess with your head kinda book. Let’s get into it:

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

In 2006, a groundbreaking feature-length film revealed the great mystery of the universe – The Secret. Later that year, Rhonda Byrne followed with a book that became a worldwide bestseller.
The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers – men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.

I picked this one up on the recommendation of a colleague in work, she said that it will change my outlook on everything and that even celebrities are known to use The Secret to help them get what they want. I devoured the first 50-odd pages, taking everything in as if it were gospel. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it is not gospel, so much as just a frame of mind, or an outlook on life. I struggled to pick it up after this stage of the book, dipping in and out, picking it up here and there, but in the end I didn’t actually finish reading it. I think something like The Secret is a kind of book that you need to read yourself and take your own opinion from it. I dunno, maybe I just wasn’t in the right place when I decided to read this, maybe I’ll pick it up again somewhere down the line and my thoughts and feelings will have changed towards it.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassed manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelist arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Alas, another Did Not Finish book, but through no fault of the book, but my own. I have a love hate relationship with short stories. I love reading them, but not an entire collection. I tried to read this as if it were a regular novel, and even though all the characters were the same, the different stories in each ‘chapter’ didn’t appeal to me. I have gotten so used to reading longer prose, and chapter books, that dipping in and out of different stories every couple of pages becomes quite chore-some. I wouldn’t mind but I had just picked this up after re-watching the first Thor movie, and going to see Avengers Endgame, which has a strong connection to the Norse Gods, so I thought I’d devour this. I will in time return to this book and finish the other stories that I didn’t read, because those that I did read were very enjoyable.

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.
For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.
The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

The Vanishing Stair is the 2nd book in the Truly Devious Trilogy. I read Truly Devious back in March when HarperCollins Ireland kindly gifted me a copy of the paperback which had been just released at the time (read the micro-review on my Instagram: @dean.kealy). I recently then allowed a work colleague to borrow it, and she loved it so much that she sought out the sequel, The Vanishing Stair, from her local library, and also allowed me to borrow it. I hadn’t a clue it was out already and was overjoyed to find out. For this alone, I give author Maureen Johnson kudos. I’m not a fan of books in series. It’s very rare that a story told across multiple books captivates me, but this was one of them. (off the top of my head Harry Potter and E.R. Murray’s Nine Lives series are the only others to do so). Without spoiling The Vanishing Stair, its a good ol’ fashioned murder mystery who-dunnit. It continues the mystery from the first book as well as the original murders that took place in the 1930’s at the Ellingham Academy–so you’re getting two for the price of one! If you’re a fan of murder mysteries and thrillers I definitely recommend, as there are also references to detective legends such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot!

With that, I give you my Recently Read June Edition, and I leave you asking: What books have you recently read? Have you read and/or will you read any of these? 🙂

My Notebook Collection

Alternate Title: My Top 5 Notebooks That I Use on a Regular Basis!

Today I want to share with you guys some of my notebooks! I’m a self confessed notebook hoarder, and whenever I’m out shopping and I see a notebook I really like, I tend to end up buying it. It’s even gotten to the stage now where people are actually not helping the situation by actually picking me up notebooks when they’re out shopping that they think I might like. I also tend to receive at least one notebook for either my birthday or Christmas, guaranteed!

On a (semi)daily basis, there are a handful of notebooks I reach for, each one with its own purpose:

Bullet Journal

Processed with VSCO with n2 presetMy bullet journal is my everyday agenda, for lack of a better word. It is essentially a DIY planner, where instead of buying a planner with all the days and weeks of the year filled out for you, you do it yourself, so you can put in the things you know you need and like when planning. I love this, because as an artist it allows me to be very creative and create new and different layouts every month.



Processed with VSCO with n2 preset

Carrying on with creativity in my bullet journal, next up is my sketchbook. I will admit I haven’t been drawing or making art as much as I usually do in the past 6 months, but that usually happens to me every now and again. I find it hard to put a lot of effort into multiple things at once. I’m making a new mid-year resolution for myself that I’m going to have to fill at least one page of my sketchbook between now and the end of 2019.


Processed with VSCO with n2 presetNext up is my journal. I don’t write in this everyday, heck, even weeks go past sometimes before I write in this thing. But every now and again when I’m feeling a bit anxious, I’ll scribble some thoughts and stuff in here. It’s a great way to vent, and because I don’t write in it everyday, I don’t feel like I necessarily need to keep on top of this one by making it pretty or artsy. I simply just write.

Dream Journal

Processed with VSCO with n2 presetThis is one of my favourite ones to keep. I don’t dream every night, and if I do, I don’t always remember them. Sometimes though, I’ll get the wildest dream, and I scribble it into this notebook. Sometimes it’s only a few lines, other times it could be a whole page. I’ve been keeping this particular notebook since 2016, and I’ve only filled approx. 30 pages in it, so that will give you an idea of how much it’s used.

Commonplace Journal

Processed with VSCO with n2 presetThis is the newest addition to my little collection. A commonplace journal is: a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use. I basically keep quotes that I see or hear and write them in here, or if there’s an illustration or a photo that I find inspiring I’ll print it out and paste it into here. It’s not unlike a collage book, where you just write and stick inspiration stuff into.

There you have it! My Top 5 notebooks! I also have one or two other notebooks that I grab from time to time, like my little recipe book, where I jot down recipes I like; there’s my fitness journal, where I keep track of my health and fitness; and then I have a blog book, where I scribble all my blog post ideas that I share here with you guys!

If you would like to know more about any of the notebooks I use or what type of notebooks I use in particular, feel free to drop a comment asking all the questions. Let me know if you would like a seperate blog post on any of the above journals, the bullet journal and commonplace one in particular.

What kind of notebooks do you keep, if any? Are you a notebook hoarder like me?

Recently Read || April Edition

Great Scott, Batman! A book blog post! Yes, it has indeed been a hot minute since I made a book related blog post! The reason for that, up until recently I actually hadn’t read any books since that last book blog post. Continue reading Recently Read || April Edition

Books I Read in January

In January, I successfully managed to read 3 books (and a graphic novel), and I want to share those books with you in this post! I mentioned in my introductory post that I stopped my book blog because it became a chore, but reading is very much a big hobby of mine, and I’ve challenged myself to read at least 20 books in 2019. I also don’t think it would do any harm to throw the occasional book-related post into the mix here on the blog every now and again, as that is one of my main interests.

Continue reading Books I Read in January