Thursday, December 8, 2016

G775 Book Review of purged by fire heresy of the cathars by Diane Bonavist

Name of Book: purged by fire heresy of the cathars

Author: Diane Bonavist

ISBN: 978-0-86698-810-0

Publisher: Bagwyn Books

Type of book: 1234-1244? France, Albigensian Crusades, fire, martyrdom, cuckold, history, South France, heretics, siege, survival, Catholics vs Cathars, history

Year it was published: 2016


In 1209, with the infamous words 'Kill them all, God will recognize his own' the pope's crusade against his own Catholic faithful commenced. For two decades, this holy war to defeat the Cathar heresy decimated the troubadour culture of Southern France. But when it failed to destroy the heretical faith, the papacy gave special powers of inquisition to Dominican monks. Their mission was to root out heretics, confiscate property, and burn the unrepentant at the stake.

Purged by Fire: Heresy of the Cathars tells the stories of three people ensnared in the fatal complicities of the Inquisition. Isarn believes he has survived the wars by accepting the will of the pope and the French rule until Marsal, a child he once rescued from Crusaders, arrives on his doorstep, forcing him to question every conciliation he has ever made. Marsal has lost everything to the Inquisition. Raised to always turn the other cheek, she is ready now to fight for what the Church has stolen. Chretien, a nobleman dispossessed by the French, can barely recall his life before Marsal. Condemned and hunted by the Church, they escape to the mountain fortress of Monts├ęgur. Here, as the forces of the Inquisition lay siege to their place of refuge, Chretien and Marsal must make one final choice, between life and love or death and faith.


Main characters include Isarn Benet, a man who seems to have made his peace with life and is only looking for happiness. He has participated in a lot of events relating to the Albigensian Crusades and has a secret that he wants to tell Chretien before his time comes. Marsal is a young lady who secretly was raised by her own grandmother and she goes through a lot of pain and heartache to become whom she is. She also crushes quite a bit on Chretien and has an adventurous spirit. Chretien a young man who sacrifices whatever he can into the cause he believes in and also has his own secrets that he must reveal to Isarn and Marsal.


Life is not simple


Its written in both third and first person narrative. First person narrative are the interchangeable chapters between that of Marsal and Isarn, while the third person narrative belongs to Chretien. I do honestly feel as if there should have been more of Chretien in the book because he seems to be the strongest voice, while Marsal and Isarn were not as strong as he. The timeline of the story is a bit skewed because I'm not sure when the story finishes: does it finish in 1237 or 1244? (and yes, there is a big difference as to when it finishes and why its confusing.) I'm not sure how to make it sound without spoils, but its not a light fluffy read, and its a far more darker read than I anticipated, even much more darker than Romeo and Juliet.

Author Information:
(From France book Tours)


purged-by-fire-diane-bonavistDiane Bonavist’s fiction
has appeared in Tiferet Journal,
The Milo Review, Fable Online,
and The RavensPerch.
She is a former Editor in chief of Tiferet Journal.
Her other novels are  Daughters of Nyx,
a mystery of ancient Greece and Waters and the Wild,
a multi-generational story set in the Hudson River Valley,
both to be published in 2017. 
Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter
Subscribe to her newsletter


When I took a class on Crusades, we studied a little bit of Albigensian Crusades where the pope declared a Crusade against a group known as Cathars. Considering that I learnt this in Crusades class and not when I took Medieval Ages, I doubt that many people know or have heard about Albigensian Crusades. I'll be honest in saying that when it comes to christian faiths, all of them are quite a bit beyond me, besides in how the scriptures are interpreted. As I recall, the Albigensian Crusades are very controversial, especially for back then because its not against Muslims or Jews that the Crusades were called against, but they were called against christians who thought a bit differently than Catholics. Now that the brief history is over, on to the story. Although I should have connected with the story well and should have been able to relate to the characters or to their situation quite a bit, (persecution and not believing the same way that Catholics have,) I wasn't able to connect at all to the characters and even had difficulty understanding them. I'm really not sure why. I feel that the story tended to be disjointed and as a reviewer previously mentioned, I am not certain of the timeline because the story begins in 1234, but does it end in 1244 or 1237?

This is for France Book Tours


Friday, December 2
Spotlight + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Monday, December 5
Review by Denise
Tuesday, December 6
Review by Kristen
Thursday, December 8
Review at Svetlana’s reads and views
Friday, December 9
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at
Musings of a Writer & Unabashed Francophile
Monday, December 12
Review + Giveaway at A Book Geek
Wednesday, December 14
Review + Giveaway at The French Village Diaries

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G778 The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer's

Title of the book: The Stages of Grace: Life and Love in the Face of Alzheimer's

Author: Connie Ruben

Publisher: Xlibris

Publishing Date: 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4990-5347-0


This book was written in part to honor Grace Ruben as a profoundly important person, but it was also born of a desire to share with others who have loved ones with Alzheimer s disease what Connie Ruben experienced as Grace s caregiver and friend. Connie wanted to capture the emotions, the expected and unexpected issues, the painful times, as well as the humorous and loving moments that she and Grace have shared as a result of this disease. This book is not meant to be a handbook for dealing with Alzheimer s disease, but Ms. Ruben hopes that by sharing her feelings and experiences, readers may recognize that they are not alone on this particular journey.

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~

Meet the Author:

Connie Ruben is an entrepreneur with well developed management skills. She has run several large companies, and prides herself on empowering others to work to their full potential. Connie also has an intimate knowledge of the challenges and joys of caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, as her mother-in-law Grace was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. While Connie still struggles to balance her work life and home life, her understanding of this disease has made it easier for her to negotiate the demands of being a caregiver, as well as a wife, mother, and employer. She has written this book in order to share the insights she has gained as Grace’s primary caregiver and friend. Most importantly, Connie wants this book to assure others that caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be enjoyable, life-affirming, and emotionally significant.

Connect with the author: Website 

Personal Opinion:

I've had a difficult time reading this book. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter of Alzheimer's. One of my worst fears is developing this disease, and it is not an easy read or journey. One reason that I read this book is because someone I know might suffer from it, and I kind of wanted to see whether or not my suspicions are correct. I'm still not sure, but I'm beginning to think so. While reading the book, some things that I thought about include the parallels between seven stages of grief and the seven chapters in the book: the seven stages of grief are: shock or disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope. The topics that are covered in the chapters are: Grace, hindsight, insight, adaptability, negotiation, fallibility, and acceptance. The way the journey is written is linear rather than random, which means the reader sees Grace from the time she and the author meet to the current stage of Alzheimer's. What I also thought it interesting is how it seems like being a caretaker is similar to being a parent and the parallel of beginning and ending of life. (Young baby gains what someone with Alzheimer's loses.)

This is for iRead Book Tours


Nov 21 - Books for Books - book spotlight
Nov 21 - - review / giveaway
Nov 22 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Nov 23 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Nov 23 - Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight
Nov 24 - The Autistic Gamer - review
Nov 25 - Library of Clean Reads - author interview / giveaway
Nov 28 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 29 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Nov 30 - T's Stuff - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Dec 1 -    Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Dec 2 -    Collecting Moments - book spotlight / guest post
Dec 2 -    Readers Muse - review 
Dec 5 -    Bookaholic Banter - review / guest post
​Dec 6 -    Jessica Cassidy - review / author interview / giveaway
Dec 7 -    Corinne Rodrigues - review
Dec 8 -    My Life. One Story at a Time.- book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Dec 9 -    Over the hills and far away - review / giveaway
Dec 9 -    Svetlana's Reads and Views - review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I want to thank Naz at Read Diverse Books for tagging me to do this book tag :) I haven't done those, and I kind of am looking for an excuse to do one. so here we go! :D

eBooks or physical books?

Physical books of course! I understand the advantages of eBooks and understand their benefits, but I grew up with physical books, and I love having a physical book in my hand, turning the pages onward, seeing how much I have left to read, and how much progress I have made. Also as well, my father is a huge eBook fan, and he is not exactly the most understanding person when it comes to differences, thus physical books for me. 

Paperback or hardback?

Hmm, I think paperbacks. While I like hardbacks and all, and honestly, as long as the story is good what does it matter if the book is in hardback or paperback? I like the paperbacks because they're portable and easy to carry in a purse. Hardbacks, on the other hand, they're difficult to carry and fit into the purse. 

Online or in-store book shopping?
Unfortunately where I live bookstores tend to be far away, so online shopping. I used to love going to Half Price Books back in the day and just browsing and feeling the thrill of finding a book I was looking for, but because of where I live and my situation right now, amazon became my friend. 

Trilogies or series?
How about neither? I am one of those people that loves collecting series or books before even reading the first book! Thus I prefer stand-alone, true stand-alone novels. But if its either trilogies or series, then trilogies please because in some cases series can't carry on momentum and less money to spend on books. 

Heroes or villains?
Really, really hard to say. In most of the cases I will be rooting for the heroes, but there are books where I will root for the villain of the story. (Here's looking at you Raistlin Majere...) I also think it will have to depend on the type of book and the characters. If a hero is way too humanly perfect, then I will be rooting for the villain, but if there are flaws, then hero all the way. 


A book you want everyone to read?
The two that are in my head are Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford and The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford is an incredibly beautiful story of a young woman, Willow Frost who has to make a very tragic choice for her survival, and of the boy who suspects that Willow Frost may be his mother. I found myself being able to relate and to understand Willow Frost. 

The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman, simply put, Holocaust and vampires. (Sounds tempting, doesn't it?) Its also incredibly vivid, beautiful and much to mine surprise, it aligned very well with a story that I was struggling to begin. Oddly enough, after reading this book, it's as if something has clicked and at least I have beginning for my story. (Still need to continue to write though.) 

Recommend an underrated book
Way too many once more. I tend to read a lot of hidden gems that will go nicely into this category, but I would really recommend A Light in the Cane Fields by Enrico Antiporda. Why? It's self published, almost got a five star rating from me, and it also introduces the reader to Phillipino culture. I love how vivid the story is, and how compelling the characters are. 

The last book you finished?
Possibly The Boy Who Wanted Wings by James Conroyd Martin which I will review a little bit later on the blog. The story has AM/WF pairing, in terms of Aleksy Gazdecki, a young Tatar archer and Krystyna who is tomboyish and will do what she can to be with Aleksy. 

Used books, yes or no?
Used books, of course! If I didn't use used books, I'd be broke. I always feel that as long as the book is complete with no missing pages, what does it matter if its used or not? All that matters to me is the story and nothing else. 

Top three favorite genre?
Well, historical fiction, multicultural literature and women's fiction, although I am open to trying out some other fiction. 

I've always had passion for history because I feel that in order to understand the world we live in, we must be acquainted with the history that preceded the world, thus I love historical fiction and discovering different time periods as well as interesting authors. 

I also am an ethnic white (which means I'm not a WASP) and I have to say that I love reading and understanding how people different than I think and feel about things. Its also cool to find books where I can relate and understand what the characters are going through because it makes me feel less alone. 

Women's fiction is because yes, I am a woman and its easy for me to relate to the stories and its easy for me to lose myself in the stories as well. In the past I did try reading masculine genres, but found myself unable to relate to them. 

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

At one point years ago, I used a perfume strip for books because I was told that the perfume strips make the books have fragrances. (Was true.) 

Borrow or buy?

Buy please. This one I'm not really sure how to explain, but there is something about the book that one owns with no obligation to return. I understand the benefits of libraries, but I feel its not the same thing. 

Characters or plot?

How about both? Characters have to be well-written in order for me to enjoy the story, yet the plot has to be believable in order for me to like the stories as well. Let's also say it this way: I don't want a book longer than necessary due to descriptions of characters or the plot because both make and break the story. 

Long or short book?
Currently, long books. I love having big books provided that they're well written and well told. I enjoy short books as well, but recently I began to read long books. Longest books I have with me that are in my head? The Tale of Genji three different versions translated by three different authors, Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo, and The Dream of the Red Chamber divided into five volumes. 

Long or short chapters?
Short chapters please. I'm a busy person and I tend to be a completest. I like short chapters because I can read it and move on to another story. I cannot do the same with long chapters unfortunately. 

Name the first three books you think of

Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin-it tends to pop into my mind a lot because I love the story and enjoyed reading multiple times ever since I got it. 

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe- A book that was written in 1700s and that has a long and leisurely pace along with lots of vocabulary if you're looking to practice SATs or befuddle family members.

The Foreign Student by Susan Choi-Whenever I think of that book, I am often reminded of my first love, of the time I met him as well as lost him. Unfortunately I also am reminded of someone I know that strongly resembles the male character who is not my first love. 

Books that make you laugh or cry?

Books that I end up reading a lot of times are ones that are sad and in some cases will make me cry. I do enjoy reading books that make me laugh and I will remember them fondly, but ones that I end up choosing are ones where the reader is asked to shed tears. 

Our world of fictional worlds?

I think the 'of" must have been a typo. Depends on the fictional world to be honest. Romance? please sign me up for that fictional world. History? Maybe, maybe not, depends on the topic and how well the ethnic minorities were treated there. (I really don't want to live in a time where I might be despised for my knowledge). I'm not a fan of the real world. 

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Sometimes yeah. A cover is what causes the reader to investigate the story. Its hard for me to find covers ugly though. 

Audiobooks: yes or no?

No, sorry. I guess I'm an audio-visual person, and I need to see the book and read it along with the audio which probably defeats the purpose of audio books. I simply can't stand still and do nothing but must always do something. (Might explain why movies and shows are difficult for me to watch...)

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

Neither perhaps. Books I tend to enjoy are ones that will not be movies or TV adaptations. And anyways, I will be using the time to watch movie to discover more reads and perhaps watch a Korean drama or two. 

A movie or TV adaptation you preferred to the book?

None, really. I'm not big on watching movies, and books I love and enjoy will never be movies. 

Series or standalone?

Standalone, standalone. As I mentioned previously, I don't like getting just one book and would often preffer to finish the series before starting the books. Standalone will allow me to relax and not think about getting the next book. 

Thanks once more Naz and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know me more! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

G736 Book Review of the book of Esther by Emily Barton

Name of Book: The Book of Esther

Author: Emily Barton

ISBN: 978-1-101-90409-1

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books

Type of book: alternative history, Khazar Jews, WWII, Esther retelling, female to male transgender character, Hitler, Judaism, meaning of life, spiritualism, Kabbalah, gender roles, desert, journey, path, Khazaria

Year it was published: 2016


What if an empire of Jewish warriors that really existed in the Middle Ages had never fallen—and was the only thing standing between Hitler and his conquest of Russia?

Eastern Europe, August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania—and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad.

After years of Jewish refugees streaming across the border from Europa, fleeing the war, Germania launches its siege of Khazaria. Only Esther, the daughter of the nation’s chief policy adviser, sees the ominous implications of Germania's disregard for Jewish lives. Only she realizes that this isn’t just another war but an existential threat. After witnessing the enemy warplanes’ first foray into sovereign Khazar territory, Esther knows she must fight for her country. But as the elder daughter in a traditional home, her urgent question is how.

Before daybreak one fateful morning, she embarks on a perilous journey across the open steppe. She seeks a fabled village of Kabbalists who may hold the key to her destiny: their rumored ability to change her into a man so that she may convince her entire nation to join in the fight for its very existence against an enemy like none Khazaria has ever faced before.

The Book of Esther is a profound saga of war, technology, mysticism, power, and faith. This novel—simultaneously a steampunk Joan of Arc and a genre-bending tale of a counterfactual Jewish state by a writer who invents worlds “out of Calvino or Borges” (The New Yorker)—is a stunning achievement. Reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, The Book of Esther reaffirms Barton’s place as one of her generation’s most gifted storytellers.


Main characters include Esther who happens to be daughter of one of the high officials and is best described as tomboyish and someone who wants to break through the shackles and isn't afraid of challenges. She is a young woman who will be getting married very soon. Itakh is a young boy who is Esther's adopted brother and despite that status he is treated as a slave. It is thought that he is Uighur. Amit is a young kabbalist who is very strict with rules and who has a secret that might help Esther accomplish her mission. Shimon is Esther's fiance and despite Esther's antics, he still likes her.


Its possible for anyone to be hero


The story is in third person narrative from Esther's point of view. Life in the desert as well as in Khazar was a bit foreign for me, but it also is enjoyable. I also think that the reader needs some understanding of Judaism in order to enjoy the story because quite a number of things are not explained within the text, and I can imagine that those who don't know anything will get lost in the story and will be uncertain as to what is going on.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

Emily Barton is the authro of Brookland and The Testament of Yves Gundron, which were both selected as nerw York Times Notable Books. SHe has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Her essays, short stories, and reviews have appeared in Story, Conjunctions, The Massachusetts Review, Tablet, an THe New York Times Book Review, among amny other publications. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and sons.


From reading some of the previous reviews, I got an impression that I wouldn't like the book, and I had these expectations as well: I won't like the book. I think this is the first time I read an alternative history book, and its one of the few times that I enjoyed science fiction story. I am saddened that people are not familiar with Judaism and they have no desire to change, which is why the book received negative reviews from a lot of people. I admit that the story is more similar to The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker, although it doesn't surpass The Golem and the Djinni. The story has adventure, some romance, and lots of philosophy about the nature of Golems and their desires as well as trying to find a balance between being a slave and being free, the role of women and what they can and cannot do and also that of them as the rulers.

I won this at LibraryThing

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of The Autobiography of Henry VIII with Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George

Name of Book: The Autobiography of Henry VIII, with notes by his fool, Will Somers

Author: Margaret George

ISBN: 978-0-312-19439-0

Publisher: St Martin's Griffin

Type of book: Henry VIII, Tudors, 1494-1557, England, France, wars, wives, heirs, children, family, companions, Catholicism, breaking away from church, Protestant, Oliver Cromwell, Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, Katherine Parr, surviving, adoration

Year it was published: 1986


This is the story of England's most famous, and notorious, king.

Henry was a charismatic, ardent - and brash - young lover who married six times; a scholar with a deep love of poetry and music; an energetic hunter who loved the outdoors; a monarch whose lack of a male heir haunted him incessantly; and a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His monumental decision to split from Rome and the Catholic Church was one that would forever shape the religious and political landscape of Britain.

Combining magnificent storytelling with an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, Margaret George delivers a vivid portrait of Henry VIII and Tudor England and the powerhouse of players on its stage: Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. It is also a narrative told from an original perspective: Margaret George writes from the King's point of view, injecting irreverent comments from Will Somers - Henry's jester and confidant.


There are a whole lot of characters, and although its impossible to summarize all of them, I will focus on some important ones: Henry VIII is the second son and he is inadequately prepared in being a king. He is loyal, does his best to keep the promises he makes and often wants to be approved and well liked for being himself. He is also extremely athletic and enjoys jousting as well as being independent. Wolsey is Henry VIII's advisor and in the book he strikes me as someone who worships Henry VIII, even giving up his own children just to be in the king's service. He is extremely efficient and lives to serve Henry VIII and also enjoys comforts and court life. Katherine  of Aragon is Henry VIII's first wife from Spain and she is a bit like Wolsey in that she is loyal to Henry VIII no matter the circumstances and is very stubborn to changes.  Anne Boleyn is Henry VIII's mistress and is best described as a shrew (in the book how Henry VIII sees her) and otherworldly. I also think that she was misunderstood by Henry VIII. Jane Seymour is the third wife who gave birth Henry VIII's son and she is sweet. Anne of Cleves is seen as ugly by Henry VIII but she enjoys his friendship. Catherine Howard is Anne Boleyn's cousin and is seen in a bit similar view as Anne Boleyn. Katherine Parr is seen the same way as Jane Seymour and serves more as a companion rather than a lover. Few other characters are Oliver Cromwell who seems to be a bit like Wolsey minus the wealth and being ostentatious, then there is Charles Brandon who is also Henry VIII's longtime friend and is always there for him.


There is more to someone than their reputation


The story is told in first person narrative from Henry VIII's point of view, although once in a while Will Somers, the Fool, interjects or clears up a misconception that Henry VIII presented. This is a very raw and emotional account of a king that is more well known for having six wives and breaking with church rather than someone who did his best to push England into Renaissance and who was determined to be everything his father was not. Henry VIII is not boring and yes, there is far more to him than six wives and desire for a son as he has multiple burdens to fulfill; that of pulling England out of the dark ages and to be as cultural as France; that of establishing the Tudor Dynasty which began with his great-grandfather, a man of Welsh ancestry, and to also try to be people's beloved and have different reputation than his father. In the book, Henry VIII ends up as a misunderstood and tragic figure that is beset by all too common humanity and he ends up being known for things he'd rather not be known for.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Margaret George, who lives in Madison Wisconsin, comes from a Southern basckground and has traveled extensively. After reading numerous novels that viewed Henry VIII through the eyes of his enemies and victims, she became determined to let Henry speak for himself, and it took fifteen years, about three hundred books of background reading, three visits to England to see every extant building associated with Henry, and five handwritten drafts for her to answer the question: what was Henry really like?

She is also the author of two other highly acclaimed novels, Mary Queen of Soctland and the Isle and The Memoirs of Cleopatra


Prior to reading this book, I was indifferent to Tudors and often felt frustrated that Henry VIII and his six wives dominated the historical fiction. (Honestly, there is much more to history than England and Tudor era...) Henry VIII, sadly enough, is only best known for his six wives and very little for other things, which is how everyone today remembers him: six wives because he was very desperate for a son. Reading this book really changed my view of Tudors and helped me understand Henry VIII's enduring popularity; why he is far more known than his predecessors and descendants. Its a majestic tome of his life, loves and views that I hope will become as popular as Gone with the Wind (I don't compare books to Gone with the Wind, but I do believe that I will make an exception in this case.) Despite the length of 900 plus pages, the reader is never bored and somehow the book isn't overwhelming with characters or specific events. What is also remarkable is that how I felt as if I was in a room together with Henry VIII, hearing him talk about his life to the reader and getting a deeper understanding at the forces that pushed him to do what he had done. Towards the ending, the author does acknowledge the reader's feelings, especially when it comes to exhaustion of going through four wives, and she addresses these feelings eloquently. If you love Gone with the Wind, please give this book a try. It's not something the reader will regret.

This was self purchased

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 2016

Purged by fire heresy of the Cathars- Diane BonavIst
SR: November 29th 2016
FR: December 8th 2016
A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
Wanna-be's- Mark Connelly
SR: December 8th 2016
For the love of meat- Jenny Jaeckel
SR: December 7th 2016
When Adam opens his eyes- Jang Jung-IL
SR: November 19th 2016
The Brothers path- Martha Kennedy
SR: November 30th 2016
The glorious heresies- Lisa McInerney
SR: November 30th 2016
The claws of the cat - Susan Spann
SR: September 4th 2016

Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
I'm OK, you're a pain in the ass...a love story- DR. J.M. Chamberlain, MPV
SR: October 28th 2016
The Stages of Grace; life and love in the face of Alzheimer's - Carrie Ruben and Kate O'Neill
SR: November 28th 2016
FR: December 7th 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

G675 Book Review of Rina by Kang Young-sook

Name of Book: Rina (Rina)

Author: Kang Young-Sook, Kim Boram (Translator)

ISBN: 978 1 62897 115 6

Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

Type of book: North Korea, China, concrete, prostitution, sex, friendship, loyalty, sacrificing life, murder, modern times, chemicals, progress

Year it was published: 2015 (originally in 2011)


Rina is a defector from a country that might be North Korea, traversing an "empty and futile" landscape. Along the way, she is forced to work at a chemical plant, murders a few people, becomes a prostitute, runs a lucrative bar, and finds a solace in a motley family of wanderers all as disenfranchised as she. Brutal and unflinching, with elements of the mythic and grotesque interspersed with hard-edged realism, Rina is a pioneering work of Korean postmodernism.


Main characters include Rina, a young woman who is sixteen in beginning and is from the country of M (maybe North Korea?) who is traveling to the country of P (possibly China, I would guess?) with her family. She is a pathological liar, someone who cannot or is unable to connect to people easily, but at the same time she shows a very strange loyalty to an old woman who cannot take care of herself as well as to Pii and the girl from the sewing factory. The old woman was a singer whom Rina had met and seems to have nine lives of the cat. Pii is Rina's friend/son/lover and he is definitely the oddest in the small group and I'm not sure what to make of him.


There is little to no mobility in life


The story is in third person narrative from Rina's point of view. What really stands out in my mind is when Rina was living in the city that focused on nothing but the people working endlessly, much to the detriment of their lives, ultimately. I also found the story of when she was living in a prostitution town a sort of utopia, which was odd because one would think honest work would give dignity and respect and goodwill, but it seemed as if the author decided to reverse the two; prostitution town is the one where one can be happy, and the concrete town equals unhappiness.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Kang Young-Sook was born in Chuncheon, Gangwondo, and graduated from the Seoul Institute of the Arts. She attended the University of Iowa's International Writing Program and ahs served as an advisory member of the Korea Dialogue Academy since 1990

Kim Boram was born in Massachusetts. Her first translated work was Kim Yeon-su's shrot story "The Five Pleasures of Walking." SHe is currently working toward her PhD in English at UCLA


I'm not sure if I understood the story correctly, or if I get what is going on. Yes, I have read the book from cover to cover. and while I understood some of the messages and story that the author was attempting to tell, namely that of the life the immigrants from a third world country experience when they come over to either first or third world country, but I feel as if its not enough. When I read it, I felt as if I was reading of something about death and concrete where life of third world immigrants mixed in an ugly mixture, because that's what the book and the story felt: ugly. Not in language or stylistic sense, but in deeds and the feeling of hopelessness that permeated the story. There seemed very little beauty and much ugliness among the people as well as how the third world immigrants with little to no voice were used by others with lofty aspirations.

This was given to me by Dalkey Archive for an honest review

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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