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.)

G766 Book Review of Roma amor by Sherry Christie

Name of Book: Roma Amor

Author: Sherry Christie

ISBN: 9780692596326

Publisher: Bexley House

Type of book: Rome, Italy, 37 ME, Caligula, politics, daily life, slavery, survival, soldier, captives, ruling, guilt, conscience, Germany

Year it was published: 2016


How far will a father go to keep an old promise?
And how far will a son go to obey him?

Riding home from the Danube frontier, Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he passes his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son—Caligula’s closest friend—committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by fighting Rome's enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father calls him home to befriend and steady the erratic Caligula, he has no choice.

Swept into a labyrinth of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal reaching from Palatine mansions to the city’s grimy, teeming streets, Marcus will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.


Main characters include Marcus Carinna, a second son of the Carinna family who recently has lost his older brother and he is trying to cope with multiple roles at once: that of being a dutiful son towards his father and following his father's desires, then trying to do Caligula's bidding, dealing with his feelings towards a captive woman as well as his brother's death and his own needs which seem to come tertiary if at all. Caligula is best described as feral yet strongly haunted by what happened to him and the life he has led. The other characters are women, Aurima, a young priestess who can see the spirit world and desires to return back to her homeland as well as Marcus's older brother's fiancee, Julia Livilla who has her own secrets, and then Marcus's twin sister who also has her own needs and desires that are unfulfilled.


A man sometimes has little to no realization of how women and others play in politics


The story is in first person narrative from Marcus's point of view. If one doesn't know a lot or much about the Roman empire, I imagine the reader will be quite a bit shocked by some of the casual attitudes the Romans had towards slaves, women and so forth. The author doesn't make any apologies about it, and, it seems, as if the main character, has little to no realization of the role women play in politics and whatever else. For me the excitement was towards the end.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)


About the Author03_Sherry Christie

After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. She considers it “a joy” to immerse herself in the lives of first-century Romans—and a distinct change from her day job as a professional copywriter. She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.
For more information, please visit Sherry Christie’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.

I honestly feel as if I should go back and re-read Suetonius's Lives of Twelve Caesars, in particular the section about Caligula. I am not really sure what genre the book might fit into, because from the summary I got an impression it might be a political thriller, which it was, but I also thought from reading it sounds almost like a historical mystery, and in a way it was, as the reader and the unwilling participant Marcus Carinna are tasked with less than enviable duties of becoming Caligula's best friend as well as figuring out the identity of the mysterious man who is writing lampoons of the current Caesar. There are also issues with a captive woman from Germany that is used as a hostage, and dealing with death of an older brother. From reading the book, its highly obvious that a lot of research was done and that the author was highly comfortable with the world. I think what did seem to be the issue for me is that there was way too much going on at once and it was a bit difficult in keeping track of the plots and their eventual endings.

For HFVBT Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 24
Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 25
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, October 28
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Monday, October 31
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, November 1
Review at Bookfever
Wednesday, November 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, November 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, November 7
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, November 9
Review at Bookramblings
Review at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, November 10
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads
Friday, November 11
Review at Beth’s Book Nook
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

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.)

E Reading G797 Simply Dickens

Title of the book: Sipmly Dickens

Author: Paul Schlicke

Publisher: Simply Charly

Publishing Date: 2016



The quintessential Victorian author, Charles Dickens not only created some of the most vivid characters in English classic literature, but he also lived his own life with a zest and drama that were novelistic in their intensity. In Simply Dickens, author Paul Schlicke explores the fascinating link between Dickens the writer and Dickens the person—a dynamic and driven social reformer who worked to improve the living conditions of the poor.

Paul Schlicke is the author of Dickens and Popular Entertainment and the editor of the Oxford Companion to Charles Dickens, and has served as president of the Dickens Society and the Dickens Fellowship, and as chairman of the trustees of the Charles Dickens Museum. Prior to his retirement in 2010, he taught English at the University of Aberdeen for 40 years.

Author Info:

Paul Schlicke, an internationally renowned Dickens scholar, celebrates 200 years since the birth of one of Britain's most popular authors. He draws together an unparalleled diversity of information on one of Britain's greatest writers, covering his life and work, He throws new and often unexpected light on the most familiar of Dickens's works, and explores the experiences, events, and literature which influenced him.

Personal Opinion:

Seriously a delightful and persuasive read in giving Charles Dickens a try. I'm not a Dickens fan thus the bigger challenge is persuading someone who doesn't care about Dickens, nor likes him into giving him a try, which this book almost did, successfully. Few years back I tried to read two of Dickens' books, namely A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Unfortunately I didn't like either of the books, but reading the book gave me understanding into how and why he remains such a popular and well known author. Maybe in the future I might be persuaded into giving him another try, but not now.

This was given to me by publisher

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.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

G777 David travels to the past- Martinez de Antonana and Mosquera

Title of the book: David Travels to the Past

Author: Martinez De Antonana & Mosquera

Publisher: Saure Publisher

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-84-16197-69-9


David is a young and restless apprentice painter who wants to know everything about painting.

His intelligent teacher, the Master Messina, invents a way of transporting David through time to the prehistory. They go there looking for the origins of art, but once they are there nothing will be as they thought. In a second adventure they travel towards the unknown art of Mesopotamia. This time they won't go alone. The sympathetic and intelligent Angela will travel to the past with them bringing her particular point of view.

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:

​USA: Amazon  ~  Kindle ~  Barnes & Noble

​UK: Amazon  ~ Kindle

Australia: Fishpond  ~  Booktopia ~ Kindle

Meet the Author and Illustrator:

María José is a teacher. She won international illustrations awards.
Gonzalo has a degree in art history. He works in museums and as a tourist guide.

Connect with them: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook ~ Pinterest

Personal Opinion:

I imagine that this book might be good for those that are reluctant readers as well as for those who rely either on comics or graphic novels to read and be interested in things. I haven't tested this book yet to see if my son might enjoy it (seven months) but I hope in the future he'll like it. I do think that a lot of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the story, yet it's designed for middle readers, those in fifth grade or up, and one can learn a lot about art and the way it was back then, which I've found fascinating and many things I haven't known before. I hope that in the future I get a chance to read further adventures of David.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Nov 14 - 
Library of Clean Reads - publisher spotlight / giveaway
Nov 15 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Nov 16 - And the Buck Starts Here - review
Nov 16 - Books, Dreams, Life - review / giveaway
Nov 17 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Nov 18-  Blooming with Books - review / giveaway
Nov 21 - Svetlana's reads and views - review
Nov 22 - Life as Leels - review
Nov 23 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / giveaway
Nov 24 - Laura's Interests - review / giveaway
Nov 25 - Dab of Darkness - review / giveaway
Nov 28 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Nov 29 - Books for Books - review / giveaway
Nov 30 - Books Reviews, Nature Photos, and Everything in Between - review
Nov 30 - Writer with Wanderlust - review / giveaway
Dec 1 -    Nighttime Reading Center - review / giveaway
Dec 2 -    KC Beanie Boos Collection - review / giveaway
TBD   -     Reading Authors - review / giveaway

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.)

G779 THere's a bumbie under my bed!- Bethany Ramos, Emiliano Billai

Title of the book: There's a Bumbie Under My Bed!

Author: Bethany Ramos, Emiliano Billai

Publisher: Saturn's Moon Press

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 9780997536362


There’s a Bumbie Under My Bed tells the story of a boy who can’t go to sleep because of all the monster bunnies keeping him up at night. Told in the first-person narrative, the little boy delays bedtime, using his flashlight and hand to create scary and silly bunny shadow puppets on the wall. According to the boy, friendly, spooky characters like the Bumbie (bunny zombie), Were-bunny (werewolf bunny), Bunny-stein (bunny Frankenstein), and Count Hop-ula come to visit him in the night. At the end of the book, his mother comforts him to sleep by telling him to let his imagination rest — and put the flashlight away.

Author Info:
(From Pump up your book)


Meet the Author

Bethany Ramos is a children’s book author, editor, and blogger. She is a regular contributor to Bethany’s first children’s book, Lions Can’t Eat Spaghetti, was published through 4RV Publishing in 2016. Her second children’s book, There’s a Bumbie Under My Bed, was published by Saturn’s Moon Press, also in 2016. Her first chick lit novel, 5 Stages of Grief, was published by Black Opal Books in 2011; her second chick lit novel, Adventure to Love, was published by Soul Mate Publishing in 2013.
Bethany works as Editor in Chief for Naturally Healthy Publications.


Personal Opinion:

I have a seven month old boy, but I would guess right now he's too little to understand the concept of monsters underneath my bed. While the colors seem to be frightening, especially the countless monsters that want to play with the little boy, I would imagine that the story might be a good counter-suit to terrible and horrible monsters. Perhaps as well the story will encourage imagination and tend to "humanize" the monsters.

This is for Pump Up Your Book

Tour Schedule

Monday, October 31 – Book Featured at What Is That Book About?
Wednesday, November 2 – Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Thursday, November 3 – Book Featured at Books, Reviews, ETC.
Monday, November 7 – Book Review at Chick With Books
Monday, November 14 – Book Review at fundinmental
Friday, November 18 – Book Review at The Blended Blog
Monday, November 21 – Book Review at fuonlyknew
Tuesday, November 22 – Book Review at Laura’s Interests
Wednesday, November 23 – Book Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, November 28 – Book Review at 3 Partners in Shopping
Wednesday, November 30 – Book Review at Sara’s Organized Chaos

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.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

G764 the can't-idates: running for president when nobody knows your name

Title of the book: the can't-idates: running for president when nobody knows your name

Author: Craig Tomashoff

Publisher: Bobtimystic Books

Publishing Date: 2015

ISBN: 9780692606377


“A wonderful look at the personalities on the fringe of Presidential politics & the mind of Craig Tomashoff, who's drawn to them.” - Madeline Smithberg, co-creator of The Daily Show

“Citizens have a responsibility to be part of the election process. And here’s a little read to help you along with that. - Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chairperson

“Add to your reading list.” - David Duchovny, famous actor man

“If someone like Malcolm Gladwell or David Sedaris had written this book (and Craig, in my opinion, is just as good a writer—certainly wittier, well as witty as David) I imagine it would have hit the bestseller lists by now…The book is great. If you love This American Life, you're bound to enjoy The Can't-idates.” - Liz Alexander, author, GoodReads

The 2016 presidential campaign is one for the history books. And not necessarily in a good way. Donald Trump constantly seems to be saying things that even your drunk uncle wouldn’t utter at Thanksgiving dinner. Hillary Clinton has trust issues that leave many voters feeling more comfortable dealing with a Nigerian prince. This is an election that is truly one table flip away from becoming a reality show, and one of the few ways to find something positive in it all is to read The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name.

Author Info:
(From goodreads)

Former People Magazine and New York Times journalist Craig Tomashoff was as unhappy as the rest of the country with our mainstream choices for president. Eager to find someone new worth voting for, he traveled 10,000 miles across America to meet some of the more than1800 average citizens who have filed their paperwork to run for the highest office in the land. The Can’t-idates is a very personal chronicle of that journey. It was a trip that renewed his faith in people and politics, as well as becoming a book that captures the humor and heart of an America that the press and the politicians have forgotten about.

Personal Opinion:

Most unfortunately, I am reviewing the book a week too late, when results of that divisive election are well known and are either condemned or celebrated by people around the US as well as some around the world. Despite that, a lot of interesting points are brought up and explored with focusing on people who are unlikely to win the election; what do we want from our presidential candidates? Why is it we say one thing but always go against our words? Why are elites in control of everything? I'm not advocating anarchy, but I am hoping that this year's election will teach us all something about ourselves.

This was given to me by an author

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.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Around the World in 7 Books

This is something I will do for fun: I picked out 7 books that take place in different continents and these books are ones I haven't read before.

Africa: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“Homegoing is an inspiration.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates 

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

(From the publisher's website)

What influenced me to choose this book is first of all the summary, the unique setting, and a wonderful review from readdiversebooks. Not to mention, this will be a unique take on the multigenerational saga that was popular few decades ago where one book covers a few generations. Hopefully this is something I will enjoy. I would like to thank my wonderful sister for the gift.

Antarctica: The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick 

One Day meets The Time Traveler's Wife in this spellbinding, magical debut novel about love, loss, hope and heartbreak that shows us that for each of us, the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets that illuminate the skies above us.

Róisín and François first meet in the snowy white expanse of Antarctica. And everything changes.

While Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland, ablaze with a passion for science and the skies and for all there is to discover about the world, François was raised by his beautiful young mother, who dreamt of new worlds but was unable to turn her back on her past.

As we loop back through their lives, glimpsing each of them only when a comet is visible in the skies above, we see how their paths cross as they come closer and closer to this moment.

Theirs are stories filled with love and hope and heartbreak, that show how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

First of all I won this book in goodreads, and I have a good feeling that this book will be similar to The Golem and the Djini which I've read a few years ago. Also as well, I don't have any books that are set in Antarctica and the summary does sound pretty fascinating, doesn't it?

Asia: A True Novel by Minae Mizumura

A remaking of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights set in postwar Japan

A True Novel begins in New York in the 1960s, where we meet Taro, a relentlessly ambitious Japanese immigrant trying to make his fortune. Flashbacks and multilayered stories reveal his life: an impoverished upbringing as an orphan, his eventual rise to wealth and success—despite racial and class prejudice—and an obsession with a girl from an affluent family that has haunted him all his life. A True Novel then widens into an examination of Japan’s westernization and the emergence of a middle class.

The winner of Japan’s prestigious Yomiuri Literature Prize, Mizumura has written a beautiful novel, with love at its core, that reveals, above all, the power of storytelling.

Simply put, I loved reading the Wuthering Heights,  and when I heard of this book, it piqued my curiosity a lot; a Japanese version of Wuthering Heights.

Australia: The Thorn Birds- Colleen McCullough

Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story's heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican...but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

I got the book at a library sale, and recently I acquired Masters of Rome series. Besides this book and another one, I don't have any fiction that is based on Australia.

Europe: Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George

She was a child crowned a queen; a sinner hailed as a saint; a lover denounced as a whore; a woman murdered for her dreams.

A fictional account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots traces her lineage and describes her childhood, marriages, and her historic fight with Elizabeth over the throne of England.

To be honest, I don't know anything about Mary Queen of Scots aside from her last years, and because it does take place in different European nations from Scotland to England and to France. I would like to learn more about her and see Queen Elizabeth in a not favorable light. 

North America: Sacagawea by Anna Lee Waldo

Clad in a doeskin, alone and unafraid, she stood straight and proud before the onrushing forces of America's destiny: Sacajawea, child of a Shoshoni chief, lone woman on Lewis and Clark's historic trek -- beautiful spear of a dying nation.

She knew many men, walked many miles. From the whispering prairies, across the Great Divide to the crystal capped Rockies and on to the emerald promise of the Pacific Northwest, her story over flows with emotion and action ripped from the bursting fabric of a raw new land.

Ten years in the writing, SACAJAWEA unfolds an immense canvas of people and events, and captures the eternal longings of a woman who always yearned for one great passion -- and always it lay beyond the next mountain. 

Because it takes place from East coast to West Coast and covers different states and places that the three journeyed. Not to mention, a definitely unique read I imagine about a less known heroine of the time.

South America: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:
Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God's own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven.

Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give, even in a novel so imbued with the rich imaginative potential of magic realism. But in a fractious world, Bel Canto remains a gentle reminder of the transcendence of beauty and love. --Victoria Jenkins

I am sort of looking for an excuse to read this book is one, and because I have heard many good things about it from other people.

Which book to start out with? Any ideas? Please post them here :D

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

G679 Book Review of Son Of Man by Yi Mun-Wol

Name of Book: Son of Man (Original title Saramui adeul)

Author: Yi Mun-Yol translated by Brother Anthony

ISBN: 978 1 62897 119 4

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Type of book: religion, faith, place of G-d in life, murder, mystery, killer, friendship, wandering, theologies, philosophies, magic, discovery, ancient times of Augustus, curses, different gods and goddesses

Year it was published: 2015 (original 1979)


One of the greatest living Korean writers here details the quest of a young seminary student seeking transcendence, running through many Western and East Asian theologies in the process. Deciding that Jesus was not truly "the son of man," the student sets out to create his own alternative to Christ, and winds up dead. Soon, the detective called in to solve the killing winds up with more than a simple murder on his hands, as this metaphysical mystery advances to its unforgettable climax.


The main characters include Sergeant Nam who is a police officer and who is tasked with finding out the killer of Min Yoseop and why the man was killed in the first place. If I'm not mistaken the Korean War has/had a significant impact on his life, although I do not recall how. Min Yoseop is a promising and talented young seminary student that explores the religious world and for one reason or another gets himself killed. Cho Dongpal is Min Yoseop's pupil and is best described as blinded towards the facts that Min Yoseop had realization of. Ahasuerus is a bright, talented young man who is a lapsed Jew and makes choices to discover more about the faith's roots. He wanders and yes, he does encounter jesus in the story and has very enlightening conversations with him.


According to the author, it's impossible to be without divine presence


The story is in third person narrative from Sergeant Nam's as well as Ahasuerus's point of view. It starts with a murder mystery of who killed a young seminary student followed by discovering his identity and then the story gets mixed with what the young student, Min Yoseop, begins to write of a lapsed Jew, Ahasuerus and his religious discoveries. The story then interweaves the two which creates a compelling angle because for one there is exposure to very daring hypothesis for both Jews and christians and the mystery also becomes fascinating as to who had done it and why. The author handles both angles very well and when I was apart from the book, I still remember the sentences and ideas that were introduced within the pages.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

Yi Mun-Yol was born in Seoul in 1948 and is the authro of numerous books, including Hail to the Emperor, Our Twisted Hero, and the novella Saehagok, which won the New Spring Literary Contest sponsored by Dong-a-Ilbo. He is among South Korea's most celebrated writers, and is currently a chari professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul

Born in England in 1942, Brother Anthony has lived in Korea since 1980. He is currently an emeritus professor of Sogang University and chari-professor of Dankook University. He has published over 30 volumes of translations, including Yi Mun-yol's The Poet


While I do not agree with the conclusions of the story, I did appreciate the behind-the-scenes and how faith has evolved throughout the ages and studies of Ahasuerus, a lapsed Jew who has become dis-illusioned with faith and began searching for the roots by trying out multiple faiths that are extinct today. I was a bit shocked at the behind-the-scenes of Judaism as well as the author's thoughts and hypothesis for latter half of Tanakh where Jews began to vanquish enemies. Unless the reader is prepared to have their faith shaken up, I don't think this is a book to read with a closed mind and I would recommend someone of open mind to read it. What I do strongly disagree are the conclusions that the main character, Min Yoseop, came up with because its possible to enjoy life and to simply exist without bringing faith into the equation, and I speak from a personal experience.

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

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.)

G769 Paris Nights my year at the Moulin Rouge

Title of the book: Paris Nights my year at the Moulin Rouge

Author: Cliff Simon, Loren Stephens

Publisher: Waldorf Publishing

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-19438492-8


Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge opens with a bored twenty six year old Cliff Simon staring out at the ocean from his beachfront house, wishing he was somewhere else. Gavin Mills telephones him from Paris inviting him to join him at the iconic Moulin Rouge. Cliff sells everything he owns, leaving Johannesburg, South Africa for the City of Lights. He learns that his spot at the Moulin is not guaranteed, and is forced to audition. Making the grade, "he is put into can can" school before he is allowed into the company. His adrenaline is pumping from excitement and fear, both of which he has faced before. Taking a look back we see twelve year old Cliff helming a racing dinghy in the midst of a thunderstorm on the Vaal River. His father yells at him not to be a sissy, and he brings the boat back to shore alone. We then travel to London with his family escaping the tumult of Apartheid. He trains for the Olympics, but drops out, enrolling in the South African military where he subjected to harsh treatment and name calling - Fokken Jood. After a honorable discharge, he works in cabaret at seaside resorts, and is recruited as a gymnast in a cabaret, where he realizes that the stage is his destiny. The memoir fast forwards to Cliff's meteoric rise at the Moulin from swing dancer to principal in "Formidable." Off stage he gets into fights with street thugs, hangs out with diamond smugglers, and has his pick of gorgeous women. With a year at the Moulin to his credit, doors open for him internationally and back in South Africa. He earns a starring role in "Egoli: Place of Gold," and marries his long-time girlfriend, Colette. On their honeymoon to Paris, Cliff says, "Merci Paris for the best year of my life."

Author Info:
(From France Book Tours)


Paris Nights Cliff Simon

Cliff Simon
is a well-known television actor,
born in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He appeared for 7 seasons on the sci-fi thriller,
Stargate as the evil Ba’al.
Some of his recent appearances
have been on CSI, 24,
the Americans, and in the film, Project Eden.
Paris Nights Loren StephensLoren Stephens
has been twice nominated for
the Pushcart Prize for the Best American Short Story,
and her essays and short stories
have appeared in the Los Angeles Times,
the Chicago Tribune, Peregrine,
the Montreal Review, to name a few.
Her novel “All Sorrows Can Be Borne,” set in Japan will be published in 2017.
Visit Cliff’s website and his fan page
Follow Cliff Simon: FacebookTwitter
Visit Loren’s website: Write Wisdom
Follow Loren Stephens: Facebook
Follow Waldorf Publishing on Twitter | on Facebook
Buy the book:  Amazon | Indiebound Barnes & Noble | Target 

Personal Opinion:

I'm sorry, but I didn't really get into the story as I should have. I have never been to Paris, although like others I heard plenty about Moulin Rouge and am curious about it. The memoir explores and decodes behind-the-scenes of late 1980s of Moulin Rouge and what it is like working there, which I've liked. However, the big negative in the story is the writing which falls more on tell rather than show. Although its a memoir, I didn't feel as if I got into or even understood Cliff Simon's personality and motivations. Even if fictionalized, I think I would have preferred to see the author more in the thick of things rather than just merely describing what has happened. What is also a bonus is the story of South Africa and of seeing what it is like being a religious minority in there.

This is for France Book Tours

Monday, October 24Review at Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, October 25Review + Giveaway by Denise
Wednesday, October 26Review by Risa
and also on The Next Chapter,
her brand newest blog
Thursday, October 27Review + Giveaway at ExUrbanis
Friday, October 28Review + Excerpt  + Giveaway at
Musings of a Writer & Unabashed Francophile
Sunday, October 30Review by Andrea
Monday, October 31Review + Giveaway by Selina
Tuesday, November 1stReview at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 2Spotlight + Giveaway at Words And Peace

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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