Saturday, February 25, 2017

Diverse Reads on my blog #5

As I check out the links on Naz's blog, I begin to realize the complications of diversity, and how broad the term it really is. For example, it's generally accepted that those who are not of European descent are considered 'diverse' as well as those who belong to LGBTQIAP community be they European or not. But then what about people who are European but are not of Catholic or Protestant descent? What of the people who immigrated here from somewhere outside the Western Europe but are of Eastern European descent? Would they be seen as diverse or not? Eastern Europe and Western Europe are different in terms of history, traditions and even in the way Christianity celebrated; the Western Europe being Catholic while Eastern Europe is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. (Heck, there are two different calendars for the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.)

What I realized is that we are all fighting for the same goal: to be seen and recognized as an individual rather than a stereotype or caricature of our background.

This post will also feature the first Allies of Diversity post which will promote authors of European/American descent.

Blast from the Past: Diverse Authors

The Golden Days by Cao Xueqin (Chapters 1-26 out of 120)

The story of the stone (c.1760), also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber, is one of the greatest novels of Chinese literature. THe first part of the story, The Golden Days, begins the tale of Bao-yu, a gentle young boy who prefers girls to Confucian studies, and his two cousins: Bao-Chai, his parents' choice of a wife for him, and the ethereal beauty Dai-yu. Through the changing fortunes of the Jia family, this rich, magical work sets worldly events-love affairs, sibling rivalries, political intrigues, even murder-within the context of the Buddhist understanding that earthly existence is an illusion and karma determines the shape of our lives.

Why It's Diverse: In total, China has about four great classics; the Three Kingdoms, the Water Margin, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber (Hong Lou Meng). This is a famous Chinese classic in other words, and it pays careful and particular attention to the way women lived and functioned in China of 1700s, a hundred or more years before the Opium Wars and Europeans came over.

The Tao of Sex by Jade Lee

Discovering that she's a Tantric sex goddess has given Tracy Williams a new mantra: more, more, more...And the source of that divine revelation is her hunky Chinese-born erotica instructor. When her yin bumps up against his yang, she's literally communing with heaven. Now that he has awoken her inner power, Nathan Gao is obligated to bring Tracy to the sacred Hong Kong temple for a life of training and devotion. No matter how much he wants her for himself. But when he makes her choose-sex or love-is he ready for the consequences?

Why It's Diverse: The author is half Chinese/half American, Chinese on her mother's side, and American on her father's side. This is also a more erotic story and it's sort of a followup to her famous Tigress Sextet. 



Alone in exotic Chungking, beautiful foreign correspondent Stephanie Ryder is warned to keep silent about the atrocities she witnesses in the city’s teeming slums. Defying a brutal Kuomintang officer, she is swept to an electrifying first meeting with Dr. Jen Yong, a handsome, dedicated and compassionate Chinese surgeon. For Yong, a sexual liaison with an American woman could mean a death sentence. For Stephanie, an affair with an Asian man would cause an irreparable breach with her Texas millionaire father. But just when danger threatens to separate them forever, their passion bursts into flame…and carries them on a fabulous romantic journey from the stormy depths of fear and desire, to the moving affirmation that enduring love is truly a many-splendored thing.

Why It's Diverse: The author is half Chinese and half European, Chinese on her father's side and Belgium from her mother's side. This book also acted as my very first introduction into the possibility of Asian male/white female relationships and it's also a book where I could literally see myself for hte first time in the story. It's rich in recent Chinese history, and the husband, Jen En-Yong is portrayed as an actual human being rather than a stereotype or a caricature. In fact, both whites and Asians are portrayed in a positive manner. 

Blast from the Past: Allies of Diversity

North China Lover by Marguerite Duras

Hailed in France as "an incomparable pleasure," Marguerite Duras's newest novel is a fascinating retelling of the dramatic experiences of her adolescence that have shaped her work. Far more daring and truthful than any book she has written before, it emphasizes the realities of her youth in Indochina nad reveals much that her earlier works concealed. An instant number-one bestseller in France, The North CHina Lover both shocks and entrances its readers. Initially written as notes toward a film-script for The Lover, the book has the grainy, filmic qualties of a documentary. For all who admired Duras's previous work, here is an exciting and unexpected reading of her past-a work the French critics called a return to "the Duras of the great books and the great days."

What Diversity it has: While technically the author is French, she might be considered a minority of sorts in Vietnam. This story is semi-autobiographical about when she takes up with a Chinese lover, and its a companion book to The Lover by the same author (Yes, the infamous movie with Jane March and Tony Leung Ka-fai) What I did appreciate is the picture of the Vietnam that she paints.

Chenxi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin

When Anna travels to Shanghai to study traditional Chinese painting, she's determined to immerse herself in the local culture- unlike her businessman father, who sticks to a community of Westerners. As an innocent new arrival, Anna spends time with Chenxi, the good-looking and aloof classmate who is her student guide, and is soon forced to recognize that it's much harder to escape being a wai guo ren- a foreigner- than she expected. WHen she unwittingly draws the attention of officials to Chenxi and his radical artist friends, she must face the terrible price of her actions. A deeply felt love story filled with raw emotion, cultural collisions, and memorable characters, Chenxi and the Foreigner offers an unrestrained look at the limits on freedom in the repressive atmosphere of 1980s China.

What Diversity it has: I liked that the character of Anna felt very human in mistakes she made while living in China, and I also liked learning a bit about China of late 1980s. 

Future Reviews:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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 indeliably 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.

The Most Dangerous Thing by Leanne Lieberman (The main character in the book suffers from depression as well as anxiety, and from what I can see she deals with her problems in a responsible way rather than something unrealistic) 

Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She's also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she's sure she'll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.



One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

5 Books I am planning on tackling this year:

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji, Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.







Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.


Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities in what is her remarkably assured debut.


The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.

The Patriots is a riveting evocation of the Cold War years, told with brilliant insight and extraordinary skill. Alternating between Florence’s and Julian’s perspectives, it is at once a mother-son story and a tale of two countries bound in a dialectic dance; a love story and a spy story; both a grand, old-fashioned epic and a contemporary novel of ideas. Through the history of one family moving back and forth between continents over three generations, The Patriots is a poignant tale of the power of love, the rewards and risks of friendship, and the secrets parents and children keep from one another. 

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, Royall Tyler (Translator) (Tale of Genji has four different translations: that of Arthur Waley, Edward Seidensticker, Royall Tyler and Dennis Washburne. I have read Seidensticker numerous times, thus I am planning on reading Tyler version) 

Written in the eleventh century, this portrait of courtly life in medieval Japan is widely celebrated as the world's first novel. The Tale of Genji is a very long romance, running to fifty-four chapters and describing the court life of Heian Japan, from the tenth century into the eleventh.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review of Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Name of Book: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Author: Maria Semple

ISBN: 978-0-316-33360-3

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Type of book: Antarctica, mother/daughter relatiionship, disappear, missing, epistolary, agoraphobia, heart problems, living life, growing up, coming of age, creativity, snarky view of today and lifestyles

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Characters:

Main characters include Bee, a young teenage girl who is extremely intelligent and who is also very close to her mother, Bernadette. Bee is also very stubborn and determined to do whatever she can for her mother. Out of all the characters in the story, Bee is also the most believable. Bernadette is Bee's mother, a woman who seems to suffer a bit from agoraphobia and who is an extremely talented designer. Bernadette is also mysterious, snarky and extremely opinionated when it comes to Washington Seattle, Canada, various people, medication, etc. she also has strange reactions to different events. Like Bee she is also determined. Secondary characters in the book included enemies as well as neighbors, Bee's father, and schoolmates which seemed to possess more stereotypes than anything else. Audrey Grifin is Bernadette's enemy who detests her and does the best she can to make her life living hell. She is nosy, very dedicated to school and prefers to turn her sight away from her son's misdeeds. Soo-Lin Lee-Seagal is Audrey's friend as well as Bee's father's co-worker and an assistant. She is divorced, has two kids and is also extremely dedicated to her job.

Theme:

One lesson I picked up from the story is that you never know someone as well as you think

Plot:

The story is epistolary, composed of letters, notes, emails, etc by Bee, Bernadette's daughter. (During the first 3/4ths of the book, Bee also makes notes about what really happened and went down during some events.) thus the point of view is in first person from multiple characters. The characters all had their own voices and style of writing emails or letters which means they were distinct and there wasn't any confusion about who was speaking, although the author did state who was telling the story.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Maria Semple is the author of This One Is Mine. Before writing fiction, she wrote for the television shows Arrested Development, Mad About You and Ellen. She lives in Seattle.

Opinion:

For me personally, the book is lighthearted and a bit comedic. I began to read it during my excursions to a local buffet, and I found it funny and enjoyable, especially comparing it to my normal fare of literature which is more on the heavy side. The book does deal with serious topics such as reputation, agoraphobia, fear of people, loss of creativity as well as looking for purpose in life, but the topics are a bit over the top and are dealt in a lighthearted and unbelievable manner. I did find quite a few situations as unbelievable, one is Bernadette's reaction to what her husband has done, other is that certain neighbors forgive her, but other than that the story is more comedic and over the top with FBI, a personal assistant from India, disappearing on a cruise to Antarctica, etc. A perfect and light-hearted read. Also as well, Balekrishna (Bee in the book) suffers from a heart defect which makes this a diverse story.

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.)

G784 Book Review of Hunters in the dark by Lawrence Osborne

Name of Book: Hunters in the Dark

Author: Lawrence Osborne

ISBN: 978-0-553-44736-1

Publisher: Hogarth

Type of book: Cambodia, white male/Asian female relationships, Khmer, tutoring, identity, karma, exploring the jungles, ghosts, money, thievery, travel, aimlessness

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

From the novelist the New York Times compares to Paul Bowles, Evelyn Waugh and Ian McEwan, an evocative new work of literary suspense

Adrift in Cambodia and eager to side-step a life of quiet desperation as a small-town teacher, 28-year-old Englishman Robert Grieve decides to go missing. As he crosses the border from Thailand, he tests the threshold of a new future.

And on that first night, a small windfall precipitates a chain of events-- involving a bag of jinxed money, a suave American, a trunk full of heroin, a hustler taxi driver, and a rich doctor s daughter-- that changes Robert s life forever.

Hunters in the Dark is a sophisticated game of cat and mouse redolent of the nightmares of Patricia Highsmith, where identities are blurred, greed trumps kindness, and karma is ruthless. Filled with Hitchcockian twists and turns, suffused with the steamy heat and pervasive superstition of the Cambodian jungle, and unafraid to confront difficult questions about the machinations of fate, this is a masterful novel that confirms Lawrence Osborne s reputation as one of our finest contemporary writers.

NPR "Best Books of 2016" - Staff Picks, Realistic Fiction, Seriously Great Writing, and Tales from Around the World selection"

Characters:

I'm not sure where to start with the main characters which include Robert Grieve, a young twenty-something male that's filled with wanderlust who seems to want something but isn't sure what, thus he travels to Cambodia because its different and somewhere he hasn't been before. He meets up with an American, Simon Beauchamp who strikes me as sort of an older version of Robert who also has a Khmer girlfriend/wife who is hooked on drugs. Robert meets up with a Khmer woman by the name of Sophal who is a world traveler and is bitter and jaded. There is also Sophal's parents, namely her father who asks Robert to be an English teacher for his daughter when his daughter speaks perfect English and who is elegant and sophisticated.

Theme:

I honestly am stuck on what the theme should have been. Way too meandering for my tastes.

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from many characters' points of view, and there was next to nothing when it came to plot, but it went something like this: a former teacher goes to Cambodia just because he wants to escape and literally do nothing. He wins money, gets robbed by an American, gets told lots of times that he is something Khmer women would pursue, pretends to be an American, meets a Khmer woman and decides to pursue relationship with her. There are other stuff going on, but I couldn't make heads or tails of how they fit in with the story.

Author Information:
(From goodreads.com)

Lawrence Osborne is a British novelist currently residing in New York City.

Osborne was educated at Cambridge and Harvard, and has since led a nomadic life, residing for years in France, Italy, Morocco, the United States, Mexico, Thailand and Istanbul.

He is the author of the novel Ania Malina, a book about Paris, Paris Dreambook, the essay collection The Poisoned Embrace, a controversial book about autism called American Normal, and three subsequent travel books published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux between 2004 and 2009: a book about wine, The Accidental Connoisseur, The Naked Tourist, and an account of expatriate life in Bangkok called Bangkok Days. His short stories have appeared in many American magazines. His story Volcano originally published in Tin House was selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2012. His novel The Forgiven was published in 2012 to widespread acclaim. It was selected by The Economist as one of the Best Books of the Year for 2012.

He has been published widely as a journalist in the United States, most notably in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Gourmet, Salon, Playboy, and The Conde Naste Traveler. He was also been an occasional op ed columnist at Forbes.com and is a frequent contributor to Newsweek International, The Daily Beast and The Wall Street Journal Magazine.His recent feature for Playboy, Getting a Drink in Islamabad won a 2011 Thomas Lowell Award for Travel Journalism.

Opinion:

I like books that meander, that show off a place or time I haven't been in before, but this is not the book that does it well. The descriptions of the place and of the atmosphere added extremely little to the characters and their growth as people. In fact, I have no idea what the story should have been about because it seems that the main character simply exists and that's it. He does not possess conflict that could make it a human story but he simply lives and does nothing. I've read classics previously and believe it or not enjoyed a lot of pre-1800s classics that are about living, but the classics were infused with interest and drama, perhaps the authors had a perfect balance for me of conflict and description of the place while this is one is nothing but description, and also, it's annoying that Asian women in this book throw themselves at white men.

This is for LibraryThing

1 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, February 23, 2017

E-Reading G838 Book Review of Let's Try This Again by Jordyn Woodtke

Name of Book: Let's Try This Again

Author: Jordyn Woodtke

ISBN/ASIN: B01JOFTF6Q

Publisher: 3 Dreams Creative Enterprises, LLC

Type of book: New Adult, moving, California, love triangle, bad boy vs good boy, fame, writing, emotions, friends with benefits, not letting go, not maturing, escaping

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

One girl.  Two guys.  It's complicated.

First there is Isaac, the ex-boyfriend who threatens her move to a sunny new life on the west coast when he suddenly comes back into the picture.  The chemistry is intoxicating and Josie starts eating, breathing, and sleeping with him again until the move.  Things are hard enough saying goodbye to her childhood home and very best friends, but when Isaac makes it seem like he might actually want her to stay, Josie wonders if she’s giving up on him too quickly.

Josie takes the plunge and moves to California.

Then comes Carter. Sweet, doting - and, oh my god! - former boy band heartthrob, Carter. Josie’s new life falls into place, with new friends and a job working as the personal assistant for Carter as he plans the re-launch of his career. When it seems like there might be something between Josie and her new boss, she can’t help but hold back in fear of crossing a line and, worse yet, getting her heart crushed.  Once again.

What spirals into a complicated, heart wrenching, unexpected love triangle forces Josie to face a decision that she is not sure she can make.  Carter or Isaac.  Or - who knows?

It’s Sex in the City meets Bridget Jones Diary under the Hollywood sign.  A masterful debut novel of love, sex and rock & roll in the New Adult genre.

Characters:

Main characters include Josie who was in a long term relationship with Isaac. Josie is stuck on Isaac and seems to be afraid of letting him go. Isaac is Josie's boyfriend as well as a good lover (according to Josie) and he is best described as fickle and someone who has commitment issues and isn't hesitant on acting out on them. There are also Josie's friends, one who is sardonic when it comes to men and relationships and another who seems to care very much for Josie. There is also Carter, a former boy band member, and Josie's boyfriend/crush. Carter is opposite of Isaac and is determined to get what he desires. (If there were teams, I was team Carter)

Theme:

I'm really struggling to articulate what I learned from the story without spoiling the story, but the closest thing I can say is: 'to thine own self be true'

Plot:

The story is written in first person narrative from Josie's point of view. I admit that I had issues with writing style because for me it read as if Josie is a teenager instead of an adult, and also suspension of belief is required for the reader towards how Josie's life in California progressed. However, it is not all butterflies nor sunshine nor flowers and despite the surface area, the story does become deeper and meaningful.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)


About the Author:

Jordyn Woodtke is an exceedingly gifted new author who is destined to take the New Adult genre by storm with her debut novel entitled Let's Try This Again.

A graduate of NYU, she majored in screenwriting with a minor in bottomless brunching, skills she took with her when she moved to Los Angeles to follow her dream of becoming a writer. Jordyn started writing poetry and plays in high school, garnering prestigious awards and accolades from the Hartford Stage, Drexel University, the Waterbury Young Playwrights Festival and the national Scholastic Art & Writing awards, among others.

Now, on any given afternoon you are likely to find Jordyn petting random dogs on her street, noshing at any of the numerous brunch spots in LA, or bingeing Netflix on her couch. She's grateful and dedicated to the art of storytelling because it lets her say all the things she wished she'd said when she had the chance.

And if Let’s Try This Again is any indicator of future success, Jordyn will get to keep saying them for a long, long time.  

Connect With the Author:
Book Insider Hangout ~  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram

Opinion:

This is really a diamond in the rough type book, at least for me. While I didn't find the story funny or hilarious, I did find it true to life, and much to mine surprise, it addressed an issue that I had with myself, especially as it relates to men; the story poses a question for the reader, and that question is: what is more important when it comes to relationship? Passion or safety? The answer will surprise the reader. Also, underneath the writing style, there are a lot of nuggets of emotions that I have experienced when it comes to relationships and that I was surprised that the author got the correct descriptions of them.

Buy the Book:  

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Kobo Books  ~  iTunes

This is for iRead Book Tour

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

Feb 13 - Bookaholic Banter - review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 13 - Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 14 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Feb 14 - Rainy Day Reviews - review
Feb 14  - The Silver Dagger Scriptorium - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 15 - 100 Pages A Day - review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 16 - To Be Read - review
Feb 16 - Seaside Book Nook - review / giveaway
Feb 17 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - review
Feb 17 - The Writing Garnet - review / giveaway
Feb 20 - Haddie's Haven - review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 21 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 22 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
Feb 22 - Book Lover in Florida - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 23 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview
Feb 24 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
Feb 28 - Book and Ink - review / giveaway
TBD     - 
The Phantom Paragrapher - 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.)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Diverse Reads On My Blog #4

Is it me or are things really beginning to fall apart within the world? I am beginning to think that they are falling apart, that history is not used or remembered as it should be. I wonder what will the future generations learn about us? Will they whitewash this period of time in rainbows and butterflies, or will they remember the starkness of the times? The ugly natures of people popping up like ravenous werewolves gorging on a snack of hatred? I want to be an optimist but I am not, and I feel as if endless repetitions will happen for an eternity.

Blast from the Past

Tempted Tigress by Jade Lee

Not only did China's Grand Canal transport food, slaves, and deadly opium, today it was a woman's path to freedom. But her flight would end in the arms of the emperor's enforcer, where another journey would begin. Orphaned and stranded, Anna Marie Thompson could trust no one, especially not her dark captor. Not when his eyes held secrets deadlier than her own. His caress was liquid fire, but Anna was an Englishwoman and alone. She could not trust that they could tame the dragon, as he whispered, or that sadness and fear could be cleansed by soft yin rain. Safety and joy were but a breath away. And perhaps love. All was there for the taking, if she would just give in to temptation...

Why It's Diverse: Jade Lee is mixed, half Chinese from her mother and half American from her father. It also features an Asian male/white female pairing and it's one of my favorite romance novels. The heroine also has addiction to opium.


The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Few stories offer more warmth, wisdom, or generosity than this tale of two boys, their fathers, their friendship, and the chaotic times in which they live. Though on the surface it explores religious faith--the intellectually committed as well as the passionately observant--the struggles addressed in The Chosen are familiar to families of all faiths and in all nations. 

In 1940s Brooklyn, New York, an accident throws Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders together. Despite their differences (Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jew with an intellectual, Zionist father; Danny is the brilliant son and rightful heir to a Hasidic rebbe), the young men form a deep, if unlikely, friendship. Together they negotiate adolescence, family conflicts, the crisis of faith engendered when Holocaust stories begin to emerge in the U.S., loss, love, and the journey to adulthood. The intellectual and spiritual clashes between fathers, between each son and his own father, and between the two young men, provide a unique backdrop for this exploration of fathers, sons, faith, loyalty, and, ultimately, the power of love. (This is not a conventional children's book, although it will move any wise child age 12 or older, and often appears on summer reading lists for high school students.)

Why It's Diverse: The author is Jewish and this particular story examines Judaism and destiny from modern Orthodox to Hasidic points of views. Both Danny and Reuven are practicing Jews in the book and are living in a Jewish world.

The Promise by Chaim Potok

For young Reuven Malter, it is a time of testing. With his teachers, he struggles for recognition of his boldly radical methods of scholarship. With his old friend Danny Saunders-who himself had abandoned his legacy as the chosen heir to his father’s rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer-he battles to save a sensisitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage, defeated by the same forces of an unyielding past that challenge Reuven. Painfully, and, at last, triumphantly, Reuven grows into a guardian of the ancient, sacred promise to his people, while earning his hard-fought right to make his own beginning.

Why It's Diverse: (This book came immediately after The Chosen) The author is Jewish and the characters are practicing Jews. In this story, Judaism is examined through self hatred as well as the impact Holocaust had on Jews.


Future Reviews:

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (The story features Bee who has heart issues, and her mother who can be seen either as extremely quirky or someone grappling with mental illnesses)

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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 indeliably 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.

What I am Reading Now:

The Most Dangerous Thing by Leanne Lieberman

Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She's also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she's sure she'll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.

Pages: 122 out of 225



One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

Pages: 151 out of 256

3 Books I am planning on tackling this year:

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji, Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.







Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.


Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities in what is her remarkably assured debut.

G770 Book Review of The Mortifications by Derek Palacio

Name of Book: The Mortifications

Author: Derek Palacio

ISBN: 978-1-101-90569-2

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books

Type of book: Cuba, breast cancer, broken family, Catholicism, nun, promises, secrets, memories, death

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

Derek Palacio’s stunning, mythic novel marks the arrival of a fresh voice and a new chapter in the history of 21st century Cuban-American literature.

In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.

Each struggles and flourishes in their own way: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy's thoughts and desires. Presiding over them both is Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she begins a tempestuous new relationship with a Dutch tobacco farmer. But just as the Encarnacións begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.

Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one's true homeland.

Characters:

Main characters include Soledad, Isabel, Ulises and Willems. There are no well drawn secondary characters. Soledad is a resourceful single mother of two who seems to be torn between her new and old life and cannot make up her mind as to what she wants. She also seems to be the type that doesn't like to think back of how things were and she loves her daughter far more than her son. Isabel at first is a complex character because she tries to find her physical passions but cannot and ultimately she decides that she likes helping people cross over and decides to take the veil. Ulises is more of an outsider and is best described as scholarly, geeky, extremely tall and is someone who loves physical work and is practical far more than romantic. Probably Willlems is the only character I could relate to because he is clearly drawn and written and isn't as complex.

Theme:

Past ultimately haunts people

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Ulises's, Isabel's and Soledad's points of view. While reading the book, I often felt as if the author seemed to lack subtlety when it comes to symbolism and future, or else the events that happened to characters are bizarre. The story started out promisingly when Isabel decides to become a nun and becomes known as the Death Torch in her community as well as various passions she tries to experience but fails. Soledad also takes up with Willems who is a Dutch tobacco farmer and also tries to make sure her life goes forward with her children and new lover while Ulises, through Soledad's lover grows to love smoking and can even find which tobacco leaves are good or bad and which cigars are good. The last half, for me, makes no sense. Uxbal sends over a letter to his family and all have interesting reactions: Isabel vanishes, Soledad gets breast cancer and begs Ulises to find his sister while Willems has no idea what will happen to him and tries to hold on to Soledad through violent sex.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

Derek Palacio holds an MFA in creative writing from The Ohio State University. His short story "Sugarcane" appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013. He is the co-director, with Claire Vaye Watkins, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenager in rural Nevada. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Opinion:

I'm sorry but no, I didn't like the book. I wanted to like it, wanted to be excited about it, but I couldn't be. I found the story to be disjointed, confusing and I really couldn't make heads or tails of why the characters decided to do what they have done. At first, I thought I would like the story because it's different than what I read previously, and it had some elements here and there that I would be able to relate to. However, as the story went on and got more and more absurd, (at least to me) I was disappointed to realize that most likely I will not keep the book. The women characters were inconsistent in beginning and the end, at least Isabel was, and Ulises wore an armor that didn't let anyone in which made for an unexciting read. The romances and the couples felt forced and seemed to be last minute additions.

This is for LibraryThing

1 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.)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Diverse Reads On My Blog #3

Guess I'm late on posting what is meant to be last week's diverse reads on my blog for last week and will post it this week. Recently I have been contemplating that it's a shame that I cannot promote some of my favorite authors (Sue Harrison and Pearl Buck are just two) as diverse, although both write of marginalized cultures respectfully and beautifully. So I came up with something I will call Allies of Diversity which will promote authors of European or American descent that dare to tackle-respectfully-cultures that are different than the ones they were raised with. I do hope what I will do will not be seen as offensive by others, but its something I have been wrestling with for a while; I used to write Asian Male/White female stories where I did my best to portray Asian male as both a hero and a human, (Actually quite a few of my Asian ex-boyfriends read a particular story, and they all had high compliments for it.) but by others my story will not be seen as diverse simply because others will think a white woman is writing the story and she has no understanding or compassion for the Asian culture. As mentioned, the upcoming post(s) will be promoted as Allies of Diversity rather than Diverse Reads.

Blast from the Past

The Foreign Student by Susan Choi

Highly acclaimed by critics, The Foreign Student is the story of a young Korean man, scarred by war, and the deeply troubled daughter of a wealthy Southern American family. In 1955, a new student arrives at a small college in the Tennessee mountains. Chuck is shy, speaks English haltingly, and on the subject of his earlier life in Korea he will not speak at all. Then he meets Katherine, a beautiful and solitary young woman who, like Chuck, is haunted by some dark episode in her past. Without quite knowing why, these two outsiders are drawn together, each sensing in the other the possibility of salvation. Moving between the American South and South Korea, between an adolescent girl's sexual awakening and a young man’s nightmarish memories of war, The Foreign Student is a powerful and emotionally gripping work of fiction.

Why It's Diverse: The author is of Jewish and Korean ancestry (Russian-Jewish mother and Korean father) this book deals with effects of Korean War along with hidden racism experienced by Chuck as well as talking about Korea-Japan and Korea-America relations. A very enlightening and beautiful read.

One Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

From amazon: "Olivia, the narrator of this story, was born to an American mother and a Chinese father. She meets her 18-year-old Chinese half sister, Kwan, for the first time shortly after their father's death. Kwan adores "Libby-ah" and tries to introduce her to her Chinese heritage through stories and memories. Olivia is embarrassed by her sibling, but finds as she matures that she has inadvertently absorbed much about Chinese superstitions, spirits, and reincarnation. Olivia explains, "My sister Kwan believes she has Yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin..." Now in her mid-30s, Olivia, a photographer, is still seeking a meaningful life. The climax of the story comes when she and her estranged husband Simeon, a writer, go to China on assignment with Kwan as the interpreter. In the village in which she grew up, Kwan returns to the world of Yin, her mission completed. Olivia finally learns what Kwan was trying to show her: "If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses." The meshing of the contemporary story of Olivia and the tales Kwan tells of her past life in late-19th century China may confuse some readers. "

Why It's Diverse: The book is written by a Chinese-American author most famous for her The Joy Luck Club. Unfortunately she depicts Asian male/white female relationships negatively, and Chinese men are also depicted badly in the book. (The main character's white mother isn't able to keep her promises that she made to the father, and the mother is not a mother towards the main character...the father is sneaky and has a lot of secrets that he never shared with his family.)

The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan

From amazon: " Fans of Tan's Joy Luck Club (Putnam, 1989) will love her powerful second novel. Here she creates an absorbing story about the lives of a Chinese mother and her adult American-born daughter. Pressured to reveal to the young woman her secret past in war-torn China in the 1940s, Winnie weaves an unbelievable account of a childhood of loneliness and abandonment and a young adulthood marred by a nightmarish arranged marriage. Winnie survives her many ordeals because of the friendship and strength of her female friends, the love of her second husband, and her own steadfast courage and endurance. At the conclusion, her secrets are uncovered and she shares a trust/love relationship with her daughter, Pearl, that was missing from both their lives. Some YAs may find the beginning a bit slow, but this beautifully written, heartrending, sometimes violent story with strong characterization will captivate their interest to the very last page."

Why It's Diverse: Just like with Alexandre Dumas, this book came after One Hundred Secret Senses, so I am sorry for the constant repetition. The book is written by a Chinese-American author most famous for her The Joy Luck Club.Just like in previous book, this one depicts the main male character extremely negative and even dares to use the famous penis stereotype. Not friendly towards Asian men.

Future Reviews:

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (The story features Bee who has heart issues, and her mother who can be seen either as extremely quirky or someone grappling with mental illnesses)

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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 indeliably 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.

3 Diverse Books I will tackle this year:

One Half From the East-Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji, Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.







Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Friday, February 3, 2017

G822 Book Review of human acts by han kang

General Information:

Name of Book: Human Acts (Soneun i eundae)

ISBN: 978-1-101-90672-9

Publisher: Hogarth Publisher

Year it was published: 2016 (original 2014)

Summary:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho's best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho's own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.

Author: Han Kang

About the Author:

Han Kang was born in 1970 in South Korea. In 1993 she made her literary debut as a poet and was first published as a novelist in 1994. A participant in the International Writing Porgram at the University of Iowa. Han has won the Man Booker International Prize, the Yi Sang Literary Award, the Today's Young Artist Award, and teh manhae Prize for literature. She is currently a professor in the department of Creative Writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

1. The Boy, 1980

One Sentence Summary:

In second person narrative, a young middle schooler, Dong-Ho, who lives in Gwangju goes over to Provencial Office to help with the dead bodies. The first story, which sets up the next interconnected five stories introduces the reader to Kim Jin-Su, Kim Eun-sook, Lim Seon-ju, Jeong-dae, and the mother

2. The Boy's Friend, 1980

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, Jeong-dae begins to describe what happened to him as his body begins to decompose throughout a day or so. He also recalls his sister, Jeong-mi a lot.

3. The Editor, 1985

One Sentence Summary:

In third person narrative, Kim Eun-Sook's life is described as she goes about trying to make sure that the plays aren't censored. Also as well, a little bit of aftermath of Gwangju Massacre is revealed.

4. The Prisoner, 1990

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, an unnamed male who was friends and prisoners with Kim Jin-Su describes his and Kim Jin-Su's life after the imprisonment and torture.

5. The Factory Girl, 2002

One Sentence Summary:

In second person narrative, from Seon-Ju's as well as her friend Sang-hee's point of view, their lives after the Gwangju Massacre are described, how they have been damaged and the damage they have done to others as well as how that event set up the rioting that made up their lives.

6. The Boy's Mother, 2010

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, Dong-Ho's mother describes how Dong-Ho was like as a baby as well as how she felt all those years of his death.

7. The Epilogue: The Writer, 2013

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, an unnamed and genderless writer describes how and why they decided to write about the Gwangju Massacre as well as the obsession they had with the dead boy.

Personal Opinion:

For anyone who might know me, this is one of the books I've been dying to read for almost a year. Heck I've entered multiple giveaways on goodreads, librarything and even bookstr to get this book. I purposely even waited a while before reviewing The Glorious Heresies just to make sure I'll go for this book. Finally blogging for books offered the book, and boy only knew how happy I was when I ordered it, (although I had to wait almost a FREAKING month before holding it and reading it...) so is the story worthwhile? Very much so. It's a beautiful yet brutal story of humanity and death, a snowflake in the middle of Sahara Desert is best way to describe it. The story is also very similar to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi in that it deals with imprint of memory, except while Human Acts span 30 or so years, Homegoing spans centuries. (Yes, expect Homegoing review soon.)

This is for Blogging for Books

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, February 2, 2017

G816 Book Review of Illusions of magic by j.b. rivard

Name of Book: Illusions of Magic; Love And Intrigue in 1933 Chicago

Author: J.B. Rivard

ISBN: 978-0-9968363-0-2

Publisher: Self Published

Type of book: magic, magicians, illusions, magic acts, secrets, marriage, power struggle, assassination attempt, Chicago Illinois, mystery, creativity, thriller, sepia toned novel

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

The withering of vaudeville was bad enough in 1933. Because of the Great Depression, bookings for stage magician Nick Zetner disappeared. With his marriage cracking under the strain, Nick reluctantly accepts a devious banker’s deal: He earns a generous reward if he retrieves photos stolen during a break-in at the bank. Along the way, a love he thought he’d forever lost reappears. Despite his skill in the arts of magic, penetrating the realm of the thieves grows increasingly perilous, especially when it endangers his newfound romance.

Illusions of Magic seamlessly merges this tale with the true-life assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt resulting in Chicago’s mayor, Anton Cermak, being shot. His lingering death and a lack of legal means for his replacement causes great civic and social upheaval in the city.

In modern style, this novel propels the reader through emotional highs and subterranean lows with knife-edged dialogue, easy humor, page-turning action and authentic history.

Characters:

Main characters include Nick Zetner, a loyal and talented magician who is going through difficult times with his act during the Great Depression when his wife decides to dump him. Nick is very resourceful, clever, creative and loyal. Nick also continues to carry torch for Iris, the one who got away. Liver Jack is Nick's wife's brother and he and Nick seem to get along very well. Liver Jack also has high connections which he uses to help those he cares about. Iris is Nick's first love and has her own worries and secrets when it comes to life. She is sweet, a bit impetuous and loyal. Aside from that, the secondary characters are also well written and they also have big personalities and motivations.

Theme:

Love comes in different shapes and forms

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Nick's point of view as well as Liver Jack's and perhaps few other characters. The story definitely has an interesting arc to it because it starts with one thing but it ends with another mystery being solved. While there is involvement with FDR and the attempted assassination on him, most of it feels like an aftershock rather than being in the epicenter. The characters were not witnesses to the attempted assassination, but they did witness and participate in the power struggle when the current mayor has passed away.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)


About the Author03_j-b-rivard

Almost everyone is familiar with the illustrations in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. However, the number of illustrated novels published–for adult readers–declined steadily from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, although not for lack of popularity. “Illusions of Magic” dares a return to the edgy, swirling arts of the illustrated story, with pen and ink illustrations by the novel’s author, Joseph B. “J. B.” Rivard, supplementing this exciting story.
As a young child, Rivard began drawing by copying newspaper comics. In his teens, he drew illustrations for his high school’s award-winning yearbook. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and his artworks have appeared in more than fifty juried exhibitions, earning many prizes and awards. He’s an artist-member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City.
Rivard’s writing draws on wide experience–he served in the U.S. Navy, graduated from the University of Florida, worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, and on the engineering staff of a U.S. National Laboratory where he wrote and co-authored many technical papers listed on Google Scholar. His broad background supports a wide array of significant publications, from short stories to song lyrics, from essays to novels. He calls Spokane, Washington home.
For more information, please visit the Illusions of Magic website.
Opinion:

Probably like others, today people often associate illustrations with something for children, or else with either graphic novels or comic books. It's rare to find a book that has illustrations and that is not a graphic novel or is not designed for kids. While reading the book, I felt as if I went back in time and am watching a movie from the Golden Era of Hollywood; something fun and entertaining for everyone. I'm not sure if its because of illustrations or of how meticulously the story was told, but I really enjoyed the story and the mystery with larger than life characters and I do hope that Nick makes more appearances in the future installments. I think that I also would have liked more instances of Nick's magic acts.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 9
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, January 10
Review at Books, Dreams, Life
Wednesday, January 11
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, January 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Friday, January 13
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Monday, January 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, January 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Thursday, January 19
Review at Laura’s Interests
Friday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee
Monday, January 23
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Tuesday, January 24
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, January 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, January 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, January 27
Review & Interview at Quitterstrip

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.)
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