Monday, March 30, 2015

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Allyson is a recent high school graduate on a tour of Europe when she meets Willem, a Dutch actor in a street Shakespeare production of Twelth Night. On a whim, she goes with him to Paris for just one day. They have a lovely, adventurous, romance-filled day. But when Allyson wakes up the next day, Willem is gone. Devastated, she goes back to the US and starts college, but the memory and mystery of Willem continues to haunt her.

At first, I didn't like Allyson that much, but as the book went on, she did grow on me. There is a sequel to Just One Day called Just One Year that I am on the wait-list for at the library.

An easy-to-read Young Adult novel that can be read in an afternoon. I was thinking of buying this for my almost 13-year-old-niece, but there is some Mature Content in it, so I'm gonna wait.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mercy in the City by Kerry Weber

The subtitle reads: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job.

Weber is a young New Yorker wrestling with practicing acts of mercy during the season of Lent. She volunteers at a homeless shelter, hands out sandwiches to the hungry, visits prisoners, and helps women pick out clothes at a shelter.

Weber comes across as a very amiable and personable young woman. She truly wants to incorporate more acts of service into her life and actually see the people around her who are hurting or struggling. I really enjoyed her simple, concise, and thoughtful writing style. She demonstrates that it is possible to add in acts of mercy into a busy life, but it takes desire and intention.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Texts from Jane Eyre And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg

What would Jo from Little Women text to Meg? What would The Great Gatsby's Daisy text to Nick? What would Hermione text to Ron?

Read this book and you can find out!

Ortberg takes on a wide range of literary characters from King Lear to Wuthering Heights to The Babysitter's Club and imagines their text conversations.

While reading Texts from Jane Eyre, I realized how many books I have NOT read and how well-read Mallory Ortberg must be! For the books that I have read, the texts made sense and were funny. For the books that I have not read....I realized that I need to read more!!! :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Darling is a ten-year-old girl growing up in Zimbabwe. She runs around with her friends playing games and stealing guavas from the rich peoples' houses. But life is not all fun and play. I have to warn you that there are some gritty scenes in this book.

Darling has an aunt in America though, and Darling moves to Michigan where she makes new friends, finds an abundance of food, and deals with missing home and her family while at the same time enjoying the comforts of her new life.

This isn't a book that I would normally pick up and read on my own, but it is being highlighted at my local library right now, so I picked it up. It was challenging to read only because of the gritty content. The writing style was quite neat.

Recommended if you've never read anything about Zimbabwe, and if you're interested in reading about an immigrant experience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

I've been looking for a book about starting a business, and I came across this one on The Simple Dollar blog.

In very short chapters, this book challenges some of the traditional ways of thinking about starting a business. Inspiring, encouraging, and very practical!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

This book is comprised of Jennifer Worth's stories as she bikes around 1950s London as a midwife. She meets some really interesting families, especially the mother expecting her 24th child! There are also some pretty gross descriptions in this book, so if you don't like reading about blood or bodily functions, you should probably stay away.

There is a PBS series based on Call the Midwife, and although my mom likes the show, I am not planning on watching it because I cannot stand watching shows that have squalor, and I'm pretty sure there would be scenes with squalor.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Milo is the adopted son of the owners of Greenglass House, a hotel for smugglers. Milo is looking forward to a quiet Christmas break with his parents, but as he's settling in, unexpected guests start arriving. Boy, are these some mysterious guests!

I thought that Greenglass House started out really well, but I found myself skimming starting in the middle through the end. The mystery story line just didn't really seem to hold together that well for me.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

The story of a couple's marriage and the ups and the downs. I didn't like the narrator, so I ended up not liking this book even though I read it in a couple of hours.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

The author (her name is pronounced Bit) escaped with her family (minus her mother) from Vietnam in 1975. They ended up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Nguyen yearns after the lifestyle and food of the white Americans around her, and yet she finds comfort in the Vietnamese food that her grandmother cooks at home every afternoon. And that is just a small picture of the 1.5 generation immigrant experience and the search for identity as a Vietnamese (or fill-in-the-blank)-American.

I thought that Stealing Buddha's Dinner was beautifully written, funny, and tenderhearted. I've actually visited Grand Rapids, Michigan because one of my good friends lives there (and second-generation Asian-American, Boomer, received some compliments on how well he spoke English while we were there), so it was interesting to read about an Asian-American's experience growing up there.

If you're interested in expanding your knowledge about the immigrant experience with a very accessible book, I would recommend Stealing Buddha's Dinner.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

I was with a friend of mine, a new mother of a ten-month old baby, and as we watched him crawling around on the carpet, I was struck that a year ago, the baby was still inside of my friend and now he's outside and mobile. Amazing.

It continues to amaze me when a healthy baby is born because there are so many things that need to go right to form a healthy baby.

I wish that I only had happy stories to tell of friends with healthy babies, but alas, there is always loss mixed in with life and unfortunately, babies do die, and it's tragic and devastating. Sigh.

We come to this book, Rare Bird, about Anna Whiston-Donaldson's 12-year-old son, Jack, who dies after drowning in a river during a freak rainstorm. She writes about Jack, his quirks and his personality, and her grief after his death.

Sad, heartbreaking, but so full of love. A really beautiful book. But here's a warning: it's a sad and heart wrenching book to read.