O.M.G.: What are you waiting for? Go out and buy this book now! Superb: It's wonderful, but you can wait for a coupon. Give it a try: It's good, but I would wait for paperback. Meh: It will be in the library eventually. Naahhhhhhhhh!!!: Do I really need to explain?
Growing up in Bosnia, Selma was a typical teenager. She got good grades. For the most part, she was a dutiful daughter. She had a close-knit group of friends. Selma even had a boyfriend named Johnny, whom she tried to hide from her parents. But Selma's adolescence took a horrific turn in 1992 -- the start of the Bosnian War.
Remember Me by Sanela Ramic Jurich paints a horrific portrait of the war. People were raped, murdered, and tortured for no reason other than their religious beliefs or that they dared to talk back. I was 10 years old at the start of this war, old enough to remember this time period but honestly I don't. There were some passages in this book that I stared at in shock and with wide eyes.
Why? I just couldn't believe how cruel some people could be. This is a fictional story, but I'm sure plenty of people who survived the war can see themselves in Selma.
Selma should have been worried about teenage things, but slowly her way of life gets stripped away. The child of a Muslim-Catholic couple, Selma begins to worry that she and her family could lose their lives because of their beliefs. Friends you see on Monday could be gone on Tuesday. People have to leave their homes. People don't know who they can trust. Your friend can quickly become the enemy. If you're living in fear, are you really living at all? Selma can't be normal anymore. One by one members of her extended family are murdered, her father is arrested, and Selma herself is forced into a concentration camp. This is where the book became hard to read. Each day spent at the camp strips away at Selma's soul. She is raped and tortured. She begins to see herself as damaged goods. If she survives, will Johnny still love her? Will her parents and family still love her? Will people know what happened just by looking at her? How can life ever go back to normal?
I'm not going to give too much away, but Selma's time in the concentration camp changed her life in many, many ways. If you want to know what I'm talking about, read the book!! Selma does survive. She reunites with her mother, and begins a new life in America. Their transition to America is where I have a problem with this book. The parts in America felt a little rushed. Entire years are glossed over with just a few paragraphs to sum them up. I felt there was more emotional depth to the story before Selma came to America. Once in Chicago, Selma seems to shut down emotionally and is focused on achieving the "American dream." There's nothing wrong with that, but Selma wasn't dealing with the emotional trauma she suffered in the past. I know some people do that as a means to cope, but this part of the story felt a little uneven. I might not have liked everything in this book, but overall it was very good and worth reading.
Rating: Give it a try Note: I received an e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The cover of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline lets you know that this girl has a story to tell. What a sad looking girl on the cover. What or who could make her so sad? Before reading this book, I didn't know that orphan trains were a part of history. It's really sad to know that they existed.
From the late 1850s to the 1920s, orphaned children in overcrowded cities were put on trains to be "adopted" in cities throughout the U.S. I say "adopted" because it really seemed like this was a form of indentured servitude. I'm sure some children were placed with loving families, but some were not. Some were put to work. Some worked until they collapsed. Some went hungry. Some were abused. Some were made to feel like they were a burden. In this book (which is fiction), Irish immigrant Vivian Daly was one of those children. At 91 years old, the painful memories of the past still haunt her.
Troubled teenager Molly Ayer knows what it's like to feel alone and unwanted. The 17-year-old has bounced around several foster homes, and is about to age out of the system. A stupid mistake could force her out of her latest placement. But 50 hours of community service could save her butt. Enter Vivian Daly, who needs to clean out her massive attic. It's not the most conventional of community service projects, but in the process Vivian and Molly learn not just about each other but themselves. There is a huge generational gap, but they can relate to each other more than people their own age.
Vivian was born Niamh Power in Ireland. Niamh, her parents, and siblings came to New York in search of a better life. But tragedy ruined all of that. A fire wiped out most of her family. Niamh's sister Maisie might have survived the fire, but no one will tell her the truth. Instead she is forced into an orphanage and eventually an "orphan train." All of the children on these trains are forced to stifle their personalities. They can no longer be themselves. They have to impress potential adoptive families. Children who speak up are perceived to be bad. You can't have an opinion. You can only speak when spoken to. You can only do what you're told. Niamh does as she is told. In the process she is no longer Niamh, her new employer...I mean "family" renames her Dorothy. Any ties to her former life have to be pushed deep down.
After two horrible foster homes, Niamh is slowly disappearing. When she is finally in a good home, Niamh has to change again. Now she is Vivian, a replacement for a couple who lost their child. But can she finally be herself? What if she says or does the wrong thing? What if she is sent away again? She can't relax. She always has to have her guard up, something Molly can relate to. Molly has bounced around several foster homes. Everyone assumes she's a problem kid. Few people take the time to get to know Molly. Even Molly's boyfriend, Jack, doesn't truly know what it's like to be her. Vivian and Molly both know what it's like to be judged based on their appearances and their family history. They would rather be judged by their actions and their character.
Vivian and Molly form an unlikely friendship, but in this book it works. They can be honest with each other. They can let their guards down. It's ok to be vulnerable in front of each other. Their friendship makes the world a little less lonely. As much as I loved this book, I felt like the ending was a little abrupt. There is certainly hope for the future, but it felt like this book could have benefited from one or two additional chapters.
I've never read a book by Christina Baker Kline, but I will in the future. With Orphan Train she turned a turbulent piece of history into an emotional, inspiring, and engaging piece of fiction.
Rating: Superb Note: Orphan Train is the May selection for She Reads. I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins)
I'm not a mother. I don't when or if I will be a mother, but I do like to read books about the family dynamic. I say this because I'm currently reading She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan.
Jennifer Boylan used to be James Boylan. Yes, take that in. After years of denial, marriage, and children, Jennifer had to be Jennifer. But how do you parent and navigate the world after of decades of living as a man? You've changed on the outside physically, but are you still the same person on the inside?
"I was born in 1958, on June 22, the second day of summer. It was also the birthday of Kris Kristofferson and Meryl Streep, both of whom I later resembled, although not at the same time. One day when I was about three, I was sitting in a pool of sunlight cast onto the wooden floor beneath my mother's ironing board. She was watching Art Linkletter's House Party on TV. I saw her ironing my father's white shirt -- a sprinkle of water from her blue plastic bottle, a short spurt of steam as it sizzled beneath the iron. 'Someday you'll wear shirts like this,' said Mom. I just listened to her strange words, as if they were a language other than English. I didn't understand what she was getting at. She never wore shirts like that. Why would I ever be wearing shirts like my father's? Since then, the awareness that I was in the wrong body, living the wrong life, was never out of my conscious mind -- never, although my understanding of what it meant to be a boy, or a girl, was something that changed over time." --- pgs. 19-20
Being born in the wrong body? I can't really fathom what that must feel like. But I'm curious to read Jennifer's perspective on parenting and the world at large after making such a big change.
I will also be reading her latest book, Stuck in the Middle With You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders. Stay tuned!!
As Mother's Day approaches, I'm sure we're all scrambling to come up
with ideas of what to give mom. Here's a little something to add to the
list... Journey Across the Four Seas by Veronica Li.. She's stopping by my blog to tell us a little bit about her book..
FREE MOTHER’S DAY READ May 11 and 12: JOURNEY ACROSS THE
FOUR SEAS Kindle version
She was one of the first Chinese women to go
to college.But wars and She eventually brought the family to the U.S.It's an inspirational story of the human will
to survive and improve the lives of the next generation. Writing the book was my way of thanking my mom
for what she’d done for me.
upended her life and turned her into a refugee in search of a home.
ACROSS THE FOUR SEAS is a true story of my mother's life in China.
explain how I got to write this book.About
twelve years ago, my parents came from California
to live with me in the DC area. California had been the
place we immigrated to in 1967.I was
the only one who came to the East Coast.My four siblings were still in California,
and they’d all taken turns in caring for my parents.I felt that my turn had come.I used to work for the World Bank, but I had
quit my job to stay home and write.As a
writer, my schedule was the most flexible.We held a family conference and we all agreed that I was in the best
position to take care of my parents.
Now, my mother was a fantastic
storyteller, and she loved to tell stories about her life.I’d listened to them many times when I was a
child, and never gave them much thought.But my friends heard them for the first time and were fascinated.Somebody suggested that I write the stories
down.I also thought it was a good
idea.So I sat down with her and taped
her stories. Then came the
question of whether to write it as a biography or a memoir.My first inclination was to write it as a
biography.It would be from a third
person point of view, and I would be free to put in my own interpretation.However, after a few chapters, I decided to
make it a memoir in my mother’s voice.Her
voice was so beautiful, so lyrical, that I knew I had to let it sing.
I've never read a book by Paulo Coelho before, but sometimes it's hard to pass up a book by author of his caliber. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from his latest book, Manuscript Found in Accra. The title makes me wonder what exactly was found in Accra. I wasn't sure if I should be taking that title literally or figuratively. I was intrigued and had to find out which was true.
As Jerusalem awaits the invasion in 1099, a mysterious man, known as the Copt, reads words of wisdom to the people. I found myself thinking, do words really work in situations like this? Wouldn't some sort of action be a better way to go? I was expecting a fictional narrative, but it feels more like a self-help or advice book. In this story, everyone is frightened. Everyone is worried about the future. Will they survive the impending invasion? Will there be anything left for them after the invasion? I thought maybe there would be some kind of action taken, and the words of would be a small piece of the book. But each chapter is a lesson for life, lessons that are very relevant even in 2013.
There are a lot of gems in this book, but there was one that stood out the most to me. I can't quote it directly, because I have advanced copy. The gist of my favorite passage is that young people are big dreamers and they also dream of solving the problems of the world. It sounds so true. When you're young you think you can do anything, but once you go out in the real world you start to think differently. You develop a more cynical view of life, and you struggle to find your place in life. It's a great insight, but I'm not so sure people awaiting an invasion would want to hear it!
Stay away from people who think they are stronger than you because they are hiding their own problems or insecurities. A good lesson for everyone.
I got the impression that this is supposed to be fiction. I read fiction differently and I have different expectations. Most of the time when I'm reading fiction, I'm expecting to be transported into a different world and to be entertained. When I'm reading non-fiction, biographies, memoirs, or self-help, I'm expecting to learn something new or to be inspired. I felt a mix of everything with this book. I think this is one of those books that has to be read twice. I think I would have an even greater appreciation for this book if I read it twice. In my experience, I think the words sink in deeper with a second read. It's a short book, so it's definitely worth the time. I think there is something for everyone in this book, so give it a try. Rating: Give it a try Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Knopf) in exchange for an honest review.
I don't do this often, but I was given the opportunity to host a giveaway for A Curious Man by Neal Thompson. Here's a little info on the book....
"Howard Hughes crossed with P.T. Barnum, Robert “Believe
It or Not” Ripley was a lonely, buck-toothed cartoonist turned eccentric
millionaire and renowned world-traveler who in the 1930’s and 1940’s
earned international fame by journeying
to the farthest corners of the earth in search of the world’s most
exotic curiosities. But for all his success in uncovering oddities, no
piece of Ripley’s collection was as remarkable as the man himself. From
his youth as an awkward young artist with an innate
empathy for “freaks,” to his golden years spent on a private island
stocked with rare artifacts and strange pets, Ripley lived life on the
kind of grand scale normally confined to fiction. Now with
A Curious Man:
The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley (Crown Archetype; May 7, 2013)
acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson has delivered a
marvelously compelling account of this great American story, told for
the first time ever—a thrilling tale of the underdog who taught us to
believe in the unbelievable."
Hopefully, the Rafflecopter giveaway posted below works. Let me know if it doesn't!! The giveaway is for U.S. and Canada residents only, and ends in one week. Just enter your e-mail and leave a comment. Extra entries if you follow my blog or on Twitter. Good luck!!
The last book I read by M.J. Rose (The Book of Lost Fragrances) was a journey for the senses. Her latest book, Seduction, is a book for the mind. What do I mean by that? There are several storylines going on, but reincarnation and the supernatural are reoccurring themes. I don't know that I believe in such things, but M.J. Rose certainly makes you think about them.
This is the fifth book in Rose's Reincarnationist series, but I don't think you need to have read all of them. But it does help to have some context on the characters. Mythologist Jac L'Etoile is back, and her life is in a state of flux after the last book. She's questioning her sanity. One moment she's having a conversation in the present day, and the next her mind is pulling her into the past. The colors, the sounds, and the smells are changing around her. Is it real or imagined? Jac is afraid to explore either possibility. She just has to focus on the present, and focus hard. If she can do that, Jac will be ok. But a friend from the past offers an opportunity that's too good to resist.
Theo Gaspard, who once spent time in a mental institution with Jac, has stumbled upon the lost writings of novelist Victor Hugo. It's possible those writings hold the key to a Celtic mystery. Of course Jac can't resist. This is an opportunity to not only prove or disprove a myth, but it's also an opportunity to learn about herself. Maybe the visions will stop. Maybe she will go back to normal. If there is such a thing as normal. I kind of felt like I was inside Jac's head. You feel the highs and lows of someone who is struggling internally.
One of the other intriguing storylines is Victor Hugo himself. M.J. Rose puts a fictional and supernatural spin on Hugo's life following the death of his beloved daughter Didine. In the aftermath, Hugo and his family are devastated. They were very vulnerable. A fellow writer convinces Hugo and his family to take part in seances. They were able to communicate with Didine's spirit with what I presume was a crude Ouija board. I loved that part of the book. It was great to imagine what life and the supernatural element was like in the 1800s. Back then (I think) people were more willing to believe in mysticism. Hugo sought out mediums to communicate with not just Didine but the devil. I would think that would be a big no-no!! But if you're grieving, I guess you'll try anything.
I think the book is beautifully written. I just think several of the storylines could have stood on their own. I had the same problem I always have with books like this. Early on, I get attached to certain characters, but I have to wait several chapters before I can get back to their storyline. I think Jac is my favorite character. She has an air of vulnerability. Unraveling the mystery might be harmful to not just her psyche, but her safety. Despite the dangers, she's still willing to push forward. I don't think her story is finished, and I will definitely be back to see what happens.
I've been stuck in a rut and I decided I needed a creative outlet. This is it! I've been a self-professed bookaholic since age five, and one day I'm going to get my dream job in book publishing! Follow me on Twitter at bookangel224!!
I love, love to read. I accept literary fiction, chick lit, memoirs, mysteries, historical fiction and contemporary YA books for review. If you think your book is for me, I will make an exception for other genres. At this time, I am accepting a limited amount of e-books. If I can't get into your book after 60-70 pages, I will not review it. Books are read in the order they are received. Reviews will be posted within 6-8 weeks upon receiving the book. Reviews of books not yet published will be posted closer to the publication date. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opportunities for guest posts, interviews and giveaways can also be arranged.