Review Of: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Short Synopsis

Rachel Chu is tossed unceremoniously into the glamorous, and vicious, world of her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, when he invites her to Singapore for the summer to meet his crazy rich family.

Review

This was such a fun book. The movie really doesn’t do the story justice. I enjoyed the frivolity of the crazy rich while they threw ridiculous amounts of money at ridiculous things.  Like the opening scene when we meet a very young Nick and his family. After experiencing racism in a high-end hotel and turned away despite their reservation, the family simply buys the hotel to solve the problem. Then there is Nick’s cousin, Astrid, who has a shopping spree at the jewelers when she is depressed about her husband’s possible adultery.  She drops  a couple million dollars on things she doesn’t even like! Kevin Kwan did an excellent job of setting up the extravagant and eccentric world the absurdly wealthy characters inhabit using Rachel’s normal average New York life to create a stark comparison.

Poor Rachel.  Nick doesn’t give her any preparation regarding who his family is before their trip.  She is dumped into this glittering world and pretty well forced to fend for herself against vicious rumors, illicit gossip, accusations of being a gold digger, people who prize extravagant lineages that she herself doesn’t possess and are more than happy to brag about it.  It’s almost like she is transported back to the time of royalty and their obsession with pure bloodlines and excellent family standings. Her reaction to all this is graceful, but also very believable. As a character, she is very honest and true to herself.  She has no problem correcting people about who she is when they assume she is someone more impressive than she is.  Nick is kind of hopelessly naive. His not talking to Rachel about who is family is a completely innocent thing.  He was raised to never speak of his family or his wealth, and so honestly doesn’t think to warn Rachel.  He is also fully unaware of the posturing and politicking that goes on under the surface of his family’s every action. Like Rachel, we find that we can’t even really be mad at him for the situation he puts Rachel in.  The subtle yet ruthless subterfuge of the family to preserve their sense of worth and obsession with “good” family backgrounds is riveting. Every move Nick’s mother makes is calculating and clever.

This was a fascinating look into Asian culture, morals and values.  Like every fiction book, most of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But the glimpse into the traditions, history, and values felt authentic and helped me to better understand how culture motivates the decisions, actions, and reactions of the characters. Kevin Kwan also provides footnotes to help the reader easily understand words and phrases, and cultural references that might otherwise go right over the readers head.

Overall this was a book was witty and clever, but also light and fun. If you haven’t yet, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to make this next on your TBR list.

Happy Reading!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 16-Sep-19

As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

Last Week In Review

For September Bookish Audiobook Bingo by Instagram’s Bookishhq I listened to Peter Pan and Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy. This completed my “Classic you’ve never read” and “Part of a series” bingo squares.

I also finished My Babysitter is a Movie Monster.

I had planned to read Inkspell last week, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’ve read it before and it’s a great book, I just wasn’t in the mood I guess.

Hopes For This Week

This week I will listen to The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In order to satisfy my last bingo square I will be listening to this one to and from work next week.

I bought The Neverending Story earlier this year. This week I want to read it!

Other Bookish Things

I continue to fail at my “don’t buy books until after Christmas” plan. I picked up these two gems last week.

I sent out Christmas wish lists already, so as long as I don’t get any of those books it’s ok. Right?

Thanks for reading!

Review Of: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Short Synopsis

Russel Green is a successful career who works hard do that hid beautiful wife can stay at home with their young daughter. But things start to go wrong when his boss starts giving him the cold shoulder, leaving Russ with little choice than to strike out on own and open his own business. While he struggles with getting his new advertising agency off the ground, his marriage, and his world, begin to crumble around him.

Review

When my mother-in-law and sister-in-law lent me this book it didn’t have a dust jacket, and I didn’t bother googling the synopsis.  I just dug in. The only things I knew as I cracked it open was the warning from my mother-in-law that I was going to cry, and my sister-in-law  that there was a surprising twist she didn’t see it coming.

With themes of family, love, endurance and perseverance, this was a family drama to remember. Focusing on our protagonist, Russ, we follow him as he faces some of the most difficult struggles of his life. When his wife shifts from being a stay at home mom and returns to her previous career path, she not only works for a past client that tormented Russ, but her new job also requires her to travel for days at a time. For the first time Russ needs to really stand up and take the mantel of father, becoming the primary caregiver for his beautiful five year old daughter. The more his wife focuses on her new job, the more mercurial she becomes towards him. As a self-professed oversensitive people pleaser, he struggles to understand his wife’s sudden coldness towards him while dividing the rest of his time between caring for his daughter and struggling to get his new agency.  Watching him go through this was heart wrenching, and more than once I wanted to tear a strip off of his wife. Slowly he becomes more confident in both his new business and as a father, with some encouragement from his parents and sister, leaving the reader wanting to cheer for him as he starts to overcome his hardships.  But just when we think he’s got things under control, things start to unravel all over again. But I don’t want to give you spoilers so you are just going to have to read it for yourself to learn more!

The plot line is beautifully written, which considering this is by Nicholas Sparks, is no real surprise. The twists and turns kept me guessing, and even when I was pretty sure I could predict what was going to happen next, I couldn’t be certain and had to keep reading to find out. The twist I was warned about was something I was able to see coming, but it was no less heart breaking when it came to fruition.  Russ was a great character, I felt that his actions and reactions were realistic as he struggled to move forward through the chaos. His daughter is adorable, and I fell in love with her almost right away.

And yes.  I cried.  Messy cried. Thank god my husband wasn’t home when I finished this book, it would have been super embarrassing. 

Worth it.

Happy Reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9-Sept-19

As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

Last Week In Review

For September Bookish Audiobook Bingo by Instagram’s Bookishhq I listened to Children of Blood and Bone.

I also finished Rich People Problems (finally), completing my summer TBR stack, and began my fall TBR by finishing Dracula The Un-Dead.

Hopes For This Week

This week I will listen to Peter Pan. This will mark my next September Bingo square. I will also be reading the last book in my favorite childhood series, My Babysitter is a Movie Monster, and Inkspell.

Other Bookish Things

A fabulous Halloween/Star Wars book sleeve I ordered from Always September on Etsy came last week! I am in love with R2D2 in his Halloween best, so cute!

Thanks for reading!

Review Of: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Short Synopsis

From backpacking around the world to freelance journalist, Amanda Lindhout craves adventure, travel and challenges. This is the recounting of when one of her adventures went horribly wrong in a lasting way.

Review

I had the opportunity to meet her when she came to speak at a conference in March. The conference centered around Workers Compensation, safety, and injury prevention.  Amanda’s presentation focused on mental health, and psychological injury.  In particular she shared with us how her experience in Somalia as a hostage for 18 months caused her to develop PTSD, and how the PTSD has affects her to this day. Her book touches on the after effects of her experience it in the afterword, but not to the same extent as what she shared with us during the conference.

In A House in the Sky, Amanda tells her story with raw and with refreshing candor.  From her difficult childhood and how it planted a deep seeded desire to see the world, her first trip out of country, to her capture in Somalia where she is held as a hostage for 18 months. The good, the bad and the ugly are all brought to the surface in this brave book.

She starts her memoir by describing her childhood.  One I was able to connect with because of similarities to own. How many of us are from a broken family? How many of us grew up under, just on, or barely above the poverty line? Sadly, this is a pretty common experience and it tends to affect each of us differently. Amanda coped with her child experiences through distraction. Specifically old National Geographic magazines that offered her a window to elsewhere.  In this way, she is bitten by the traveling bug.

She grows up to spend most of her time backpacking around the world.  Personally, I found Amanda to be naive and brave, and stupid and wise all at the same time. I admire her courage to travel to the paces she traveled, sometimes even alone, in the way she travel. With no real schedule and a very loose plan she had fantastic adventures I can only dream of.  These adventures lead her to a career as a freelance journalist, a war correspondent and photographer. It is in this role that she and her friend and kind of college Nigel travel to drought and famine-ridden Somalia where unstable government and jihad have torn the country apart. On her third day there, she and Nigel are kidnapped and held as hostages for ransom by one of the many groups of jihadists.

Amanda proceeds to share her experiences as a hostage, and choices she makes for the sake of survival. She is forced to test the very limits of her own sanity when her abductors attempt to secure a ransom from her poor family.  Pressure begins to mount for her the longer the ransom takes and soon she is starved, beaten, sexually assaulted, and tortured.  Even after the ransom is paid and she is released, her struggle continues as she heals from her physical conditions that developed during her captivity and fights against PTSD.

What struck me the most, is even as she was being horribly mistreated, she had courage to recognize that hurt people hurt people, and was able to forgive her captors. 

A fantastic read.  I highly recommend.

Happy Reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-Sep-19

As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

Last Week In Review

Last week I finished up all my N.E.W.T.s for Book Roast‘s Magical Readathon by finishing The Hobbit.

I also listened to This Is Your Brain On Anxiety as part of September Bookish Audiobook Bingo by Instagram’s Bookishhq.

Hopes For This Week

This week I hope to finally finish Rich People Problems and Dracula The Un-Dead. This will bring an end to my summer TBR, just in time for fall.

This weeks audiobook will be Children Of Blood and Bone as part if September Bookish Audiobook Bingo.

Other Bookish Things

So this September Bookish Audiobook Bingo I mentioned, a fellow book lover friend told me about it. It is this:

The goal is to listen to audiobooks until you get a line and complete your bingo. You see that confettee mark on the “4 hours or less” space? That was my first audiobook as part of this challenge!

This Is Your Brain On Anxiety was a one hour listen, satisfying that space. It was surprisingly entertaining, with plenty of profanity and sarcasm. But also it offered a solid explanation about what anxiety is and what causes it. Then finished up with some great coping exercises. I reccomend checking it out!

I am going for a bingo on the top line. Children Of Blood And Bone was an audi award winner. So it will satisfy the middle top space.

Thanks for reading!

Review Of: The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Short Synopsis

Five years after surviving an alien invasion, the world has an uneasy truce with the Luxen, aliens with incredible abilities who live among humans. But with secrets on both sides, 17 year old Evie Dasher suddenly finds herself caught in the middle.

Review

The Darkest Star is a fun sci-fi YA romance with interesting underlying themes of racism and discrimination. It effectively brings to light human nature to hate and fear what we don’t understand.  This stood out to me most in one particular scene.  With tensions between humans and Luxen rising, the Luxen who attend our protagonist’s school are under extra scrutiny.  Our protagonist, Evie, happens to notice a young Luxen boy at his locker becoming the focus of some human boys.  Recognizing the start of a situation, Evie and a friend of hers decide to intervene by talking to the Luxen boy and walking with him to class, effectively nipping the potential incident in the bud.

I enjoyed the romance between Evie and Luc, and the mystery between the two that is slowly unraveled as the story progresses. The underground world of the Luxen was both seductively mysterious and sad. As a whole, I felt Jennifer L. Armentrout created a fascinating race of creatures.  The abilities they have and the intricacies in their relationship and history with humans was intriguing and fun, with only a touch of cliché.

I won’t lie.  It was kind of nice to read a YA romance that wasn’t based in the world of the supernatural. By that I mean, no werewolves, vampires, or witches. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some vampire romances (just not Twilight), but I did find the YA Sci-Fi genre to be refreshing.

Happy Reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 26-Aug-19

As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

Last Week In Review

Last week I read Labyrinth Tales, a super cute kids book based off of characters from the movie, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. I know it’s a kids book, but all is fair in readathons and war!

I also started The Hobbit, but didn’t quite finish it. That’s the last book I need to finish for Book Roast‘s Magical Readathon!

Hopes For This Week

Once I finish reading The Hobbit and wrap up my N.E.W.T.s for the Magical Readathon, I plan to finally finish Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan. After that I will probably read Dracula The Un-Dead. That has been in my TBR pile for a while now.

Other Bookish Things

I have been working on organizing my small living space bit by bit this summer. Like many book nerds, finding room for all my paper treasures can be challenging! At the moment my hubby and I rent a basement suite from my dad. He offered it to us when my hubby decided to go back to school several years ago, taking a crazy hit in rent so we could avoid having to take out student loans. He could easily charge three times what he charges us. My daddy is a rock star.

It’s a cute place, but a little tight. I have my main bookshelf at the end of the hallway that separates the living room/kitchen from the bedroom, office, and bathroom. That hallway is extra wide, so it let’s us line up cube shelves along the wall. For a long time we stored our large ish DVD collection there. But with the advent of streaming services, our use of DVDS has gone down. While the number of books I have has continued to go up.

To free up some book space I have been putting DVD’S into one of those storage binders and throwing away the cases. This has given me so much more room for books! The only remaining problem is I can’t store them too close to the ground cause with rabbits the floor is lava. Anything in their reach WILL be chewed on!

Here is my current book storage, books end up being kept pretty much wherever they fit. I dream of one day have a room lined with shelves…*sigh.* I would love to hear about your book storage challenges and solutions!

Thanks for reading!

Review of: Inkheart by Cornelia Funk

Short Synopsis

A bookbinder with the mysterious ability to bring things out of books when he reads aloud brings out characters from the world in Inkheart. Nefarious villains and a conflicted fire-eater wind up in the real world, but the bookbinder’s wife is transported to their world in exchange. Try as he might to avoid the clutches of the villains he brought over he travels frequently with his daughter.  But one night they are found and his daughter, Meggie, finds herself thrown head first into her father’s mistake.

Review

I have read this book a few times over.  I just adore this story.  The idea that the characters within the world of a story could spill over into the real world is such a fun premise.  Also, given the dark and twisty things I like to read, a little bit of a scary concept.  (I’d like to keep Pennywise inside Stephen King’s It, thank you very much.) Books that are about people who love books hold a special place in my heart.  It is for this reason that I adore Meggie.  She such an innocent love of books and the stories they hold. 

While I disagreed with his decision, I found I had to respect Meggie’s father for his decision to hide from Capricorn and his men, and even Dustfinger.  The characters he read out of their story pose a risk to his daughter. It might seem selfish or even cowardly of him not to try to find a way to bring back his wife and return the people he essentially kidnapped into the real world, but I feel like if I were in his position I would probably do the same thing to protect my child.  Once Meggie learns the truth about what her father can do when he reads, I can hardly blame her for wishing she could bring stories to life too.  It struck me as realistic that even though her own mother vanished into the same book Capricorn and Dustfinger came out of, that she still tries to read things from stories despite such dire consequences.

Capricorn’s character was a little flat for me. He is vicious and cruel, he has next to nothing for redeeming qualities.  It’s hard to do anything but dislike him.  Which I suppose is the point.  We are meant to fear him utterly.  But I like my villains to be somewhat tragic, with a motivation I can (almost) relate to and empathize with.  Dustfinger on the other hand is a more rounded character. He is just so sad!  He serves as a sort of anti-hero in this story, not exactly one of the good guys, but not like Capricorn either.

The plot is engaging and keeps the reader interested. Overall, Inkheart is a fun adventure story with some dark undertones.  But not too dark as to be inappropriate for kids.  If I had children, I feel like this is the sort of book I would read to them chapter by chapter as a bedtime story. Inkheart has a little something for everyone.

Happy Reading!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 19-Aug-19

As always, shout out to the Book Date, who hosts this meme!

Last Week In Review

Last week I flew through The Dark Half by Stephen King, and Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine. This successfully completed the requirements of my Defense Against The Dark Arts N.E.W.T.s for Book Roast‘s Magical Readathon.

Hopes For This Week

I am still picking away at Rich People Problems this week. But my main goal continues to be the Magical Readathon, so I dont anticipate finishing it.

I plan on finishing my N.E.W.T.s in History of Magic this week by reading Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Tales and The Hobbit. That will bring the Magical Readathon to a close for me.

To get an “A” N.E.W.T in this category I have to read a fantasy. I know this is a kids book, but all is fair in Readathons!
To get my “E” N.E.W.T in this category, I must read a book with a map in it. Can’t go wrong with this classic!

Other Bookish Things

My hubby and I went to Folkfest last weekend. It’s a multi-cultural festival where local representatives and volunteers put together displays, sell some of their native and traditional food items, and treat us to samples of their music and dance. While at the Scottish pavilion, my amazing hubby surprised me with two books. One of Scottish ghost stories and one on folk tales. He also surprised me with this fabulous Harry Potter Hufflepuff House scarf!

The little Folkfest booklets are our “passports” for the event. At each pavilion you get the applicable page stamped.

Thanks for reading!