Monday, January 26, 2015

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Journey of the Heart (Regret and Reconciliation)


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. After receiving a letter from a dying acquaintance, retired Harold Fry spontaneously sets out on a 500-mile journey by foot to visit her. Walking alone gives Harold time to contemplate his marriage, his son, and his childhood, while meeting new people along the way.  

This structured, unassuming Englishman still wearing his tie and yachting shoes seems to be doing what most people only dream of—making a great escape from his dull life if only for a brief time.  But Harold’s walk is so much more; it’s about regret and reconciliation of his past.  

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s gentle, thoughtful, amusing, and moving—a touching thumbs-up.


Happy Reading,

Annette


This book met one of my 2015 Book Challenges:   Read a book set in a foreign country.


What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email:  Readinginthegarden@gmail.com

Monday, January 19, 2015

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

America: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Triumph Over Adversity)


Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Kimberly Chang is eleven years old when she and her mother move from Hong Kong to America with the help of Aunt Paula. In New York they start their long and arduous struggle to assimilate into a new and foreign culture while trying to remain true to the ingrained values and customs of their heritage. 

Aunt Paula wears a mask of piety and familial devotion like a snake skin that sheds and quickly reveals her ugly core of darkness and spite. With family like this, who need enemies?  Aunt Paula has Kimberly and her mother literally working for pennies in her clothing sweatshop in Brooklyn, while keeping them holed away in a roach-infested building with no heat.  With the guise of being helpful, she oppresses them in inhumane living conditions. Despite the negative pull of the daunting life of factory work and atrocious living situation, Kimberly knows that the only way to overcome their circumstances and create a new life for her and her mother is to excel in school so she can go to college and get a good job.  Her sheer determination is inspiring.  It made me want to enroll in a night class, any class, to better my sluggish self.

This book pulled me in right from the beginning. The financial hardships and language barriers Kimberly and Mrs. Chang faced seemed almost insurmountable and yet their optimism and extremely hard work slowly nudged them forward.  Their story was compelling. It urged me on, page by page. I was hooked and I found it hard to put the book down. It was an inspiring story of courage and resolve, a definite thumbs-up.

I’m not sure how much of this book was autobiographical, but according to the back cover, like Kimberly, “Jean Kwok was born in Hong Kong and as a child immigrated to Brooklyn, where she worked with her family in a sweatshop. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard and completed an MFA in fiction at Columbia.”  Wow. 



Happy Reading,

Annette



What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email:  Readinginthegarden@gmail.com

Monday, January 12, 2015

Babayaga by Toby Barlow

Bewitchingly Fun Read (Witches and Espionage)


Babayaga by Toby Barlow is a book about an older witch out for revenge on a younger witch, a mild American advertising man, another wound-up American who draws the other into a shady espionage plot, and a detective who gets caught up in the middle with outrageous consequences. 

This book had me under a spell right from the beginning.  It was such a fun read that I had a hard time putting it down. It was refreshingly imaginative with a fun and lively narrative and unexpected plot that wound its way through the streets of Paris in 1959. Although at times it was graphically gruesome and violent, the book as a whole was not a dark tramp through the underworld of witches and covens.  Each of the characters was unique and fully developed so in the end I felt like I really knew and understood them.  More than that, I liked them—even the evil, sour, old, sassy hag.

I give it a high-flying thumbs-up!



This was a book club selection and our members' biggest response was shoulder shrugs with some lukewarm enthusiasm.  Some (me) really liked it, others thought it was pretty good to ok. One member thought it was hard to get into, and someone threw in the word “tedious.”  Everyone agreed that the "songs" were definitely worth skipping over. They added nothing but confusion. On the other hand, everyone agreed the book was different in an intriguing kind of way.  One person said she liked the book more afterwards—not just because it ended.  She really liked Vidot, as we all did, and was curious if or how he would be transformed back from a flea.





This book met several of my 2015 Book Challenges: Read a book set in a foreign country; Read a book containing magic or supernatural events; Buy a book from your local bookstore.  



Happy Reading,

Annette



What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email:  Readinginthegarden@gmail.com

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Book Challenge

ReadingintheGarden.blogspot.com 

2015 Book Challenge 



Happy New Year!!  To all you book lovers, here’s an entertaining challenge for 2015.  Let’s see how many books you can mark off this list.   Have fun!  

     ·         Read a book set in an “A” state:  Alabama, Alaska, 
               Arizona, Arkansas

     ·         Read a memoir

     ·         Buy a book from your local bookstore

     ·         Join a regular or online book club

     ·         Read a suspense/thriller

     ·         Read a book from 
                      “Kicking it with the Classics”

     ·        Read a book from The Rory Gilmore Reading 
              Challenge” listed at 
              ReadingintheGarden.blogspot.com

     ·         Read a book with a number in the title

     ·         Read a book with a color in the title

     ·         Read a book set in a foreign country

     ·         Read a book to a child

     ·         Read a book from the library

     ·         Give a book as a gift

     ·         Read a novella 
               (longer than a short story, shorter than a novel)

     ·         Read a book set in winter, snow, or ice

     ·         Read a book that has or will become a movie

     ·         Read a Pulitzer-prize winning book

     ·         Read a book containing magic or supernatural events

     ·         Read a book set in the 1800s

     ·         Read a travel book

     ·         Read a book off the shelf 
                without seeing what it’s about

     ·         Read a book about siblings

     ·         Read a book set on an island

     ·         Read a book with only two words in the title

     ·         Read a novel that has a recipe in it

     ·         Read a book your significant other has read

     ·         Read an historical fiction novel

     ·         Read a book about an animal

     ·         Read a book outside your comfort zone

     ·         Read a book about art

     ·         Read an Agatha Christie book

     ·         Read a book that makes you laugh out loud

     ·         Read a book that makes you cry

     ·         Put a dollar in a book and donate it

     ·         Recommend a book to a stranger

     ·         Learn and use four vocabulary words from a book

     ·         Read a book with a war setting

     ·         Read a 400+ page book

     ·         Read a book from a local author



See Suggestions Below
CLICK ON TITLES TO READ REVIEWS

Read a book set in an “A” state:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas.  Some suggestions from past reviews: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Alaska) • The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas (Arizona) • A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (Alabama)



Buy a book from your local bookstore: I get my books from many places, but my three favorite local bookstores are The Well-Read Moose, Browsers Uncommon Books, which sells used books, and the library bookstore called Second Story Books. 

Join a regular or online book club.  I have been part of a book club for many years and love it.

Read a suspense/thriller. Some suggestions from past reviews:  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn • The Martian • Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledgwidge.

Read a classic book from “Kicking it with the Classics” reading list at ReadingintheGarden.BlogSpot.com

Read a book from “The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge” listed at ReadingintheGarden.BlogSpot.com


Read a book with a color in the title. Some suggestions from past reviews:  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson • The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls • Tea and Green Ribbons by Evelyn Doyle


Read a book to a child. I read to my granddaughter all the time.  One of her favorites is The Monster at the End of the Book. 

Read a book from the library.  Sadly, I failed at this one--probably because I have soooooo many books that I have no need to check one out.  I do, however, buy many of my books at the bookstore in our library where I volunteer--not because I need them, just because I can't help myself. I get some of the latest titles for a dollar--who could resist?  

Give a book as a gift.  Of course, I give my granddaughter books for Christmas and her birthday, and sometimes other family members, too.

Read a novella (longer than a short story, shorter than a novel). Some suggestions from past reviews:  The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros • The Log of the SS the Mrs Unguentine by Stanley Crawford • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Read a book set in winter, snow, or ice. Some suggestions from past reviews:  Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton • City of Thieves by David Benioff • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.


Read a Pulitzer-prize winning book. Some suggestions from past reviews. Beloved by Toni Morrison  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway  •  Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout



Read a book off the shelf without seeing what it’s about. I did grab a book from the library bookstore, which I read without knowing what it's about.  Unfortunately, I didn't really like it and did not do a review on it.

Read a book about siblings. Suggestions from past reviews:  The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.   •  Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik   • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown   



Read a novel that has a recipe in it.  Suggestions from past reviews: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (review to come) • Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran.

Read a book your significant other has read.  The Martian by Andy Weir • The Ridiculous Race by  Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasakaran I read them first and recommended them to him.  One book I've read years ago that my husband recommended to me was "Co. Aytch" by Sam Watkins--a confederate's memoir of the Civil War--Excellent book!

Read an historical fiction/narrative novel. Suggestions from past reviews:  The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor • Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman (review to come)

Read a book about an animal.  Suggestions from past reviews:  Amazing Gracie by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff • Dog On It by Spencer Quinn. • Modoc by Ralph Helfer  

Read a book outside your comfort zone. The Martian by Andy Weir (Loved it!)


Read an Agatha Christie book. Suggestions from past reviews:  And Then There Were None (review to come)  • Murder on the Orient Express • Death on the Nile.

Read a book that makes you laugh out loud. Suggestions from past reviews:  Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris •  My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl. • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson 

Read a book that makes you cry. Suggestions from past reviews:   The Light Between the Ocean by M.L. Stedman • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck No books that I read in 2015 made me cry.

Put a dollar in a book and donate it. I put a dollar in a kid's chapter book and put it in a Little Free Library.  I hope it makes his or her day.   :)

Recommend a book to a stranger. I do that all the time with my blog.


Learn and use four vocabulary words from a book. I gleaned many new vocabulary words from Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Read a book with a war setting:  Suggestions from past reviews: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway • The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor

Read a 400+ page book: I don't particularly enjoy reading 400+ page books.  I almost feel like they're holding me hostage when I'm itching to get on with the next book.  Maybe I have book ADHD.   Suggestions from past reviews:   Moby-Dick by Herman Melville • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

Read a book from a local author. FAIL for 2015!  BUT one of my favorite and most memorable books I've previously read is from a Spokane, WA author (Spokane is about 40 minutes from Coeur d'Alene, ID.)  "Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America" by Linda Lawrence Hunt is the true account of a woman's attempt to earn money for her family in 1896 by walking across the U.S with her daughter. EXCELLENT BOOK! So good that I would consider reading it again--and I don't say that about many books.



Happy Reading!

Annette

Questions or comments?  Email   Readinginthegarden@gmail.com