Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Reads – 2014 Edition


Asian Characters | morgueFile Free photos

Last year, I began recognizing various heritage months with a feature called Celebrating Authors. The inaugural section, Celebrating Asian – Pacific American Authors was a collaborative effort made by Candice P. of warmcuppatea. I managed to recognize two of my favorites – Jhumpa Lahiri and Amy Tan.
While this feature grew to include other author profiles, for 2014, I chose to showcase several books written by those of Asian and/or Pacific descent.
Just like Valentine’s and Easter, you can click on the covers, visit Jorie’s Store on Amazon, and shop for some great reading. Making purchases at Jorie’s Store funds future giveaways! 🙂
Samir and Yonatan  The Name Jar  Bindi Babes
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  How My Parents Learned to Eat (Sandpiper Houghton Mifflin books)  Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
Never Let Me Go  Thousand Cranes  Girl in Translation
Interpreter of Maladies  The Piano Teacher: A Novel  The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics)
The Complete Persepolis  The Joy Luck Club  The Arabian Nights (New Deluxe Edition)
Doveglion: Collected Poems (Penguin Classics)  Monkey: Folk Novel of China  Millicent Min, Girl Genius
         
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Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art


Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore | LibraryThing

Moore, C. (2012). Sacre bleu: A comedy d’art. New York: William Morrow. 9780061779749

Reasons for Reading : I posted Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art on my TBR list. Check out my reasons for reading there.

Summary: News of the suicide of volatile artist Vincent van Gogh rocks Parisian baker and artist Lucien Lessard and his good friend  Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Compounding issues is the sudden reappearance of Lucien’s MIA girlfriend, Juliette and the nasty little guy who’s known as The Colorman. Lucien and Henri take the reader for a ride on the crazy train, encountering figures in the French art scene along the way.

What I Liked : Author Christopher Moore is uproariously humorous. There were numerous “ROL” (read out loud) moments throughout this novel. Characters such as fictitious Lucien and Juliette appealed greatly. The physical book is gorgeous with images discussed in the narrative and has blue typing.

What I Disliked : Some curse words here and there don’t bother me but the language used by various characters was beyond nasty. Also, I thought sometimes Moore crossed the line between amusingly irreverent and crazy wicked. One point late in the novel made a reference to bestiality that had major cringe factor.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France with stops in the French countryside, Italy, England, and the US

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For more on Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, check out the following sites:

Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen | LibraryThing

Gruen, S. (2007). Water for elephants. Detroit: Thomson Gale. 9781594132001

In my three years working as a librarian, I’ve observed trends in books. Patrons request various books. Time and again, patron sought Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. This past November, a friend and I saw a trailer for the movie based on the novel. Yet, what encouraged me to read this book myself was a reader’s advisory workshop I participated in during February. I requested a large print copy through HCPL and received a copy shortly thereafter.

Gruen presents two different storylines. The first one is the young veterinarian student Jacob Janowski. He’s the son of Polish immigrants and his father is a veterinarian. His parents died in a tragic car accident and Jacob in effect drops out his veterinary program at Cornell. Then, Jacob stumbles onto the train of the traveling circus. He takes on the care of the exotic traveling menagerie of the Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Traveling with the circus, Jacob meets the neurotic August, August’s wife – equestrian Marlena, and the anthropomorphized elephant, Rosie.

The other narrative thread finds the ninety-something Jacob in a nursing home. He reminisces about his circus days, the tempestuous August, and Jacob’s pining for Marlena.

I won’t reveal the ending but both threads are neatly and happily knit together. While I’m one who often favors such, it didn’t totally ring true. Also, learning that Jacob ends up in a nursing home where he’s patronized didn’t set right with me. Here’s the good news, though. I enjoyed reading about the animals, especially when Jacob found his vocational calling. Rosie the Elephant and Bobo the Chimpanzee were my favorite characters in the book.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night

Places : Upstate New York, The Midwest, Chicago, Poland

 
You might also like:
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz-Ryan
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

For more on Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, check out the following sites:

Voltaire’s Candide


 

*1001 Books Book

 

Voltaire, & Donnelly, D. (1986). Candide. Charlotte Hall, MD: Recorded Books.

Candide is the illegitimate nephew of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh of Westphalia. Yet, Candide lives in the Baron’s castle is under the tutelege of Pangloss.  Thanks to his optimistic tutor, Pangloss, Candide thinks everything is hunky-dory wonderful.  Life is good for Candide until he kisses the Baron’s lovely daughter, the Lady Cunégonde. Candide then finds himself out in the cold, cruel world with no skills for survival. Throughout the book, Candide experiences out-of-this world tortures and deprivations. Will Candide maintain his “glass is half-full” optimism, only the end will tell us.

A precursor to Pollyanna, Candide seems set upon thinking the best will prevail. Yet, catastrophe pursues him and those he knows. Obviously, life isn’t so grand. While those around him adapt, Candide never seems to get the hang of the “real world.” He’s just a good, ignorant guy. Often, the adage “No good deed goes unpunished” rules the life of Candide.

This was pretty good; a tongue in cheek sort of tale which highlights the absurdity of philosophical bents towards optimism. Of course, pessimism isn’t what’s needed, either. No, what is a essential is a balance of happy and sad.

Three out of Five Pearls