Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin’s Three Cups of Tea…


Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson | LibraryThing

Mortenson, G., Relin, D. O., Lawlor, P. G., & Tantor Media. (2006). Three cups of tea: One man’s mission to fight terrorism and build nations … one school at a time. Old Saybrook: Tantor Media. 9781400122516

Reasons for Reading:  Three Cups of Tea took up residence on local summer reading lists a couple of years ago. What Greg Mortenson did fascinated me and I wanted more details. Initially, I checked out the audiobook but I finished with the HCPL Digital Media – eAudio.

Summary: Larger than life Greg Mortenson attempted to reach the summit of K2. Along the way, Mortenson became lost along the way, stumbling into a Pakistani village. The villagers took in Mortenson. Mortenson promised to thank the village by returning and building a school. Thus, Mortenson embarked on establishing a charitable institute for poor, local children.

What I Liked : I liked Mortenson’s devotion to his family and that he kept his word. I admired his wife, Tara, too. Also, this was a very noble act and many have reaped what Mortenson has sown.

What I Disliked : Somehow, this book seemed slow. Perhaps if the CDs I began with hadn’t been damaged, I would’ve felt differently. This story is related in the third person narrative and that seemed an odd choice.  Another issue I had were the accusations of fraud against Mortenson.  

Two and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Song: ‪Imagine – The Beatles – John Lennon – YouTube

Setting: Pakistan, Tanzania, Minnesota, San Francisco, Montana

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Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins | LibraryThing

Perkins, S. (2011). Lola and the boy next door. New York, N.Y: Dutton Books. 9780525423287

Reasons for Reading  – Reading Anna and the French Kiss left me wanting …So, I requested Stephanie Perkins’ second novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door from HCPL.

Summary: Lola wishes for three things in life – 1) To arrive at her winter formal dressed in a Marie Antoinette-inspired ballgown she created, 2) For her parents to approve of her older, rocker boyfriend, and 3) To never again see the Bell Twins, Calliope and Cricket. Yet, as she constructs her fantastic costume, her folks won’t approve of her boyfriend Max, and the Bell Twins return to the house next door. Now, Lola can no longer avoid old feelings for Cricket, the boy next door. With a great set of colorful characters, Lola endeavors to navigate these troubled waters.

Review: I got a kick out of most of the characters in this books. I enjoyed their quirks and their extraordinary talents – Lola’s costume design, Cricket’s inventions, Calliope’s ice skating, etc. I also liked seeing Anna and St. Clair from Perkins’ first novel – Anna and the French Kiss. The only thing I didn’t care for about Lola and the Boy Next Door was Lola’s very mature relationship with her boyfriend Max. I thought Max was a real jerk and felt he knew better than to pursue a relationship with a minor. Nonetheless, all of this was real enough with just a dash of girlhood fantasy. 

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Lola”- The Kinks – YouTube

Setting : San Francisco

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Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | LibraryThing

Perkins, S. (2010). Anna and the French kiss. New York: Dutton. 9780525423270

Reasons – Okay, I gave into peer pressure. The bloggers, my colleagues, and other authors raved about Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. Of course, I had to read it. Lucky for me, it wasn’t walking off a cliff 🙂 . So, I requested the book from HCPL.

High school senior Anna Oliphant finds herself uprooted from her comfortable, Atlanta life and at the School of America – Paris (SOAP). “What the heck?” she wonders. Soon, though, Anna makes friends and meets the charismatic, handsome St. Clair. These two hit it off immediately. Oh, no, he’s got a girlfriend. Anna struggles to achieve a balance between friendship and desire in the City of Love.

Brava, Stephanie Perkins. This book totally rocked. She knew her characters well and the writing is so smooth that I felt as though I were viewing a movie. I remember those mean girls from my K-12 days, too. They would’ve called me a skunk, too, if my hair were as cool as Anna’s.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Coldplay – Violet Hill – YouTube

Setting : Paris, Atlanta, San Francisco

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Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood Everlasting


Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares | LibraryThing

Brashares, A. (2011). Sisterhood everlasting: A novel. New York: Random House. 9780385521222

A few years ago, I read all four of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. Later, I read 3 Willows, perhaps an extension of the aforementioned series. When I recently stumbled upon Sisterhood Everlasting on Amazon, I quickly requested the book through HCPL.

Warning: This review is meant for those who have read all the previous novels ONLY.

Brashares picks up the story of the four best friends – Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget, ten years later. They’re all grown up and leading seperate lives. Carmen plays a character on a TV show and lives with her producer fiancé. Lena teaches art at RISD and wonders about what life would’ve been like had she been with Kostos. Bridget lives with her boyfriend Eric in San Francisco. When Tibby invites Lena, Carmen, and Bridget to a reunion in Greece, all the sisters are estatic. However, this is a moment which changes their lives irrevocably.   

While I found the climax of this book devastating, I read the whole book. When I made it to the last pages, I felt relieved. Still, I’m not crazy about some of things which took place. Perhaps I’m too fond of happy endings sans tragedy.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song : These are Days – YouTube (Natalie Merchant)

Places : New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Greece, Australia

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Charles Webb’s The Graduate


The Graduate by Charles Webb | LibraryThing

* A 1001 Books Book

Webb, C. R., Brick, S., & Blackstone Audio (Firm). (2008). The graduate. Ashland, Or.: Blackstone Audio. 1433255456

The movie has pervaded American culture since its debut in 1967. Growing up in the 1990s, I remember listening to Simon and Garfunkel sing about Mrs. Robinson because my dad chose what music we listened to when we were driving. Like many other great movies, The Graduate was based on a book. Seeing that Houston Public Library owned the audiobook version, I requested it and was soon listening to this bildungsroman.

Brilliant but disillusioned Benjamin Braddock just graduated from some nice institution in New England and has returned home to Southern California. He’s discontented, unhappy, listless, seemingly aimless, not to mention whiny. His parents’ prodding just exacerbates the issue. Then, the wife of his father’s business partner, Mrs. Robinson, begins pressuring him into an adulterous affair. With nothing “better” to do, Benjamin finds himself meeting Mrs. Robinson in a hotel room. This is all fine and dandy until the Robinsons’ lovely daughter, Elaine comes home for a student holiday from Berkeley. Cuckolded Mr. Robinson urges Benjamin to date Elaine while Mrs. Robinson has other ideas. Then, Benjamin suddenly has something. . . rather someone, to live for beyond postgrad.

Once I recovered from my initial dislike of the petulant Benjamin, I enjoyed this morality play. Throughout most of it, I was purely disgusted by Mrs. Robinson and aggravated with the others “over thirty.” It amused me that the only characters with first names were the kiddos. . . just like school. I’d recommend this dark comedy to the mature reader.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel

Places : The East Coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara

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Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex


Eugenides, J. (2002). Middlesex. New York: Picador. 9780312422158

I actually read this book in Summer 2007 whilst between semesters in grad school. It was Oprah’s pick at the time and I read it at warp speed. Unfortunately, I never reviewed the book. Seeing a copy of Middlesex for sale by the Friends of Freeman (HCPL), I bought it. I took a more leisurely pace began rereading it after Christmas 2010.

Cal Stephanides, a forty-one year old who identifies himself as a man, climbs his gnarly family tree. He possesses a recessive gene, 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, which made him appear female at the time of his birth. Believing him to be a girl, his parents named their “daughter” Calliope and called her “Callie”. After learning about the syndrome as an adolescent, Calliope changes his name to the masculine name, Cal. Taking on his Greek-American genealogy, Cal tells the story of a dirty little secret of his grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty, which shapes Calliope into Cal.

Upon hearing Oprah selected a book about hermaphrodite, I didn’t imagine myself reading this book. Yet, summer doldrums beset me and I stayed up several nights in a row reading Middlesex. The language Eugenides implements relates this story in a beautifully visual way. He crammed so much between the covers. Throughout, I learned more of the Smyrna fire, Prohibition-Era Detroit, the Nation of Islam, and the Pleasant Valley of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Eugenides encapsulates much of the contemporary life of Cal in Foreign Service Berlin as well. I enjoyed the mysteries he creates in his brother Chapter Eleven and catalyst The Obscure Object. I laughed at Desdemona’s work for the Nation of Islam and Aunt Lina’s droll tones. Above all else, I considered the sex versus gender argument in a fresh light.

Four and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha & the Vandellas

Places: Mt. Olympus, Smyrna, Turkey, Greece, New York City, Detroit, San Francisco, Germany

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With Middlesex being The Detroit Novel, I must link the following Super Bowl Ad:

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