President’s Day 2014


Lincoln Memorial

Since President’s Day seems to be an excellent time to shop, please browse Jorie’s Store on Amazon¬†ūüėõ … Seriously, I’m blessed that I live in a land where we elect our officials.
      

 

         

Books I Love – 2014


This Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing some of the books I loved reading. By clicking on the covers, you can visit Jorie’s Store on Amazon by clicking on the following book covers. Shopping at Jorie’s Store funds future giveaways! ‚̧ ūüôā
      

A Cafecito Story: El Cuento Del Cafecito  Rainwater by Sandra Brown   Middlesex: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane  The Namesake: A Novel  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (P.S.)

 The Little Prince 70th Anniversary Gift Set (Book/CD/Downloadable Audio)  Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)  The Shack    

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland


The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s): ¬†Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland
Release Date: September 24, 2013 

Publisher: Knopf 

ISBN: 978-0307265746
Pages: 352
Source: Shipment of Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) which arrived at Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading:¬†Come on, this is Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book! Check out my elation about getting my hands on the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).

Summary:¬†Subhash and Udayan Mitra are two brothers who grew up in Post-Partition Calcutta. Subhash, older by a mere fifteen months, and Udayan look alike. However, they’re very different people and have rather opposite destinies. In the 1960s, Udayan’s political fervor rises while Subhash seeks a scientific education in Rhode Island. In the midst of his studies, Subhash receives notice that Udayan was killed near their childhood home. Subhash returns to Calcutta to find the fractured Mitra family and Udayan’s widow, philosophy student Gauri haunted and stuck in those last moments of Udayan’s life. Subhash’s reaction and handling sets an extreme course for the lives Subhash, Gauri, and Mitra family.

One Thing I Learned from this book:¬†Previously I’d heard of the Partition and of the Bengali people. However, I didn’t know much about the Partition of Bengal.

What I Liked: I was mesmerized by Lahiri’s writing style yet again. It’s as though she’s a Rembrandt of words! The way she understands her characters truly enthralls me. I was astonished by what a loving and caring man Subhash was. I’ve yet to visit India or Rhode Island but I have a clear idea of these settings.

What I Disliked: The story itself made me very weepy. I wanted to throttle characters. Most often, it was Gauri! However, Mr. and Mrs. Mitra weren’t my favorites, either. Also, it would’ve helped me if each section/chapter started with a date (at least the year) for when the action of the ensuing section took place.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange РRestricted from those under age 17 


Song:
The Beatles РEleanor Rigby 

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For more, check out the following sites:

National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month ‚Äď Amy Tan


Amy Tan | LibraryThing

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads called “Celebrating Asian ‚Äď Pacific American Authors!¬†that Candice P. of WarmCuppaTea and I are doing this May.

I recall going with my mom and her friends to see¬†The Joy Luck Club¬†which was based on Amy Tan’s bestselling novel of the same name. While I heard afterwards that the movie greatly differed from the book which inspired it, I looked forward to reading the book someday. Later on, as I read Tan’s books, I became riveted by these relationships. Tan really shines when it comes to rendering a portrait of the mother-daughter relationship.

As the Literature Resource Center says:

Novelist¬†Amy¬†Tan¬†was born in 1952, in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrant parents. Her father, John¬†Tan, emigrated to the United States in 1947 and worked as an engineer before he became a Baptist minister. Tan’s mother, Daisy, came to the United States after her first marriage crumbled due to spousal abuse; although she had three children by her former husband, Chinese law at that time would not permit a divorced woman to gain custody of her offspring and Daisy kept her first family a secret from her American-born children for many years. It was only after she lost her oldest son, Peter, and her husband to brain cancer that Daisy would reveal her past. Still a teen at the time of the death of both her father and brother,¬†Tan¬†grew up with her younger brother in her mother’s home, a fact that is reflected in the primacy of mother-daughter relationships within her fiction.

Of course, these elements rise to the surface in Tan’s writings. It’s been a while since I’ve read¬†The Joy Luck Club¬†or¬†The Kitchen God’s ¬†Wife. Still, these characters and situations remain with me. They became the standard in my future reading. Tan’s writing has been rather formative in my reading life.

Please check out:

 

National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month ‚Äď Jhumpa Lahiri


Jhumpa Lahiri | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads called “Celebrating Asian ‚Äď Pacific American Authors!¬†that Candice P. of WarmCuppaTea and I are doing this May.

My first memory of Jhumpa Lahiri was of the author talking about her new novel¬†The Namesake¬†with TV hostess Martha Stewart back in 2003. Lahiri’s description of Bengali immigrants having a son in Boston compelled me to request this book at HCPL. When her novel arrived, I could hardly put it down to eat or sleep.

According to the Gale Literary Database, Lahiri:

Born 1967, in London, England; daughter of a librarian and a teacher; married Alberto Vourvoulias (a journalist), January 15, 2001; children: two. Education: Barnard College, B.A.; Boston University, M.A. (English), M.A. (creative writing), M.A. (comparative literature and the arts), Ph.D. Addresses: Home: New York, NY.

As I’m not a big fan of short stories, I held off on reading her other books for years. Nonetheless, I gave in and was pleased with both of these collections. My only complaint was that I wanted to know more about these characters.

So, why am I making such a fuss? These characters, most of them of Bengali descent, are so different from me but I can identify with them. That’s Lahiri’s magic. Just give her a try and you’ll be mesmerized as well.

For Candice’s profile on Tite Kubo, check out her post “National Asian Pacific American Heritage Month ‚Äď Tite Kubo ‚Äď Creator of Bleach“.

 

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth


Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri | LibraryThing

Lahiri, J. (2008). Unaccustomed earth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 9780307265739

Reasons for Reading : I’m not a big fan of short stories. However,¬†as I’ve enjoyed Lahiri’s The Namesake, I pulled Unaccustomed Earth off the shelf at the HCPL branch where I work.

Summary: Lahiri tells eight stories of first generation Bengali Americans.  All these stories deal with the ups and downs of families and relationships.

Unaccustomed Earth is broken into two parts. Part I is comprised of the first five stories. Among them are “Unaccustomed Earth,” “Hell-Heaven,” “A Choice of Accommodations,” “Only Goodness,” and “Nobody’s Business.” The book is the namesake of “Unaccustomed Earth” tells of Ruma, a young mother in Seattle. When Ruma hosts her visiting widower father, she prepares for him to live with them. While her father tends to her garden and bonds with her son, he has his own ideas about what he wants to do.¬†“Hell-Heaven” confronts the topics of social strata in both old and new worlds.¬†¬†“A Choice of Accommodations” shares the nearly failed attempt of a husband to turn an old high school friend’s wedding into a romantic weekend for his wife. Lahiri tells of a sister who doesn’t know what to do about her alcoholic brother in “Only Goodness.” Part I ends with “Nobody’s Business,” a lovesick grad student watches his lovely Bengali roommate’s life implode.

Part II is called “Hema and Kaushik.” These three stories – “Once in a Lifetime,” “Year’s End,” and “Going Ashore” focus on two characters – Hema and Kaushik. Teenage Kaushik and his family stay with young Hema’s family. While they go on to lead very seperate lives, circumstances reunite them twenty years later.¬†¬†

What I Liked : Lahiri’s writing style compels me to continue reading her work. I found myself empathizing with the jerkiest of jerks and understanding their plights. Lahiri’s talent shines from within Unaccustomed Earth.

What I Disliked : By the time I’m absorbed and enthralled in the story, it has ended! I especially wanted to read more about Hema and Kaushik.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Nicola Conte – Dossier Omega – YouTube

Setting: Cambridge Massachusetts, Seattle, India, Italy, Thailand

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For more on Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, check out the following sites:

Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation (Uncorrected Proof)


Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok | LibraryThing

Kwok, J. (2010). Girl in translation. (Uncorrected Proof).  New York: Riverhead Books. 9781594487569

When I attended a meeting at HCPL’s Administrative Office, many uncorrected proofs awaited new readers. I picked up half a dozen that day, including Girl in Translation. As I didn’t want to lose a library book between here and England, I took Girl in Translation with me.

Kimberly Chang and her mother leave behind Hong Kong to pursue the American Dream sometime in the 1980s. Since they know very little English, the Changs depend on Kimberly’s Aunt Paula. Aunt Paula installs them in a¬†Brooklyn¬†slum and in her sweatshop. Soon, Kimberly leads two lives – stellar student by day and Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. She struggles through squalor, deprivation, and a crushing crush on¬†an underachieving boy at the factory; Kimberly¬†also navigates the social strata¬†in a preppy white world.¬†Bridging cultural and generational gaps, Kimberly¬†must be strong to “make it.”

Kwok clearly draws her characters, especially Kimberly and her mother. My favorite character was Mrs. Chang because she was an empathetic person. I despised Aunt Paula. Another amusing¬†thing Kwok writes is how Kimberly hears¬†certain English words. I won’t remark on what Kimberly actually asked¬†her teacher for when she needed an eraser.

What I didn’t like about this story was the ending. Most of all, what happened to Kimberly’s best friend Annette in the conclusion? I missed Annette because I considered her an impetus in Kimberly’s education.¬†While I¬†found the deprivation believable, I couldn’t buy some of the other things.¬†I’m sad to say I really didn’t enjoy this book.

Two Out of Five Pearls

Song: Spin Doctors – Two Princes – YouTube

Places : Hong Kong, New York City,

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For more on Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation, check out the following sites:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. . .


Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert | LibraryThing

Gilbert, E., & Penguin Audiobooks. (2010). Committed: [a skeptic makes peace with marriage]. New York, N.Y: Penguin Audio. 9780143145752

Soon after I finished Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I¬†wanted to know¬†what happened with¬†Liz¬†since her previous memoir.¬†Luckily, I found what Gilbert calls Eat, Pray, Love’s companion memoir in audiobook format¬†at HCPL.

Spoiler Alert (If you anticipate reading Eat, Pray, Love, then do not read this review)

Towards the end of her previous memoir, Liz met Felipe. Felipe, a Brazilian man with Australian citizenship living in Bali, survived his own bitter divorce. So, when he and Liz began their romance, they agreed to remain monogamous without legally marrying.

Their arrangement suited both of them pretty well; Felipe would stay with Liz in various United States locales for the weeks alloted him. Then, Felipe would leave and return on the next visa. This all ended when the U.S. government denied him entry.

Confronted with the reality of legal marriage so Felipe could dwell again in U.S., Liz and Felipe find themselves on the move in Southeast Asia, awaiting Felipe’s permission. During this time, Liz delved into¬†researching the¬†institution of marriage. Her discovery led to this memoir.

Liz’s work is impressively thorough and¬†exhaustive in Committed. At some points, her doubt pervaded her writing, lending to its authenticity. While I don’t agree with her on numerous points and am virtually clueless on other issues she raises, I considered this a good read.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: United States, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Song:¬†¬†Modern Love – David Bowie (1983)‚Ĩ‚ÄŹ – YouTube

You might also like:

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa¬†Lahiri
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  • It Takes A Nation by Rebecca Blank
  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

¬†For more on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. . ., check out the following:

Top Ten Best Debut Books | Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers‚Äô answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can’t come up with ten, don’t worry about it—post as many as you can!

NEXT WEEK THE TOPIC IS: Top Ten Characters I’d Name My Children After. Click HERE for a list of future Top Ten Tuesday topics.

Top Ten Best Debut Books (of any year..just your favorite debut/”first from an author” books. If you want, you can focus on debuts of a specific year but it’s open to debuts of any year).

* Since I’m suffering from severe congestion at the moment, I’m only listing my picks. Please ask why I chose them and I’ll explain when I’m feeling better.

  1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. Sense and Sensibility by A Lady (Jane Austen)
  4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  5. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  6. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  7. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  8. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  9. La Princesse de Clèves by Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette
  10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening


Audio Book

Audio Book

*1001 Books Book

Chopin, K., & O’Karma, A. (1987). The awakening. Charlotte Hall, MD: Recorded Books.

When perusing the audio bookshelf at my library, I saw The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Remembering comparisons to Flaubert’s Madame Bovery, Tolstoy’s¬† Anna Karenina, and part of Lahiri’s The Namesake, I readily grabbed the audiobook. With the soft-spoken narration of Alexandra O‚ÄôKarma, I soon enjoyed The Awakening.

The Awakening begins in late nineteenth century Grand Isle, Louisiana, a resort for the New Orleans “who’s who.” The lovely and intelligent wife and mother of two, Edna Pontillier focuses intently on her conversation with Robert Lebrun. Edna’s husband, L√©once, looks upon her as a cherished possession and so Edna basks in the attentions Robert, the grown son of the owner of the Grand Isle resort.¬† Growing up in a Protestant home and converting to Catholicism in order to marry L√©once, Edna is much the outsider. No matter how much she spends time with friend Ad√®le Ratignolle, Edna’s disconnect and discontent pushes her into a metamorphosis or awakening all of her own. Once Edna rises from this deep slumber that has been her life, she strives to capture personal happiness in late nineteenth century New Orleans.

I liked many aspects of this book. Chopin captures the life of Edna Pontellier so well. Additionally, both heroine and writer are women. Where Flaubert and Tolstoy felt sympathetic towards their respective heroines, Chopin portrays more empathy for Edna Pontillier. Also, Chopin’s characters clearly stood out in my mind.

I did not like the resolution of the story, though. What happens in the end is quite debatable and I will leave it for future readers to interpret. Does Edna Pontillier triumph? Let me know what you think. . .

Four out of Five Pearls Places: Grand Isle, LA; New Orleans, LA, Kentucky

For more on Kate Chopin’s The Awakening: