Thursday, July 17, 2014

Top Books of 2014 So Far...

Welp, it's officially past mid-year so I figure it's time to reflect on the first half of 2014.  Now, even though I'm not where I want to be quantity-wise in my reading, I'm pretty happy with the quality of books I've read so far.  Without further ado, here is my list of faves in 2014 so far:

1.  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Housseini

2.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

3.  Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

4.  Night Film by Marisha Pessl

5.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

6.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

7.  Three Souls by Janie Chang

Monday, July 7, 2014

Latest Review: Three Souls by Janie Chang

Summary Blurb:
We have three souls, or so I'd been told. But only in death could I confirm this ... So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife. Beside her are three souls—stern and scholarly yang; impulsive, romantic yin; and wise, shining hun—who will guide her toward understanding. She must, they tell her, make amends.

As Leiyin delves back in time with the three souls to review her life, she sees the spoiled and privileged teenager she once was, a girl who is concerned with her own desires while China is fractured by civil war and social upheaval. At a party, she meets Hanchin, a captivating left-wing poet and translator, and instantly falls in love with him.

When Leiyin defies her father to pursue Hanchin, she learns the harsh truth—that she is powerless over her fate. Her punishment for disobedience leads to exile, an unwanted marriage, a pregnancy, and, ultimately, her death. And when she discovers what she must do to be released from limbo into the afterlife, Leiyin realizes that the time for making amends is shorter than she thought.

Suffused with history and literature, Three Souls is an epic tale of revenge and betrayal, forbidden love, and the price we are willing to pay for freedom
.

 
My Blabberings:
It's been awhile since I've read some Chinese historical fiction and I'm so glad that I broke that streak.  I've never read much about the Communist movement in China so this time period was really fascinating for me.

I thought the characters were complex enough to be both realistic and sympathetic.  I loved Leiyin even though she could be naive and spoiled.  All of the secondary characters were also very compelling - whether they were villains, friends, or dwelling in a moral gray area.

My overall opinion was that this is a great historical fiction novel that also encompasses some of the mystic religious qualities unique to Chinese culture (Leiyin's yin, yang, and hun souls).  If you are a fan of Lisa See, Amy Tan, or just historical fiction in general - this is definitely a book worth checking out!

4.5/5 stars

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Enjoying the World Cup Festivities

We may have lost yesterday but it was still so much fun to take part in the World Cup craziness!  Yesterday my hubby and I joined the crowds and went to the Mass Ave. World Cup Block Party in Indianapolis - it was insane...and insanely fun!

This is what it looked like when we first walked into the designated block party area.

And when we settled into our spot this was our view (well, I had to stand on our cooler to get this shot).

And lastly, I had to take a photo of these girls with their awesome sign.

Now that USA is out of the running, I'm not sure who to root for...Belgium? Argentina (because of Messi)?  Have you guys caught the World Cup bug?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

TTT: Top Ten Classics

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Classic Books

1.  Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

2.  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

3.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

4.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

5.  A Separate Peace by John Knowles

6.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

7.  The Stranger by Albert Camus

8.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

9.  Night by Elie Wiesel

10.  1984 by George Orwell

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TTT: Top Ten on My Summer TBR

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR list

1.  The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman...highly rated and sounds like a great book club pick!

2.  The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld...blurb claims that "it combines the empathy and lyricism of Alice Sebold with the dark, imaginative power of Stephen King."

3.  Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse...this is one of those "I can't believe I haven't read this yet!" books.

4.  Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl...I really enjoyed Night Film so I can't wait to read Pessl again!

5.  The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson...I've been meaning to read this for years!!

6.  The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli...I've heard nothing but good things and it is just sitting on my shelf begging for me to crack it open!

7.  The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer...This has been on several TBRs that I've published on the blog.  It will happen.  I will read this book g'dernit!

8.  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline...I love novels that bounce back and forth between a historical and modern day setting.  This book sounds like another good book club pick!

9.  Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin...sounds like a fun beach read - magical realism/historical fiction/fantasy/romance - whoa!

10.  Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts...because my mother recommended it and we have pretty much the same taste in books :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Towering TBR: Biographies, WWII books, and other fiction

Image: Parada Creations
This segment on the blog came about because my desire to read new books vastly outstrips my ability to dwindle down my TBR list...oh, to have more free time!  Anyways, these are some new additions to the good ol' TBR that are all over the place!

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff...it's time I read a new graphic novel!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr...a story during WWII that has received rave reviews (I can't seem to escape these WWII books)!

Gemini by Carol Cassella...a doctor who has a Jane Doe patient in a coma tries to uncover Jane's past.

The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson...I love reading histories of scandalous women!

Noggin by John Corey Whaley...the premise sounds way out there but I'm intrigued.  Especially since there was such an uproar about A.J. Jacobs' review.

The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duffy...someone was describing this book (can't remember if it was IRL or not) and this true story just really intrigued me.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts...my mother is insistent that I will love this book.  Mothers are always right so of course it lands at the tippy top of my 1,000+ TBR list.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TTT: Artworthy Covers

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Covers You'd Frame as Artwork.

1.  Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

2.  The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

3.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

4.  The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

5.  Duplex by Kathryn Davis

6.  Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

7.  Eli the Good by Silas House

8.  Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai

9.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs...creepy but cool!

10.  I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan