ext_48823: 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (Default)
[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
11. Farahad Zama, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

Mr. Ali, a recently-retired Muslim man living in a city in South India, finds he has too much time on his hands. So, what to do but open a marriage bureau? It's sort of like a dating service, but with an emphasis on caste instead of personality-matching quizzes (emphasis on looks and occupations are universal, though). Secondary characters include Mr. Ali's estranged son, Rehman, who is a human rights activist; Aruna, a poor Hindu girl he hires as a secretary who is secretly worried about her own marriage prospects; and, of course, Mrs. Ali.

This book is being marketed to fans of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, and I have to agree that if you like them, you will almost certainly like this new book as well. They share a similar simplistic-but-charming writing style, a focus on traditional values, and evocative descriptions of the beauty in rural and natural scenes. Zama's book is a bit marred by a heavy reliance on "As You Know, Bob" language to convey information about Indian weddings and marriages to the reader, but hey, if you don't know much about that topic, it's certainly an easy way to learn.

A fun, breezy book, with a very predictable happy ending. However, it's clearly aiming itself at an audience who's only looking for light reading, and it achieves its goal of being pleasant read.
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
8. Anne Cherian, A Good Indian Wife

Leila is a teacher in a small South Indian town, who's beginning to worry that she might be too old to find a husband. Suneel is a doctor in San Francisco with a white girlfriend and no interest in returning to India. However, when Suneel goes to visit his sick grandfather, family machinations arrange a marriage between the two almost before they know what's happened. Now Leila has to adjust to her new husband and life in America, while Suneel strives to change as little as possible (including continuing the relationship with the girlfriend) and plots ways out of the marriage.

This book is a bit of a fairy tale, but despite that, it was a fun, quick read. I never felt very sympathetic to Suneel (HE'S TOTALLY A JERK, COME ON, HE DIDN'T BREAK UP WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND), but Leila is a great, interesting character, and I really enjoyed spending time with her. The writing is very good, and I was okay with the predictable plot for the sake of the vivid descriptions of food, clothing, sight-seeing, and Leila's gradual adjustments.

Not a deep book, but an enjoyable one. Recommended.
[identity profile] ms-mmelissa.livejournal.com
Dirty Girls on Top is Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's sequel to her highly successful debut novel The Dirty Girls Social Club. Dirty Girls on Top reunites the sucias (dirty girls), Rebecca, Sara, Lauren, Usnavys, Elisabeth, and Cuicatl, six affluent friends in their thirties who bonded in college and continue to meet up once a year in order to reconnect.

Dirty Girls on Top picks up five years after the first novel which ended (in typical chick-lit fashion) with all of the women on either a personal or professional high. But five years later problems have started to crop up. The girls are either being cheated on or are the ones doing the cheating and the novel (which switches around with the POV depending on the story they are following) shows how they work to get back on top.

While this is fun, easy-to-read chick lit (or rather chica lit) it also deals with issues such as domestic abuse, racism, rape, eating disorders (of both the overeating and undereating kind), machismo culture, homosexuality, sex (or the lack of it) and a whole host of other issues. It's actually refreshing to read a light-hearted novel that still manages to incorporate the kind of issues that most people deal with on a daily basis rather than one that just talks about shopping and getting a boyfriend (although Dirty Girls on Top is full of that stuff too).

It is also refreshing to see Latinas being portrayed as being from a diverse set of ethnic backgrounds and not as a monolith. The women, while all Latina, represent several different cultures. They are black, white, brown, biracial, Jewish, Catholic, Puerto Rican, Cuban, straight, gay, married and single. I can't think of any other book that has so many main characters that come from completely different social and ethnic backgrounds.

The one problem with Valdes-Rodriguez's book though is that she tries to cram too much in. While the girls are self-declared "best-friends" their actions (and the plot) don't reflect this at all. All six of them have separate story lines and few of them see each other outside of their once-a-year reunion. I found myself developing favourite characters and was annoyed when the narrative would jump to a different city and a different woman's plot line. Some of the women had problems and story lines nearly identical to the ones they had in the previous book which made their story lines predictable and frustrating.

Still, with that being said I still would highly recommend this book with the recommendation of reading The Dirty Girls Social Club first.

Tags: a: Valdes-Rodriguez, Alisa, chica lit
[identity profile] zara-capeverde.livejournal.com
The Final Passage by Caryl Phillips

Tells the story of Leila, a young woman from an unspecified Caribbean island, her doomed marriage and later migration to England.

Phillips' style is very poetic. There are some flat-out beautiful descriptions of the sea and the colours of the island, which are later contrasted strongly with the monotone grey of London. The connection between the environment and the state of Leila and Michael's marriage is cleverly intertwined the whole way through - as they cast off to sea it seems their relationship has a breath of futurity, but then the weather and poverty of life in England begin to make it claustrophobic again. Here for instance: The sky hung so low it covered the street like a dark coffin lid. The cars that passed by were just blurry colours, and the people rushed homeward, images of isolation, fighting umbrellas and winds that buffeted their bodies. . The book is much more focussed on tone than plot, however, and it ends quite abruptly. It is intentionally timeless, and it is a good exploration of the trials of emigration, but I think if it was less vague it would possibly have more authenticity and meaning. I enjoyed it though.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

Zhaung flies to the UK to learn English, then falls in love with an English man and discovers that the language of love is even harder to comprehend.

I absolutely loved this book. I loved Z. It's been a while since I read a female protagonist who is as smart, funny and bold as she is. I think this book might annoy some people because of the way it starts with deliberately broken English, but I am a word geek and I adored all the discussions about English vs Chinese words (there's a particularly moving section where Z and her English lover exchange the words for different plants). I am a sucker for romance, and I liked that it felt sort of clumsily natural and that there were problems and miscommunications, because that is real love. This book also had really great descriptions of London (like The Final Passage): The morning wind is washing my brain, and my small body. This is a city with something really heavy and serious in its soul. This is a city which had big wars in the history. And, I feel, this is a city made for mans, and politics, and disciplines. Like Beijing. Highly recommend this novel, I'll be checking out more of her writing asap.

Legacy by Larissa Behrendt

Simone is a young Aboriginal lawyer researching the legal arguments for Indigenous sovereignty. Her father is a prominent Aboriginal activist. The two have a troubled relationship due to his chronic infidelity. The novel explores the dynamics between all the people in Simone's life, as well as the legacy of Aboriginal dispossession. I have a heart that has been quick to fall in love with ideals ... but I’ve never been as willing to love realities

I struggled a little bit to get into this book because I thought some of the literary/historical references were forced in toward the beginning but by the middle, and certainly throughout all of the second part, the story really took off and I couldn't put it down. Again, Simone is a strong and sympathetic leading character, and it was great to see a female lead with such integrity. Behrendt is very talented at writing in more than one voice, she allows every character to have their say on the truth and to redeem themselves. I haven't read a book that was so good at heart for a long while. It is lighter than you might expect given some of the subject matter (not that it shies away from it or anything, just that it is the familial/romantic relationships that are the core of the plot not the political issues) and it is a great book if you just want something uplifting to read.
[identity profile] sweet-adelheid.livejournal.com
My [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc year ends on January 31, and although I have still been reading, I've gotten slack with posting reviews. So here's an 8-book catchup post.

#40 - Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki Read more... )

#41 - Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan Read more... )

#42 - Papunya School Book of History and Country by the Papunya School community Read more... )

#43 - Kampung Boy, by Lat Read more... )

#44 - Not Meeting Mr Right, by Anita Heiss Read more... )

#45 - The Wheel of Surya, by Jamila Gavin Read more... )

#46 - Swallow the Air, by Tara June Winch Read more... )

#47 - Love poems and other revolutionary actions, by Roberta (Bobbi) Sykes Read more... )
[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com


Title: Happy Hour at Casa Dracula (Casa Dracula, Book 1)
Author: Marta Acosta (MartaAcosta.com)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 312 (Trade Paperback Edition)
Publisher: Pocket Star

Review: Happy Hour at Casa Dracula. Spoilers! )
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
14. Bernardine Evaristo, The Emperor's Babe

This is a novel in verse (which put me off a bit when I first realized it, but it actually works very well), set in Roman-era London, starring a young Sudanese woman. Most of the novel deals with the main character's tomboy-ish childhood and her friendship with another woman and a drag queen named Venus, but the climax comes when she has a affair with the Emperor. There's a lot of deliberate anachronisms such as brand names, musicians, and slang, stirred in with historically accurate details like Latin phrases or trips to watch gladiators fight, and I really enjoyed the bright, vivid world this mix created. Most of the tone of the novel is funny, optimistic, and confident, and so when the ending comes I found it both surprising and very effective.

Really recommend. I'll be looking up the author's other books.
[identity profile] anitabuchan.livejournal.com
5. Life isn't all Ha Ha Hee Hee by Meera Syal

I'm a big fan of Meera Syal, so I pretty much knew I would like this. Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee revolves around three thirty-something British Indian women, Tania, Sunita and Chila. They're about as different as they can be, but all are strong, well-rounded characters. I liked Sunita and Chila very much. Tania, I started off liking most, which then turned to dislike, then pity, before going back to like.

I love Syal's descriptions, which made it easy to imagine this vivid blend of British and Indian culture. It didn't make me laugh out loud, but it was funny - not in a cracking jokes way, just in the observations made about various characters. I also liked the ending very much. I don't want to ruin it, but I was left feeling happy with how the three characters had changed throughout the book.

6. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Amal has just decided to start wearing the hijab full time. She goes to a posh school and knows that most of the people there will react badly. I didn't like this book as much as I liked her second book (10 Things I Hate About Me), but I still mostly enjoyed it. I liked the characters, I liked the multicultural world Amal lived in. But it wasn't a 'can't put it down' book. I sometimes wondered where the plot was going, or why I was still reading - for a section of the book there was very little suspense. Then something happened that caught my interest again. I think this is a good book in need of a better editor - Abdel-Fattah's a good writer, but this could have been improved.

7. Bindis and Brides by Nisha Minhas

Zarleena, who has recently escaped from an abusive marriage, bumps into a man (Joel) at the supermarket, and agrees to help him cook an Indian meal for his one night stand. Except the reason she does so is that he tells her it's for his fiancee, in order to prove his love. Various misunderstandings ensue, Joel proves himself a good guy after all, they all live HEA (except the abusive ex-husband, of course). I loved the writing style, and found it sometimes very funny. But I also had some serious issues. Spoilers. )
[identity profile] xaveriijade.livejournal.com

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
Dutton, 2005
305 pages

Description:
A tribute to classic film and true romance, LOVE WALKED IN tells the story of two women – one older, one younger – and the unexpected ways in which their lives are forever changed by chance.

For thirty-one-year old Cornelia Brown, life is a series of movie moments, and "Jimmy Stewart is always and indisputably the best man in the world, unless Cary Grant should happen to show up." So imagine Cornelia’s delight when her very own Cary Grant walks through the door of the hip Philadelphia café she manages. Handsome and debonair, Martin Grace sweeps Cornelia off her feet, becoming Cary Grant to Cornelia’s Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable to her Joan Crawford. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, eleven-year-old Clare Hobbes must learn to fend for herself after her increasingly unstable mother has a breakdown and disappears. With no one to turn to, Clare seeks out her estranged father, and when the two of them show up at Cornelia’s café, the lives of Cornelia and Clare are changed in drastic and unexpected ways. A cinematic and heartfelt debut that pays homage to the classic Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, Love Walked In is sure to win over critics and readers of contemporary fiction.

 

From Publisher's Weekly:

Philadelphia cafe manager Cornelia Brown drifts effortlessly through her unattached life, unapologetic for idealizing romance and breathlessly recommending The Philadelphia Story—to the reader and everyone else. Eleven-year-old Clare is a child of divorce whose mother, a successful party planner, is quickly going to pieces. In alternating chapters of Cornelia's first person and Clare's free and direct third, poet de los Santos, making her novel debut, tells the story of their finding each other. That Cornelia, early on, immediately falls for Cary Grant doppelgänger Martin Grace is no surprise; his relation to Clare, revealed a third of the way in, isn't really either. As she discovers maternal instincts she wasn't sure she had, Cornelia works up the courage to face her own feelings for Clare with honesty. As Martin exits, Cornelia's childhood friend Teo enters, but neither makes much impact, and Clare's rather serious issues get reduced to Clare-did-this, Clare-thought-that episodes. The two main characters exist for one purpose: to enact a cross-generational, strong-but-vulnerable-and-loving, screenplay-ready femininity. Chick lit? You bet: with rights sold in at least eight countries, and, indeed, to Paramount—Sarah Jessica Parker will star and coproduce with Sideways's Michael London. The book is fine, but for this property, it's a case of waiting for Carrie to walk in. (Jan.)

 

My Review:

This book was wonderful.  One could definitely tell that it was written by a poet, it was a joy to read.  There were some plot problems: it was a bit predictable, clichéd towards the end, with flat secondary characters.  The writing more than made up for it, though. I laughed, I cried, I sighed with content.   I'd give this book a 4/5.  Can't wait to read the sequel!


6/50bookchallange
1/50books_poc
 

[identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
I'm reading a lot faster than I'm reviewing, so I'll try to catch up with "batch" posts. Hope that's OK.

Three chicklit books by writers of color... )
[identity profile] rcloenen-ruiz.livejournal.com
I decided to purchase this book on the basis of it being touted on a list for Filipino-American authors. The author, Marisa de los Santos was born in The Philippines and moved to the US when she was ten years old. I don't normally read chicklit, but people were quite excited about this book being picked up for filming and by it being promoted by Sarah Jessica Parker. That was enough to rouse my curiousity. Also, SJP wanted to play the lead lady, so I was wondering if the lead lady was Filipino or white. Turns out she's white.
summary behind the cut )
alias_sqbr: (bookdragon)
[personal profile] alias_sqbr
17: Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis

I've been meaning to do a review which does this book justice, but as time goes on the likelihood of that drops.

So, briefly: a quite enjoyable chick-lit murder mystery. I didn't figure out whodunnit until right near the end (I had vague inklings, but that's better than it being a surprise because there were no clues) It definitely wasn't High Literature: the characters felt a bit two dimensional and the plot a little mechanical. But it was still enjoyable, funny, and engaging and given that I don't tend to like chick-lit (I read it for the mystery) I think it did pretty well.

Less sex than I was expecting given the title though :) (I think I've been reading too much fanfic)
ext_48823: 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (books)
[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Not a warning but just a note to say I couldn't really express what I thought about the books in an especially meaningful manner but here you go.

Cut for rambling and pseudo-spoilers.

1. Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Butler
Read more )

2. Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh
Read more )

3. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Read more )

4. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Read more )
helens78: A man in a leather jacket, seated on the ground, looks up hopefully. (Default)
[personal profile] helens78
I was desperately searching for something more upbeat after Beloved and Baseball Saved Us, and let's face it, the title Dixieland Sushi would get anyone's attention. A little research on the author revealed that her background is similar, though hardly identical, to my own -- child of one third-generation Japanese-American parent and one caucasian parent, raised in an area of the States not known for its Asian population. The book itself is a chick-lit story based on a similar premise (daughter goes home for a wedding, cute not-boyfriend in tow), with the twist that it also features flashbacks to the main character's childhood -- which took place in the '80s and is full of '80s pop culture references. Jelly shoes! The Breakfast Club! Tiffany's mall tour! *squee*

Anyway! This book is so made of win it is literally impossible for me to describe. It is the first book I have ever read in my entire life that showed me my life, complete with family weirdness, kids at school having bizarre notions of what my life must be like, guys who developed an interest in me only after they found out I was half-Japanese and not Latina (the protagonist refers to them as having AO blood type, "Asian Obsessed"), occasional moments of totally forgetting I was another race until someone pointed it out to me. Also dodgeball mishaps, L.A. Gear, and trying to make my hair hold a perm (ahahaha). The reflection isn't perfect (she's from Arkansas, I'm from Indiana, etc etc etc), but it's there.

Seriously, I had never, ever, ever expected to see the protagonist of a mainstream, fluffy, chick-lit book turn out to be someone like me, because just how many fourth-generation Japanese-American/white kids are there? In Indiana, I usually felt like the answer to that question was: One. (I was an only child.) It would never in a million years have occurred to me to want books like this, because it would not have occurred to me that such a thing was even possible. And this author has written other books!!!

(The writing, by the way, is just fine -- no errors or problems, snappy prose, direct style, great sense of humor, past tense for flashbacks, present tense for present-day, first-person throughout. It's not something I want to write sonnets about, but it works fine, and I was quite happy with it.)

I'm also delighted to see a book like this about a character like this -- I sometimes feel like everything by a minority writer has to be some Great American Novel Of Immense Import, wherein we have to tackle all the world's social ills lest we let down The Rest Of Our Race. To find fluff written by a writer of color was an absolute delight, and I'm still tickled by it. I haven't laughed so hard at a book in ages, and I'm thrilled.

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