Third batch of books read in 2015…

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Life is busy but I have still been reading. This time around I have read all kinds of interesting novels which I have listed in this post (see post 1 and 2 for other books ready so far in 2015). Here are the latest:

PrintA House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sarah Corbett-This is book is the memoir of a young Canadian woman who was an avid traveler, and later reporter, and her experience being held hostage by Somali religious fundamentalists for 15 months! A true tale or horror that none of us want to imagine ourselves living through. A must read. In June 2015 she was in the news again due to one of her kidnappers being caught by the police.

The Dinner by Herman Koch-I did not expect much from this book but found I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is about two couples (2 brothers and their wives) meeting for dinner. It starts off seeming to be about siblings and jealousy and other issues but takes a quick dark turn. Not all the way believable but enjoyable and a bit dark. Not one likable character in the whole thing, though.

The English Teacher by Lily King-This book is about a single female parent with a young child and a deep dark secret. When she marries a widower with his own children, things start to shake and the novel gets rolling. An easy read that keeps you engaged. I did feel bad for the son in the novel and think it is more believable not being in present day.

Mãn by Kim Thuy-This is a very short novella that I read in one sitting on a hot July day with a dog wash break half way through. It is about a Vietnamese woman who moves to Montreal after an arranged marriage. She becomes a chef and finds love (or something like it). Also are bits and pieces of her previous family life. Very short, well done, and really made me want to try some of the food! I especially liked how a local friend had such an impact on her life. The connections one makes in a new country make all the difference for immigrants.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan-This book is about, in part, a mother daughter relationship. In particular, it focuses on the half Chinese daughter of an American woman who runs a courtesan house in Shanghai in the early 1900s. The daughter is kidnapped and inducted into the life of a courtesan. The book took Amy Tan 8 years to write!

poisonwoodbibleThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver-I loved this book. I burned through it in two days and wanted to skip work to read it (but I was good and did not). Themes about family interest me and a missionary family that moved to the Congo during rough times and had to deal with all kinds of challenges-and each other-was very interesting. Definitely an enjoyable book. Highly recommended.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok-This book is about a Chinese girl and her mother who have left behind Hong Kong and come to America to start a new life. They both work in a sweatshop and struggle under the watchful eye of the aunt who brought them over. An enjoyable read that is surprisingly light despite the heavy themes.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan-This is a war book that focuses on a group of men in a POW camp in Siam where they were forced to work on an impossible railway for the Japanese. I found it hard to get into the book and read it over a long period of time. Some parts were more engaging than others. One story-line about a man who has an affair with his uncle’s wife I found painful to get through.

The Inheritance by Sahar Khalifeh-This novel is about several women (for the most part as it also includes male characters) visiting, returning to, or living in Palestine. All of them are very different but there are common themes. I am not sure if it is due to translation but the book did feel a bit disjointed at times.

7552074The Lady Matador’s Hotel by Cristina Garcia-This short novel is about a few characters in a luxury hotel in an unnamed Central American country. I liked the diversity of the characters and the many themes. The story line is not  the best but what was there was enough to be entertaining. I would be interested in reading the other books by this individual.

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak-This book is about a Turkish family and an Armenian-American one-and about how they are connected. Mostly, it is about relationships and family complications. I enjoyed reading this book and remembering my own time in Istanbul. I enjoyed the family politics. Not sure if everyone will like this one but I did.

 The Purchase by Linda Spalding-This book is about a Quaker father and widower who is excommunicated in his town and has to move to Virginia with his young children and the new wife he married suddenly. There, the family has to deal with needing to take on slaves. The book shows how both set of people (the slaves and the Quakers) over the next few decades. I would recommend this book. A look into a hard life in a hard time and how people dealt with each other.

My Father’s Wives by Mike Green-This is a man’s book I would say. It is about a man who worries his wife is cheating on him and avoids dealing with this by going to visit each of his deceased father’s 6 former wives. His journey takes him all over the US and into the UK. He learns different things from each. There is also a side story about his work. An okay book.

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