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review 2017-12-03 17:50
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress ★★★★☆
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress - Sijie Dai

This was an interesting story with an unusual setting – China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the 1970s – following two teenaged boys who are being “re-educated” in the country for the crime of being part of the bourgeoisie, as part of the Down to the Countryside Movement. In a political and social atmosphere that punishes independent thought and romantic ideals, celebrating ignorance and encouraging violence against dissenters, the boys discover a stash of forbidden classic Western literature and are transformed. Perhaps the best part of this story is the twist at the end, where they discover its true power that is so feared by the authorities: that this transformative power can’t be leashed to serve their own needs alone.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive, with an excellent reading by BD Wong.

 

I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season; Square 7: December 10th & 13th: Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused –OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the UN and UN World Court respectively). This book fits several of the requirements: written by a Chinese author in French, with a theme of human rights and civil liberty abuses.

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review 2017-11-28 19:59
The Bonesetter’s Daughter ★★★★★
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan

Wonderfully moving story of mothers and daughters and how the way we learn to relate with our mothers can impact every other relationship we form in life. The characters grow and learn and change over the course of the story in a most satisfying way, although the author does come perilously close to an unrealistically 

Happily Ever After ending.

(spoiler show)

Alright, maybe she did it, but I enjoyed the journey so much that I didn’t mind it. I zoomed through this book in less than two days because I stayed up waaaaaay too late last night to finish it.

 

Hardcover version, has been on my bookshelf for so long I don’t even remember when or where I got it. Really 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 because I don’t do half-stars.

 

I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, for Square 11, December 21st-22nd: Book themes for Dōngzhì Festival: Read a book set in China or written by a Chinese author / an author of Chinese origin; or read a book that has a pink or white cover. This book is both set partly in China and the author is the daughter of Chinese immigrants to the US.

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review 2017-11-21 15:15
I Am Malala ★★★★★
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai

I was fascinated, horrified, and inspired by this story of Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban for daring to insist upon the rights of girls to an education and to criticize the Taliban for their interpretation of Islamic law with respect to women and violence. It is also the story of her much-loved father, who instilled in her the love of learning, set an example of having the courage to stand up for his principles in the face of ignorance and violence, and supported her whole-heartedly in everything she did. And it is also the story of the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism and the Taliban in Pakistan and her beloved Swat valley, who used the tactics of would-be dictators and religious fanatics everywhere, some of which were all too familiar here in the US.

 

This is the hardcover version, which I’ve had on my bookshelf for a couple of years, waiting on my TBR. I read it for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, square 10: Book themes for World Peace Day: Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker. Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate (in 2014 at age 17) for “her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.

 

Previous Updates:

11/14/17 0/327 pg

I'm getting started with I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which can fit both Square 10: World Peace Day (Malala Yousafzai was a co-recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014) and Square 14 Quaid-e-Azam (she is Pakistani and much of the book is about and takes place in Pakistan) for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season. I haven't decided yet which square I'll use it for, since I don't have any alternatives for either yet. I don't have any books about any other Nobel Peace Prize winners, and my library has some unappealing options, mostly children's books. 

 

11/14/17 5/327 pg

We went to school six mornings a week, and as I was a fifteen-year-old in Year 9, my classes were spent chanting chemical equations or studying Urdu grammar, writing stories in English with morals like "haste makes waste" or drawing diagrams of blood circulation - most of my classmates wanted to be doctors. It's hard to imagine that anyone would see that as a threat.

 

11/17/17 125/327 pg

The description of how the Taliban took over the region, taking advantage of the people's anger and frustration with the legitimate government and winning their hearts through a combination of setting themselves up as the only source of truth, appealing to prejudices, and providing entertainment and charity - it's a little terrifying.

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text 2017-11-14 18:41
I Am Malala - 5/327pg
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai

We went to school six mornings a week, and as I was a fifteen-year-old in Year 9, my classes were spent chanting chemical equations or studying Urdu grammar, writing stories in English with morals like "haste makes waste" or drawing diagrams of blood circulation - most of my classmates wanted to be doctors. It's hard to imagine that anyone would see that as a threat.

 

 

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text 2017-11-14 16:33
Sq10 World Peace Day / Sq14 Quaid-e-Azam
I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai

I'm getting started with I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which can fit both Square 10: World Peace Day (Malala Yousafzai was a co-recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014) and Square 14 Quaid-e-Azam (she is Pakistani and much of the book is about and takes place in Pakistan) for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season. I haven't decided yet which square I'll use it for, since I don't have any alternatives for either yet. I don't have any books about any other Nobel Peace Prize winners, and my library has some unappealing options, mostly children's books. 

 

 

Square 10: December 21st: World Peace Day is the day the United Nations General Assembly has declared as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Book themes for World Peace Day: Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker.

 

Square 10: December 25th: Quaid-e-Azam(‘Great Leader’) Day is the Pakistan holiday celebrating their founder’s -Muhammad Ali Jinnah - birthday. 

Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam:  Pakistan became an independent nation when the British Raj ended on August 14, 1947. Read a book set in Pakistan or in any other country that attained sovereign statehood between August 14, 1947 and today (regardless in what part of the world).

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