Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Immigration Stories We Need to Hear: America Deconstructed by Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin

America Deconstructed by
Chaithanya Sohan and Shaima Adin

Here’s a collection of immigration stories. Stories so timely and eye opening to their struggles.

Naseer was nine years old when he escaped Taliban and fled Afghanistan with his mom and siblings… “There are some people who are coming to take me away”, chronicles the resilience of a nine year old boy as he traveled from Afghanistan to America in his quest for the American dream. “I saw a ripe mango I’d like to pluck” showcases the love story of Chidiebere and Ifeyinwa, which begins in rustic Nigeria and culminates into a life in America.

Their journey chronicles their struggles with language, culture and being African in America. In the story “ Kosovo, really…cool”, Lisian takes us through his journey to America and often being asked his identity in spite of being white. In the story “I am exotic, mocha, P-diddy”, Parag describes his journey from a young sixth grader who hid his attraction to boys in conservative India to embracing his sexuality in America.

America Deconstructed follows the journeys of sixteen immigrants who have left their home countries in search of the American dream. The stories combine humor and emotions as the protagonists maneuver cultural differences, accents and uncomfortable situations while feeling a sense of belonging in America.

This moving collection counts as part of the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

illicithappiness

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph is written in the style of  Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a Czech novel of existentialism and bohemia before the Soviet invasion.  Like Kundera’s work, Joseph’s piece is important.  Unlike Kundera’s novel, Joseph’s tale reads lightly, even though much of the drama within is sad.  Here’s a bit from the publishers:

A smart, wry work that includes mystery, philosophy, and an unlikely love story, this book addresses many encompassing characteristics of domestic life in southern India, from male-female dynamics to the value of reputation to the overwhelming pressures of the education system.

It has been three years since seventeen-year-old, gifted cartoonist Unni Chacko mysteriously fell from the balcony in his home to his death. His family—father Ousep, a failed novelist, banished journalist, who smokes two cigarettes at once “because three is too much”; mother Mariamma, who stretches the family’s money, raises their two boys, and, in her spare time, gleefully fantasizes about her husband dying; and twelve-year-old, love-struck brother Thoma, who wears his dead brother’s hand-me-downs—have coped by not coping. When the post office delivers a comic drawn by Unni that had been lost in the mail since his death, Ousep ventures on a quest to understand his son and rewrite his family’s story.

Manu Joseph won the 2011 PEN/Open Book Award for his debut novel, Serious Men. A journalist for the International Herald Tribune, Joseph lives in New Delhi…

There’s a sort of tragic humor in the novel that I like.  It’s the kind of storytelling that reminds me of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and even Life of Pi.  There is a fantastical element to Indian storytelling that appeals to me.  I think it shows that fantasy doesn’t have to mean witches, dinosaurs, and flying saucers.  I look forward to discovering more Indian writers.

 

 

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

I don’t want to say too much about Half the Sky because I feel like I can’t say enough about the book and the cause it represents.

6899504

So I’m going to say very little. What I will say echoes something Oprah has said for decades: being born a girl in the United States is about the luckiest place you can be born.  Oprah doesn’t quite say it like that but you’ll get my meaning. Girls and young women (and often boys) are tricked and sold and forced into sex slavery, prostitution, and forced to suffer other unbearable inhuman ways of life. The book made me angry and it made me cry. Sex trafficking is a thing that must be stopped.

I’m not exactly sure what I can do as one person but because I wanted to feel like I was doing something, I found a site called Sudara.org and they sell pants called punjammies. These punjammies are pants sewn by women who have come from similar backgrounds. The average pair of paints sells for approx $60. I bought a pair that I love and plan to buy more.

Please read this book and know that trafficking is not just in underdeveloped countries. Remember that Ellen Hopkins’ books called Trick is about teens trafficked in the Las Vegas area, although it does happen in other cities as well. We owe children a better life than this. We’ve got to do better.

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Children

Why You Should Read Mitali Perkins’ Tiger Boy

One of the great joys of being a book reviewer is the opportunity to read great books and occasionally meet their authors. I was very fortunate to meet Mitali Perkins in October during a trip in Sacramento. In all the commotion of packing up, I somehow managed to forget my copy of Tiger Boy; the extremely gracious Mrs. Perkins sent me a copy right away.

I’m so glad I got a chance to read this book! Here’s a blurb:

When a tiger cub escapes from a nature reserve near Neel’s island village, the rangers and villagers hurry to find her before the cub’s anxious mother follows suit and endangers them all. Mr. Gupta, a rich newcomer to the island, is also searching—he wants to sell the cub’s body parts on the black market. Neel and his sister, Rupa, resolve to find the cub first and bring her back to the reserve where she belongs.

The hunt for the cub interrupts Neel’s preparations for an exam to win a prestigious scholarship at a boarding school far from home. Neel doesn’t mind—he dreads the exam and would rather stay on his beloved island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal with his family and friends.

But through his encounter with the cub, Neil learns that sometimes you have to take risks to preserve what you love. And sometimes you have to sacrifice the present for the chance to improve the future.

I cannot express enough how much I love this book! It’s a look at life in India that’s not your Hollywood depiction aka poor children living in squalor who need rescuing. Perkins people are not wealthy by any means, but they are not to be pitied. Perkins takes life in the Sunderbans and turns it into a beautiful world of mangroves, baby tigers, glorious food, and a simple, honest life.  Our young Neel is the best kind of hero; he loves his community and doesn’t imagine ever wanting to leave, why would he, he has everything he wants right there. The sunderbans is an ecological paradise. Check out these photos from the UNESCO’s website.

Tiger Boy is a good book for children of all ages, and would be an especially appropriate book to build a unit of study around to include food, culture, finances, politics, ecology, etc. Any age group can understand how important it is to preserve animal life or to feed your family. While everyone could learn from this book, I believe it is best suited for 9-12, even on the young end of middle grade.

Great book. I want a sequel!

Perkins is a prolific writer and provides plenty of opportunity to learn about Indian culture and people. Check out her website to see what might interest you. Also worth following is Jamie Hogan’s Pinboard called Tiger Boy. In it you’ll see the beautiful surroundings of the Sunderbans and understand why Neel doesn’t want to leave his homeland.

Look at these beautiful tigers. No wonder Neel and his friends are so concerned for their saftety!

whitetiger
courtesy Jamie Hogan

This also counts toward the Diversity Challenge!

 

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

illicithappiness

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph is written (at least in the title) in the style of  Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a Czech novel of existentialism and bohemia before the Soviet invasion.  Like Kundera’s work, Joseph’s piece is important.  Unlike Kundera’s novel, Joseph’s tale reads lightly, even though much of the drama within is sad.  Here’s a bit from the publishers:

A smart, wry work that includes mystery, philosophy, and an unlikely love story, this book addresses many encompassing characteristics of domestic life in southern India, from male-female dynamics to the value of reputation to the overwhelming pressures of the education system.

It has been three years since seventeen-year-old, gifted cartoonist Unni Chacko mysteriously fell from the balcony in his home to his death. His family—father Ousep, a failed novelist, banished journalist, who smokes two cigarettes at once “because three is too much”; mother Mariamma, who stretches the family’s money, raises their two boys, and, in her spare time, gleefully fantasizes about her husband dying; and twelve-year-old, love-struck brother Thoma, who wears his dead brother’s hand-me-downs—have coped by not coping. When the post office delivers a comic drawn by Unni that had been lost in the mail since his death, Ousep ventures on a quest to understand his son and rewrite his family’s story.

Manu Joseph won the 2011 PEN/Open Book Award for his debut novel, Serious Men. A journalist for the International Herald Tribune, Joseph lives in New Delhi…

There’s a sort of tragic humor in the novel that I like.  It’s the kind of storytelling that reminds me of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and even Life of Pi.  There is a fantastical element to Indian storytelling that appeals to me.  I think it shows that fantasy doesn’t hafta mean witches, dinosaurs, and flying saucers.  I look forward to discovering more Indian writers.

I give it four paws!

Unconventional Librarian 4paws

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

A Future Arrived by Phillip Rock a TLC Book Tour

So here we come to the final installment of the Passing Bells trilogy, with A Future Arrived.

A Future Arrived

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sad to see the series end.  To be sure, I have mixed feelings about the trilogy.  Touted as a companion to Downton Abbey, it’s almost completely different from Downton Abbey in that there is less about the lives of the servants downstairs and more about the lives of the beautiful and rich upstairs.  But that alone, is not a reason to discount the trilogy.  If you yearn for the recent historical past, you’ll love this series too.

I love a writer who can keep up with all of the character’s lives, introduce new characters and not get too convoluted in the telling and merging of their stories.  I believe Rock has done this well.  Now, in book three, I am reminded of why I liked or hated the characters from book 1, but am still able to enjoy the lives of the newer characters as they struggle with the similar problems of war.  The grandson of Lord Greville is now a main character, as well as the young brother in law of our favorite reporter, American cousin Martin Rilke.  The Grevilles have stopped yearning for the Edwardian days and have accepted the future and the mixing of social classes. Not that they really had a choice.

During the course of the series I’ve learned the ins and outs that led up to World War I.  I feel as if I’ve become an expert.  I also feel like I was experiencing life in the trenches and on the streets of London.  Post WWI I feel as if I was taking a slight vacation and allowed to have a little fun and relax.  I was also aware that WWII would come and I wasn’t sure how Rock would introduce our characters to it.  Rock did not disappoint, he provided a thorough look at how life can be ruined by war.  Interestingly enough, given that I learned about war was from the American viewpoint, I feel as if I have a broader understanding of how ugly and devastating war is.

If you don’t like war stories or need a bit more of an emotional setting, this is not the book for you, but if you want to develop relationships with characters, this trilogy will satisfy you just fine.

I give this book 3 paws.

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws

 

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

Torn Together by Emlyn Chand Giveaway (for you) and Eye Candy (for me)

So Wow. My bud Emlyn Chand (she let’s me call her Em), wrote a book called Torn Together.  It’s a love story, of sorts that will make you laugh, cry, and smash up things.

Torn Tour Badge

What’s that? What’s all the smashing things up bit? Well, I’d tell you, but then I’d be a SPOILER and I hate that, so I won’t tell you that bit.  What I will tell you, however, is that our heroine, Daly (pronounced tally) is a young woman struggling to figure out her life: her boyfriend dumps her, she’s struggling to get a portfolio together for an art school application, and her mom is as distant as a stranger.

Lucky for us Daly meets a young Indian fellow named Kashi Malhotra.  Chand describes Kashi as a man with buttery, sandy skin. Kashi has a sense of humor and a positive outlook on life that benefits Daly.  Here’s how I pictured Kashi in my mind’s eye:

RaviPatel

This is Ravi Patel.  Thanks to IMDB for introducing me to him.  Our Kashi would have longer hair which would bring out his curls, but I imagine his face to be friendly like this guy.

I had to chose this guy here:

Sunil Malhotrra

Simply because his last name is Malhotra.  He ain’t to hard on the eyes, either.  You’re welcome for the eye candy.

While we’re on the subject of India, lets talk about its food, huh? Much Indian food is consumed in Torn Together and my mouth watered the whole time.  One of the yummy meals featured is palak paneer.

palak paneer

Palak Paneer contains dairy, so it’s not something I can eat, but although I consider myself a gourmand, I’ve not tasted it, but anything that has curry in it is OK with me! I especially love my naan; which I eat with honey in the morning with my coffee.

So now I’ve filled your eyes and your belly, let’s fill your wallet, eh? Read below for how that’s gonna happen:

 

 

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the book: Life, love, and an unforgettable trip to India–readers call “Torn Together” an emotional roller coaster ride. What’s all the fuss about? Grab your mother, daughter, sister, or closest friend, and get reading. Make sure to keep a box of Kleenex handy! Get Torn Together through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo Books.

About the author: Emlyn Chand emerged from the womb with a fountain pen clutched in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity. Best known for her Young Adult novels, she is also developing a small, but devoted, following to her children’s book series and is beginning to dabble in other genres as well. Emlyn enjoys connecting with readers and is available via almost every social media site in existence. Visit EmlynChand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky! Connect with Emlyn on her website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Torn Together! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Torn Together tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories
Blogging from A to Z Challenge Books

#AtoZChallenge: K – Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Unconventional Librarian

K is for Kim, have you heard of Kim?

Kim is a story from the great Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Books.

“I have seen something of this world,” she said over the trays, “and there are but two sorts of women in it–

those who take the strength out of a man, and those who put it back. Once I was that one, and now I am this.”

Number one son was given Kim by a dear friend many years ago.  This great story may be difficult for some to get into. Young Kim is orphaned in India  and the book documents his travels and adventures. I love it because it is a picaresque novel, which, loosely translated, is a novel in which a person goes on travels and adventures.  These travels do not necessarily follow any sort of chronological or linear path, which is a fun alternative to your normal adventure; think Alice in Wonderland or Kim!

I love anything having to do with the Indian subcontinent and feel like this YA book should be a must read for teens.  It’ll get them thinking and also learning about history at the same time!

A to Z challenge button

Thanks for visiting during The A to Z Challenge

up next is the letter L

Do you have any K favorites?