Monday, August 5, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
My comments are not meant to be recaps of the story lines as I include a link to Goodreads for their synopsis of the book. I am merely stating how I felt about the book without giving any spoilers.
My 2013 reading list can be found here.

it's summer and we've been doing some travelling so I am being sporadic in my postings as I am in my reading as well. I am keeping track of my reading however.

Girl in Translation

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. 

A quick read after two serious reads. This isn't a new story, The Secret Daughter tells the same story. I did find Girl in Translation was a superficial story, I wanted much more details.  And I hate when a book abruptly ends with a quick fast forward chapter with no closure.

The World at Night (Night Soldiers, #4)

Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he’s offered the chance to take part in an operation of the British secret service, this idealism gives him the courage to say yes. A simple mission, but it goes wrong, and Casson realizes he must gamble everything—his career, the woman he loves, life itself. Here is a brilliant re-creation of France—its spirit in the moment of defeat, its valor in the moment of rebirth

This is the first time that I have read Alan Furst and I will certainly be reading more of him. This is the kind of book that you get lost in, wanting it to go on and on.
You understand Casson who only wants to live his daily life the same as millions of French people wanted to continue their normal lives. Not to be however, as the Germans ravage the city.
This is not a spy novel in the normal sense, it is the story of real people under occupation.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.
Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I keep hesitating on The Elegance of the Hedgehod. Now I'm again tilting towards reading it.

    Right now I'm reading The Casual Vacancy, which has come out in paperback at long last. I'm about 20% of the way in, and have decided that it's a sort of sequel to Middlemarch. If Dorothea from Middlemarch could see what her descendants are up to, she'd have a few things to say for sure.


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