DAReadAThon: Day 05

imageedit_3_2186621654

Hello, readers!

Today’s the 5th day of ReadAtMidnight‘s DAReadAThon!  I’m more than halfway with Kao Kalia Yang’s “The Latehomecomer”–and it’s been heartbreaking!  Because I am Hmong, this book has caused me to reflect deeply about the journey my parents had to make (They met in America), with their families from Laos to the Thailand refugee camps.  While growing up, I often heard stories of how families were separated while crossing the Mekong River and how they went to school in the camps but I was rarely told about the pain and misery they had endured (probably because my parents didn’t want their children to know)–so, I was often seen, reading books about the Vietnam War, trying to find out what I can.

Anyway, I’m glad that I’m participating in the DAReadAThon!  It’s certainly opened my eyes to new worlds and new, refreshing perspectives.  I’ve been really motivated, reading book after book–learning from new voices!

Do you enjoy taking part in readathons?

Advertisements

What Book Made You Become a Reader?

91lenjkcsnl

“Now, class, do you know what time it is?” She’d ask us.  The teacher had pulled out a chair out to the small carpet area and sat down in front of all the children, who are sitting still–with their legs crossed.  She reached into the large canvas bag next to her chair and out of the bag, she took out a large book–not too thick with pages, but big enough for us to see that it was a brightly-illustrated with a woman, mermaids, fairies, and small magical people.  “It’s time for Read Aloud!”

And…I really did love Read Aloud time.

That day she introduced the class to Virginia Hamilton’s “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales”–and though I wasn’t sure who was all paying attention or interested in the book–I knew that at least, I was.  I hung onto every word, picturing demons making bargains with me, fairies, and though I don’t remember very much about everything now–I do still remember how that book made me feel.

Curious.

Then, one day, the teacher stopped reading.  She said it was time for her to move onto the next book.  I asked her why, and she simply told me that it was time for her to return the book to the school library–so, I went down to the library to read the rest myself.

Which surprised the librarians there–because I wasn’t “old enough” to read from what they called, The Teacher’s Section.  I wasn’t even allowed to be lingering there.  But the kind older women exchanged smiles at one another, looks even–and told me that “they would do something about that”–got me the SAME book–checked it out for me–and whispered, “Now, just make sure to return it, okay?”

And I did.

Then, the librarians would go over to the Teacher’s Section and check out the books about Greek mythology, Japanese folklores, Chinese myths and legends, and so on forth.  They would give me recommendations upon recommendations–and I would read them all.  And it all started because of “Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales.”

That one book made me become a reader, and it was enough to make a huge difference in my life.

It allowed me to travel outside of the classroom and my home, it took me out to meet interesting & unique characters, and it helped me escape boredom with all kinds of adventures.  If I remember it correctly, each story in the book ended with a lesson for children–and they were all very clever.  I wanted to know about everything, and so, I was encouraged to read more–and finish it, without the teacher.

18 years later, and I still remembered that day.

91mbSmM4uNL.jpg

J.K. Rowling – The Tales of Beedle the Bard | Perfect for Harry Potter Fans!

imageedit_35_6631473187.jpg

 Title: The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Author: J.K. Rowling

Author’s Country of Birth: England

Genre: Fantasy

Page Numbers: 111 pages

Publish Year: 2008

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Initial Thoughts…

Honestly, I had no idea that “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” existed–though many people have told me in the past that J.K. Rowling did write a book that included “The Tale of The Three Brothers”(which was featured in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”)!  I was completely clueless, because I expected to pick up a huge storybook like the Grimm Brothers or Christian Anderson.  When I finally did, my heart fell flat–and picked itself up again.

That was when I had remembered I was in elementary school when the Harry Potter books were coming out–and my classmate, a bookworm named Ariel–was reading the “gigantic” book.  By herself.  I had never felt so out of place in my life–and I was left, reeling back from the fact that I am now in my twentiesand this book I was holding in my hands were made not just for my generation–but for little generations who are currently going to elementary school, carrying gigantic Harry Potter books.

More than an entire decade had flown by.

What Is It About?

Whether you have read the book or seen the movie, anyone who is familiar with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” would be aware that fairytales or bedtime stories play a significant role in the story plot as Harry and his friends discover that not all things and people are what they claim to be.  They soon find themselves questioning the tales being told to young wizards and witches as truth or simply make-believe.  This causes them to explore the source of one story, “The Tale of The Three Brothers.”

Written by J.K. Rowling, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” is a collection of stories aimed at young wizards and witches, being passed down for generations among the Wizarding world just as the Muggle world has shared tales such as “Cinderella” to their children.  While in Muggle fairytales, magic is the root of problems for Muggle heroes or heroines, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” feature heroes and heroines who perform the magic themselves.  Beedle’s stories, though, help Wizarding parents explain to children that magic can often have consequences if abused.

In addition, throughout the book, readers will come across Dumbledore’s commentary notes about each tale.  If one takes time to read them, the clues and backstories will contribute to a deeper understanding of the Wizarding world and about his relationships with other Harry Potter characters, such as Mr. Lucius Malfoy.  “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” may have been written for children, but it is also a book that can be enjoyed by Harry Potter fans of all ages–as it opens up a whole new world of controversy revolving around the tension between Muggles and Wizarding folks.

How to Describe the Overall Book?

As I read the book, I quickly took note of its unique approach from the Wizarding perspective as Muggles were often depicted as ignorant, naive, and foolish people or those in need and at the mercy of magic.  In a sense, I felt as though we were poking fun at ourselves, our own Humanity, as Man can be so cruel, jealous, and quick to betray his own kind.  Why, if I were to put a Muggle and a Wizard next to each other, the Muggle who possesses no magic of his own–would be so frail and vulnerable next to the Wizard.

If there’s anything else one should pay attention to–it should also be the language.  I just love how J.K. Rowling wrote the book, because it takes the similar tone that the Grimm Brothers and Christian Anderson took–and it transports you into another setting at a different time.  At the same time, it is easy to understand, easy to read, and because of this, you and all of the other age groups–all fans of Harry Potter–are able to be part of this additional Harry Potter world experience.

imageedit_38_8638881251.jpg

What’s My Favorite Part?

Personally, I enjoyed “The Fountain of the Fair Fortune” and “The Tale of The Three Brothers”!  I felt that these two were among the strongest of the collection, because both stories had a variety of characters with contrasting differences, such as age or personality, and they all faced fairly more complex obstacles than the rest of the other stories.  I also thought that the way the collection placed these two stories was strategically well-planned, because one helped set off a strong impression and another helped set a stronger end to the overall book.

What’s My Least Favorite Part?

However, there was one or two stories that didn’t quite fit well in “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”–because I felt that they didn’t quite hold up when compared to the rest of the collection.  To me, they were either weak in character personality or story plot, and because of that, I was either left confused–trying to figure out the lesson of the tale or wondering why…in general.  Though the book was probably meant to be small, I felt that everything was rushed a little.

And So…

In the end, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” would make a great gift for any Harry Potter fan.  While it isn’t as great as J.K. Rowling’s other works, I was still glad that I took my time to read it, because it helped provide some deeper insight in the tensed relations between the Muggle world and the Wizarding world, along with controversial interpretations of the stories.  Though you don’t necessarily need the book for vital Harry Potter world information, it is still filled with entertaining bits of knowledge related to Dumbledore and the Wizarding folks.

If you’ve read “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”, feel free to comment below with your personal opinion of the book–or if you like the post, please “like” it!

Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns | Be Ready To Cry!

imageedit_29_2283251740.jpg

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Author’s Country of Birth: Afghanistan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Page Numbers: 432 pages

Publish Year: 2007

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Initial Thoughts…

Sand.  It’s the first image that comes to mind when I think of the Middle East.  I also see the large, beaming sun overhead–high in the sky–either shining down on you with its quiet blessing or glaring down upon your back, burning into your skin.  And then, there comes the short media clips of women either all covered from head to toe or wearing their hijab, walking alongside their husband or brother.  That, and war.

What is It About?

My heart ached, and my eyes were flooded with tears as I continue to read the book.  “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a story revolving around two Afghan women from two different generations–the older one, Mariam, and the younger one, Laila.  The book starts off from Mariam’s point of view, switches over to Laila’s, and then so on forth, telling a tale of fates known to come to Afghan women of their time ranging from arranged marriages, abuse, and having opportunities such as education being taken or given to them again and again.  Starting from at around the 1960’s up to 2003, the chronicle of events follow politics, war, and the lives of both women as they overcome obstacles to find happiness.  Each challenge continues to test Marian and Laila’s courage, will, determination, patience, and love.  Through loss and hope, they have found a mother-daughter relationship with one another and are fighting for a future in a country with no war and filled with positive opportunities for Afghan women like them.

How to Describe the Overall Book?

Even before The Pearls of Reading was created, I often came across raving reviews of Hosseini’s work, and it was all over the internet.  Fortunately, I didn’t stumble across any spoilers and the positive opinions of readers persuaded me to check the book out myself!  At the same time, I wasn’t sure whether or not “A Thousand Splendid Suns” would surpass my expectations, and I was a little nervous because I have never read story taking place in the Middle East.

I started off with reading the first chapter…and before 6 pm, I came to realize that I had whizzed through six to eight chapters already by evening.  I was even crying, with hot tears rolling down my cheeks, sniffling, and rubbing my eyes!  My heart broke again and again!  I have never felt this sad before over a book!  I was hoping for Mariam’s happiness, and when Laila came into the picture, I was cheering for her!

Before, I knew very little of the hardships women like Laila faced in their Middle Eastern country, in their village, their home.  Whenever I saw the Middle East being covered by the news, there was always some kind of struggle whether it was about war, poverty, violent protests, or oppression.  But after reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, I was hit with an epiphany that we, Americans, should care about voices like Hosseini!  We should care more about women from all over the world, no matter what religion–what culture–what continent–what language they speak!  They love, they cry, they suffer, and they want the things that we want too.

imageedit_32_8547001011.jpg

What’s My Favorite Part?

Tariq.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but one would have to just read the book to find out about this character and his role in “A Thousand Splendid Suns”!  When I was first introduced to him, I simply brushed him aside as a side character–but no, he becomes more than just that throughout the story, and I’ll tell you this: Do NOT underestimate Tariq.  His relationship to one of the main characters make it even more precious–and has served to really push me into thinking further deeply about the women in the Middle East.

Hint: Tariq is a character with a physical disability.

What’s My Least Favorite Part?

Personally, I felt as though Hosseini’s story-telling skills could rival many of the greatest works I’ve ever read in my life–but at the same time, it couldn’t.  Unlike most voices, Hosseini’s was as real as it could get, and that is a special place in my bookshelf.  There was nothing in the book that I could simply shrug off, because deep in my heart, I knew that he was bringing up real-life issues such as forced arranged marriages between older men and teenage or child-brides–poverty–war–death–rape–oppression–and just many horrible events taking place right now in the world that many of us are just too scared to confront.  For most of us, it can make us squirm because we are either uncomfortable or in denial about these facts.

Though “A Thousand Splendid Suns” was based on fictional people, the events  were inspired by real life experiences whether it was from someone Hosseini knew or it was often heard about and spoken about by Afghan women.  Knowing this and sensing it from the overall book–that should be enough for readers to realize that even if we close our eyes, these events are still happening in other parts of the world.  For the first time ever, a book was able to make me think about my privilege as an American and for that, I have to thank Hosseini.

And So…

There were multiple times when I had to put down the book and take the rest of the day off.  This wasn’t because I was crying too much or it was just too painful for me to continue reading–this was because of how powerful the book was to me.  It didn’t only break my heart, it made me question how Afghan women like Laila and Mariam were able to be so strong in their time when they were going through so much pain and loss.

Overall, I would highly recommend the book to anyone who is willing to read “A Thousand Splendid Suns” with a blank canvas, opened mind and who is looking to expand their mental horizons.  This would also be a great suggestion to readers who are seeking strong female POC protagonists and curious minds who would like to read a book based on the Middle East.  It is an excellent book, and I will look forward to reading more of Hosseini’s work!

Have you read any of Hosseini’s work before?  Did you read “A Thousand Splendid Suns?” If so, comment below with your thoughts–or if you enjoyed reading this post, please “like” it!

Jean-Phillipe Blondel – The 6:41 to Paris | Facing The Ex

imageedit_20_5063854578.jpg

Title: The 6:41 to Paris

Author: Jean-Phillipe Blondel

Translated by: Alison Anderson

Author’s Country of Birth: France

Genre: Drama

Page Numbers: 170 pages

Publish Year: 2013

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Barnes & NobleeBay

What is It About?

Imagine being trapped in a bustling train compartment on your back home…and the person sitting next to you is someone whom you hate the most.  The ride will last for over an hour, and it has been about 30 years since you have last seen this person, but the scab in your heart is still there.  What would you do?

47-year-old Cecil is a successful French businesswoman who’s at the growing peak of her career, along with bigger plans set in stone for her.  One day, on her way back from visiting her aging parents, Cecil decides to take the 6:41 am train back home to Paris.  During this train ride, an ex-flame, Phillips Leduc, ends up sitting next to her.  During the next hour and a half, they both begin to reminisce the memories of their short-lived romantic relationship, which was filled with hate, lust, and regrets.

Initial Thoughts…

Though I did read mixed reviews (with no spoilers) online, it didn’t stop me from getting my hands on the book and reading it myself.  I’m not one to sway from a path once I have my sight on it anymore–unless one can provide substantial evidence why I should and the reasons should be full of legitimate negative consequences…like horrible plot surprises.  But 47-year-old Cecil didn’t come face to face with a “bad plot surprise.”  Instead, though she did end up having her ex-boyfriend, Phillipe, sitting next to her, she is forced to deal with the hurt and humiliation she herself tried to run away from in the past 30 years.  For some people in the real world, this could be too much, depending on how bad of a relationship break-up it was.  For me, well, this was courage.

How to Describe the Overall Book?

Curiosity was strong within this one for I could hardly put the book down at all during my 2 days of reading through it!  Each chapter is told from Cecil or Phillipe’s point of view as they each either make efforts to ease the awkwardness, debate whether or not to run away, or remember why their past actions have led up to this moment, 30 years later after their break-up.  Though I did have trouble with figuring out who was telling the story at first–it didn’t take me long to see the pattern and for the confusion to stop.  It was pretty frustrating; however, I loved how each chapter was leading up to the ultimate plot question: What happened?

And then, there was another question: What is going to happen?

I have never wanted to thank a translator so, so much for translating a book because–well, I had never read a translated novel before–I could clearly hear Blondel’s voice from word to word.  His use of language was still beautiful, and thanks to Anderson’s hard work, they all still rang true to the original.  Blondel’s use of switching character’s perspectives and first-person narrative was very effective and efficient in letting the reader believe that they are there in the train compartment.

Having a perspective being told in first-person narrative further helps put the reader in Cecil’s position and also feel empathy for the character.  When the perspective is switched to Phillipe, you too feel empathy for him as well and see into the changing depths of his maturity over the past 30 years while he reflects back on his naive bachelorhood days.  In the end, I cannot help but feel like a mutual friend, who is listening to both Cecil and Phillipe on their love story.  One is told both sides of the story and may have come up with a solution that can solve the problem, but it is up for the former couple to take the first steps.

What’s My Favorite Part?

My favorite aspect of “The 6:41 to Paris” has to be the character development of both Cecil and Phillipe.  In the beginning of the novel, it seems like the two are overwhelmed with hate or fear, which gradually gives away to acceptance and then, hope.  They have been dragging around this heavy burden for many years and never got around to resolve or confront their problems with each other.  They weren’t good at communicating then, and even now, in the train compartment, the reader can see that they are still struggling with that same issue.  Fear has them in its grip, and they need to build up the courage to let it out.

What’s My Least Favorite Part?

However, I barely felt the pain from the break-up.  While the overall story plot was well thought out, I was a tad disappointed that Blondel didn’t go in depth about both Cecil and Phillipe’s emotional sides.  Much of it went into anger and humiliation or guilt and regrets–but I thought that sadness could have been incorporated.  It seemed to me that Blondel just simply skimmed through and dived right into anger and resentment or embarrassment and shame.

A Word of Advice…

Personally though, I don’t recommend this book to those who are seeking action–as the main characters are both stuck in a tightly packed train compartment and are forced to think about everything that’s happened in the past 30 years.  With me, this was no problem, because I tend to find stories revolving around mental processes and flashbacks fascinating!  While some people may say that they would’ve acted faster than Cecil and Phillipe and started up the conversation sooner, the rest of us probably wouldn’t and would have taken our time to think things through like they did.  People are complex, and well…reactions from person to person will often have multiple outcomes: angry shouting, crying, silence, and so on forth.

And So…

Nevertheless, I found the story to be quite captivating.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is currently recovering from unstable relationships, are in the midst of either forgiving, or trying to move on with their life.  Blondel’s “The 6:41 to Paris” is indeed a tale of bittersweet karma and how the times of youth can follow you far into your later life.  It is a reminder to us all that life is only what you make of the choices given to you and how you treat others.

Oscar Wilde – The Complete Short Stories | A Charming Classic!

imageedit_15_2613013893

Title: The Complete Short Stories

Series: Oxford World’s Classics Series

Author: Oscar Wilde

Author’s Country of Birth: Ireland

Genre: Drama/Fantasy

Page Numbers: 288 pages

Publish Year: 2010

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

How to Describe The Overall Book?

If there are just two words I would have to pick, describing Oscar Wilde’s work, it would be this: modern fairytales.  At every page I turned while reading his short stories, it seemed as if the man himself was weaving out tales to me by the fireplace from everyday life in the late 1880’s.  Ranging from 18th century English men and Spanish princesses to giants and talking statues, Wilde’s writings were beautifully and carefully phrased.

Just one sentence alone was enough to paint a night sky out while I continued reading, and in my mind, I saw Wilde’s vision when he was working on the drafts.  Not only was his use of language was important in setting the mood, it enabled the plot progression to flow smoothly from one point to another.  Every twist of events, every inch of tragedy, and every ounce of happiness was impeccable and flawless.

Even the introduction of his characters were spectacularly done as he was quick to set their personality or physical features in writing.  The way he was able to pin those significant physical traits down in such a short time was crucial in visualizing the given main character’s look.  Such words were carefully chosen to show the reader how special this protagonist is to the story’s plot, because unlike the supporting cast, Oscar Wilde placed an emphasis on describing the main character’s unique characteristics to make him stand out from the background and the rest of his peers.  It was simple but also very efficient and effective.

imageedit_17_5767901025.jpg

What Is It About?

Starting off with “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime”, the book introduces us to a party event of high social class status and a cheiromantist (palm reader).  We then meet the protagonist, Lord Arthur Savile, who gets his palm read by the cheiromantist, Mr. Podgers.  When Mr. Podgers tells Lord Arthur about his future, the young man then goes out to carry out his dark foretold prophecy.

Following up is “The Sphinx Without a Secret” where Lord Murchison is telling his friend, the narrator, about a mysterious woman he had fallen madly in love with over the past summer.  Then, there is “The Canterville Ghost”, which is about an American family moving into the haunted Canterville Chase home and dealing with a costume-donning ghost from the Canterville family line.  After that, it is “The Model Millionaire”, featuring a broke young man who decides to give a beggar his pocket change.  Other short stories in the book collection also include “The Happy Prince”, “The Nightingale and the Rose”, “The Selfish Giant”,”The Fisherman and His Soul”, “The Star-Child”, and various completed works such as poems in prose.

What’s My Favorite Part?

My favorite story from the overall collection has to be and will always be “The Fisherman and His Soul”, because not only did it feature mermaids, it also reminded me of Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” but at the same time, remained original.  The story was beautiful in every way and so persuasive that I had to convince myself that the tale couldn’t possibly be based on real life events!  It made me feel the heart-wrenching pain and warm happiness that the fisherman faced, and I could not help but show sympathy for him again and again.

What’s My Least Favorite Part?

Other than that, while Wilde did entertain me greatly with his original stories, I could not bring myself to like “The Remarkable Rocket”, because the rocket character kept talking so much!  But I had to agree with what Wilde was doing with the character because the rocket was supposed to be extremely proud and self-centered, after all, who outright said he liked hearing himself talk.  It did drive me really mad though.

And So…

Despite that, it just demonstrated the fact that Oscar Wilde was able to persuade you to like or dislike a character based on how he wrote out their personality, such as conversational  dialogues or physical traits.  Through the use of language and storytelling techniques, the author was skilled and successful in delivering the desired result: making his tales believable.  Overall, I can see why Oscar Wilde’s works remain as a part of English classic literature and will always stay so for many more centuries.

If you are familiar with Oscar Wilde’s work, feel free to comment below with your favorite short story or novel written by him or if you enjoyed reading this post, like it!  Thank you for taking the time and consideration upon reading this book review.  Have a wonderful day, readers!

Winter Readathon & Updates!

dareadathon-sign-up.png
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight

Hello, readers!

Before I knew it, I’ve already signed up for my first Readathon, a Harry Potter-themed one hosted by Aentee of Read At Midnight!  If you are a reader and a Harry Potter fan yourself, you are welcome to join me and many others as well!  I’ve never been this excited in such a long while over reading–and it’s almost as if I am reading books with friends in a cozy library!

Anyway, the Winter Readathon, also called Dumbledore’s Army Readathon, will be running from Sunday, January 1st, 2017 to Sunday, January 15th, 2017.  It will focus on diverse books!  Aentee has already given us book prompts, all 7 of which are inspired by magic spells that Harry and his friends had practiced, and you get to also earn points for the house you are a part of!  On Pottermore, I was a Slytherin, and so, I felt obligated to join the Slytherin house.  Sign up will remain open for the rest of December.

dareadathon-id-ravenclaw
My House ID!  I recently took the updated Pottermore sorting test again and came out as Ravenclaw 2 out of 3 times!  Image template provided by ReadAtMidnight.

If you have a blog, you are welcome to join us by signing up or if you have a Twitter account, you can use the hashtag #DAReadAThon (Dumbledore’s Army Reathathon) as a way to participate also!  If you are unable to join but you are interested in keeping up with my journey and the progress of other participants, follow the hashtag on Twitter–follow me–or subscribe to this blog for updates!  Do whatever works for you.

As of now, this is my TBR list from the 7 book prompts:

dareadathon-expecto-patronum
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight.
23848113.jpg
Image credit to Goodreads.

The two families, the Palomas and the Corbeaus, have always been in a feud for years.  In addition, they are also traveling performers in rival shows–one in mermaid exhibitions and another in tightrope walking.  Lace Paloma knew that she should stay away from the Corbeaus–but one day, Cluck Corbeau saves her life–and she starts falling for him.

This is a diverse book featuring an important issue to both me and my fiancee, because we are in an interracial relationship, and the story revolves around two characters who are in a similar position.  It makes both Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau relatable to us.  Also, the fact that this story has a POC protagonist involved in a interracial relationship is pretty refreshing.

da-readathon-expelliarmus
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight.
6472451.jpg
Image credit to Goodreads.

After the passing of her father’s death, Ash would often read fairytales by a fire as it was the only thing that brought her comfort and joy.  Left with her wicked stepmother and with two parents dead, Ash wanted the fairies to take her away from this–and Sidhean, a dark fairy, might actually grant her wish.  But one day, she meets Kaisa, the King’s huntress, and her will to live and love soon reignites.  With this, who will she choose in the end: Sidhean or Kaisa?

Though I have read mixed reviews about this book, I’m more skeptical of the negative reviews when it came from readers who…are very biased and traditional.  Honestly, I have never picked up a book about lesbian love before, and so, this really excites me!  As someone who supports all of her LGBT friends and family members, I am glad to see more LGBT representation in all types of media: art, books, movies, TV series, and others.  The mere thought of how positive representation can make them all happier makes me happier also.

da-readathon-protego
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight.
710657.jpg
Image credit to Goodreads.

Though nine-year-old Kati had always lived her life with her grandparents, a reoccurring thought would often come up:  Where is her mother?  For five years, Kati hasn’t seen her mother and not a soul would tell about her current whereabouts.  Then, one day, Grandmother tells Kati that her mother has had Lou Gehrig’s disease during all these years and would like to spend her last days with Kati.

For those who are new to #OwnVoices, #OwnVoices are stories about diverse or marginalized identity by an author of that same diverse/marginalized identity as well.  For more information, you can refer to the original hashtag starter, Corrine Duynis.  Since “The Happiness of Kati” is about a Thai girl written by a Thai woman author, I thought that this would make the best fit for me–and the fact that I rarely come across books by Southeast Asian writers.

da-readathon-reducto.png
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight.
25814394
Image credit to Goodreads.

In 2009, Rebecca Traistor decides to research and interview the diverse masses of American single women for her book, “All the Single Ladies.”  It was the year when under 50 percent of overall American women were married and the average age of first marriages leapt from the early 20’s bracket to 27 years old.  In 2016, only 2o percent of Americans are married by the age of 29.  Covering class, race, and sexual orientation, “All the Single Ladies” is a book documenting the historical progression of women everywhere to how we got here.

To be honest, when I first stumbled across the title, I was reminded of Beyonce’s single hit “All the Single Ladies.”  When I went to see what the contemporary journalism work is all about, I instantly became interested to know how we American women came to this point.  Being part of a first-generation Asian American group, I know how it feels to be pressured to get into a heterosexual marriage at a young age, thanks to the constant verbal reminders that I’m in 20’s by my mother.  But I didn’t give in, because we are living in a nation where we are now given options beyond marriage, and that includes the opportunity of pursuing higher education.  Though I have a feeling that I may already know some of the answers, I am still going to pick this book up and confirm them myself.

dareadathon-impedimenta.png
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight.
2541323
Image credit to Goodreads.

After the Vietnam War, the Hmong were being massacred for siding with the Americans, and as a result, thousands of Hmong families made their way into the United States and a few other countries, who also welcomed them with opened arms.  Lacking a written language, these first-hand accounts were often recorded by others.  After her grandmother’s passing, Kao Kalia Yang made a tribute to the woman whose strength held the family together during the hard, brutal times, starting from captivity and the family’s escape into Thailand to her birth in the refugee camp and new life in America.

As a Hmong-American, I often heard stories about the Vietnam War while growing up and would sometimes find a peer from the same ethnicity group, who was born in a Thai refugee camp and immigrated to the United States at a very young age.  But despite all of that, I have only read one book about the Hmong experience and it wasn’t even written by a Hmong author.  With this book, I will be reading my first Hmong nonfiction story by a Hmong woman, and I can say that this makes me feel proud of how far my people have come and the sacrifices made by my parents during their escape into Thailand.

It’s been on my TBR list for too long, and well, I should really get to finally reading it!

dareadathon-stupefy.png
Photo credit to ReadAtMidnight.
22521951.jpg
Image credit to Goodreads.

In the recent past, I have seen some hype about Aisha Saeed’s work, “Written in the Stars”, a story about a girl who is being pressured into an arranged marriage by her parents.  When Nalia falls in love with Saif, her parents are outraged, because they believe that they should choose her future husband as tradition dictates.  Then, what started out as a family vacation to explore her Pakistani roots becomes a nightmare when her conservative parents demand that she marry their chosen husband now!

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of arranged marriages, and so, when I came across this title on the Internet, I knew that it was time for me to come out of my comfort zone again and read it.  The book cover is magnificent and eye-catching to me, the title is beautifully thought out, and well, I’ve never read books written by an author of Pakistani descent.  It’s all the better reason to change current reader I am into the future reader I want to be.

dareadthon-lumos.png
Photo Credit to ReadAtMidnight.
52384.jpg
Image credit to Goodreads.

The story revolves around a Native American girl named Indigo, who was taken from her tribe, the Sand Lizard people, by white soldiers and placed into a government school where she is to learn the ways of a white child.  With her home and family destroyed, Indigo had nowhere to run to until she is adopted by a kind couple, Hattie and Edward, who wants to turn her into a proper young lady.

Written by a Native American author, I am impressed by the fact that this book is addressing the 19th century US boarding school system, which was based on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School where Native American children were forbidden to speak their native languages and encouraged to abandon their Native American cultures.  In all of my years, I cannot recall a time when my history teachers actually talked about this in class and if they did, they merely skimmed through that part–like they did with me about the Vietnam War.  This will be my first time reading anything written by a Native American author, and I am looking forward to it!

Regarding other updates, though, it seems that I will not be able to read the Korean-translated book, “The Vegetarian”, written by Han Kang for December 2016.  I am currently being waitlisted for the book, and so, instead, I will be reading Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns.”  I’ve recently come across the title multiple times on the Internet, and I thought to myself: “Why not?”  The title is what captured my attention and interest, it chronicles 30 years of Afghanistan history, and the story of how two women, Mariam and Laila, become close friends through unlikely circumstances.  I have seen raving reviews about Hosseini’s work, and it has piqued my curiosity.

Have you ever participated in a Readathon?  If so, feel free to share your experience below in the comments or if you enjoyed this post, like it!  Stay tuned for future posts!