Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange (The Food Trilogy, #3)
Five Quarters of the Orange
(The Food Trilogy #3)
by Joanne Harris

Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published 2001)
ISBN 0060958022 
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Finished Book:  June 26, 2011

About the Book
When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen - the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Althrough Framboise hopes for a new beginning. She quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrap book of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother.

With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother's dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook - searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother's sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor - she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribbles. Whithin the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old.

My Thoughts of This Book
It appears as though it took me a REALLY long time to finish. Unfortunately I had a lot going on between school, family, house, running schedule, etc.  I hated that it kept me from reading this book in one sitting! is probably one of the best books I have ever read.

Loved this book.
Loved the time period.
Loved the character development.
Loved the writing style.
Loved the storyline.

This book had many characters.  Once you got a handle on all of the people, it sucks you in.  This author is incredible at placing you there, experiencing it, and smelling the food.  Yes.  I could actually imagine myself smelling the food.  This book gives you insight to what it would be like to experience WWII, living side by side with the German military.  What would you do?  Would you cooperate or make it clear you hated them for what was happening?  It's hard to say. 

Note:  I will read ANYTHING by this author!!!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford (Goodreads Author)

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Ballantine Books

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finished Book: April 7, 2011

About the Book
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

My thoughts on this book

This book had been on my To-Read list for a long time.  And I can proudly say that this was my first Kindle book I purchased.  My favorite genre of books is WWII fiction, so I couldn't wait to read this one.  It gives a different perspective of this time period.  Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea that Japanese internment camps ever existed.  I still question why this wasn't taught in History class??  These camps make me question what our government was thinking to lock up American citizens out of fear of the unknown.

The book has a delicate mix of historical facts and love.  It is a love story between two teenagers, one Japanese and the other Chinese.  It is an unlikely love, but one that endures through many years.  What I liked most about this book was seeing into what life was like for not only the Japanese, but the Chinese during this time.  Many of these people were born in America, but felt like foreigners in their own country.  Where did their devotion lie?  Was it to their ancestral country or here?

Great book!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


by Emma Donoghue (Goodreads Author)

Hardcover, 321 pages
Published September 13th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316098337

Finished This Book:  March 20, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About This Book 

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

My Thoughts on This Book

It took me a while to figure out that this was written from a 5 year old's perspective.   With that, imagine trying to understand a 5 year old telling a story of being locked up in a room with his kidnapped mother.  It is a tragic story and is told extremely well.  I could relate to both the boy and his mom at any point during the story.  There were times when I found myself shaking, I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  This book was riveting and sucked me in from the beginning.  However, about half way through, it slows down for me.  You reach a climax in the book and the remainder is tying up the story of this duo.  Had it not been for that, I would have rated it with 5 stars.

Kane and Abel

Kane and Abel

Kane and Abel
by Jeffrey Archer

Kindle Edition, 656 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by St. Martin's Paperbacks 
(first published 1979)

Finished Book: February 18, 2011

My Rating: 4 Stars

About the Book

William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless polish immigrant-born on the same day near the turn of the century on opposite sides of the world-are brought together by fate and the quest of a dream. Two men - ambitious, powerful, ruthless - are locked in a relentless struggle to build an empire, fueled by their all-consu...moreWilliam Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless polish immigrant-born on the same day near the turn of the century on opposite sides of the world-are brought together by fate and the quest of a dream. Two men - ambitious, powerful, ruthless - are locked in a relentless struggle to build an empire, fueled by their all-consuming hatred. Over sixty years and three generations, through war, marriage, fortune, and disaster, Kane and Abel battle for the success and triumph that only one man can have...

My Thoughts on This Book

This was a book full of intertwined characters and story lines.  I was mesmerized by the life of both the main characters in the book.  I loved and hated both of them at different times in the book.  It was an amazing story of strength, courage, deception, greed, and a little bit of love in the mix.  I liked that there was a lot of detail about each character, luring the reader in.  What I didn't like about the book was that it seemed like the author ran out of gas in the end.  I felt like the last 100 pages drug on and on.  To top it off, I didn't like how he tied the end together in the end.  I'm not sure how I would have ended the book, but that certainly wasn't it.  Overall, it was a good read.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

Paperback, 309 pages
Published March 16th 1998 by Anchor  
(first published 1985) 
ISBN 038549081X (ISBN13: 9780385490818)

Finished Book:  January 1, 2011

My Rating: 3 Stars

About the Book

It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

My Thoughts on This Book

I found this book to be an odd one at first.  It was a book club selection and was a college classic at best.  I'd heard of it, but never really knew anything about the storyline.  Imagine going to work one day to find the government has taken over EVERYTHING.  They take your credit cards and cash, leaving you an allotted amount of money on a government issued money card.  The government now owns you and determines what class of people you are to be put into for your own protection.  If you really sit and think about it, it isn't that far fetched.  Think about our government for a minute.  If they really wanted to, they could trace everything about you...where you shop, where you work, what you spend your money on, where you vacation.  I can only imagine how this book was perceived when it first was written.  I'm sure it was a little far fetched.  What about now?  Not so much in my opinion.