A hockey fan all the way here, but this book was simply addictive! If only Michael Lewis would take to writing something, anything, about my favourite...moreA hockey fan all the way here, but this book was simply addictive! If only Michael Lewis would take to writing something, anything, about my favourite sport. I have a very limited knowledge of baseball but this book would be compelling for anyone to read, even if it is about winning games through studying statistics. Makes you think if your team could incorporate this method, although the playoffs do seem like a crapshoot.
Can't wait to get my hands on the other books Lewis has written.(less)
I was stunned by this novel. As a Vietnamese Canadian, unfortunately I've never delved into Vietnam's past on my father's side of...moreAbsolutely beautiful.
I was stunned by this novel. As a Vietnamese Canadian, unfortunately I've never delved into Vietnam's past on my father's side of the family. After reading this, I have a newfound spark to discover more through books and first-person accounts of their experiences. And being in this situation, I sympathized with Maggie, who is on a journey to find out who her father was after their separation, but is labelled as an outside I've come to care about all the characters in this novel: Old Man Hung, whose enthusiasm for truly good phở I can appreciate (a trait I find in my own father), Bình and his quiet dedication to his family, Tu, carrying the hopes as the 'new generation,' Lan and her past with Hung, and even Phương, with his dreams to become a rapper.
The humour found in this novel are delights because they speak simple truths, like Tu's inner advice to tourists that want to mend the past with Vietnam (spend lots of money here!), that he keeps hidden as he smiles and nods as he takes them on special tours. Bình and Tu's loyalty to Old Man Hung is also evident whenever they criticize other phở places down to the very last drop, much to the dismay of the owner who can hear everything they're saying, as they're sitting there as customers!
I've begun to venture into Canadian fiction and I find that often times, authors seem to be limited by the label. It is a fact that we are a young country, and perhaps it is rather difficult to spin expansive historical tales, which I've found to be disappointing because I consider works of a Canadian author to be Canadian fiction. Maybe it's a very simplistic view of the literary world, but I don't believe the label should restrict the geographical means of a good story, especially living in a country where we unconsciously interact with so many different cultures on a daily basis.
This is one incredible read, and whether or not you have had the experience of visiting Vietnam (as I must one day), I should hope you appreciate the tips for knowing a good bowl of phở found here. If I've learned anything from my father, it's that truly amazing broth should engulf you in its aroma as the bowl of phở arrives in front of you. May you all find that bowl that you wouldn't mind having to start your day, 365 days of the year.;)(less)
I had to borrow this from the library a second time because for some reason couldn't bring myself to finishing the last half of the novel...moreWhat a story.
I had to borrow this from the library a second time because for some reason couldn't bring myself to finishing the last half of the novel, so there was a bit of a wait in between. It was well worth the effort because I became so involved in the characters that I almost didn't want to read the rest in fear of what would happen to them. The emotional connections were made without me realizing it.
Andras Levi, the second of three brothers (Tibor and Matyas), born in a small Hungarian town, has accepted a scholarship to study architecture at l'Ecole Speciale in Paris. It is 1937, and the tale begins with his older brother, Tibor, taking him out to see the opera for their last night in Budapest. These two have been living together in the city after completing high school; Tibor is waiting to attend medical school but is put on a waiting list because he is a foreign student. Their youngest brother, Matyas, is still living with his parents back in the tiny village of Konyar. Right away the amount of research that Julie Orringer has put into this is evident - we are given a surreal glimpse of the surroundings through the architectural eyes of Andras, and it is a delight. A chance encounter with the elder Mrs. Hasz adds a sense of intrigue to Andras' trip. He is to deliver a letter to a C. Morgenstern once he arrives in Paris, and this seemingly small favour sets the story in motion.
Andras couldn't speak. He let out a long breath and looked down at the smooth concrete of the platform, where travel stickers had adhered in multinational profusion. Germany. Italy. France. The tie to his brother felt visceral, vascular, as though they were linked at the chest; the idea of boarding a train to be taken away from him seemed as wrong as ceasing to breathe. The train whistle blew.
The novel follows Andras' journey as a naive student beginning his studies at the school, unsure whether or not he is worthy of such a position among his fellow classmates, to the friendships he makes with memorable characters such as Rosen, Yakov, & Polaner (who was personally my favourite), against the backdrop of a Europe on the verge of war, the ever-present danger of Hitler's regime looming behind it all. At times, the details may get tedious, but mostly I enjoyed how thorough Orringer was with her writing, which was not merely meticulous but rather beautiful. This is quite the expansive tale, but I won't give the timeline for when it ends, for fear of spoilers.
I was enraptured. This is a definite recommendation from me.(less)
I loved Lisa Genova's debut novel, Still Alice, so I was excited to start this one. What I appreciated most about Alice was the seamless way the scien...moreI loved Lisa Genova's debut novel, Still Alice, so I was excited to start this one. What I appreciated most about Alice was the seamless way the scientific and emotional details were blended to make the story accessible, but not lacking in the knowledge that readers could learn from. The premise of Left Neglected, seems even more intriguing - a brain injury from a car accident erases 'left' from Sarah Nickerson's world.
Unfortunately, the execution of this didn't pan out for me. I didn't feel much sympathy for the character, which is awful having read what she's had to go through, but whatever changes she made to her life just felt so bland. Maybe Alice was the perfect premise to write about because the increasingly sparse prose served well, but I'm finding that bringing emotional depth is a major weakness to Genova's writing. She tried to do too much and I felt bogged down by the day-to-day life of Sarah before I was half-way through the book, especially with all the details like what they ate or what they wore, etc. I wanted to care more about the recovery process, cheer on the achieving of goals, but the book felt more and more like a chore.
I'd definitely recommend Still Alice, but this second effort is rather weak. I'm getting a grasp of Lisa Genova's style and I'm not sure if I'll read the next book. (less)
This is the last book I've read on the Giller shortlist, and I'd have to say I would pick this for the prize if I could. It's a sensitive topic to wri...moreThis is the last book I've read on the Giller shortlist, and I'd have to say I would pick this for the prize if I could. It's a sensitive topic to write about, but the author manages to make it work and then some. Beyond the main character, Wayne, who is born a hermaphrodite, but the father, Treadway, chooses to raise the baby as a boy, and with that, the child grows up trying to repress the urges to be different, as it is known that Treadway would disapprove.
Kathleen Winter has such a knack for engulfing you with the setting that it's as if you're one of the neighbours being in on the secret about Wayne. There's an almost ethereal quality about the way she describes the town - you yearn to visit but there's a fear that you may find yourself trapped there, just like Jacinta. She never feels a sense of belonging but never has the courage to leave, because Treadway is a safe choice. He is a man of honesty, but with that, rigid rules on upbringing, carrying on traditions of what he thinks a boy should grow up to be, especially in a small town such as this one. Neither of the parents can be labelled as villains, as the author manages to convey how their own views have molded passively into raising Wayne.
"It never once occurred to Treadway...to let the baby live the way it had been born...He did not want to imagine the harm it would cause. He was not an imagining man. He saw deeply into things but he had no desire to entertain possibility that had not yet manifested. He wanted to know what was, not what might be."
This passage, among many, marks the brilliance of Winter to flesh out each of her characters. We're able to understand exactly why they act the way they do. I can't bring myself to feel angry at either Treadway's stubbornness or Jacinta's way of resigning to her husband's demands. There's a lingering sadness to most of this novel, juxtaposed with the strong-willed nature of the setting, easily a character amongst itself. The air of this small coastal town in Labrador lives and breathes, dictating the cycles of the inhabitants as the mere visitors are weeded out. Everything serves a purpose.
This review does the book no justice. I cannot recommend it enough.(less)
A concise, lyrical read. This is a tale of Ree Dolly and her hunt for her father, Jessup, skipping bail, before she loses her home. The responsibility...moreA concise, lyrical read. This is a tale of Ree Dolly and her hunt for her father, Jessup, skipping bail, before she loses her home. The responsibility is great - the family will have nowhere to stay and she is the provider for her mother and two younger brothers, having left school to care for them. A very close-knit family unit is evident through the little gestures: accompanying her brothers to the school bus stop and teaching them lessons on the way, washing her mother's hair, cooking for her family, etc. The journey to find Jessup has plenty of obstacles - there are unspoken rules amongst the clan she lives in, and no one likes a rat.
Daniel Woodrell has such a grasp on language that you're instantly aware of Ree's surroundings and the danger that lurks behind the shadows of the trees. Despite the harsh life that is ahead for all these people, there is a tenderness to the characters as they go about their day to day life, and every once in a while, kindness is found.
Having read this book, I'm curious to see how the film interpretation handled the material - Jennifer Lawrence's performance has been well-praised.(less)
"Anorexia was my first love...Through its eyes, I saw the world differently. It taught me how to feel good about myself, how to improve myself, and ho...more"Anorexia was my first love...Through its eyes, I saw the world differently. It taught me how to feel good about myself, how to improve myself, and how to hink. Through it all, it never left my side...as long as I didn't ignore it, it never left me alone. Losing anorexia was painful - like losing your sense of purpose. I no longer knew what to do without it to consider."
A powerful memoir detailing Portia de Rossi's struggles with an eating disorder, quickly spiralling out of control as she gains more fame as an actress. The story begins at age 12, as she embarks upon being a model, and between traveling to auditions and walking the runway, she takes on the management of her weight. After joining the cast of Ally McBeal, the commanding voice in her head tells her to go further, leading to daily rituals of calorie-counting every meal, whittling everything down to numbers as she negotiates her diet down to achieve a lower weight. The paranoia is further magnified as her fear of being outed would ruin her career.
It's brutally honest. One of the many scenes that has stayed with me, was Portia punishing herself for finishing a pack of gum. The hunger was impossible to ignore and in an impulse, she followed her allotted amount of one stick with another, and another. After the initial rush of euphoria at having consumed calories (the unrecorded ones that she were afraid of quietly gaining weight for her), panic overtook her and she immediately resorted to taking the stairs, running to burn off the calories from the candy. One trip was not enough, and she took the elevator down to make the uphill climb again. And again. This went on until it got dark enough for dinner, as eating too late would not allow her to digest her food properly before bed. I was on the verge of tears reading certain parts of this book, fearful for how far things went.
I'd definitely recommend this - a shocking but inspirational read.(less)
Maybe love is like a monsoon rain. When it rains really hard and heavy, it seems like it will never end and we will swim in mud forever.
But then the wind sh...moreMaybe love is like a monsoon rain. When it rains really hard and heavy, it seems like it will never end and we will swim in mud forever.
But then the wind shifts, and the earth grows dry and cracked. Every gurgle and ooze tiptoes away and we're left wishing and waiting for rain again.
Maybe love is like that Maybe the wind shifts and love just tiptoes away.
Had to include this. My favourite passage for the last three lines.
Matt is 10 years old, loved by his adoptive parents but still struggling with the family he's left behind in the war. He hasn't talked about Vietnam, and he's afraid and unsure of whether or not he should. Ann E. Burg is able to bring forth a lot of emotions in these sparse verses - a very accessible book for everyone. You can choose to go as many layers deep as you wish through Matt's point of view, whether reading to find out how he's dealing with the present or searching back into his past. It's a quick, one-sitter, but don't be discouraged by the length - the simplicity is beautiful, and frankly, communicates better with less than more.(less)