“Excuse me, do you work here? I think I’m lost.”
“You shouldn’t be here without protective gear. You need to get out now!”
Just 3 days left to enter my contest. As a reminder, I’m doing a drawing for a signed copy of The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg.
I finished the book and let me say it was so much fun! I loved the setting and the idea. I really liked Matrona, the main character. If you like your YA with some fairy tale/folk tale elements, you would definitely enjoy this. Good luck on entering!
“I just took her into the hospital. This is all your fault.”
” Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. “
I’m so excited! I decided to start a neighborhood book club! We haven’t met yet; our first meeting is the 24th, but there’s plenty of interest. I picked a short book for this first month, since we don’t have a lot of time, but it was a good one – A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I’ve been hearing a lot about it. It was more MG that YA, which I didn’t expect, but it was still a very good, very suspenseful read. It’s about a girl living in Berlin when the wall goes up and her efforts to get in touch with family trapped on the other side. I think everyone will enjoy it.
What about you? Do you belong to any book clubs, IRL or online? What kind of stuff do you read? How did you meet? I’d love to know all about it.
Title: Red Fire: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Author: Wei Yang Chao
Setting: Beijing, China 1960s
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a witness to history, to watch these watershed moments take place in front of your eyes? From what I’ve read, the answer is – terrifying. Wei Yang Chao was a witness to one of the biggest revolutions in history, especially if you go by the sheer number of people involved. He attended one rally that included over a million people, and the prospect of violence at every turn. He was lucky to survive.
This book is a first-hand account of the Cultural Revolution in China. Chao was there after the Summer Palace was destroyed. He was a witness to the rise of the Red Guard. He saw teachers and other “enemies of the state” tortured, sometimes to death. His own parents were victims of a “struggle session” as soldiers his own age smashed through the house and beat his parents.
This was an incredible but grim read. To me it was nothing but terror and abuse, as the country fell into chaos. But Chao was more caught up in the struggle. At times, he wanted to fight against the class enemies, but when people he respected became targets, he would question why this revolution had to be so violent.
I would definitely recommend this book. I knew little about this time, so I found it darkly fascinating. It’s not for everyone. It is violent. But it’s an important record of real life.
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
Original story by me
It was after visiting hours when Karen pulled into the parking lot, but she knew no one would say anything. They hadn’t said a word when she brought a treat yesterday. What did it matter at this point?
The room was quiet and dim when she got there. The light from the silent television gave the room a strange moving glow. As she looked at the still figure on the bed, Karen felt her pulse throb in her throat. She couldn’t move from the doorway. Her fingers went icy cold. Then he stirred and opened his eyes, and Karen almost fell over.
“Hey, Karrie-Girl. How’s my pretty girl?” Dad asked. “Come in and sit down.”
She entered, scooting a chair closer to the bed, and sat. “Hey, Dad. Did I wake you?”
“I was just resting. You can turn that damn thing off if you want to. The nurses keep turning it on when they come in.”
Karen found the TV remote and turned it off.
“That’s better. Just you this time?”
“Yeah, I just wanted to see my Daddy.”
He smiled then, but it was a pale imitation of his old grin. Her stomach clenched a little, but she ignored it.
“How are you feeling tonight?” she asked.
“I’m fine. Kind of sleepy.”
Karen looked around the room. The cookie crumbs had been cleaned up. Yesterday she had been taken with an urgent need to make oatmeal raisin cookies. She’d eaten half a dozen as they came out of the oven, still warm and tasting of cinnamon. When she brought the kids to the hospital that afternoon, her son had insisted they bring cookies for Grandpa.
But when they got there, Dad shared the plate around, urging the kids to help themselves. The kids were happy to dig in. Karen watched her dad until he finished one cookie, the last one on the plate. She knew he wasn’t eating the hospital food. But he seemed to enjoy the cookie.
“Are you thirsty, Dad?” she asked, handing him a mug of water. He managed a few sips.
“My Karrie-Girl.” He patted her hand.
She clasped her fingers around his. His hand felt dry and shriveled, like it was withering away. She clung to it as they talked.
They talked about old times and laughed a little. Their voices were nearly lost in the murmur of machines, the conversation in the hall, the sounds from the parking lot. After a few minutes chat, the room grew quiet. Everything important had been said long ago. Karen laid her head down on his chest and he stroked her hair with his feather-light hands. She closed her eyes and prayed. But no tears.
In the days to come, when the phone call came, through the funeral and the lunch after, during the cleanup; she knew that half of herself remained there in that room, still sitting in that chair, still feeling the feather-light touch of his hand, still stroking her hair.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever —
This is an encore review. Enjoy!
Title: The Sea for Breakfast
Author: Lilian Beckwith
Setting: Scottish highlands, about 1950s
Lillian Beckwith goes to live in tiny Bruach, a village in the Scottish highlands. This is her second book about her adventures there, but I hadn’t read the first and figured everything out just fine.
It’s just a string of stories, relating to her life in the village, one day cutting peat, one day taking her cow to the bull, one day trying her hand at lobstering. Underneath all her adventures are a sense that this is the life. It’s hard, it’s dirty, it’s different from everything she expected – but it is real.
Some of the stories are fictionalized a bit. She uses dialect to try to convey the accents of the villagers, which can be a little confusing to read. There is a very brief glossary at the back, but I was still a little stumped as to some of the words. But it made for very relaxing, funny, lighthearted reading. Most of her books are out of print, but if you happen to find one, they really are lovely books.
*1. Read a book about sports. Done! Psmith in the City, cricket. by P G Wodehouse.
*2. Read a debut novel. Done! Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
*3. Read a book about books. Done! End of Chapter, mystery about publishing company.
4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. – still looking!
5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. A Hope More Powerful than the Sea
*6. Read an all-ages comic. Done! American Born Chinese
*7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. Done! Cakes and Ale, published 1930
*8. Read a travel memoir. Done! Three Singles to Adventure, to Guyana.
*9. Read a book you’ve read before. Done! Murder Over Easy, read first in 2007
10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. – Desert Solitaire, Utah
*11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. Done! The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, Malaysia/China
*12. Read a fantasy novel. Done! The Spirit Thief by Rachel Bach
*13. Read a nonfiction book about technology. – currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about medicine and cell therapy
*14. Read a book about war. Done! Valiant Ambition, about American Revolution
*15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. Done! Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig
*16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country. Done! Animal Farm, by George Orwell
17. Read a classic by an author of color. – Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley or Native Son by Richard Wright
18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead. – either Spider Woman or Daughters of the Dragon
*19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey Done! The House of the Scorpion
*20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean) Done! Also Last Seen Leaving
*21. Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay) Done! Future Worlds, A Science Fiction Anthology, published by Future World Publishing
*22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng) Done! Miss Marple by Agatha Christie
23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan) Beowulf
*24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi) Done! Black Panther, Number 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates
How about you folks? Is anyone else doing this challenge? If you are, what books have you read for the challenge? What do you have left?