The Round House

From goodreads

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

Pages: 321 (hardback) 

Publisher: Published October 2nd 2012 by Harper Collins

Rating: 10 out of 10

Source: Checked out of the library 

Date Completed: October 9, 2013

I kept hearing that The Round House by Louis Erdrich was an amazing book; I nominated it to be read by book club many times. When I heard that Erdrich won the National Book Award, I decided to read it on my own. My takeaway is that this book should be on the must-read list for humanity.  The story is compelling, the characters sympathetic to the point that I worried about Joe when I was not reading and compared all the different types of parents I know to his.  I learned a lot about reservation life and tribal law.  There was a scene where Joe's father was explaining tribal law with the use of a frozen casserole which I keep replaying.   The unfairness and complexity of seeking justice in a screwed up legal system was illustrated beautifully.  In addition to the plot development, I also liked hearing about the traditions; particularly the story telling. 

Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:43PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 

From goodreads

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” 

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Pages: 222 (hardback) 

Publisher: Published November 1st 2011 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2011)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out of the library 

Date Completed: September 28, 2013

I was excited when the Boston book club selected Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. I had been curious about the book and, as a fan of the Office, wanted to get some details about what happened on set. While I enjoyed the book overall, I wish that it had been more consistent.  Some sections I really loved and others were just okay.  Because I had read excerpts of the book that were published in magazines or read during interviews and/or heard about different sections, I also felt a bit like I do when I go see a movie and realize that the previews gave away the major plot points.  

Nonetheless, I loved laughing (instead of crying which I have done WAY TOO MUCH recently with my book choices) as I was riding while using public transportation.  The chapter about high school and first real friend reminded me of my first best friend Sonja. (If you reading, hello Sonja! I am excited to talk with you again!) Kaling captures the desire to transform into some cool person and then realizes that the best friends are the ones with whom you can be yourself while still striving to be better.  My other favorite chapter was the one of types of women in movies who are not real.  It was both funny and sad.  One of the reasons I am hoping that Kaling has continued success is that I want her to write more women who are relatable, funny, and realistic-- just like her!

I am counting this book for the 2013 South Asian Reading Challenge as Mindy Kaling is South Asian

P.S.-- She is hilarious on twitter. You should follow her: @mindykaling 

Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 4:51PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

The Fault in Our Stars

From goodreads:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Pages: 313 (hardback) 

Publisher: Published January 10th 2012 by Dutton Books (first published January 2012)

Rating: 10 out of 10

Source: Checked out of the library 

Date Completed: September 17, 2013

When The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was picked as the October selection for book club, I was worried that I would not be able to finish it on time as there was a long wait list at the library.  Once I got the book and started reading, I was hooked and could not read fast enough.   The book blew me away with the sadness, sweetness and humor that came from almost every chapter.   The premise of the story is incredibly sad and sets you up for an intense emotional ride, but seeing Hazel (the main character) deal with teenage things like idiolizing writers and dealing with the complications of having a crush makes you forget some of the sad stuff.  I felt gutted as I read some of the hard adult things she was dealing with like dying, death, and worrying about her loved ones. 

In addition to Hazel, I also loved her mom. There is one scene in particular which pretty much ripped my heart out which involves a discussion of what makes you a parent.  As I was reading this book, I kept wishing for a way to hide my tears better in public.  << If anyone has suggestions or ideas on that, I would love them.

I am reading this book for the following challenge: What's in a Name Five: for the category of something you would find in the sky.

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 5:16PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Sea of Poppies

From goodreads

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a freespirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

Pages: 528 (hardback) 

Publisher:  Published October 14th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Rating: 10 out of 10

Source: Checked out of the library multiple times  

Date Completed: August 23, 2013

As part of my constant enthusiasm for reading challenges, I signed up again for the Chunkster Reading Challenge this year and was excited for the new addition of a book club.  One of the selections for this year was Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I am about four months late with my participation, but I wanted to answer the questions posed on the challenge website. My short responses are below.  Because of limited time and energy, I am not answering all of the questions. 

Overall, I really loved the book. Initially the characters were hard to keep track of, but once they were all on the ship, the story took off.  My favorite character was Deeti and I loved how so many scenes covered a variety of topics including social conventions, class, caste, colonialism, racism, and romance.  

  1. Have you read anything by this author before? If so what have you read and how does it compare to Sea of Poppies? I have not read anything by the author before. 
  2. How does class and the caste system impact the relationships between the characters? A lot of the interactions were dictated by social norms. The characters did not seem to have genuine connection until they were on the ship where many conventions disappeared. However, even on the ship, there was a class and caste system in place. 
  3. How are women's roles different from men's in Sea of Poppies? What common ground do Deeti, Paulette, and Munia share? This question requires a much longer response than I am able to provide now.  The gender functions play a huge part of women's decision making in the book. In thinking about their lives, all of the female characters struggle with how to go outside the norm while being a woman.  All three, Deeti, Paulette, and Munia are taking a scary journey for the chance to start over.  As the journey continues, they bond with each other and share stories of themselves that reflect a new reality. 
  4. Many of the lives Ghosh depicts are shaped by social and political forces beyond their control. What are some of these forces? Describe some of the individual acts of bravery, defiance, or deception that enable his characters to break free from what they see as their fate.  Another heavy question which I will only answer partially.  Some of the larger forces in play are colonialism and imperialism. 
  5. How does the opium trade industry compare to modern-day drug trafficking versus the pharmaceutical industry? I am going to skip. 
  6. There are two more novels in the trilogy. Do you have plans to read either of them? Both of them?  Yes, I hope to read both of them

I am counting the book for the following challenges; 

Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 11:26AM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

And the Mountains Echoed

From goodreads

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. 

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

Pages: 416 (ebook)

Publisher:  Published May 21st 2013 by Riverhead

Rating: 10 out of 10

Source: Purchased for my Nook since book club date was coming close and my spot on the wait list was still low.  

Date Completed: August 13, 2013

I was very excited when both the book clubs that I am in selected And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini to read for the same month.  Every since I knew the book was coming, I put myself on the wait list at the library. Many people had the same idea as me and I realized that I was not going to get the book in time for the first meeting and decided to purchase my own copy.  With my limited reading time and energy, the fact that I finished the book in a week should stand alone as my recommendation. 

I have read both of Hosseini's previous novels and this is my favorite by far.  The characters are diverse and connect to each other in some surprising ways.  I loved reading the different frames of parent-child, partner, and family relationships.  Each story and narrator was unique, but I loved how everyone was tied together with a desire to reconcile memory and longing for home with reality.   During both book club discussions, some people thought that there were too many characters and that the switching of narrators was hard to follow.  I certainly wanted to hear more from some characters and less from others, but I liked the different perspectives.  The following quote captures my experience of reading the book: 

“A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.” 

One of my favorite characters is the only Pari whose adult life is marked by the feeling that something is missing. I was cheering for her so strongly and was glad with the resolution of her story line.  Another one of my favorite characters was Markos and his revelations about his mom.   I also appreciated the Alzheimer's story line and the complexity of the overlap between caretaker and parent/child relationship. 

In addition to book club, I am counting this book for the following challenge: 

What's in a Name Five: Many years later, I am still trying to finish this challenge. I am counting this for the category of land formation. 

Posted on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 4:39PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment