Dolce Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge 6 (JLC6) begins June 1st (this Friday!!) and I can't wait! From June 1st thru January 30th, 2013 all you have to do is read one (yep, just 1) book of Japanese Literature or poetry written by a Japanese author or poet to participate - how easy is that?! The hard part is deciding which books to read (yes, I plan on reading more than one book this year).
Here are my tentative choices for the JLC6:
site for further details.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Lula, a twenty-six-year-old Albanian woman living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, hopes to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job caring for a rebellious high schooler in wealthy, suburban New Jersey, it seems that the American dream may finally be within reach. But things take a sinister turn when Lula's Albanian "brothers" show up in a black SUV to remind her that all Albanians are family - and that Lula's family has a very serious favor to ask.
Set in the aftermath of 9/11, My New American Life offers a biting and darkly humorous portrait of an era when dreams and ideals began to give way to cynicism, fear, and still-resonating questions about what it means to be an American.
My New American Life was not as great a read as I had hoped. There was just something lacking throughout it all. The writing was solid enough, but the whole time I just felt like something was missing. Maybe the fact that the characters were stereotypical and began to grate on my nerves didn't help. Or it could have been the ridiculous story lines that went from silly to preposterous in a nano- second that also didn't help. Either way, this was not a good book.
I feel badly writing that I didn't care for the book, but its true - I didn't. However, I have to be honest and admit that in spite of my dislike for the story and characters, the writing itself was rather good. In fact, the writing is what prodded me to keep on reading - I secretly hoped it would somehow rescue the story at some point (sadly, it didn't). I know its weird to say the book was disappointing and then admit I liked the writing, but its true. It was the lackluster story lines that kept me from enjoying My New American Life. I mean, the story would not have progressed had Lula not accepted to watch a gun for some shady characters that rolled up to her house in a black SUV. However, the fact that a woman who was worried about her legal status would even agree to such a task was rather absurd. Then again, this is the same character who found herself attracted to one of these shady guys and enjoying the idea that he might be stalking her. Seriously!?! The whole idea for the book seemed rather farcical in nature, but never really went any deeper than it could have and instead just skated along a superficial surface throughout the entire story. And that is what lacked from the story - depth, meaning, purpose. Without anything to engage with, I found myself plodding along unhappily until the last page.
This is definitely not a book that I will be recommending to my friends or family. However, I don't feel right just labeling it as a bad read. The truth is that I've read some glowing reviews for this book, so there could be something I missed, and with that in mind, here is the link to the TLC Book Tour page for this book. Check it out and read some other posts - who knows, maybe you'll wind up loving My New American Life.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF ANNE BLYTHE'S RELATIONSHIPS HAS ENDED IN DISASTER, SO WHEN FATE LEADS HER TO THE DOORSTEP OF A HIGHLY SECRETIVE ARRANGED-MARRIAGE AGENCY, SHE DECIDES TO TAKE A CHANCE.
Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.
After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she dials the number on the card... but soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged-marriage service. Anne initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it - and the company's success rate - the more it appeals to her. And so, a few months later, Anne is traveling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, everything seems to be working out...
Overall: Great chick lit read!
Arranged was the perfect light read for a rainy afternoon. I swear I sat down with my cuppa and this book for just an hour of reading, but wound up staying put until I finished reading the entire thing. It was such a fast and fun read that I couldn't put it down. And truthfully, I was in the mood for a chick lit book and this one fit the bill perfectly. It had a protagonist I could relate to, some romance, best friend drama, a break up to get through, and of course the typical, "happily ever after" ending that I love.
The story is about Anne Blythe and her never-ending luck of dating the wrong guy. She's just broken up for the umpteenth time, when she finds out that her best friend has gotten engaged. Feeling lonely and a tad jealous, Anne decides to phone a dating service in the hopes of meeting someone new. However, the dating service she sets up an appointment with turns out to be a company that specializes in arranged marriages. Curious about the concept of an arranged marriage and the fact that the company boasts a 95 percent guarantee, Anne decides to plunge ahead with the matchmaking process. She fills out forms, hands over a check and attends therapy sessions all in the hopes of finding her perfect match. Meanwhile, Anne doesn't tell anyone about her arranged marriage and instead continues to go on bad dates, work on her book (that is getting published!), and discussing wedding plans with her best friend. However, things go from hypothetical to very real when Anne gets the call that a match has been found. Soon enough she is flying to Mexico to meet her future husband and find out if marriage really is all that she's always imagined it to be. Of course, life never goes along with your plans, so there are plenty of highs and lows leading up to and following Anne's wedding day - you just won't believe it!
Catherine McKenzie has written a smart and entertaining book filled with likeable and relatable characters that you can't help but root for. And the story line itself, will have you eagerly turning pages to find out what happens next. Arranged is the perfect read to while away the day with. I would recommend it to anyone interested in chick lit (women's fiction).
*Thanks to William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) for providing me with a copy of this great book!