Tag Archive | family

Taureg by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa

taureg

One of Gazel’s guests is murdered, and so he must fight to fix the wrongs according to his ancestor’s ways. His journey takes him from the middle of the Sahara Desert to a wasteland from which no one returns to a foreign city beside the sea. In this story, tradition clashes with the modern life as good intentions clash with corruption. Upholding either law only seems to add to the chaos of Gazel’s solitary war.

Gazel is a hero with a flaw, which of course makes this story a tragedy. He has a lot of persistence and resourceful skills. His presence makes the book fun to read. The other characters definitely add to the color of the story. There are Gazel’s foil, the ultimate bad guy, the nice guy just following orders, the nurturing women, and then pawns of the military. Ultimately, independence and remaining faithful to your values permeates this story.

I don’t necessarily agree with the treatment of some of the characters, but that’s probably because I’m not used to the Tuaregs’ culture. The story was translated from Spanish, but it’s still well written. It flows very well, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have any chapter markers. Every now and then, there are breaks in between the storyline and perspective changes. Some of the perspective changes are confusing because the section starts with “he” rather than a name. Grammar mistakes can be found in the book; there are a few missing verbs and common problems.

I found this book on Goodreads and downloaded a PDF version for free.

piggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmall

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui

6818019Overview: Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, young Nujood Ali was sent away from her parents and beloved sisters and made to live with her husband and his family in an isolated village in rural Yemen. There she suffered daily from physical and emotional abuse by her mother-in-law and nightly at the rough hands of her spouse. Flouting his oath to wait to have sexual relations with Nujood until she was no longer a child, he took her virginity on their wedding night. She was only ten years old.

Unable to endure the pain and distress any longer, Nujood fled—not for home, but to the courthouse of the capital, paying for a taxi ride with a few precious coins of bread money. When a renowned Yemeni lawyer heard about the young victim, she took on Nujood’s case and fought the archaic system in a country where almost half the girls are married while still under the legal age. Since their unprecedented victory in April 2008, Nujood’s courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family has attracted a storm of international attention. Her story even incited change in Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries, where underage marriage laws are being increasingly enforced and other child brides have been granted divorces.

My thoughts: Nujood’s family is plagued by problems, and some of those problems are poverty and the fear of adultery. To counter these issues, Nujood’s Aba decides to marry her to a 30-year-old man, whom promises to wait until she hits puberty to consummate the union. That man doesn’t keep his promises, and Nujood is left with nightmares, bruises, and anguish.

This book delves further than just Nujood’s terrifying marriage, it also follows up with her siblings’ struggles. It’s interesting how the book gives you an idea of other problems Yemen has, like trafficking, poverty, lack of education, early marriages, and so on. I know now more about Yemen than I did before.

I think the book is very good at depicting some of the problems, like poverty, but it doesn’t fully explain village customs or why those themes matter. As a non-Muslim reading this book, I don’t understand how honor works in Islam, and this book fails to put Islamic practices into perspective for others.

The book does provide notes at the end of the story, and so some things are explained further. I think it’s cool how links are provided in the text to the notes at the back of the kindle edition, but then you can’t get back to the section you were reading in the story unless you scroll back or jump there by entering the page or location number.

The biggest problem I have with this story is that there seems to be two narrators, and their voices don’t converge even though Nujood is the only one telling the story. On one hand, there’s ten-year-old Nujood, and then there seems to be a more mature educated Nujood. Maybe it’s a translation issue, but for a 10-year-old girl who’s barely literate, there are too many larger words and too many complex sentences. Maybe Nujood really does speak that way, but it doesn’t logically make sense to me. I think the journalist had more to do with the writing than Nujood did. The journalist tries to see things from Nujood’s 10-year-old girls, but then switches back to her older eyes. It causes the writing to seem jagged in some areas.

I borrowed this book from the library and read it on my kindle.

piggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmall

Send by Patty Blount

Overview: It’s been five years since I clicked Send.Image
Four years since I got out of juvie.
Three months since I changed my name.
Two minutes since I met Julie.
A second to change my life.

All Dan wants for his senior year is to be invisible. This is his last chance at a semi-normal life. Nobody here knows who he is. Or what he’s done. But on his first day at school, instead of turning away like everyone else, Dan breaks up a fight. Because Dan knows what it’s like to be terrorized by a bully—he used to be one.

Now the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero—except Julie. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn’t really Daniel…

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book. I definitely enjoyed reading it and read every single word. In fact, I read some parts so quickly that my brain couldn’t process what was happening, and I had to force myself to slow down. The opening was very enjoyable. I even developed a crush on the main character. He was sweet, trying to stick up for others and help them. Besides, I also kind of have a voice inside my head like his, except not as extreme, so I can connect with him. I liked reading in his perspective until he started repeating things he already said, but that’s a different story.

Then the middle section of the book came, and I started to grimace. My crush instantly disappeared at that scene, the scene which really added no worth to the book in my opinion and only added to my dislike for Julie. However, that’s probably me being biased because of my crush.

When it comes to bullying and cyberbullying, I have little to no experience in my life with those topics, so I don’t feel like I’m qualified to talk about the themes of the book. Honestly, I kind of understand all the talk about not forgiving and forgetting or forgiving and such, but then I don’t think I understand what was happening with that topic in the context of the book. I do think that it’s wonderful that Blout was able to combine all of those topics into one book, something I don’t think many people can do without struggling and thinking a lot about why and how bullying works or doesn’t work.

Towards the end of the book, I felt like the story started to fall apart. The opening was fantastic, the middle was so-so, but by the end of the book, I was ready to slap a big one-star on the book and be done with it. It’s like I was on a reading roller coaster and the cart flew off the track and crashed with a firey explosion, but I got up and walked away only with a maimed leg when I should’ve been dead. The ending was definitely over melodramatic and unnecessary in my opinion. Dan seems pathetic in the falling action, and how does no one on the beach notice? I really love how Dan prepares to move forward with his life, but at the same time, it seems horrible because he’s described as skinny and not appearing too well.

I won a copy from Joy Prebble’s blog, and the author actually wrote me notes. It was awesome ^_^. She’s a really nice person, and I hope she writes another novel some day. I’d like to read more of her fiction work.

piggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmall

Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks

Description: Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block–until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman’s body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

My thoughts: The story starts out nicely. I like how Lexi and Kyle are introduced. In particular, Lexi seems to be the most developed character; she’s my favorite because she has a straight-forward yet witty personality. Everyone else is pretty flat. It’s really annoying how the children are always grouped together. They kind of have their own personalities, but then they’re still just “the children” with generic personalities.

The beginning is enjoyable as the plot builds up, but then around chapter 9, the story takes a nose dive. The action proceeds a lot faster, and some of the actions described seem physically impossible, especially when Kenneth is having a snowball fight with Kyle and Kenneth…there’s only supposed to be one Kenneth in the story. Around chapters 8 and 9, the story also speeds up a lot. Everything seems to take place within a week, which makes no sense to me, especially considering Kyle and Lexi are potential long term love interests. It’s like the book moves so fast, they’re heading for disaster.

A lot of gender stereotypes are used. Lexi and Alyssa, the two women, are good with home making and emotions while the men just try to hold things in. Really? I understand using stereotypes, but the author could’ve at least changed them a little.

Description is kept to a minimum and the author uses lots of thoughts to progress the character development. Sometimes, it seems more like telling than showing. This novella starts out with a lot of potential and then…the potential disappears.
I found this on Amazon for free and downloaded it to my kindle.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

Overview: Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are a second adolescence.Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood.
Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood-“if” we use the time wisely.
THE DEFINING DECADE is a smart, compassionate and constructive book about the years we cannot afford to miss.

My thoughts: I like the overall message of the book: Your life, even at your twenties, means something, so make the best of it. I fully believe that people, no matter what their age should not waste away their life by partying all the time and practicing bad habits. Goofing off every now and then is perfectly fine, but making a career out of it is pointless unless you get paid for it and you find it fulfilling. Therefore, this review may be a bit biased.

With the basic message out of the way, I do think the audience is limited to people who have access to resources and opportunities, mainly the middle class and upper class. I think the same basic message is viable for all classes, but people of lower classes who don’t have access to internships or college may have a harder time connecting with Jay’s clients.

Jay backs up all her claims with psychological research that most college students learn in basic psych. While having Jay repeat the same information I’ve already learned is kinda boring, it is interesting to see how she applies the research. I’ve read a few reviews and comments on her articles and books, and basically, they complain that her book is too conservative and that she claims causation instead or correlation. I don’t think she’s that conservative or confusing causation with correlation. She uses caution and subtle sentences in explaining the difference, but that’s how I would expect every psychologist/psychiatrist to react. Her book centers on research and experience in her practice, not on ideology or politics. The major problems people have with her book are probably more due to a limited research/experience with those certain situations rather than her general principles.

By adding her clinical experiences, she means to illustrate the research and her ideas in real life, which works. However, some people may not realize that case studies are specific instances in which it works a certain way for one person. Things may go differently for someone else. That’s why when reading her case studies of people, you have to be careful to understand the general idea and not concentrate too much on the details. I know that seems kind of backwards since a case study focuses on specific details and it’s not valid to use generalizations from one case study to another, but for the sake of understanding her argument, I suggest you break that scientific rule and go with the flow. She’s using the case studies as examples and not scientific proof.

I do think that Jay did a better job on the work issues of her book and that’s the section I find more accessible than any other section. However, her other discussions of topics have validity, especially the fertility subject. Some people may not have kids, so they can breeze over the section if they wish, but I think she spends a lot of time talking about fertility is because it’s something couples need to talk about: if they want kids, when they want them, possible fertility problems–I think it’s important for every couple to talk about even if they don’t want kids just in case birth control fails or an accident happens. I also fully agree with her on being in good relationships all the time and not staying with someone who’s a deadbeat. Humans are creatures of habit and someone may get stuck in a bad cycle of relationships if he or she is not picky about whom he or she dates.

My only real issue with the book is that it’s too future oriented. Yes, it’s important to plan for upcoming events, but at the same time, if you’re not enjoying your life now or you’re so stressed about the future, you can’t realize what’s in front of you and something’s not quite right. I wish Jay would’ve spent a bit more time talking about the past, present, and future, but she didn’t really connect them too much. She sort of blames twentysomethings for being too present oriented, which is funny ’cause I’m twenty and think she’s too future oriented to the point where she forgets to tell people to enjoy their current situations. I think her book would have a better tone if she said something along the lines of, “Hanging out is nice and it’s important to treasure your friends, but don’t forget you still have future goals to achieve. To achieve them, you need to make sure you’re taking steps in that direction earlier in your life rather than later.”

Another issue I have with this book is saying how bad off thirtysomething and fortysomething people are. They’re not all bad off. We can learn from older people’s mistakes, but I don’t think they should be berated for choosing to do things later in life. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. However, by using poor decisions of older people, Jay is emphasizing her point that it’s better to start planning when you’re young, which I kind of agree with. She crosses a line sometimes when she speaks about her older clients. I know she’s trying to point out how later decisions affected them, but at the same time, it comes close to almost wagging her finger at them when they’ve already suffered enough.

Sometimes, Jay’s writing feels like a mother/aunt/teacher who can just give you a look and you know you’re doing something wrong. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s condescending, but it does make me wonder and ask questions about my life. Based on other psychology books I’ve read, I know her advice is relative based on the situation, but it’s strong advice. If you get anything out of the book, I think it should be this: Your life matters, so make the most of it by taking deliberate actions earlier than later, especially in the direction that you may want to go in. Decisions need to be made because they do impact your future. If you just let life happen to you, it may not be all that fun.

Her advice seems to go against what most people say nowadays, such as, “You have time for that later,” “Marriage and babies are for older people,” “You’re only 23. You don’t need a serious relationship or career,” and so on. However, I really do believe that we need to put aside these sayings that give “freedom” to twentysomethings and instead use Jay’s advice and give them “responsibility for their lives.” I want responsibility, so I’m shrugging off anyone who tells me I have time to wait. I’m taking time by the horns and taking action in the direction I want.

I bought this book from Amazon for $14.05 without taxes or a shipping and handling cost.

Chi’s Sweet Home, Vol. 1

  Overview: Chi is a michievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Seperated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow., when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.

My thoughts: Even though the series is labelled as a manga and found in the manga section, it’s drawn in newspaper style, but the storyline flows like a manga. It’s really funny with most of the story in the kitten’s perspective. The mangaka does a great job of exploring the thoughts and ideas of an animal. Although it seems a bit sad at first, the story quickly turns happy again when Chi becomes attached to her human family. The kitten and the son are shown growing along side each other, both learning the proper place to deposit their bodily waste. I recommend this to everyone, pet lovers and haters alike. It’s a very enjoyable story.

I bought this volume for about $12 at Books-a-Million with a member’s card discount. It’s a bit expensive for a short manga, but it’s worth it.