Friday, May 30, 2008

Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block by Judith Matloff

Here is a review of an ARC that I received as part of the Early Reviewers Group at LibraryThing. If you have not joined LibraryThing, you should - it's great!

Like Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello, I place this book in my "non-celebrity does something a little different and interesting and is able to write well about it" genre. I am ALWAYS drawn to it. This book started off a bit slow in my opinion, and I was worried. I didn't feel a connection with Matloff in Part One; I would have liked more personal background about her and more historical background about West Harlem. Part Two picked up, and I enjoyed the last 200 pages of the book. I think the book could appeal to a wide-range of readers because Harlem, if not West Harlem specifically, is a very recognizable setting. John, the husband's, presence in the book strengthens it, and Salami, Miguel, and Mrs. LaDuke are all interesting likeable "characters" in the book. I would recommend it to my larger neighborhood book club (members are all female, ranging in age from 30s to 60s)when it goes to paperback. And I will offer the ARC to my smaller more erudite bookclub ( as an interesting read, although I don't think we would select it as a bookclub pick.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For Everyone Who Hasn't Read Everything

That's Bookmarks magazine's tag line, and I finally made a few minutes to peruse the May/June issue.

I'm excited to see that Chris Bohjalian (one of my favorite authors) has a new book out - Skeletons at the Feast - "Inspired by an actual World War II diary." I'm a little disappointed that it's a WWII book. I'm still a bit worn out on the topic after The Good German and Suite Francaise from earlier in the year. But since it is Bohjalian I'm sure it will be much better! :^)

The Readers Recommend section mentioned Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami as a favorite. I read Kafka on the Shore and remember really enjoying it. I've also read After Dark, which I didn't enjoy quite as much, but still found interesting. I think I'll pick this one up. The reader said: "He takes you on crazy adventures in the Tokyo underground and through the subconscious and never loses you. In fact, her turns the journey into a genuine suspenseful mystery."

Other books that sound interesting: The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt ; The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri

A fun book to read, perhaps? And discuss over Chinese take-out? ;^) I've said this before, but I am addicted to this type of book. A non-celebrity goes off and does something a little different and interesting, that ultimately might not be seen as anything of great consequence, but provides interestingknowledge on a piece of the world and observations on various aspects of humankind, let's say, and writes a book about it and gets published. I know why I like these books - it makes me feel like I, too, might one day do something different and interesting enough and be able to write a book about it that gets published. :^) Aaah, my dream come true!

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (No, the "8" is not a typo . . .)

"Chinese restaurants in the United States out-number all the McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC franchises combined. . . . Lee, a second-generation Chinese-American, travels across the United States and to 23 other countries to discover how we came to inherit our peculiarly hybrid national cuisine, which has little to nothing to do with traditional Chinese cuisine."