Quick Reviews #1

For 2017, I’m determined to write a review for all the books I read – even if only a minimal 1 paragraph summing up my feelings/thoughts of the book. So here’s my first Quick Thoughts on a few books I read the first half of January.

raven-black

Raven Black (Shetland Island #1) by Ann Cleeves ~ 4 out of 5 stars

I added this book on my tbr ecause I came across it as a kindle freebie last year. I read this book because, of course, it was picked for a reading challenge. For some strange reason, I keep forgetting that author is British and this book is set in Scotland. I keep thinking US and when certain words crop up, they sent me spinning. I got confused quite a bit with this book but that is my own fault. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the mystery, the interesting characters, and especially the surprising ending! Do not let people’s bias influence you; form your own opinion by looking into the issues yourself.

tags: #mystery #crime #murder #scotland

where-the-sea-takes-usWhere the Sea Takes Us:A Vietnamese-Australian Story by Kim Huynh ~ 4 out of 5 stars

I added this book on my tbr in 2008, the year I registered on Goodreads! It’s one of my project this year to clear my tbr of whatever books I added in 2008 (thankfully, only a handful of them left). My interest in this books lies in the fact that my husband’s parents fled Vietnam in the late 70’s when my mother-in-law was heavily pregnant. My husband was born in the refugee camp in Thailand! The in-laws do not, however, ever speak of their trials so I read of others’.

This book tells of the author’s parents, their backgrounds (the first 2 chapters were about both sets of grandparents and their origins), their struggles against poverty, their little victories, and in the end, their endeavour in seeking better futures for their sons. Both families were living quite comfortably when the Indochina War broke. Both families lost everything and had to suffer through terrible hunger. The devotion of the parents, the hard work of both parents and children, most of them survived and despite flirtation with communism, fought for education to pull themselves through to better living conditions. The author is a politician in Canberra and his brother is a doctor living in an affluent Sydney suburb so I guess the parents are very happy and proud of their sons’ achievements in freedom.

tags: #memoir #history #vietnam #nonfiction

last-orders-at-harrods

Last Orders at Harrods: An African Tale (Kuwisha Trilogy #1) by Michael Holman  ~ 2 out of 5 stars

A rather random find on BorrowBox to fit a reading challenge task. I didn’t have any particular book in mind so I was browsing and thought this might be a fun-funny sort of read. I guess there was some funny bits but there wasn’t enough for me to think it as a funny read. This cover (the blues and yellows) made me think that it’s going to be a hilarious romp through Africa but boy, was I wrong! And unfortunately, I just wasn’t that interested in the story or any of the characters but I didn’t mind the wily ending. I don’t think I’d read the rest of the trilogy.

tags: #contemporary #africa
last-night-i-dreamedLast Night I Dreamed of Peace: An Extraordinary Diary of Courage from the Vietnam War by Đặng Thùy Trâm ~ 4 out of 5 stars

An incredibly lucky find when researching for a reading challenge task. I was looking for a non-fiction book set in South East Asia (excluding Indonesia) that has been translated to English. You know Anne Frank & her diary? Well, this is also a diary by a girl, a young adult in her early 20s. She may be a communist but she is also a person, a human who bled red with a breakable heart and beautiful dreams. As I read her most intimate thoughts, my heart broke for her over and over. This is only part of the diary she kept as earlier books are lost. In the beginning, you learn that her heart was broken by a boy she loved and throughout the book, she continued to love him, was sad throughout, yet exhorting herself to work hard to forget him and strive for her dream of peace. She is a doctor and she believes in the idea of communism; she is fighting for her country to be free and to prosper. Her idealism, though transparent in the diary, did not saturate the writings. She wrote from the heart and so this book is full of her wishes, longings, and dreams. It is therefore even more heartbreaking that she died so very young.

tags: #memoir #history #vietnam #diary #nonfiction

Wawaldenlden; or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau ~ 3 out of 5 stars

I ended up rating this book 3 stars though I was close to 1 or 2 stars, at least the beginning. I was struggling firstly with the prose of very very long sentences. I keep having to re-read a sentence because I keep missing his point after all the ramblings. Then I also felt that he was rather condescending with some of his points and sometimes rather preachy. The only parts I really like were his descriptions of nature and his appreciation of it which I guess is why this book is such a classic but other than that, I was totally underwhelmed.

tags: #memoir #history #massachusetts #nonfiction #nature

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