31 December 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Last Week's Hits and Misses

3 books to read in JanuaryHappy New Year's Eve to everyone. My wish is for all of you to have the best year ever.

Despite working full-time between Christmas and New Year's, I managed to read two short books, make progress on a third and listen to a fourth.

For many years now, we've hosted a New Year's Eve party for just a few friends. I make a fancy dinner and then we all retire to living room to watch a movie, eat dessert and snacks, and wait for the ball to drop in Times Square. Some years the last person leaves at four in the morning, and other years we're alone by one. Either way, we're always happy to have friends to our house.

I'll try to pop in to visit your blogs in between cooking and setting the table and all the other little things we need to attend to today. Tomorrow is one of my favorite days: I put away the Christmas things, hang the new calendars, and get ready for a new year and a fresh start.

Here's what I read last week.

Review of Book Love by Debbie TungBook Love by Debbie Tung (Andrews McMeel, January 1, 2019): Put this book on your reading list and add it to your gift list for every book lover you know. This gem of a book is a series of black-and-white comics: some are one panel, some are several, and all will touch the core of the book nerd in you. Tung hits all the familiar bookish problems: staying up too late reading, packing books for trips, the impossibility of passing a bookstore without going in and buying something, the pain of transitioning to digital formats, and the book hangover. I know I'll return to this collection again and again -- Tung has so brilliantly captured the life of a reader. Don't miss this! (review copy provided by the publisher)

Review of Parkland Speaks edited by Sarah LernerParkland Speaks edited by Sarah Lerner (Crown Books YR; January 22, 2019): The subtitle of this moving collection of essays, poems, quick thoughts, photos, and art will tell you what this book is about: "Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories." On February 14 of last year, the teenagers of MSD high school were thinking about valentines and dates, getting to sports practice, hanging with friends, and all the other everyday things. When shots were fired, leaving 17 dead, the lives of the surviving teachers, students, and families were forever changed. You could read this collection in a single day, but the stories and memories and tributes are so moving, it would be hard to absorb all that emotion in one sitting. The feelings and voices of these teens are raw, heartbreaking, and elegant. The firsthand accounts of fear and confusion and the resulting sadness, guilt, and anger will stick with you. I hope the words of these teens encourage us all to work harder make our schools safe. (review copy provided by the publisher)

Review of China to Me by Emily Hahn, read by Nancy WuChina to Me by Emily Hahn, read by Nancy Wu (Blackstone Audio; 22 hr, 1 min; November 2018): I'm not at all sure what I think of this autobiography of Hahn's unconventional life in China in the years before the war and after the Japanese invasion (1935-1943). She lived in Shanghai and Hong Kong, among other places, and traveled in many social circles. Her detailed account of China at that time is very much from the perspective of a Westerner and very much a response to the times and to war. The book was originally published in 1944, after Hahn was able to return to the United States with her infant daughter. It's sometimes extremely difficult to listen to the language and the prejudicial statements; I had to keep reminding myself of the time period and that Hahn's life was truly in danger at the hands of the Japanese. She was often fearless, a true feminist, and ahead of her time in many ways. She met some of the most important people in China at the time (including Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek), and worked as a journalist, writer, and teacher. Her story is fascinating, though hard to stomach from today's sensibilities. Narrator Nancy Wu is one of the best for Chinese accents and pidgin English, and she projects Hahn's emotions well. (audiobook provided for a freelance assignment)

15 comments:

JoAnn 12/31/18, 7:51 AM  

Book Love sounds wonderful. Wishing you all the best for 2019... Happy New Year!

Harvee Lau 12/31/18, 7:58 AM  

I was so taken with China to Me when I found a copy in a library sale years ago. I must revisit it to see what she says that is not so correct today. Many Chinese have not forgotten or forgiven because of that time period and the war, but I have Japanese granddaughters and wonderful in-laws, so...time heals all.

Susie | Novel Visits 12/31/18, 9:24 AM  

I've got to get a copy of Book Love. It sounds like the perfect little pick me p for book lovers. Parkland speaks also sounds like a moving collection that I'd like to read. Happy New Year to you!

bermudaonion 12/31/18, 10:04 AM  

I'd like to read the first two books. Happy New Year!

Laurel-Rain Snow 12/31/18, 10:41 AM  

All of these sound like good ones for the New Year. Thanks for sharing.

I love the sound of your New Year's Eve party...enjoy!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Tina 12/31/18, 11:03 AM  

Your celebrations always sound so wonderful and warm. Thanks for all the good book suggestions over the years. Have a safe and happy new year.

Yvonne 12/31/18, 12:06 PM  

We usually go out for New Year's but this year we are staying home. Your celebration sounds lovely. Happy New Year to you!

Kathy Martin 12/31/18, 3:17 PM  

Book Love does sound great. I have a quiet evening planned. My brother has today and tomorrow off. We have a new recipe to try out for dinner tonight. Then we'll retreat to our separate corners. He'll watch TV and I'll read. Come see my week here. Happy reading and happy New Year!

Vicki 12/31/18, 3:44 PM  

Book Love sounds so good!

I hope you and your family/friends have a very Happy New Year's Eve & New Year!

pussreboots 12/31/18, 6:09 PM  

I'll be taking down the few Christmas things I put up on the 2nd. We need to get a bigger pot for our Christmas tree so it can live a healthy life in our garden until next December. My last update for the year

Donna H 12/31/18, 6:34 PM  

Sounds like a great way to end the year. I went to my parents and made doughnuts with my niece (my niece and mom did most of the work I did some of the glazing and a lot of eating). Now I"m enjoying a movie and glass of wine. I'm not sure if I'll make it to midnight though if I do fall asleep the fireworks usually wake me. Thanks for visiting Girl Who Reads.

Greg 12/31/18, 6:46 PM  

Hope you have an awesome New Year! Your party sounds like a lot of fun. And I LOVE the sound of Book Love- I'll bet it's hilarious. :)

Nan 1/1/19, 11:07 AM  

My copy of Book Love arrives tomorrow! I absolutely loved her Quiet Girl book. Quite a bit me!

I can't believe all you do. Really. Working full time, reading, party!

rhonda 1/1/19, 4:29 PM  

Loved loved Book Love 💕📚.Happy New Year,

Martha Eskuchen 1/2/19, 10:25 PM  

Book Love sounds wonderful. I imagine Parkland Speaks is sometimes difficult.
Hope you enjoyed your New Year Celebration.
Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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