Two weeks ago, My Mom and I went on a road trip to Buffalo, NY so I could defend my dissertation and clean out my storage unit and officially move back to Iowa. Fun times. This meant that we had a lot of time together on the road and in hotel rooms, so we got a lot of audiobooks listened to. When we were planning this road trip, we decided we wanted to do some Agatha Christie. I didn’t realize, though, when we checked this out from the library, that this was a dramatization. That ended up being a pleasant surprise. The cast did an excellent job of portraying the fear and the mystery of the novel. It was really enjoyable. Fellow blogger Jack suggested we look for the James Bond dramatizations. The library doesn’t have them, but I might see if they’ll get them in for us because listening to this was fun.
So, this is the story of Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha. Gibreel is India’s biggest movie star and Saladin is an expatriate who has just been to India for the first time is fifteen years. They are on a hijacked airplane that explodes over the English channel. The two of them plummet to Earth and the novel builds from there as a series of dreams and strange transformations. They are the only two survivors of the incident. Gibreel and Saladin’s story serves as a frame for a bunch of smaller stories that all intersect and overlap with the main narrative. Gibreel’s story overlaps with the story of Muhammed. Yes, that Muhammed. There is an alleged incident in which Muhammed heard an angel whisper some verses that were meant to be included in the Quran, but that he later recanted because the verses did not come from the angel on Allah’s behalf but from Shaitan, the adversary. Yes, this is the book the caused all the controversy and had Rushdie in hiding for years because of a fatwa against him. I feel like here is where I should say something about freedom of speech and blasphemy laws, but I don’t think that there is anything that I could say that hasn’t already said better. Rushdie is exploring something in this novel, Muhammed’s life, that he should be free to explore without fear of death.
There were many things I enjoyed about this book. The story is clever and there are many really neat parallels between the sub-plots and the main plot. I like magical realism and enjoyed the bizarre parts of the novel. Rushdie tackles some pretty big themes like racism and migration in the text and he does it well. But, I think this might be another book that is a victim of its own hype? It has caused so much scandal (and is still banned places because of its blasphemous text about the Prophet). I was expecting to be wowed beyond belief but I wasn’t. This was a good novel, and its complex narrative with all the subplots make it a really rich and engrossing read. But, it left me cold and I wasn’t so involved in it that I couldn’t have put it down. So, it was good and I recommend it. But, it won’t be making my Top 10 this year.
The audible production is read by Sam Dastor and he did an excellent job. Because the narrative moves in and out of the main story and the sub-stories (and because there are characters who have similar names), I think I was saved a little potential confusion because each character had their own voice. That being said, there were sections I had to re-listen to because there was just so much detail and the text was so rich that I needed more than one pass to absorb it.
Fovea Munson is a seventh grader. Her parents are surgeons that work in a cadaver lab training future surgeons. You know, when your patients are already dead, the hours are better. Fovea can deal with that, but she looks forward to her summer vacation every year where she goes to camp. And, when summer camp is cancelled and her parents receptionist quits suddenly, she finds herself working at the lab, which is so gross. And, if you think that is as bad as it gets, you’re wrong. Three disembodied heads in the lab talk to her. And, they need her to do them a favor.
From here the story builds into something that is funny and touching. Fovea needs to enlist help from outside, reaching out to a person she knows but isn’t really friends with at school. She sets up an adventure. It is great! The cast of characters are delightful and Fovea herself is amazing. I really, really enjoyed going on this adventure with her.
This is a middle grade book, for readers 8-12. If you know a kid that age that’s into science and weird stuff, get them this book. If you know some adults who are into science and weird stuff (and don’t mind reading kids books. I know, what, so weird), recommend it for them, too! I certainly enjoyed it!
Girl in Translation is the story of Kimberly Chang, an immigrant to the US from Hong Kong. It follows her from when she arrives in the States until after her high school graduation. In the novel, we follow her story as she works to balance school and her life helping her Mother with factory work after school. We see her struggle to fit in with the American students while also maintaining her home culture. We see her survive, push through, and thrive.
It is really great novel. I enjoyed listening to it. The audio book is read by Grayce Wey and I really liked how Wey used accent to change from inner to outer monologue. (And, I may have been imagining this, but I also liked that her accent got mellower as the novel went on.)
I read this as part of the #AsianLitBingo Challenge. Lit Celebrasian did a character interview with Kimberly Chang over on their blog and it is a lot of fun! You can check it out here!
Lit Celebrasian tweeted out this great challenge!! I am going to try and do it. I’m always up for an excuse to go book shopping (but, I already have some sci-fi in mind) and this is a perfect excuse to go through the #ownvoices tag on twitter and find new favorite authors!
The challenge is in honor of Asian American Heritage Month. So, we’re looking for books by Asian authors with Asian main characters. The link above takes you to the main page if you have anymore questions
Im still working on my TBR, so I will get back to you with that!
So ends the Falling Kingdoms series. It’s been quite a ride. What started as a power struggle to verb who rules all of Mytica turned out to be an all out fight against magic itself. With the Kindred powers of Fire, Earth, Water and Wind have manifested themselves into real bodies and threatened to recreate the world to their liking and forcing former enemies into allies. Magnus, Cleo, Lucia and Jonas must find away to work together to defeat the kind reds and save the world. First they all have to reunite. Not as easy as it sounds in this series that often sends its characters all over the place for seemingly no reason. It’s also seems like everyone gets a redemption story even if they don’t deserve it. King Gauis who is no longer under the spell of his mother finally comes to his sense and realizes what a terrible father he has been and we are so to forget all the things he did to get us into this position in the first place. He was the one who set everything in motion by kidnapping Lucia in the first place. Amara killed her entire family to gain power but she grows a conscience the last minute so she isn’t so bad? This kinda drives me crazy about these kind of novels. Why can’t they let bad guys be bad guys? Also while I always root for happy endings but that doesn’t mean that all the main characters have to survive to make that happen. How many near death experience does one character or multiple characters deserve before it loses its impact? This is a series that has a high body count but still was too afraid to go there when it could have made a real impact on the story. All in all it was an enjoyable series. I just wish at times it was braver than it was.