Book Review | So Happiness to Meet You: Foolishly, Blissfully Stranded in Vietnam by Karin Esterhammer

so happiness to meet you cover.jpgAfter the recession hits their Los Angeles family hard, Karin, Robin and their adopted son Kai move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Though they’ve touristed there before, the story of becoming residents in a district where they are the only non-natives is eye-opening. While Robin is able to secure a job teaching English, Karin is left to home school Kai, do freelance work and take care of their home while befriending the neighbors.

Esterhammer’s background in writing makes this book a delightful read. Feelings, humor and challenging situations are shared with great insight and tact. The memoir is a very entertaining and quick read, with frequent chapter breaks, making it easy to pick up and put down. It would be especially appealing to those who love to travel and/or experience other cultures. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway. *Fans of So Happiness to Meet You: Foolishly, Blissfully Stranded in Vietnam may be interested in Songs of the Baka and Other Discoveries by Dennis James (2017). 

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Book Review | Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

freedom's ring cover.jpgTwo women in Boston, centuries apart, are connected by a piece of jewelry. Anaya was running the Boston marathon at the time of the bombing and in addition to being injured physically, has suffered a familial rift after being torn apart by guilt from her sister and niece. Liberty was sexually assaulted while working in the house of British officers just preceding the Boston Massacre of 1770. Freedom’s Ring tells the stories of these two women and traces their connection through the ring and their faith.

This book started out strong. Both women were in the midst of life-changing events that drew the reader’s attention. About a third or halfway into the book, the stories slowed down and the focus on God and faith became prevalent. Some sections were repetitive and I once wondered if the book weren’t actually meant for young adults. It is possible my unedited edition may not have undergone all editing and corrections that the final copy received. All ends tied up conveniently, perhaps unrealistically. This book is recommended to fans of Christian, historical fiction with an emphasis on women’s issues. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an advance unedited edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

Book Review | You & a Bike & a Road by Eleanor Davis

You  a Bike  a Road by Eleanor Davis.jpgIn this non-fiction graphic novel, Davis reveals her cycling experience cross country from Tucson, AZ to Georgia. Decked out on a bike her father built, she leaves her parents house heading East. As she covers about 20-60 miles a day, she documents her journey in illustrations and short textual blurbs. This shared narrative includes encounters with friendly locals, the border patrol, native flora and fauna and times of personal struggle.

For readers interested in bicycle touring, this book would serve as a good introduction. The graphic novel style makes it a quick read that is accessible to all audiences, though some language may warrant an adult rating. The illustrations and text work well together and Davis has done a fine job recounting both her positive and negative experiences in a straight-forward and entertaining manner. This graphic novel was selected by the Art Libraries Society of North America as one of ten “Notable Graphic Novels Published in 2017”. Check it out from a library near you.

 

Book Review | Out of Granada by Ben Fine

out of granada coverFocusing on protagonist Miguel, Out of Granada relays the story of a Jewish family, who despite their conversion to Catholicism, must flee Spain for their safety. The book details Miguel’s education in Italy and subsequent training and work in the Italian Wars. It follows as Miguel leads a party of converted families from Granada to Malaga and then over sea to the New World. Battles, pirates and a hint of romance keep the story interesting.

Readers interested in an immersive experience fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the 1500’s will enjoy this accessible novel. There are frequent chapter breaks, making the text fairly quick reading. The author is repetitive at times and sometimes overly descriptive. It seems several edits were made and a final proofreading could have helped to eliminate some of the superfluous text. That said, the book is still a good read. Unfortunately, there are currently no library holdings for this book.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Wasting of Borneo by Alex Shoumatoff

wasting of borneo cover.jpgPalm oil is the devil. This is one of the clear take away messages from Shoumatoff’s latest book The Wasting of Borneo. This accessible read offers a clear picture of the devastation that has been occurring in the rain forest of Borneo and its far reaching implications. Sharing wisdom from field experts, the book uses both scientific data and real life anecdotes to educate readers about an important, but lesser known calamity that is impacting indigenous people, animals and the environment.

I approached this book with no previous knowledge of the topic. More than just educating me, Shoumatoff’s writing drew me in and explained to me why the wasting of Borneo’s rain forest is a catastrophe, and also how it concerns me as a consumer on a personal level. It’s scary to learn that just because certain processes are being labeled sustainable, that doesn’t mean they really adhere to strictly sustainable standards. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the topic for any readers who care about the environment and man’s negative impact on it. Check it out from a library near youI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of The Wasting of Borneo may be interested in Songs of the Baka and Other Discoveries by Dennis James (2017). 

Book Review | The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

futures cover.jpgProtagonists Evan and Julia meet while attending Yale and then decide to move to New York City together after graduation. Previously a star on the hockey team, Evan has some adjustments to make to fit into his finance job at a prestigious hedge fund. Julia comes from a well-off family in Boston and with their connections lands a job as an assistant at a non-profit. She struggles to fill her time while Evan works increasingly long hours, and can’t quite manage to keep herself out of trouble.

Pitoniak’s first novel is quite impressive. The writing style fosters an intimate relationship between the reader and the protagonists. With chapters alternating point of view between Julia and Evan, it is easy to understand the how and why of what they are each feeling. Revealing scenes from alternating view points also help the story to flow successfully without bias. In addition to following on their relationship, another major focus of the book is the business deal that Evan negotiates in his hedge fund work. Fortunately, this is handled in an accessible manner that will allow all readers to remain interested, even those with no financial background or interests. Highly recommended for those interested in reading about interpersonal relationships of twenty-somethings in New York City. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Héctor García & Francesc Miralles

ikigai cover.jpgFor those interested in longevity with happiness and keys to living a longer life, this book will certainly be interesting and thought-provoking.

Ikigai is a quick read broken into digestible chapters covering topics including longevity, diet, movement, resilience, finding your flow, and more. Written for all audiences, the authors have provided insights based on interviews with Okinawan centenarians, observations of their lifestyle and other applicable philosophical scientific information. The book aims to help the reader find the intersection of passion, mission, profession and vocation, also known as Ikigai. Further, the reader will be able to apply the topical introductions and logical observations immediately in every day living. Any reader will be able to take something of this value from this text. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Ikigai, may be interested in the film How to Life Forever by Mark Wexler.