Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Hà has only known Saigon.  The sights and smells of the markets, her own papaya tree.  This is her home but the Vietnam War is encroaching upon her life quickly.  It’s already taken her father away to fight and it has come for her home.  Despite reservations of leaving, not knowing how their father will find them, Hà’s family is forced to escape the North Vietnamese army.  They board a ship, not knowing where their future lies.  Cramped on a stalled ship after several days at sea they are rescued and the refugees are taken to the US.  Hà’s family is sent to live in Alabama a strange world with no papaya tree   can call her own.  Together, Hà’s family become accustomed to their new life, learning the language, the customs, religion, all while enduring the teasing and distrust from their new neighbors, but never forgetting who they are or where they came from.

The cover alone is enough to make someone stop and pick this book up.  Add a well written verse, that is beautiful, at times heartbreaking, and you almost have a perfect book that you will never forget.  With just a few carefully selected words, Thanhha Lai makes you feel what Hà feels, which means keep the tissues close.  But she will also make you smile.

I can’t imagine what it was really like evacuating Saigon during that time.  I’ve only known moving across the country but to a new state with a shared language and coworkers who I had previously met.  To leave in a rush of panic and confusion with no idea what will become of you; it takes a brave person to experience all that and all throughout this book I kept wondering if I could be as brave and resourceful as Hà and her family.  I really hope so if such a situation ever arises and I admire anyone who has had to bravely leave their home not knowing what the future will be.

Hà is wonderful.  She’s a very real little girl with hopes and dreams.  You feel her frustration as she attends school in the United States, as well as her triumph when she outwits a bully.  She’s defiant and refuses to let the fact she’s the youngest or a girl let anything stop her.  She is also very brave.  With very little complaint she endured the hardships her family faced when they evacuated Saigon and then suffered the cramped living spaces of the ship they escaped on with little food, space or privacy.  She is someone to be admired and I think all little girls should read her story.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Catch-All

I have a couple of updates for reading challenges and other miscellaneous happenings, so I’m going to write about it all in this one post so hold on tight as I switch gears often!

First, Venessa and I have been enjoying the newly renovated Lake Jackson Library Branch.  We had been looking forward to this all summer and it was worth the wait.  The renovated building is larger, well lit and includes more shelf space, a lot more computer terminals and seating.  The children’s section has the best spot near the windows making it bright and cheery, the YA section has some comfy reading nooks and my favorite spot is the reading room.

On our first visit Venessa checked out the movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and has watched it nearly every day (we recently renewed it for another week because she couldn’t part with it).  I think it’s cute because I recently discovered The Black Stallion and The Black Stallion Returns is streaming on Netflix.  I grew up with both of those movies and watched them constantly, especially The Black Stallion Returns.  And do you know how I watched them so much?  By checking them out from the library!

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks

Season 7 of Doctor Who premiered on September 1st, did you see it?  I bought it through Amazon and I think it’s an okay start.  Daleks are Daleks and I feel like we’ve been there done that with them and I’m more excited about next weeks episode with dinosaurs on a spaceship.  But if this season continues with more stand alone type adventures, I’m all in.  I’m also very curious how the new companion will work out because SPOILER ALERT she was a human turned into a Dalek who was destroyed in this episode.  How does she go from destroyed human-Dalek to companion?  We’ll see!  And another thing, am I the only one not on board this Amy-Rory divorce because Amy can’t have any more children?  This seemed odd considering Amy is smarter than that and should know Rory by now and remember that he did wait 2,000 years for her.  And I know they didn’t get to raise River but she’s still around, she’s still their daughter and it felt like she was forgotten in this episode.  They did make up but there's probably more challenges to come for those two so I guess we’ll see how this works out.  END SPOILER ALERT 

On the reading front, the Summer In Discworld reading challenge hosted by Tales of the Marvelous has ended and I was pathetic.  I only read two Discworld books which I don’t find as very impressive stats but of course, they were great reads and I know I can always count on Discworld to lift me out of a reading funk.  Check out the review site for the Summer In Discworld challenge to see what others thought of Discworld: http://www.blenza.com/linkies/links.php?owner=MarvelousTales&postid=27May2012a&meme=9886

And here are my two reviews:

Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8)
Night Watch (Discworld #29)

With the end of summer and Halloween just around the corner you know what that means... the R.I.P. VII reading challenge!

Yes, it’s back and this will be the second time I will be participating.  I think Carl can see my bookshelves from his part of the country.  Last year I participated in the group read of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman because I happened to have a copy.  This year there will be a group read of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and I also happen to have a copy too.  I’m hoping Venessa will finally let me read it aloud to her.  She says it’s scary but this is the same little girl who would cover her eyes while watching Doctor Who  but would then sneak out of bed to watch over my shoulder.  So, back to the R.I.P. Challenge which runs from September 1st through October 31st.  This challenge, or rather, experience, has different levels to participate and can include any book/short story/movie/TV show that fits within these categories:

Dark Fantasy

Visit Stainless Steel Droppings for more details.  I’m not going to commit to a level this year.  I’ll just see what I read and watch.  I’ve already started reading The Orphan’s Tales: In The Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente which fits in nicely as a Dark Fantasy and it is absolutely wonderful so far.  Other books I have on my shelf that I’d like to read for R.I.P. are:

World War Z by Max Brooks
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (for the group read)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Hell by Robert Olen Butler
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Orphan's Tales: In The Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente (Currently reading)
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson (I asked for this book because it was a group read last year)

We’ll see what movies I’ll watch.  I’m going to try and get a viewing of Army of Darkness in and Evil Dead 2.  I’ve also been watching Dark Shadows off and on over the last three months so I’ll probably watch some more.  So if you want to see all the action here’s a link to the review site: http://ripviireviewsite.blogspot.com/ and blog or not, everyone is welcome to participate.

So that’s it!  Hope everyone has been enjoying their three day weekend!