Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse

  The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse was suggested to me by a close friend, as part of my "Recommended Reads for 2016" project. Of course, blindly going into a book without any knowledge of what it's about can be a bit intimidating, but I really should have known that I was in good hands.
  Sally Nicholas has just inherited a small fortune from a distant relative. Not surprisingly, Sally is a bit blindsided by this sudden increase in her bank account. But after some thought, this American girl decides to travel abroad and explore Europe.
  There she meets Ginger, an odd, flame-haired, eccentric young man. Sally thinks that once she leaves Europe, she'll never see him again, but life has a lot in store for Sally, and her adventures have only just begun.
  The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse is undeniably charming. I won't lie, it took me a while to adjust to Mr Wodehouse's (almost hundred year-old) storytelling. But my solution was simple. Funnily enough, I started to read Sally's adventures in a Downton Abbey voice, and my brain quickly adjusted.
  In addition to the older-style narration, I can see readers stumbling on the drawn-out build up of The Adventures of Sally's plot, but I will tell you that any "dry" parts in the story will be well worth it in the end. Without spoilers, everything came together, in whatever neat little package Sally was capable of achieving.
  This book is positively charming. I came out of this reading experience delighted and even, yes, giggling. I adored P.G. Wodehouse's story of Sally and her adventures (or misadventures). This was certainly a successful book recommendation.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

  You've heard her name.
  Malala Yousafzai. The young girl who bravely fought for what she believed in, and received a heartless retaliation from the Taliban. After the Taliban infiltrated the Swat Valley in Pakistan (her home town), Malala and her father together decided to fight against their enemy, the only fool proof way they knew how.
  With the power of a pen and paper.
  The Taliban did not care for their resistance. They proclaimed that Malala and her father were now a target in their eyes, and that they would douse water on the burning flame that was Malala's passion for education.
  One day, as she was on her way to school, members from the Taliban stopped her school bus, and shot Malala and her two friends. What surely was certain death has only made her stronger. Malala survived, and she's even more powerful than ever. Now the entire world knows her name. The world knows that Malala is fighting for what the Taliban so desperately tried to take away from her. Education.
   You can feel her passion in I Am Malala's pages. You can feel the change she wants to make in the world, and the fact that it is slowly making an impact on those hearing her story.
   The book itself may not appeal to everyone, in that it's not all action and fighting. This is an inspirational autobiographical story, not a fictional novel. If you go into it expecting to hear the nitty gritty details of the horrid day Malala was shot, and only that, I will tell you right now that you will be disappointed.
  I Am Malala tells the story of Malala's life, and how she was raised. How her family provided her the loving home and support required to grow into a strong, intelligent, powerful woman. It tells the story of her beautiful home, and how it was destroyed by hatred. It tells the story of Malala's desperate attempt to cling to the life she had, before the Taliban. When you read I Am Malala, you read Malala's life. Not just that one incident that almost took her life. You follow along with Malala as she retells her story and all of the details that made her who she is today.
  One of my favorite aspects of I Am Malala (there were a lot--I rated it five stars), was her father's contribution to her life, her education, and his dedication to making the world a better place. Ziauddin Yousafzai is one of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about in a novel. Only, he's not a character. He's a man; flesh, blood, and all. It won't be difficult to fall in love with him when you read I Am Malala. He is a remarkable human being. One who is dedicated to his family, his career, and the world he'll leave to his children one day. Bless Ziauddin Yousafzai.
  This book is incredibly moving. Be sure you go into it with the right expectations. This is a young girl telling the story of her life, not a ghost writer making up new and exciting things in each chapter to keep readers interested. Read this book, and read it with an open mind.
  Read it like Malala Yousafzai is right next to you, telling you about her life, her school, her friends, and the home that she longs to return to some day. Let her tell you of the world she longs to have. A world where girls around the globe can attend school without question, and contribute to the world as much as boys do (or even more).
  Let Malala Yousafzai tell you her story.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

  A few months ago, I published a status on my Facebook page requesting that my friends each suggest one book for me to read in 2016. I am recommended countless amounts of books every year (more like every month). For 2016, I decided to give every book recommended a chance. Each book would take priority, and would, no matter what, be read by the end of December.
  I had to know that putting my trust (and my To Be Read list) in my friends' hands could be troublesome, but I had already written my status, so it was too late to back out now.
  I wrote my friends' recommendations down (some were romances, some were children's books, some were non-fiction, and so on, and so forth), cut them into little strips, and placed them all in a bowl, so I could blindly choose my first suggestion.
  The first slip I picked out was The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg. It is a non-fiction novel divulging Ms Nordberg's time in Afghanistan, as she discovers the hidden lives of the bacha posh (girls living their lives as boys).
  Many of these girls are given a life as a bacha posh from their parents, who crave a boy in the family, but have produced only girls. In Afghanistan, it is of high honor to give birth to a boy, and giving birth to a girl is considered more of a disappointment.
  When a girl is born, it is not unusual for parents to decide to "make her a boy." To cut her hair like a boy, to give her a masculine name, to have her wear pants instead of a dress or skirt, and to announce to everyone that they are now the proud parents of a boy. These are the bacha posh.
  And these are the Underground Girls of Kabul.
  Just by reading the description of this book, I knew I was done for. I am a sucker for non-fiction, and have recently taken a huge liking to reading about Afghanistan and surrounding countries. (Thank you, Khaled Hosseini.)
 The Underground Girls of Kabul was positively fascinating. Jenny Nordberg's in depth information about these girls' and women's lives was addicting. The more I learned about the bacha posh, the more I craved learning even more about what occurs in their lives on a day-to-day basis.
  But with great detail, comes great truth. This book does not glide over the gritty details of life in Afghanistan. Ms Nordberg truly gives you a deep perspective into what awaits in a girl's future in Afghanistan. It can be not-so-enjoyable to read about, but it is the truth.
  At times, Ms Nordberg's writing can tend to be a bit lecture-ish, almost as if she is speaking in front of an audience as opposed to writing a book. These moments didn't last long, and they didn't sour my taste of the book in general.
  This book brings enormous awareness to each girl's life, safety, and possible future in the middle east. Anyone who ventures to pick up The Underground Girls of Kabul will certainly come out of their reading experience more enlightened (and in some cases, like mine, more empowered and passionate about making an impact in the education and future of girls and women), and more educated about this movement.
  I am so very thankful that this book was recommended to me, because, in all honesty, it opened my eyes to things much larger than the world surrounding me.

 For more information, read more about the bacha posh here.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

The Fate by Stephanie Erickson

  Penn is a Spinner. He is one of the three Fates that reside in the heavens, and the first male Fate to ever exist.
  It is Penn's job to pick out human lives, and spin them into threads that will be cut to the life expectancy his sister Fates deem fit, and eventually woven into the tapestry of humankind.
  But one particular life stands out for Penn, and he can't tear his gaze away from it.
  Her name is Kismet.
  She is perfect, she is everything, and she has stolen Penn's heart. As a Fate, Penn knows exactly how Kismet's life is supposed to play out...but he has no idea what's in store for him when he realizes he has fallen in love with one of his own creations.
  I have, of course, become addicted to another Stephanie Erickson original story.
  It is not an unfamiliar feeling for me to want Ms Erickson's books to be longer. There are many of her stories that I wish were 400-500 pages long, mainly because they are highly addicting and I cannot put them down.
  I especially felt this way with The Fate. Throughout the book, my mind kept defaulting to, "Everything is moving too fast. Things need to slow down." Before I knew it, The Fate was over. I have to say that that was my only complaint with this book. I want more details. I want to learn more about Penn, and his life before Kismet. I want to read about minor characters who will eventually play a bigger role in the story's future. I want more.
  Penn and Kismet's story is undeniably addicting, with enough twists and turns to make you deliriously dizzy. I adored Penn, and even grew a liking to the book's irritating character "Webber."
  I lost myself very easily in Stephanie Erickson's story--my only wish is that it wasn't over so quickly.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When Doves Fly by Lauren Gregory

  After years of suffering in the suffocating clutches of her possessive husband, Lily Wright has fled her home, and found sanctuary in a little town in the remote Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where no one knows her past.
  Taking place in the late nineteenth century, When Doves Fly comes with a bushel-full of problems, challenges, and life-threatening possibilities. Lily Wright has found solace in her new home, where she has opened her very own dry goods shop, but will this town, and the people residing in it, be her ultimate downfall?
  When Doves Fly by Lauren Gregory was a surprising read for me, in many ways. There were so many shocking moments in this book, I could barely keep up with Lily's "adventures" (if you can call her grief adventure-like). Because of that, I found myself almost unable to put it down. I desperately wanted to know in which direction Lily's life was going to go. Would she find happiness? Was her husband going to find her in Colorado? Who continuously keeps sabotaging her contentment?
  Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, another monkey wrench was thrown in my way, and I was knocked off my feet. I'm sure this was intentional, so the reader could understand what Lily was going through as she tried to turn her life around.
  When Doves Fly was an enjoyable read. The story can be painful at times, but the reading experience itself was not painful whatsoever. I see myself reading more of Lauren Gregory's work in the future.

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