Review: I Am Malala

I Am MalalaI Am Malala
By Malala Yousafzai
(Little, Brown and Co., Hardcover, 9780316322409, October 2013, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

Malala Yousafzai was just a young girl on a field trip for school when she was shot point-blank in the face. This book is about that day, the events leading up to it and the role it played in her struggle for education equality.

The Rest of It:

My book club selected this book back in January to be read in October. That was before Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize and before her gunman had been identified, so imagine our surprise when she was back in the news by the time we met to discuss the book. Timing, it’s everything.

I didn’t know much about Malala prior to reading this book. I do recall the shooting in 2012 and some of the details behind it, but other than that, not much. In case you’re like me, I’ll give you a little info. As a young girl, Malala lived in the Swat Valley, a province in Pakistan. Her father ran a school for both boys and girls but as you can imagine, most girls in that region were kept home to help around the house or married young to start their own families. Education was not a priority for young girls and Malala took it upon herself to make sure that young girls got the same education that boys did.

This presented a problem for her father. Threatened and told to close his doors, he began to worry about making ends meet. Without female students, he would not be able to keep his doors open. Knowing this, Malala did what she could to support education for all children and this angered many in their town, including the Taliban which eventually led to the attempt on her life. Amazingly, the gunshot wound to her head, did not cause permanent brain damage but called for quite a bit of physical therapy. This required her to be moved to a London hospital and after much discussion, a decision was made to move the rest of the family there as well.

Instead of being fearful of what could happen to her in the future, she used the events of that day to her advantage and became even more vocal, knowing that at some point the Taliban could succeed in taking her life. However, this mattered little to her. What mattered more, is that education be accessible to ALL who wanted it. Through her efforts, she’s been awarded numerous prizes for her humanitarian efforts. An impressive list but especially so given her young age.

I was surprised at how readable the book is. With every page, you are reminded of Malala’s youth. She’s a young girl like any young girl, watching popular TV shows and wanting to wear make-up and try new hairstyles. She’s very likable and the book is written simply, without a lot of historical background. This is a plus as well as a minus. A plus because almost anyone can read the book but a minus because if you are looking to learn more about that region of Pakistan or the Taliban itself, you won’t find it here.

Since this is not a book I would have normally picked up on my own, I was hoping to get a little more insight into that part of the country but even though I did not find it, I still enjoyed reading about this remarkable young woman.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Euphoria

EuphoriaEuphoria
By Lily King
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780802122551, June 2014, 368pp.)

The Short of It:

A somewhat entertaining romp through New Guinea that happens to include a love triangle!

The Rest of It:

I had no idea that this book was loosely based on Margaret Mead’s life until I was a few chapters in. Lately, I find myself going into a book blind so I can avoid everyone’s opinions on it but I think in this case I would have read a little more closely had I known about Mead being a basis for the story.

Regardless, I found the book to be quite entertaining.

Bankson, a scientist, fails miserably at killing himself so when he encounters Nell and her husband Fen, also scientists he finds himself slightly obsessed with Nell even though she is obviously married to Fen and promises to find them a tribe to study. Mostly, this is due to his need to keep her around and not so much out of scientific curiosity. Nell is fiercely independent and somewhat aware of Bankson’s attraction to her so there is quite a bit of sexual tension throughout the book. Oddly enough, Fen enjoys having Bankson around as a distraction because Fen and Nell definitely have their moments.

Anthropologically speaking, I think the book needed a little more adventure and a little less romantic tension but that’s just me. I know Mead’s work and attitude toward sex is what shaped the sexual revolution of the 60’s but the book read more like a novel to me than historical fiction. I suppose I wanted a bit more of the history of things.

It was an enjoyable read and well-written but it felt a tad unbalanced to me. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

The Sunday Salon: The Walkers Return

Sunday Salon

It was a short week for me since I had Monday and Tuesday off and yet…it still felt incredibly long.

We had some fun stuff going on. The Teen’s choir Cabaret concert was on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a fun show. And…The Teen DID get the part he wanted in Annie (Rooster), Ms. Hannigan’s good-for-nothing con-man brother. The Girl did not get what she wanted but she ended up with a featured dance part.

The Teen was invited to USC for a singing workshop which he unfortunately had to leave early for since he had a lead acting workshop scheduled later in the day but I think it was a good experience for him. Being on a large college campus and getting to hang out with the music director? Very cool.

In other news…

I thought The Girl’s cheer clinic was yesterday, but it’s TODAY. This morning, to be exact which means if we go to church, it’s going to have to be an evening service. Might not be a bad thing as I’ve been wanting to try an evening service.

But, who am I kidding? This weekend is ALL about the return of The Walking Dead. Yes! It’s back! I think tonight’s episode is going to be rough. I fear for the characters. I will be off social media from 6pm on to avoid spoilers.

What am I reading?

I am listening to Stephen King’s Big Driver and reading Garth Stein’s A Sudden Light. I am liking both, quite a bit. I did not know that Big Driver was coming to Lifetime though later this week. I am also reading Something Wicked This Way Comes for the read along I am hosting with Sandy.

What am I cooking?

I made all sorts of stuff yesterday. Chicken Taco/Enchilada soup and chili and corn bread. The chili and corn bread will be enjoyed later. I didn’t want anything to distract me from The Walking Dead so that stuff is cooked and ready to go Just needs warming.

Just now, I made myself a bowl of coconut Chobani Greek yogurt, added some gluten-free raw oats, some dark chocolate shavings, sliced raw almonds and sprinkled the top with toasted coconut. Divine.

What am I watching?

Later I will be balled up on the couch cringing, while watching The Walking Dead hoping with all hope to not lose a major character in the season opening. Will you be watching tonight?

Something Wicked Read-Along Update – Part One

Something Wicked

Our read along for Something Wicked This Way Comes is in full swing! By today, 10/10, we should be wrapping-up part one, Chapters 1-24. What do you think so far? Here are my thoughts and then I have some questions for you to ponder:

  • Super quick read. The first 24 chapters flew by.
  • Very atmospheric. Think dark clouds, wind, dry leaves and the smell of ozone.
  • Odd narration. The language is a little stilted. Almost like a regional thing but not quite. Didn’t take long to get used to though.
  • Two main characters, boys, Will and Jim. Too much alike. Hard to determine who is talking sometimes.
  • CRAZY happenings involving a carousel and a weird little ‘nephew’ of one of the neighbors.
  • Right now, I am totally sucked into the story which promises to be very strange from what I’ve read so far.

Now, a couple of questions for you from Shmoop.com:

  1. We have a third-person narrator in this novel, but how much of this narration is influenced by Will and Jim’s way of looking at the world? That is, how “close” is the narrator to our main characters?
  2. What do you think is the target audience (age group) of Something Wicked This Way Comes? How might its meaning change for readers of different age groups?

Everyone on Twitter (#EnterTheRingmaster) has mentioned the narration. It’s a little odd. One blogger said the flow was a little difficult to pick up, but once she got over the hump, she was totally into the story. For me, the third-person narration is not an issue but the language, prose, whatever you want to call it, was a little disjointed at first. It did kind of add to the story though because it felt to me as if I was listening to someone from another part of the country. How close is the narrator to the boys? I’d say pretty close, almost too close because I am having a hard time keeping the two boys separate in my mind.

The target audience? Good question. Although the main characters are young boys, I’m not sure that’s the intended audience. There is something going on with Will and his father, something that maybe only an adult can appreciate. There is the whole old versus young thing too. I’m not sure a young person can appreciate youth when they have it. Do you?

My feeling right now is that the fun is just beginning. Part one dealt with the arrival of the dark carnival and part two is titled Pursuits.

If you want to still join us, it’s not too late. It took me one sitting to read through chapters 1-24. The biggest challenge will be finding a copy.

Next up on the schedule?

  • Finish Section 2 (Chapters 25-44) by Friday, October 24th
  • Finish Section 3 (Chapters 45-54) by Friday, October 31st

If you wrote-up a post, just add the link in comments or feel free to comment away here or on Twitter using #EnterTheRingmaster as the hashtag.

It’s a Birthday Kind of Day!

Birthday Girl - Then/Now 2014

It’s been a little quiet on the blog. I took the last couple of days off because my kids are on Fall break AND because today happens to be The Girl’s birthday! She is now an eleven-year-old, phone-toting, gal. Yep! I finally caved and got her a phone.

Yesterday, we tooled around town, had lunch and then came back to watch a movie. Today, The Teen was supposed to have an all-day rehearsal for The 39 Steps but the drama teacher’s kid is not feeling well so he is off today as well. I just made blueberry scones. The Girl just opened up her presents and now we are about to make her cake!

She saw this cake on the Real Girl’s Kitchen:

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/haylie-duff/black-bean-chocolate-cake-with-buttercream-frosting.html

This cake just happens to be gluten-free. We are putting it together now. Later, we are heading out to a steak house for dinner because that is what The Girl wants, and then we will come home to eat the cake! Click on the photo if you’d like the recipe.

That is my day. There might be more movie watching and reading in there too and of course later, the final cast list for Annie comes out. I sure hope she gets a part and that The Teen gets what he wants as well.

Have a good day!

The Sunday Salon: October? Really?

Sunday Salon

October? Really? This is going to be one of those years. The ones where no one in my family gets excited about the holidays. The Teen asked if we could skip the Halloween decorations this year and I thought The Girl would object, but nope…she said nothing. When it’s this warm, it’s hard to break out the holiday stuff and even with the stores cramming it down my throat, the feeling just isn’t there. Sigh.

What am I reading?

I haven’t done any reading this weekend. The Girl had her friend over for a sleepover and my mood lately has been all over the place. I have many books going but I can’t seem to settle on one. I need to just pick one to stick with.

What am I cooking?

Last night we had pizza and today? Who knows? I can’t cook when it’s so hot! I should really be grateful though because with the AC on, it’s quite nice. I hit Trader Joe’s and loaded up on all the seasonal stuff. Spiced cider, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin bread mix and Harvest tea. But do I have stuff for the week? No.

What am I watching?

Yesterday I watched a Doris Day movie, April in Paris. Loved it. Hoping to fit a horror movie in somewhere. I have Monday and Tuesday off. I decided to take them off because the kids are on fall break and Tuesday is The Girl’s birthday.

Right now, we are about to head off to church and then grab smoothies because when you live in Southern California, that is what you do.

What do you have planned for today?

Grab Your Book: Reading Anything Good?

Grab Your Book

FRIDAY! Finally! This has been the longest week ever and all sorts of stuff happened.

The callback list for Annie posted and both kids got a callback. The Teen got called back for Rooster (Tim Curry played him in the movie), which is what he tried out for but sadly, The Girl did not get called back for Annie. Instead, she got a callback for Duffy, one of the other orphans. Both, great roles. We won’t know who made the final cast until Tuesday afternoon but both said their callback went well. The suspense…it kills me.

I got a promotion at work. I never talk work on here but hey, I am happy.

Another thing that happened this week is that my daughter’s teacher enrolled her in a Title 1 program. Now, I don’t know much about Title 1 so maybe you teacher folks can clue me in but I was a little surprised about her being added to this program. She started Kindergarten when she was four, before they changed the cut-off date so every year she lags a bit in the beginning. I hear this repeatedly at the parent conferences but then once she is back into the routine of things, she is okay. However, this teacher, whom I love and was also was the teacher for my son when he was in 6th, said she needs some additional help so of course, this concerns me. Plus, I asked The Girl who else was added to the program and she said, her words, “The new girl who does not speak English.” Oh my. I have a meeting to discuss the program on 10/16. I figure extra math help cannot hurt but it threw me off a little.

These days, I need reading more than anything. Kid stuff, work stuff, you know the drill. Every time I turn on the TV something horrible has happened somewhere. And although my schedule seems more manageable, I find that I am not handling what I have as well as I used to. I suppose it’s just a lack of patience. Why do I have to be here? What’s the point? Tell it to me in three sentences or less. Yeah. I know many of you can relate.

So, why can’t we all just sit down and read and not worry about any of it? That is my question.

I just finished I Am Malala and I have a confession. I had absolutely NO desire to read it but I flew through it in just a couple of sittings and now I am glad I read it. That is why I belong to a book club. Had it not been chosen, I don’t think I would have picked it up on my own.

Just started Something Wicked This Way Comes for the read along Sandy and I are hosting. More of you have decided to join us and we couldn’t be happier. I am liking it quite a bit. It’s very atmospheric. I need ‘atmospheric’ since it’s supposed to be 108 here this weekend and it just does not feel like fall.

I want to also start this one:

The Book of Strange New Things

It’s a chunkster though and I want to be sure I am done with it in time for my Revival read along. Yes! Another Stephen King read along! That will be announced later this month.

What are you all reading?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 535 other followers