Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: A Path of Stars by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Hello, my bookworm friends! Oh, these gray days are perfect for beautifully illustrated books. This is my second book review for the Literary Voyage Around the World Reading challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

Title: A Path of Stars
Author: Anne Sibley O’Brien
Copyright: February 7, 2017
Genre: fiction
Format: e-book
Pages: 40

Summary (from Goodreads):

A touching story of family, loss, and memory.
Dara’s grandmother, Lok Yeay, is full of stories about her life growing up in Cambodia, before she immigrated to the United States. Lok Yeay tells her granddaughter of the fruits and plants that grew there, and how her family would sit in their yard and watch the stars that glowed like fireflies. Lok Yeay tells Dara about her brother, Lok Ta, who is still in Cambodia, and how one day she will return with Dara and Dara’s family to visit the place she still considers home.

About the Author (Genevieve Cogman):

Related image

 

“My career creating multicultural children’s books is a direct response to my childhood in Korea, which kindled in me a fascination for the beauty and glory of human differences, and a passion for the truth that, across our differences, we are all one human family. We belong to each other. That’s what I’m trying to get to, through all my work.”

 

When I visited her website I think I liked her even more. This quote from her reflects my own wishes for my company. I always wanted to create products that celebrate diversity. I put more of her books on hold at the library. A few I plan on reading with Apollo.

My Thoughts:

I often come across new books while listening to podcasts, reading book blogs or watching BookTube. But sometimes, books come to me by chance. I was actually just puttering around Hoopla looking at books and came across this book. The beautiful illustration of the girl on the cover pulled me in immediately so I clicked on it to see what it was about.

When I saw that was a story about Cambodian refugees. I immediately thought back to my college days and studies about the Khmer Rouge.

“The Khmer Rouge was the name given to Cambodian (Khmer) communists (rouge, French for red) and later the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea in Cambodia who infamously carried out the Cambodian genocide.” – Wikipedia

I remember that when I learned about the mass genocides that killed between 1.5 – 3 million Cambodian peoples that occurred between 1975-1978. I had never been taught anything about Cambodia prior to my college experience so it came as such a shock. The obvious questions of why and how could this happen were the topics of discussion. It was troubling information to process and I didn’t know what to do with it but to be honest, after college, it didn’t pass by my radar again until I saw this book. Despite the fact that it is a children’s book and does not go into depth on the topic of genocide, it does focus on the Cambodian traditional familial bonds of grandparents and grandchildren as well as life as a refugee and it has stirred my heart again. So let me share this lovely book with you. These are a few pages viewed on my Kindle. The lighting wasn’t the best but trust me the illustrations were so beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that this is good for both young and old to read. The illustrations are magnificent and the story is touching. I really like the way the author paced the story withholding certain information to allow the reader to really appreciate the bond between the grandmother and her grandchild as well as appreciate the details of Cambodian life before and after the event.

Cambodian flag

I really enjoyed this book and for the messages that it conveys about family, loss, love, being a refugee and the beautiful illustrations I give it 5 butterflies.

Happy reading!

Belinda

Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

Hello everyone! My first book review of 2018 is also for the Literary Voyage Around the World Reading challenge.  I am trying a different format. Let me know if you like it.

“The wall is the thing which separates them, but it is also their means of communications.” – Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

Title: The Woman Next Door
Author: Yewande Omotoso
Copyright: February 7, 2017
Genre: fiction
Format: book
Pages: 278

This quote above is at the very beginning of the book and it really captures the essence of the main characters Hortensia and Marion’s relationship. So I found it fitting to include in this review.

I first heard about this book on a Podcast and thought it would be a wonderful book to read and include in my reading challenge selections. This is a newly published book but lucky for me, my library had a copy available so you know I had to snatch it up.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility which they prune with a zeal that belies the fact that they are both over eighty.

But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together.

My Thoughts:

I immediately was pulled into the story of these two women, one black, Hortensia and one white, Marion and their difficult relationship. Both had successful careers and they met when Hortensia attended one of the community committee meetings which had been started by Marion. Although Marion took the meetings very seriously, Hortensia saw them as very exclusionary and attended by right and often to “put the ladies in their place”.

The book demonstrated some of the residuals of apartheid through the relationship of the two woman. Much of their initial hate for one another came from preconceived ideas they had about each other. Because they initially never took the time to get to know each other, their past histories dominated the way they related to each other rather than truth. For Marion, she feigned innocence to the history and racial bias but Hortensia quickly and frequently reminded her which led to a very cynical relationship.

As the story progresses, I was able to learn more about each woman’s background from childhood to adulthood and it laid the foundation for their present beliefs and personalities. I love when stories do this because it reminds us that there is depth to consider before judgment. I could have easily hated both characters but the back stories provided the bridge to understanding.

This book is about love, loss, race, relationships, friendship, and history. But the author, Omotoso does include some very important issues into the story which I like because it gave me an opportunity to learn more about the South African history.  It has peaked my interest regarding the topic of land reform and the Land Claims Commision.

The Land Reform Processes focused on three areas: restitution, land tenure reform and land redistribution. Restitution, where the government compensates (monetary) individuals who had been forcefully removed, has been very unsuccessful and the policy has now shifted to redistribution with secure land tenure. Land tenure reform is a system of recognizing people’s right to own land and therefore control of the land. – wikipedia

Omotoso incorporates the Land Reform Process into the story when a family makes a claim regarding the development in which the ladies live. So the community commission led by Marion decide to investigate.  In addition to that claim, there is also a descendant of a former slave who lived in slave quarters on the land where Hortensia’s property lies. Under apartheid, the land was taken from them. They wanted to bury their grandmother’s ashes under a Silver Tree which they identified with specific markings that occupy a place on Hortensia’s property.

Silver Tree in South Africa

Marion begins to question her previously held beliefs when she takes the time to go to the library and read up on the topic. I think it provided a pivotal moment for a shift if ever so slightly of her character.

Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef (1856-1957) was regarded as one of the best of the Old South Africa masters. – wiki

Both hide secrets from each other and one that Marion can’t think of revealing to Hortensia is that her husband squandered their money before his death and left her in debt. So much so she will have to sell her house. However, she has a very valuable art piece by Pierneef that she could sell to help her situation.  I googled and found a lovely image of one of his works for you to see (above). This is the beauty of reading books, they allow me to grow and learn about so many things. I find it fun to go online and find things to help bring the story to life.

A bit about the author…

photo from the web

Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados in 1980 to a Barbadian mother and Nigerian father. They moved within a year of her birth to Nigeria and in 1992 they then moved to South Africa. Her debut novel is called Bom Boy and was published in 2011 and won the 2012 South African Literary Awards (SALA).

South African flag

I really enjoyed this book. This book also qualifies for my Literary Voyage Around the World Reading challenge. Since the setting is in South Africa I will use it for that country. I give it three butterflies!

Belinda

Another 2018 Reading Challenge: 52 Comics

Well if you visited recently you might have heard about the Literary Around the World Challenge that I am participating in for 2018 to take my reading adventures around the globe. I have decided to add one more challenge. (For someone who doesn’t like the stress that most often occurs from challenges, I sure am soaking them up at the start of this year!) I found the idea from Book Riot but it aligns so nicely with my desire to connect more with my oldest son. He enjoys reading comics and each summer for the past few years we even go to the annual Comic-Con. So I decided I will read one comic a week for the year. It doesn’t sound too hard. So I will post updates monthly of the comics I select to read.

Here is a peek at my first comic I read last week is a comic I bought at the most recent Comic-con from the author and illustrator. I even got their signature. I will be back later this month to share more about this comic and the other three comics I select.

Happy reading!

Belinda

Belinda’s Book Nook: Reading Challenge for 2018

Hello, my bookworm friends! As we close out this year, I have begun to reflect on my past year of reading and think about my reading plans for 2018.  As tempting as challenges can be, I have found that I start out excited and then at some point, the fun is gone because the effort becomes a chore. I believe this occurs for the following reasons:

  1. I’m a slow reader.
  2. I’m forced to read stuff I don’t enjoy.
  3. I am a mood reader.
  4. New books that I like are released and I can’t wait to read them.
  5. My other interests (my business, family, etc.) require more attention.
  6. I see all of the other people online blowing through the challenge with ease and I get a little book envy.

Then I usually duck out of the challenge. However, this year, a fellow book lover, Myra, of Gathering Books, who I have met in the blogosphere has created a challenge that speaks to my heart. For a bit now, I have been slowly (ever so slowly) pushing myself to find books from different countries to read to broaden my experience.  I have even created a spreadsheet to keep track. (total book nerd) Some people call this “global armchair” reading. I know I will not be able to physically go to all of the locations but the beauty of literature is that it can take you anywhere for free and open you to so many new experiences. So when I read her 2018 reading challenge which is called Literary Voyage Around the World Challenge, I started beaming. I knew I had to sign up. Myra has created various levels to help people find a goal that is more achievable for each participant. The following are the levels:

1. Literary Hitchhiker – 25-40 countries
2. Literary Vagabond – 41-60 countries
3. Literary Explorer – 61-80 countries
4. Literary Adventurer – 81-99 countries
5. Literary Globetrotter – 100 countries and above

Because I do also have some other goals in mind for my reading which I will announce in upcoming posts, I will be aiming for Literary Hitchhiker.  I will be sure to post my journey and reviews while reading my way through this challenge. If you would like to participate or just read about great books do visit her blog, Gathering Books, which is simply amazing.  She also provides details on how to determine a criterion for your selections which is very helpful.

Ok, I am off to check my shelves first for some books that I haven’t read that meet the requirements.  I know I own a lot so that is a step in the right direction.

Wish me luck!!

Happy reading my friends.

 

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