Belinda’s Book Nook Review: In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri


Title: In Other Words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Copyright: February 9, 2016
Genre: fiction
Format: book & audio book  Pages: 233 Translator: Ann Goldstein

I own several of Jhumpa Lahiri’s books and have yet to read one. But this one was in the new book section at our library and I thought it was a fine time to read it. I had the audiobook on hold from Overdrive and it came in the same day I came home from the library. If that’s not a sign! So I began reading and switched back and forth. The format is so unusual – it is called a dual-language format. So on one page she wrote in Italian and the interpreter translated it into English on each facing page. So you can look back and forth to see the Italian equivalents throughout the book. The audio version reads the entire book in English first and then again in Italian.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the Pulitzer Prize winner, a surprising, powerful, and eloquent nonfiction debut

In Other Words is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. And although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world.

In Rome, Lahiri began to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.

My thoughts:

My mom could speak some Italian from the years she lived there and I always wanted to learn. I was doing great trying to teach myself and I even took an adult class several years ago. But then life seemed to put that goal on hold. So when I read about this book, I was intrigued to see her reasons for learning and her thoughts about how to learn a language.

I was impressed how her family picked up and moved with her to Italy to pursue her desire to learn the language. She spoke a lot about the need to be immersed in the language and how learning in America didn’t really prepare her as much as she once thought when she was among native speakers. She also explored the immigrant experience. How she always feels like an outsider whether she is in America or in Italy. Wanting to fit in but never quite feeling it. This is such an interesting an prevalent topic in books as of late and I am always interested in the different perspectives.

Overall, I felt it was a good book and happy I did pick it up. I still love the thought of learning a language but must focus on my current endeavors. I give this book three butterflies.

Happy reading!3rating

Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Copyright: February 3, 2015
Genre: historical fiction
Format: audio book and book  Narrator: Polly Stone Pages: 438

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

My thoughts:

I heard about this book on booktube and had decided I had to buy it. It was one of my books I received from my birthday book haul. I have been meaning to share my haul with you so stay tuned for that. I did something very different with this book. I began reading the physical book and then I downloaded the audio book version on to my iPhone. Some background here, I took Spanish in high school and Japanese in college so to say my French is lacking is quite an understatement. Sadly, I don’t even know where to begin with pronunciation of French words. So after reading a bit, I tried out the audio version and instead of just listening, I followed along in the book.  It was the best thing ever. I was able to hear the correct pronunciation for all the characters and locations in the book. So when I did read without the audio, I sounded pretty darn good in my head!

This book focused on two sisters, Vianne and her sister, Isabelle who lived in a small village called Carriveau beginning in 1939.  The book also jumps to present day in America where one of the sister is speaking of her life today and reflecting on the past and her experience during war time. The death of the girls’ mother puts them both in a predicament with their grieving father and he sends them away.

 In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. 

What a way to start this book. I think at some point or other we all think about what it would like to be in war and wonder how we respond. We never truly know until we are thrust into the thick of it. Because so many factors are hard to imagine.

The book explores many things but one thing that sets the two sister’s apart in their journey moving forward is their perception of the relationship they have with their father. Vianne tended to be more forgiving and looks for love and finds it with her husband and little girl. Isabelle’s perception leaves her to constantly run back to her father to seek his love and  his “rejection” eventually develops a strong will in Isabelle that leads her to join forces with the French resistance when Hitler’s regime pushes past the Maginot Line to occupy France. The Maginot Line was miles and miles of concrete walls and obstacle sand weapons that had been constructed along the German border after the Great War to protect France.

One thing I really loved about this book is that is shows the strength both sisters have despite the different paths they choose. They both are very strong women in a very difficult time. I really liked that. I liked that the author didn’t make you feel one was better for the choices they made. They both were amazing women and now that I think about it, all of the women in this book were resilient from Vianne’s Jewish neighbor and best friend, Rachel, to the Mother Marie-Therese at the orphanage, to one of the lead contacts for the Resistance, Micheline. None of these women were simple victims. They made difficult decisions and followed their hearts.

As I write this review, I realize I like this book even more. The detail the author provides, pulls you right in like you are standing there next to the characters. The denial they all felt when Hitler’s regime began invading felt so real. Because when crisis strikes, we always feel a sense of disbelief that it can happen to us. The lack of necessities when the German soldiers invaded and confiscated food and fine goods was written in such a way that it allowed the reader to see the transformation from life before to after the invasion.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s hard to forget,” she said quietly. “And I’ll never forgive.” “But love has to be stronger than hate or there is no future for us.”
– Vianne to Sophie

This quote is Vianne talking to her daughter Sophie about a choice she had to make for their safety. It’s a very raw and heartbreaking part of the book but it helped to keep perspective of the dark realities of the times.

This book is so worth the read, for it isn’t just a book about the war, it’s about people and love, and loss, and redemption and so much more. Just read it already!

I rarely give a 5 butterfly rating but I think that this book did everything it meant to do and more. This was my first Kristin Hannah book that I have read but it was a great first read.

5ratingHappy Reading!


Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine


Title: Bingo’s Run
Author: James A. Levine
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Genre: non-fiction,
Format: audio book  Voice talent: Peter Macoo Pages: 304

Synopsis (from Amazon):

For fans of Dave Eggers, Teju Cole, and James McBride, comes this extraordinary novel of morality and the redemptive powers of art that offers a glimpse into an African underworld rarely described in fiction.

Meet Bingo, the greatest drug runner in the slums of Kibera, Nairobi, and maybe the world. A teenage grifter, often mistaken for a younger boy, he faithfully serves Wolf, the drug lord of Kibera. Bingo spends his days throwing rocks at Krazi Hari, the prophet of Kibera’s garbage mound, “lipping” safari tourists of their cash, and hanging out with his best friend, Slo-George, a taciturn fellow whose girth is a mystery to Bingo in a place where there is never enough food. Bingo earns his keep by running “white” to a host of clients, including Thomas Hunsa, a reclusive artist whose paintings, rooted in African tradition, move him. But when Bingo witnesses a drug-related murder and Wolf sends him to an orphanage for “protection,” Bingo’s life changes and he learns that life itself is the “run.”

A modern trickster tale that draws on African folklore, Bingo’s Run is a wildly original, often very funny, and always moving story of a boy alone in a corrupt and dangerous world who must depend on his wits and inner resources to survive.

My thoughts:

I came across this audio book while browsing on Overdrive on my Kindle. I loved the cover and listened to a sample and was hooked. The voice talent for this book was so pleasant to the ear and I have never read much on the drug world in Nairobi or any African countries for that matter. So although this is a work of fiction, I knew it could still shed some insight. I also knew that this book would fit into my reading resolutions for 2015.

I immediately fell into the story while listening to the voice talent. He did a great job of doing the voices for all the characters. I listened to this while working at my craft table and while working in my vegetable garden. It made the time fly even faster.

I like books that help to bring to light how complicated life can be. Especially for this young boy who lost both of his parents in turmoil at a young age and the extreme poverty. It helps to understand why he might have made the choices he did about dealing drugs.  There were a few sections of violence but overall it was about Bingo and him trying to survive and grow in such a stressful life.

Even though he was a drug dealer, I found myself wishing for him to be well, find true happiness and love. He had no one to guide him and the circumstances created so many choices for him that he would have better thought through had he had guidance.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think the audio version really boosted it more for me. So I give it 4 butterflies.


Happy reading!



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