Into Thin Air
by Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air was a gripping narrative of “the Mt. Everest Disaster.” This book is my town book club’s pick, so you all know what that means by now! It means that I went into this book ignorant of both hiking and Mt. Everest — embarrassingly ignorant. Consequently, I was amazed (not in a good way) at how anyone would want to attempt to “conquer” Mt. Everest! I learned a lot: from the length of time to get acclimated, to how many times they went up and down and then up again in order to acclimate, to the number of deaths in the groups on the mountain that day being a “small” percentage. That anyone would be drawn to Mt. Everest is incredible to me. But, I’m not that type of an adventurous person. 😉 The shock of all this new knowledge aside, I really enjoyed reading the book. I was totally engaged in Krakauer’s writing style and finished the book in a few days. He wrote in an unattached way, which was good for someone as emotional as me — I did not feel super attached to people, so it felt as though I was more of a cold observer. Though ironically, I felt as if I was there every step of the way. That dichotomy has been my lasting impression of the book and I can’t sort out what I think of it. I thoroughly enjoyed Into Thin Air, but should I have? It’s truly a “disaster,” but it’s compelling and fascinating. It’s left me in a bit of a quandary, funnily enough! So . . .
Summing it up: I would recommend it. Krakauer is a gifted author and the subject matter, while tragic, is also fascinating.
All the best, Abbey
China Rich Girlfriend
by Kevin Kwan
I finally got to Kevin Kwan’s sequel to Crazy Rich Asians! China Rich Girlfriend was an excellent follow up. Kwan kept his humor (especially in the footnotes, which I love), as well as his information about the Asian culture, this time focusing on Chinese culture (versus Singaporean, as in the first book). This book was easier to get into because I had read the first one, and I didn’t get as bogged down with all the information as it was more familiar. I thought Kwan was so clever in how he approached this sequel. There were familiar characters, but the plot was entirely new, complex, interesting, and just as riveting at the first (but in a totally fresh way). I was very impressed and I read that he might be making this series into a trilogy — yes please! I certainly hope he does.
China Rich Girlfriend picks up right where Crazy Rich Asians leaves off (there will be a few spoilers if you have not read the first book yet). Rachel and Nick have resolved their relationship and are getting married. The night before their wedding, Nick’s mother (who has been estranged from Nick since the end of the last book) flies in on a helicopter (because that’s the only way she can reach Nick and Rachel) to share that she has found Rachel’s actual father and he wants to meet her and her mom. She also apologizes profusely for trying to push Rachel away and is forgiven by Rachel and Nick. Rachel meets her father (Bao Gaoliang), marries Nick the next day, and that summer they fly to China to stay with Gaoliang and meet his wife, Shaoyen, and son, Carlton. The rest of the book chronicles their time in China, where Shaoyen wants nothing to do with them, Gaoliang avoids them (because of Shaoyen), and Carlton embraces them. A friendship forms between Rachel, Nick, Carlton, and Carlton’s pseudo girlfriend, Colette. The four of them see the sights in China and Paris and have a delightful time until a few things become clear . . . (spoilers ahead) . . .Gaoliang views Carlton as a failure (which is not wholly unfounded, but what he doesn’t know is that Carlton is trying to change), and he sees Rachel as more reliable and someone to pass his legacy onto. Shaoyen sees Rachel as a threat to Carlton and a shameful part of Gaoliang’s past, and therefore wants absolutely nothing to do with her. Colette originally likes Rachel, but when she overhears that Gaoliang may favor Rachel over Carlton, she goes a little nuts. Her personal assistant takes her reaction and runs with it, poisoning Rachel and almost killing her. In the end, Rachel recovers (by being treated by the best doctors). and Shaoyen sees Rachel’s true nature and accepts her (as Gaoliang and Carlton already have). Also, Colette’s true nature is revealed when it comes out that even though she didn’t try to kill Rachel, she does not truly love Carlton and is rather a snob. This was so sad because I actually really liked her and thought that she was nice, and not rotten, but happily, Carlton didn’t get fooled! There are some other side stories that get tied up nicely, like Charlie and Astrid ending up together.
Summing it up: I thought Kwan was once again brilliant and clever, and his writing was captivating. I highly recommend this one!
All the best, Abbey
The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion
by Elle Luna
In my humble opinion, I think everyone should read this book. The Crossroads of Should and Must was compelling, insightful, and honest. Luna is straightforward in her approach to this topic, which makes it a quick, inspiring read. The basic premise is that as individuals we are surrounded by thoughts and opinions of what we should do, but we all have a calling for what we must do. This brings us to a crossroads of deciding between what we should and must do. Luna elaborates and poses questions to ask yourself what the shoulds are and whether they need to be ignored, or if they are valid (for you). Then, she addresses how to determine your must — questions to ask yourself things to do, etc:
Finally, she talks about how to follow through when you know what your must is. How to balance that with the reality of life (such as needing to earn a living to support yourself and any family, while pursuing your must-if the two are different things). I really respected how Luna addressed the realities we all face. This was not simply a “feel good by running off and following your heart” book. It was a hands on, practical way to determine your calling and follow it in order to be fulfilled as a person. Inspiring.
Summing it up: I’m thoroughly impressed and compelled to figure out my should and must. And I can’t recommend this book highly enough!!
All the best, Abbey
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour
by Anne Michaels
illustrations by Emma Block
For Christmas my sister presented me with this little book. She said she hadn’t read it, but it looked so cute she had to get it for me (I suppose this way of picking out books runs in the family!). Well, I’m so glad she did because this book was sweet, charming, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. I read it in an afternoon (it’s a children’s book with lots of lovely illustrations), and it was simply delightful.
Miss Peitifour lives with her 16 cats named: Minky, Misty, Taffy, Purrsia, Pirate, Mustard, Moutarde, Hemdela, Earring, Grigorovitch, Clasby, Captain Captain, Captain Catkin, Captain Clothespin, Your Shyness, and Sizzles. They go on adventures together by holding a tablecloth by it’s four ends and flying in the air.
Their adventures range from visiting the village to the cats festooning themselves. I loved the wide range of vocabulary (such as festoon) throughout the book. It’s highlighted and very clever how the author uses words to teach about writing and the English language. It’s incorporated into the story so that’s a part of the story itself. She also has a humorous vein talking about digressions throughout the book. I thought her characters were interesting and all the cats too much fun. I was very impressed by the story and how it was written.
Summing it up: This book is fresh, sweet and altogether very clever. I loved it! Has anyone else found this gem?? What did you think?
All the best, Abbey