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Challenges 2013 – Immigrant Stories Challenge

Immigrant Stories Challenge button 2012_Family

Colleen at Books in the City is hosting the Immigrant Stories Challenge in 2013. .

The only requirement of the challenge is that the books read for it include an immigrant story. The immigrants can be coming to or from any country – expand your horizons!

For this challenge, I am going to go with the “Just off the boat” level which requires of me to read a max of 3 books.

 

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
2.
3.


kavyen

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Run for Your Life by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
A calculating killer who calls himself The Teacher is taking on New York City, killing the powerful and the arrogant. His message is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences! For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York’s elite, it is a call to terror.

Only one man can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Mike Bennett. The pressure is enough for anyone, but Mike also has to care for his 10 children-all of whom have come down with virulent flu at once!

Discovering a secret pattern in The Teacher’s lessons, Detective Bennett realizes he has just hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history. From the #1 bestselling author comes RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, the continuation of his newest, electrifying series.

The View:

Run for your life is a short, suspenseful and fun read. Bennett’s family set up is always a joy to read and in this one; all of his kids are sick. Mary Catherine and his grandfather Seamus help him with the family situation while he is busy dealing with a psychotic killer who seems to be targeting and killing people randomly across New York City. He calls himself the ‘Teacher’. It is not long before Bennett tracks him, but once he does the killings become personal.

I enjoyed reading the family aspect of Bennett’s life much more in this book than I normally do. Mary Catherine is a delightful lady and I loved how she handled hundreds of things with ease making Bennett feel like a total outsider in his own house. The part about Seamus trying to catch a thief was boring and I am still not sure why it was included (as it didn’t seem to have any impact whatsoever).

The plot fell short in more ways than one and refused to hold my interest for long. I kept putting down the book and browsing my TBR pile again and again before I finally finished this. Rated a 3 on 5. Yes, there are some mind-blowing twist and a vicious killer, but there are much better books by Patterson out there.


kavyen

The Modern Magi by Carol Lynn Pearson

The Book:

Annabelle Perkins is a fifty-seven year old average woman who never married or had children. Her only brother died in Vietnam and her parents are no more. She had two prized possessions – one was a glove her father claimed belonged to President Roosevelt and the other was a bronze lamb. Her mother believed that the bronze lamb got lost on its way to Bethlehem to meet baby Jesus but will find its way one fine day.

Now Annabelle wants to gift the little lamb to Christ and for that she will need to make a trip to the Holy Land. She has even found a travel agent and made the deposit. Slowly yet surely, she started to save money for the biggest trip of her life. Just when she has saved enough she comes across a family that may need the money. Does Jesus speak to her like He did to her mother? Does she give the money away to the needy or will she fulfill her life’s objective of taking the lamb to Bethlehem?

The View:

The Modern Magi is a feel-good book. It is a perfect book that you can read anytime but makes much more sense when read this time of the year. I made a visit to the library and happened to find this in the librarian’s seasonal recommendations section, I grabbed it and started reading it instantly.

The story is simple, predictable and yet enjoyable. You will continue to read this book till the end for only one thing and that is the MESSAGE that is conveyed. The book will touch your heart and soul and will remind you of the importance of Christmas each time you read it. With less than a 100 pages, this is a commendable piece of work by the author.

There are no major character development and many characters are just mentioned before their role comes to play. This is however sufficient for this book. The story is carried forward gracefully by the message it intends to convey and the story but not by the characters. Annabelle is a very simple, straight-forward and honest person. I kept picturing her as a 30 something character as opposed to the 50 something person portrayed. She is down-right huggable.

Rated a 5 on 5. Read this before Christmas and I promise you that you will look at the entire holidays with a different perspective.


kavyen

Psyche Horror: Five Short Works by Joshua Scribner

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
These stories blend psychological suspense with horror in a style reminiscent of Joshua Scribner’s Novels FEAR AND REPULSION and SEED.

The View:

I am starting to find a new interest for short stories as I realize that I can get to them in between activities. The interesting part about stories such as these is that, the action and terror comes fast without a lot of anticipation and waiting. While I don’t think I will enjoy it all the time, there are definitely moments when I want a quick yet fulfilling read.

This is the second of Joshua Scribner’s works that I have read and I decided to give this one a go, in spite of the fact that I did not have a great experience with the first one – Within. Psyche Horror is a good read. While I won’t say that all the stories are great, there are quite a few that are interesting.

If you are looking for great characters, detailed descriptions and in-depth plot then this is not for you. Rated a 4 on 5, pick this only if you are looking for a quick entertaining read.


kavyen

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads

Luther and Nora Krank are a typical middle-aged American couple who are concerned when their daughter Blair flies off to Peru to work for the Peace Corps. This is the first time Blair is spending Christmas away from home and her parents are anxious. But Luther devises a plan to use this as an opportunity for some serious cost cutting during the holidays. The solution – skip Christmas for just one year and enjoy a 10 day Caribbean vacation.

Is skipping Christmas something you are even allowed to do without being socially outcast? Would they land up enjoying their vacation and missing out the Christmas spirit?

The View:

I have read a ton of John Grisham’s books and this one does not belong to his usual genre. There are no court cases or lawyers and initially I was not looking forward to reading this. But once I started it, the pages just flew through. A very quick, light, breezy read and an apt one for this holiday season.

I related to Luther when he handled the accounts determining the amount spent the last year for Christmas. The way he details the expenses and the unwanted gifts are hilarious. The stance he takes to skip Christmas altogether for a year is welcoming and must say even daring. The couple stand strong till the day before Christmas but finally give in. While I did want them to fulfill their wish of skipping Christmas for just a year, I found myself cheering when the Christmas tree was finally put up. The true spirit of Christmas was exhibited beautifully at the end of the book.

Luther and Nora are both lovable characters. The dilemma they face is very close to reality and I am sure that each of us would have discussed and gone back and forth just like they did. I also liked the fact that they finally caved in to celebrating Christmas for their daughter, proving that parental love wins over social needs. The neighbors however are the ones who truly made this story a success. Each of us have a love-hate relationship with our neighbors and Grisham has clearly documented that with this plot.

Rated a 4 on 5. Read it before this year-end for some holiday cheer and fun. Doesn’t it always help to remind ourselves of the spirit of Christmas.


kavyen

Scene of the Crime : Bridgewater, Texas by Carla Cassidy

The Book:


Jenna Taylor is in Bridgewater, Texas investigating the house where her best friend was murdered. It is here she gets introduced to Sheriff Matt Buchanan who is definitely not glad to see someone else in his crime scene. At first, he warns Jenna to stay away from the investigation but when the killer strikes again, he gladly gets her onboard to help with finding the madman.

They are most probably dealing with a serial killer who targets a specific kind of women and Jenna could be his next. Is her life in danger and will the two of them succeed in finding the killer before he kills his third victim?

The View:

This is a typical romance story, pretty girl meets widowed handsome man in the midst of a stressful situation. The situation demands of them to work together and as they do they realize that there is something more between them than just the initial attraction. They have a steaming physical relationship, solve the crime and then decide to live happily ever after. Of course I forgot to add that the girl always is unsure of getting into the relationship because of a dark past, but then gives in.

Jenna’s character was just average – For a FBI agent I expected her to be more out there. There were many chances for her to be portrayed as a daring female agent and she fell short each time. Matt was everything you expect out of a romantic hero. Handsome and annoying at first but slowly becomes charming and adorable. His passion for the crime investigation and the need to protect Jenna were both spot on.

Rated a 3 on 5. Don’t expect anything new with this romance book. The investigation and crime are just a side story though I liked the twist that was added at the end while revealing the murderer.


kavyen

Sky Burial by Xinran

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
It was 1994 when Xinran, a journalist and the author of The Good Women of China, received a telephone call asking her to travel four hours to meet an oddly dressed woman who had just crossed the border from Tibet into China. Xinran made the trip and met the woman, called Shu Wen, who recounted the story of her thirty-year odyssey in the vast landscape of Tibet.

Shu Wen and her husband had been married for only a few months in the 1950s when he joined the Chinese army and was sent to Tibet for the purpose of unification of the two countries. Shortly after he left she was notified that he had been killed, although no details were given. Determined to find the truth, Shu Wen joined a militia unit going to the Tibetan north, where she soon was separated from the regiment. Without supplies and knowledge of the language, she wandered, trying to find her way until, on the brink of death, she was rescued by a family of nomads under whose protection she moved from place to place with the seasons and eventually came to discover the details of her husband’s death.

In the haunting Sky Burial, Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love loss, loyalty, and survival.

The View:

I have not still read Xinran’s first book ‘The Good Women of China’ though it has been on my never-ending TBR pile. Sky Burial is an astounding tale to say the least. I enjoyed every aspect of reading and feeling this book. You can’t help but delve deep into the story of Shu Wen and it is not surprising that Xinran felt a compelling need to tell this tale.

Just 100 days after being married to the love of her life, Shu Wen receives a letter stating that her husband, an Army doctor is dead. With barely any details about the events leading to his death, Shu Wen believed that he was still alive and went in search of him. She reaches Tibet but is separated from her unit and spends the next few decades with nomadic Tibetans and a friend she made along the way. She loses her friend and a lot more during her stay there but gains love, trust and hope.

This is a stunning tale of unending love, belief and sorrow. Shu Wen is remarkable and her tenacity adorable. The writing and details are at many places sparse but they convey the message and that works well enough for this tale. An epic love story is how the book has been described and that is exactly what it is. When the actual fate of her husband was revealed I realized that I was not prepared for it, I re-read that chapter a couple of times hoping that it would change.

Rated a 5 on 5. This book is 200 pages of stunning story and well-played emotions. Keep a box of tissues while reading this book as chances are you will definitely need it.


kavyen