Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: Lion by Saroo Brierley

Title: Lion
Author: Saroo Brierley
Year Published: 2016

Genre: Adult non-fiction
Pages: 273
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2016 Google Reading map)India and Australia

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the back of the book): Born in a poor village in India, Saroo lived hand to mouth in a one-room hut with his mother and three siblings... until the five-year-old boarded a train alone and got lost. For twenty-five years.

This is the story of what happened to Saroo in those twenty-five years. How he wound up on the streets of Calcutta. And survived. How he later wound up in Tasmania, living the life of an upper-middle-class Aussie. And how, at thirty years old, with some dogged determination, and a heap of luck--and the advent of Google Earth--he found his way home.

Review: Pretty amazing story, right? And, perfect for Hollywood. Yep, this is a movie that is soon to hit movie theaters across the country and, of course, it stars Dev Patel. Here's the trailer.

If you want a good cry, this book is for you! I think I sobbed my way through the second half of the book. This really is a remarkable story that if you saw it in a movie you'd think it was impossible, but it's real. While the thought of a five-year-old making his way on his own through the streets of Calcutta for 6 months is astonishing, so is the poverty in which he lived and the way he and his siblings were left to run about while their mother worked. Can you imagine a 4 or 5 year old being left in charge of the one-year-old sister?!

And what a completely different life he led once he was adopted and moved to Tasmania. To reconcile both of those lives must have been so difficult at first. I do think Saroo Brierley has done a great job as an adult balancing his life and family in Australia with his family in India. That really could have been awkward to feel that one has so much when one's family has virtually nothing. It sounds like he has handled the situation well, providing for his mother without being the "knight in shining armor" come to fix her.

I do think this is a book and story worth reading; it's an incredible human interest story. And good on Facebook and Google Earth for making his search possible!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I'm doing the ALA YA Award Winners Challenge for 2017

I haven't done a book reading challenge in years, but when I saw Anne's post last week on completing the "Read all the ALA YA Award books of the year" challenge, I got all excited to do it. So, I've signed up and am eagerly awaiting January 23, 2017 when the winners will be announced. And, I mentioned it to a woman at work who said, "Journaling, reading, and a challenge? I'm in!" so now I have someone to talk about the books with in person!

1. Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 

2. Schneider Family Book Award (Teen living with a disability)

3. Alex Awards -10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences (Pick one of ten)     

    4. Margaret A. Edwards Award (Read one book by the winning author who has made a significant contribution to YA or Children's Lit)
    • Name of author ___________________ (Choose one of his/her books)
    • Title: ____(You fill the title you read of his books)_______________________________
    5. Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature (LGBT) 

    6. William C. Morris Award (First YA novel by author)

    7. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults 

      8. Coretta Scott King Author Award (African American Author) 

      9. Pura Belpre (Latino Author) 

        Monday, December 5, 2016

        Review: Searching for John Hughes by Jason Diamond

        Title: Searching for John Hughes
        Author: Jason Diamond
        Year Published: 2016

        Genre: Adult non-fiction
        Pages: 281
        Rating: 4 out of 5

        Location (my 2016 Google Reading map)USA (NY, IL)

        FTC Disclosure: I was given this book for a review via TLC Tours
        Summary (from the back of the book): From the outrageous, raunchy antics in National Lampoon's Vacation to the teenage angst in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink to the insanely clever and unforgettable Home Alone, Jason Diamond has long been infatuated with John Hughes' movies. And so the seed was planted in his mind that he should write a biography of his favorite filmmaker. It didn't matter that he had no qualifications, training, background, platform, or direction. Thus went the years-long, delusional, earnest, and assiduous quest to reach his goal. But no book came out of these years. What he did get was a story that fills the pages of this unconventional, hilarious memoir.

        In Searching for John Hughes, Jason tells how a Jewish kid from a broken home in a Chicago suburb found comfort and connection in the likewise broken lives in the suburban Chicago of John Hughes' oeuvre. He moved to New York to become a writer. He started to write a book he had no business writing. All the while, he watched John Hughes movies religiously.

        Though his original biography of Hughes has long since been abandoned, Jason has discovered he is a writer through and through. And the adversity of going for broke has now been transformed into a really, really good story. A memoir of growing up, this is a tale of what comes after the "Go for it!" part of the command to young creatives to pursue their dreams--no matter how absurd they might seem at first.
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        Purchase Links

        HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

        Author Links: WebsiteInstagram, and Twitter

        Review: I can't imagine anyone my age who doesn't have fond memories of John Hughes movies. His list of films is amazing, right? So how could I not read this book?!

        However, the book took me far too long to read and I am not sure if that's because I liked it, but didn't love it, or if I just had a week where my reading was slow. I like the idea of the author driving around Chicago and its suburbs literally and figuratively searching for John Hughes. And the John Hughes movies sprinkled throughout the book are fun since I loved those movies.

        But really, this book is about a boy who had a difficult upbringing, is abandoned by his parents and becomes an angst-ridden man in his twenties trying to find his way. That story is important as well. How do we define ourselves? What matters and is worth pursuing? What are we willing to drop in order to move on with our lives?

        Tracking down John Hughes is what defines the author's life for more than five years; I think it's the thing that kept him going and gave him purpose. When John Hughes died so did the goal, which made him rethink his life and what he was doing. It opened him up to a positive existence rather than one in which he was simply moving from one activity to another.

        Sunday, December 4, 2016

        Sunday Salon: December 4, 2016

        My life in books: 
        For some reason I am still not reading as much as I would like. I really need to set aside time to do it and am going to try to ensure 30 minutes a day at least. I know that if I do that, I will end up reading for longer.
        • A Woman Among Warlords by Malalai Joya--non-fiction about a woman who stood up to the Taliban and other Warlords in Afghanistan
        • Blindman's Bluff by Faye Kellerman--a police detective novel that was really fun
        • Knocked Up Abroad Again edited by Lisa Ferland--essays by moms who gave birth while living abroad
        My life outside books:
        I spent yesterday Christmas shopping, but not just the usual shopping for family. The various departments at the school district office where I work have each taken on a family for whom to purchase Christmas gifts. My personal family has also taken on a family. These are families with students in our district and they are either newly out of being homeless or are currently homeless. My family agreed to buy presents for a family of five who live in a van. It breaks my heart and we are going all out. They asked for shoes, pants, sweatshirts, and a grocery gift card. Yep, we've covered it all! It feels so good to do this. We also found a couple super cozy blankets for them. Gotta' love Macy's and their sales on top of sales!

        In fact, my family has agreed that we aren't getting one another gifts this year. Instead we are donating the money we would have spent to groups that we feel will do some good. But, I did buy myself a couple throw pillow cases and a table runner at a Tribal Arts Fair today. They are from Turkey and really warm up my rooms.

        I have also returned to my journalling past. I used to purchase Claire Fontaine graph-paper notebooks and keep my to-do lists and wish lists in them. I stopped as my daughter got older and I got busier. But, I recently read an article about bullet journalling (BuJo to those in the know) and I am back! I bought a Moleskine notebook am not following all the BuJo rules; instead I am doing my own version. I am really enjoying the creativity of it all even though I am not very artistic.

        I hope you are having a great weekend!

        Saturday, December 3, 2016

        Review: Knocked Up Abroad Again edited by Lisa Ferland

        Title: Knocked Up Abroad Again: Baby bumps, twists, and turns around the globe
        Author: Edited by Lisa Ferland
        Year Published: 2016

        Genre: Adult non-fiction
        Pages: 305
        Rating: 4.5 out of 5

        Location (my 2016 Google Reading map): World Wide (Guatemala)

        FTC Disclosure: I was given this book as part of a Kickstarter

        Summary (from the back of the book): Knocked Up Abroad Again: Baby bumps, twists, and turn around the globe is told by 25 mothers in 25 different countries. Each mother, with her unique voice and from her perspective, describes the highs and lows of motherhood as she straddles the distance between what was once familiar and the reality of her foreign environment. This heartwarming, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking collection of stories illustrates that the more we see, the more we learn about ourselves as human beings.

        Review: A former colleague of mine now lives in Guatemala and is married to a Guatemalan man. They have a young daughter and Michelle blogs and does Instagram about what it's like to live in a bi-cultural family. She contributed an essay to this book so I definitely wanted to support her by contributing to the Kickstarter. And, I love a good travel/live abroad story and a good birth story so it seemed like a fun book to support and read.

        This book is fun. I am doing the review before I am completely done, but that's okay because of the type of book it is. It is set up with a few sections: Knocked Up Abroad; Loss and Healing Abroad; and Parenting Abroad. Since it is all essays, it is easy to skip around, read about the countries or topics that most interest you, and to do so in any order you want. Pretty freeing, right?

        One of my favorites so far is the essay by my friend, "Woven Between Two Cultures" (Michelle Acker Perez) even though I've heard much of it before in her Instagram and on her blog, Simply Complicated. The other one I found fascinating was "A Girl and Her Guard" by Sara Ackerman. Sara lived in the Congo and adopted a girl from Congo. The essay takes place once they are living in Ethiopia and the friendships her young daughter makes with the house guard and neighbors. Oh, and the essay about the pollution in China? Chilling!

        Some of the essays are funny, some are poignant, some are sad, but they are all interesting!