Books Read July 2009

Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky
Written in 1941, the manuscript of Fire in the Blood was entrusted in pieces to family and friends when Nemirovsky was sent to her death at Auschwitz. Recently it was found in an archive in France and published. The story is narrated by Silvio, who left his tiny village as a young man, and had a life filled with adventure. Now, older and back where he started, he lives in a hovel in the woods – but he’s perfectly happy. That is until his young cousins wedding and he is drawn into small town scandals and secrets of the past.
Very nice read.

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies
Gillies left her recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to follow her husband to small-town Oberlin, Ohio, when he got a position in the English department. She was happily caring for their two sons, renovating an old house and teaching drama part-time when one day her husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore. He then turns around and marries the professor he’s been having an affair with. The novel is a much deserved twist of the knife for Gillies -- but somehow it gets winy and not that great to read.

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale. Or How I Learned About Love & Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper
The world is full of people with good intentions, but author Gwen Cooper is the real deal.
Homer, blind since he was two weeks old, luckily finds a forever home when Cooper takes him in, but it’s Homer who captures Cooper’s heart and teaches her what fearlessness really means. Homer is 100% blind; Cooper’s memoir is 100% pure inspiration. The story is funny, optimistic and heartbreaking. Yes, I cried several times, but mostly tears of joy -- knowing there are people in the world who despite potential hardship, step up and do the right thing. Even if you’re not a cat lover you can’t help but admire Homer. Read it. ♥♥♥

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Panama Hotel, once an elegant hotel in Seattle’s Japan-town has been boarded up for decades. One day, as 50-something Henry Lee walks by, the new owner is out front opening up a Japanese parasol recently discovered in the hotel basement. It is one of thousands of articles stowed away by 37 families as they were rounded up and taken to internment camps during World War II. Henry flashes back to his preteen years when he was forced to attend the exclusive Rainier Elementary, and his only friend was Keiko, a young Japanese American student. The friendship is complicated by Henry’s father’s ill regard for the Japanese. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to sort out his relationship with his Chinese father and the Japanese girl he loved. Is the answer in the basement of the old hotel?

The Cure for Modern Life by Lisa Tucker
Once madly in love, Matthew and Amelia have chosen different sides of the medical coin. Amelia has dedicated her life to medical ethics, while Matthew is a heartless pharmaceutical executive who doesn't care about anything but money. However, one night Matthew comes face-to-face with a homeless boy in need of help. Now this part is far-fetched even by Lisa Tucker standards. Matthew takes the boy and his sister to his expensive apartment and lets them live there while he’s out of the country. Possibly one of the worst books I’ve read this year.

The Foreigner by Francie Lin
Emerson Chang is a San Francisco financial analyst who doesn't speak a word of Chinese, but finds himself in Taiwan searching for his long-lost brother. His mission? Carry out his dead mother’s wishes and find the elusive Little P, hand over the deed to the cheap hotel their mother owned, and then scatter her ashes in her native land. Sounds simple enough, but Little P is involved in some very shady Taiwanese criminal activity. This may come as a complete surprise, but Emerson finds himself mixed up in this world of crime. He loses his job back in California, and the property he's inherited in Taipei turns out to be less than auspicious. There’s nothing really wrong with this book – I just couldn’t get into it.

The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean
Dolores Gray dreams of becoming an astronaut. Since she’s smart as a whip, lives close to Cape Canaveral, her father works for NASA, and she sees most of the launches in person -- her dream seems attainable. But on the morning of January 28, 1986, seventy-three seconds after liftoff, the space shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven astronauts on board. The Time It Takes to Fall is a coming-of-age/historical fiction novel that also weaves the story of a family's drama into the larger picture of a huge event in American history. What sounded like a hokey story line turned out to be a real gem of a book. ♥♥

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