My Giveaway + Announcements

*My first foray into an Author Interview with Andrew Xia Fukuda is up! (Should I do more?)
*My first manga review for Natsume Yuujinchou V.1 - please let me know what you think

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In My Mailbox - 02/07/2010

(meme from The Story Siren)

I actually didn't buy any books this week, but two weeks ago I got books that I didn't get to post about because I was busy trying to finish off my January challenges, posting reviews and what not. Which I of course left all till the last minute and as January ended on a weekend I had to mass-write and post my entries and had no room to talk about the books I got. So I figure I'll remedy this error of mine this week instead! =D

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

"The Gift of Rain spans decades as it takes readers from the final days of the Chinese emperors to the dying era of the British Empire, and through the mystical temples, bustling cities,and forbidding rain forests of Malaya." In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton - the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families - feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat who rents a nearby island from his father. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. As World War II rages in Europe, the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, and Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei - to whom he owes absolute loyalty - is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and he is forced into collaborating with the Japanese to safeguard his family. He becomes the ultimate outsider, trusted by none and hated by many. Tormented by his part in the events, Philip risks everything by working in secret to save as many people as he can from the brutality he has helped bring upon them.

I bought this solely on the recommendation of the most excellent Michelle. Besides, any book that takes place in Malaysia = MUST READ. ♥ I checked out the first few chapters and the writing was exceptionally lovely. Thanks for the rec, Michelle! =D

A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi

A rich and beautiful novel set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict. Ten-year-old Ruba lives in a village outside Beirut. From her family home, she can see the buildings shimmering on the horizon and the sea stretched out beside them. She can also hear the rumble of the shelling -- this is Lebanon in the 1980s and civil war is tearing the country apart. Ruba however has her own worries. Her father hardly ever speaks and spends most of his days sitting in his armchair, avoiding work and family. Her mother looks so sad that Ruba thinks her heart might have withered in the heat like a fig. Her elder brother, Naji, has started to spend his time with older boys -- and some of them have guns. When Ruba decides she has to save her father, and when she uncovers his secret, she begins a journey which takes her from childhood to the beginnings of adulthood. As Israeli troops invade and danger comes ever closer, she realises that she may not be able to keep her family safe. This is a first novel with tremendous heart, which captures both a country and a childhood in turmoil.

I bought this on a whim and was hoping I could use it for the the January's theme of the Social Justice Challenge, which was Religious Freedom (... yes I was cutting the deadline reallyyyyyy close, but what matters was that I finished on time! =D). And it was AMAZING. Totally worth my money and I wrote up a long review for this novel, if anyone's interested. Or, of course, just go and buy it now. Trust me, it's worth it.

13 comments:

Sherrie said...

Hi!
Both books sound great and love the covers. I'll have to check these out. Have a great day!

Sherrie
Just Books
http://sherriesbooks.blogspot.com/2010/02/in-my-mailbox.html

Aarti said...

A Girl Made of Dust sounds so good! I have one coming to me called Mornings in Jenin that looks at Israel/Lebanon. Looking forward to it.

Emily said...

Very unique books- I haven't heard of either of them but they both sound interesting. Thanks for highlighting them!

Emily
What Book is That?

ninefly said...

it's kinda sad that I can't really get into any books with a historical theme...unless of course the characters are mighty amusing...but girl made of dust sounds serious =X
glad you found more Malaysia books though, how was that one you bought during Christmas? (or didn't you buy it?)

(oh, and I changed the summary for my post, thanks *fail*)

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

@Aarti,

I just checked out the summary of Mornings in Jenin and I *have* to check out that book now. I obviously need to read more books set in Lebanon. =D

@ninefly,

Well, yes there is a serious side to A Girl Made of Dust, but the feel it gives off is more of a whimsy, fantastical quality, with a dash of melancholy. So, I think, if you liked Secret Garden, you'll probably enjoy A Girl Made of Dust, only the characters are slightly less selfish and the setting more bleak.

The Harmony Silk Factory? Read the first chapter and the writing style is passable but not really my thing. But I'll finish going through it. I always make a point of finishing books with Malaysian settings. =D

(*grins* no prob. oh, what would you do without me?)

The Story Siren said...

both sound good! love the cover for the gift of rain... beautiful! hope you enjoy them both. happy reading

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Wow, cool books. I've never read anything set in Lebanon or Malaysia. Man, I really need to expand my reading horizons; everything I read takes place in either the US/UK.

Happy Reading and I love the gold covering on the Gift of Rain :D

April said...

Both of those books look totally excellent!

Michelle (su[shu]) said...

So so glad you bought the book, and found the first few chapters good. (I admit to being worried whether you'd want to grill me later if you didn't enjoy it.. hehe..) Loved the book. I borrowed it from the library, and it made me want to run out and buy myself a copy to keep. =)

I want to read that other book. Your review of it was practically shining!

Rebecca said...

Interesting books you got this week, they both look really good. Hope you enjoy reading all your books.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

I'm with choco that I definitely need to expand my horizons with reading, especially since A Girl Made of Dust looks awesome. As for the challenge, hehe, I'm such a procrastinator that it's awesome if I finish on time at all! :P

HeatherL said...

I read The Glass Palace last year, part of which takes place in Malaysia, and thought that region of the world is really fascinating and sadly barely represented in literature. The Gift of Rain sounds really promising- I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Thanks!

campbele said...

I don't know how I've not ever visited your blog before! Thanks to Susan and Zetta et. al. for featuring you this week. I'm glad to have found you!