(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.
My Giveaway + Announcements
*My first manga review for Natsume Yuujinchou V.1 - please let me know what you think