Scotland: Can’t Tie Me Down! by Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Title: Can’t Tie Me Down!
Author:
 Janet Elizabeth Henderson
Publish date: 2018
Pages: 234
Genre: Chick Lit, Rom Com
Location: Scotland

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About the Book

Mairi is an online girlfriend to 30 or so geeks. Don’t worry – nothing illegal, no nudes, and they know she’s fake. It’s her job. She’s basically there to talk to them and teach them how to act around women.

Everything is going well until they start showing up at her doorstep and asking her to marry them.

What?

Someone hacked her “girlfriend” website and made an announcement on the site stating that she’s looking for a husband and wants her boyfriends to woo her and propose.

Only, she’s not looking for a husband. She needs to get them to understand that she was hacked and nothing the website says is true. But they aren’t listening. Thankfully the local mechanic, and one-time boyfriend – Keir – can help. But really, he’s the last person she wants to accept help from.

My Thoughts

Can a book be funny and cute and sweet and sexy? I didn’t think so. Until I read Can’t Tie Me Down. This Rom Com has.it.all!

Sweet, strong, sassy heroine? Mairi – check!

Super sexy hero? Keir – check!

Adorable, lovable, dorky characters trying their hardest to get Mairi to marry them – including a Wookiee? The boyfriends – check!

Happy endings? Oh yes! And it’s sweet with some twists that will make your heart happy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found that I just didn’t want to put it down. Don’t you just love finding books that make you a little sad when they finally end? This is it. Absolutely loved it and found myself rooting for just about everyone in this book.

This is book one in a series of three…I’ll definitely be picking up the other two books.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Lebanon: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Title: An Unnecessary Woman
Author:
Rabih Alameddine
Publish date: 2013
Pages: 291
Genre: Fiction
Location: Lebanon

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Everything about this book is so necessary. WOW. Had I not read this book right after The Big Sea, it would by far be my favorite book of the month. The publisher’s synopsis indicates this book is about a woman who translates books for fun. And while, yes, she does translate books for fun, it is WAY more than that. Aaliya is in the twilight of her life – she simultaneously tells the story of her best friend Hannah and her own life as they intertwine together over the years.

Reading this book is like having a conversation with a very funny, very opinionated grandma. I think that’s why I love this book so much. I’d love to sit down and have a glass of wine with her, talk about life, and of course – books. She is modern and hip – far beyond her time.

In the end, this is a love story about friendship, Beirut, and literature.

There were several chuckle-out-loud moments. The author is brilliant and I’ve added several of his books to my list. Do yourself a favor, and pick this one up!

5/5 stars

United States: The Best of Simple by Langston Hughes

Author: Langston Hughes
Publish date: 1961
Pages: 256
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Short Stories
Read the World: United States

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I told you I loved his work…

Love is as near heaven as a man gets on earth.” – in the words of Jesse Semple by Langston Hughes

These short stories about Jesse Semple (yes, “Semple” even though it’s titled “Simple”) were written by Hughes and originally published as a column in the Chicago Defender.

This particular collection is Hughes’ favorites, compiled together into one book. Hughes once said, “…these tales are about a great many people–although they are stories about no specific persons as such.”

Through conversations, Hughes does a great job showing (not telling) his readers what it was like for black people in Halrem in 1940’s and 50’s – when “separate but equal” was still the law. Work, play, and everything in between. Most of the stories are fun, but there are definitely stories that break your heart.

This was a very good read. I recommend this for anyone interested in American culture. Too much of what I read is still something we see today – almost 100 years later.

5/5 stars | Buy on Bookshop.org

Fall in Love with Langston Hughes’ Writing – The Big Sea Book Review

Title: The Big Sea
Author:
Langston Hughes
Publish date: 1940
Pages: 335
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

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The title of this post is “Fall in Love with Langston Hughes’ Writing” because that’s exactly what happened to me. I had heard of the famous jazz poet from the 20’s and 30’s but sadly, didn’t know his work. Admittedly, I bought it because he spent some time in Paris. So I was curious to read what is was link for a black man in Paris during the times of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

As I sit here trying to digest what I’ve read and then somehow get my thoughts in order to share, it feels impossible. This is quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read. Several times throughout my reading, my husband would ask, “How do you like it?” A normal question he asks with every book I read. My response every time he asked, “This book is amazing. It might be my new favorite.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a memoir. Hughes came of age during the 1920’s. He shares how he became a poet – he attended a predominately white school, and being one of the only black students, they assumed he had rhythm (racism) so they unanimously voted him to the be the class poet for graduation. He wrote a 16 verse poem for graduation – eight versus for the eight teachers and eight verses for the class – the longest poem he’s ever written, he shares. “And that’s how I become a poet.”

This book takes place in the 1920’s. Traveling all over the word: Mexico, Paris, Africa, and all over the east coast of the United States.

“Ten months before, I had got to Paris with seven dollars. I have been in France, Italy, and Spain. And after the Grand Tour of the Mediterranean, I came home with a quarter, so my first European trip cost me exactly six dollars and 75 cents!”

When he decided to go to college, it was paid for by a woman who loved his poetry,

“My poems – through the kindness of this woman who liked my poetry – sent me to college.”

Indeed, his life was quite extraordinary.

MY THOUGHTS

I feel like everyone needs to read this book. Langston Hughes is most known for his poetry. He is first and foremost, an artist. He has such a way with words and ability to tell a story so eloquently. You feel like you’re living it with him. This is my first experience with Langston Hughes, and I’ve since bought three more of his books.

While this book is not about how he was treated with racism, it is a common trend. How could it not be? He came of age during the 1920’s. In fact, he went to Europe to escape the Jim Crow laws in the US. So much of what he writes is sadly too true about today.

“But when we get as democratic in America as we pretend we are on days when we wish shame to Hitler, nobody will bother much about anybody else’s race anyway.”

His writing style is amazing. I am not an expert on poetry, but his poetic style seeps through each and every page of his memoir.

“I was torn between walking the Champs Élysées or down along the Seine, past the Tuileries. I took the river, hoping to see the bookstalls and Notre Dame. But ended up in the Louvre instead, looking at Venus.”

“That room was right out of a book, and I began to say to myself that I guess dreams do come true, and sometimes life makes its own books, because here I am living in a Paris garret, writing poems and having champagne for breakfast…”

When I was done reading the book, I immediately wrote: This might possibly be my favorite book ever. Hughes has such a way with words. Eloquently sharing stories of his life as if he were writing one of his poems. I want to read all of his books. And I will 100% read The Big Sea again.

Rating: 5/5

New Zealand: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

Title: The Whale Rider
Author:
 Witi Ihimaera
Publish date: 1987
Pages: 150
Genre: Cultural, Fiction
Read the World: New Zealand

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The Maori tribe in Whangara (east coast of New Zealand) are ancestors of the Whale Rider. When the Cheif’s great-grandchild is born, he is disappointed and borderline disgusted that she’s a girl – Kahu. The leaders of the tribe are always first-born males. As she grows up, she craves the attention of her great-grandfather. But he still shows no interest in her.

He is so interested in teaching the men in his village, he misses that Kahu clearly has a gift. She can talk to the whales. Will he ever realize this gift? Will he let go of tradition and give the gods what they clearly want?

What a book. This was so unlike anything I’ve ever read and normally read. That’s not a bad thing. One of the things I love about my Reading the World challenge is reading books I wouldn’t normally think to pick up. With that said…this wasn’t 100% my cup of tea. But I liked the oneness with nature. Many cultures believe we are one with the animals and the earth. And it was really neat to read with that assumption. If you believe at all that our actions (or in-actions) as humans affect nature, then you’ll like this story.

3/5 stars