Saturday, August 1, 2020

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong

Title:  My Summer of Love and Misfortune
Author: Lindsay Wong
Read by:  Nancy Wu
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 11 hours and 21 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio.  Thank-you!

What was the last novel that you read that made you laugh?  My Summer of Love and Misfortune was a delightful audiobook that I looked forward to listening to every day. 

Iris Wang is not having a good senior year.  She wants to spend her time shopping and smoking weed with her boyfriend, and she is shocked when this leads to failing her senior year and not being accepted into any colleges.  She also loses her boyfriend to her best friend and life looks pretty bleak.  Through it all, Iris is not sure why these things are happening to her and fails to see that she has put in zero effort in even learning the basics about her best friend and boyfriend.

Her parents ship her off to stay with her Uncle and his family in Beijing to learn how to speak Chinese and to learn proper Chinese behavior.  She had never heard of them before as he was her father’s illegitimate half brother and her father doesn’t really talk about his family.  She is very upset about being shipped off, but when she arrives in Beijing, she discovers that her Uncle and his family are very wealthy.  She tries to befriend her cousin Ruby, and she starts to find out family secrets.  What was her father trying to hide?  Will Iris ever think of anyone besides herself?

I thought it was interesting when Iris thinks about how everyone sees her outside and makes assumptions about her.  In China, everyone is shocked and dismayed that she looks Chinese, but can’t speak Chinese and knows nothing about the culture.  On the inside, she is American. In America, she looks Chinese and everyone assumes that she should be intellectual, hardworking, and smart getting into the best schools.  In reality, Iris could care less about school.  Iris slowly learns through the novel how to accept herself for who she is, and her family learns about acceptance as well.  It was interesting when Iris learns that her father was a lot like her growing up in China.

My Summer of Love and Misfortune reminded me of the Shopaholic books if they were centered on a Chinese American girl.  I also enjoyed the humor of the Shopaholic series.  This novel was Shopaholic meets Crazy Rich Asian.  Like Becky from the Shopaholic series, Iris is always trying to rationalize her bad behavior and overspending.  Unlike Becky, she does seem very selfish and doesn’t seem to care about anyone besides herself.  Luckily, at the end of the novel, Iris is able to learn to care about others and to see that she has had a pretty lucky life.

Narrator Nancy Wu was Iris to me.  I loved her voice and narration.

Overall, My Summer of Love and Misfortune is an entertaining audiobook.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Title:  Warriors:  Into the Wild
Author: Erin Hunter
Read by:  MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: HarperCollins - HarperAudio
Length: Approximately 7 hours and 29 minutes
Source: Overdrive through the Kewaunee Public Library 

My fourteen-year-old son, Kile, has been obsessed with the Warrior series for the past four years.  Years ago, I read the first two books and enjoyed them.  When I heard there was now an audiobook version, I thought this would be a good audiobook to listen to on a family trip.  Kile was very happy to listen to the audiobook and share the story with his family.

Rusty is a housecat who longs for something more.  He discovers wild cats in the wood outside of his home and joins their clan, renamed Firepaw.  He learns the way of the clan and soon figures out that there is a threat to the clan from within.  Will Firepaw be able to save his clan?

My fourteen and twelve-year-old sons were into the story, but my 9-year-old daughter was not captivated by it.  She listened to it at times, but it did not capture her imagination.  Kile and I both agreed that we preferred reading the book rather than listening to it, but it was interesting.  Warning, there is cat violence and death in this book which would make it not for younger listeners.

The narrator did a good job of having a different voice for each of the characters.  The way he interpreted the characters kept us very entertained on the journey. 

Overall, Warriors: Into the Wild is an action adventure that entertained our family on a recent trip.  The narrator had great voices for the characters. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Sasha in Good Taste: Recipes for Bits, Feasts, Sips, and Celebrations by Sasha Pieterse, Photography by Elizabeth Messina

I love cookbooks and have a nice collection of them.  My very first cookbook was a Betty Crocker cookbook that my Dad gave me when I was 18.  I’ve received and collected many cookbooks since then and love to try out new recipes. My kids are in on the act now too and pick out recipes to try as well.  I’ve been using this to get the kids to try new things.  When they pick it out and cook (or help to cook it) they want to try it out. My fourteen-year-old son has become quite the baker. 

Sasha in Good Taste is a beautiful book that looks like the pictures are set for Instagram.  The book is split into the following chapters:  But Why, Though, Savory, Sweet, Sips, Party Prep, It’s all in the Details, and Party Prep.  This book is mostly about entertaining guests.  In the “But Why, Though” section, I figured out that Sasha was an actress on Pretty Little Liars, she’s lived all over the world, she likes to eat healthy, and entertain.  The book has a lot of pictures with interesting ways to decorate and to set up snacks for guests.  The pictures were fun to look at.

The book was light on actual recipes.  The kids and I looked through it to pick out some recipes to make.  I also looked through the alcoholic drinks with my husband to pick out a few to try.  Unfortunately, many of the recipes had ingredients that were not available where we live without driving to a specialty store in a larger town (lavender extract, elderflower liquor, pink Himalayan sea salt).  We didn’t try out those recipes.  We decided to try the “Dirty Diana” chocolate cookies.  My 14-year-old son also made his favorite chocolate cookies so we could compare.  The Dirty Diana cookies lost the cookie battle and were just okay. The recipe had cane sugar in it, and it was large and crunchy even after cooking.  I pulled them out as directed before they were all of the way done, but they were still dry.  I had added a bit of water to the dough to help with the lack of liquid before I cooked them as well as they were too dry to shape.  I think more eggs or addition of milk or water was needed for the recipe.  I could make the cookies taste better with some tinkering on the recipe, but we will probably just stick to my son’s recipe.

Overall, the pictures and ideas for setting up a party were excellent, but the recipes were sparse and needed hard to find ingredients.  The one recipe we tried out was lackluster.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow Books.  Thank-you!