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Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review - Aftermath Lounge by Margaret McMullan





Aftermath Lounge by Margaret McMullan

From the author's website: http://margaretmcmullan.com/books/aftermathlounge/

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed 95% of the small coastal town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. With a 28-foot storm surge, the highest recorded in U.S. history, 55-foot waves, and winds reaching 120 mph, the town was wiped off the map—temporarily.
Award-winning author Margaret McMullan saw the destruction firsthand. Her family’s historic Gulf Coast home—her father’s beloved southern jewel—was one of the houses in Pass Christian devastated by Katrina. Despite the chaos immediately following the storm, McMullan’s family was among the first to rebuild and donated to the Red Cross, the Pass Christian fire station, and the Pass Christian library.

During this time, McMullan witnessed small acts of heroism that inspired her to write about the community and its people, and how tragedy shapes our character. In 2010, she was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship to complete the project.
Born in part out of her family’s deep connection to the community, Aftermath Lounge: A Novel in Stories (April 2015, Calypso Editions) releases at the 10-year anniversary of Katrina and comprises fictional vignettes about the people of Pass Christian in the storm’s wake. The stories are connected by a setting near to the author’s heart—the McMullans’ home, which was originally constructed in 1845 and restored by her father numerous times over the years.

Aftermath Lounge is a compelling tribute to the Gulf Coast and resurrects the place and its people alongside their heartaches and triumphs. It is a riveting mosaic that feeds our desire to understand what it means to be alive in this day and age.



I can't believe it's been 10 years. I decided to participate in this book blog tour as I hope this will shed some light because you don't hear much about it anymore in the media... I googled some Pass Christian, Mississippi images (see here) since I don't recall hearing much about this town (most articles I remembered were of New Orleans, especially about the hospitals since I work in healthcare.) I can't even begin to imagine what the people had to go through - during or after.

At first I thought these were short stories on different individuals - they were, but some characters reappeared and so the stories intertwined so it was nice to have some closure on what happened to them. Unlike most fiction I am used to reading with a big reveal (I typically read murder/mystery, though occasionally I dabble into other genre.), there was a quietness about the book. I suppose this book was about ordinary people who went through extraordinary circumstances. Just like real life, there were sadness, confusion, wisdom and hopefulness in the stories. There might not be a big climax, but the stories were realistic.

The book was only 140 pages long so the stories were concise. It gave us a snapshot of these resilient people. Though I yearned to know more about some of the characters, in particular, Teddy, the serious little boy who was mature beyond his age. One question I kept asking myself after finishing the book was - if I lived there, would I have gone back to rebuild? I don't know the answer to that, but I applaud those who did. It's not easy to go back, and overcome such a devastating past.



Note - I received a free copy from PR By The Book as part of a book tour in exchange for an unbiased review



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mid-year updates

I feel like a broken record since I keep saying "wow, I can't believe it's been x months since I last updated..."

Or "I'm still reading... but nothing really jumped out, so dodn't feel like blogging."

Except both are still true.

So far I'd read 12 fiction and 12 non-fiction plus a bunch of books in Chinese. So not to bad for effort now that I have an almost 3 years-old (about half of what I used to read prior to kid). If you want to see what I'd read so far, see here, and if you are interested in any of those books, I'd write about them more.

All the fiction were just okay. Three memoirs I read were more interesting as I learned something new (The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson, My Brief History by Stephen Hawking, and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida).

The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist My Brief History The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

The most thought provoking is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, Cathy Hirano. If you haven't heard about this, just goggle this book or Konmari. It's not your typical decluttering book. After I read it, it just makes so much more sense. My friends thought she sounds hokey after I told them about it, but completely changed their mind once they read it. It explains why other traditional decluttering doesn't work for me (may stay clean for a week, then back to its original mess... sigh.) I'm almost done with my closet (and have donated 8 full bags of clothes and I wasn't even that ruthless about it!!) I really can't wait till I'm done with the whole house (she said it may take 6 months... I can see why.)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

I think I'll also use her approach when it comes to this blog:

Blog when it sparks joy.*

I'm also on a book tour on August 24th about Hurricane Katrina - can you believe it was 10 YEARS AGO??? It's called Aftermath Lounge: A Novel in Stories by Margaret McMullan. Haven't started reading it yet, but will do so closer to the date so it's fresh in my mind. I've become quite picky about tours nowadays because I want to give it my 100%. Given my schedule and sporadic blogging, I just don't think it's fair to accept the books and not deliver.

Oh and for fun, I'd bought these 3 writing books. Sometimes it may be more fun to write on paper than type on a keyboard...

  1. 712 More Things to Write About
  2. My Future Listography: All I Hope to Do in Lists
  3. The Line-A-Day 10 Year Journal: Blue Jacket


712 More Things to Write About My Future Listography: All I Hope to Do in Lists The Line-A-Day 10 Year Journal: Blue Jacket

I am going to start the 10 Year Journal on my son's 3rd birthday. I'll jot down something I want to remember about him or say to him that day, and give it to him on his 13th birthday. I have started a couple of entries in 712. Sometimes it's hard to write it in a fictitious way rather than a memoir sort of way... or I suppose it doesn't really matter one way or another as long as I write. I already have lists of things I want to do or read or experience in my head, so it'd be nice to finally write it down, and then look back later on to see how many I'd done.


* There is more to her methodology that that, but this is the essence of it.




All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Book Review - A Week in Winterby Maeve Binchy

A Week in Winter

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

Book club read. After I finish the book, I do wish to visit Ireland and stay in the fictional Stone House for a vacation. However, this book reads more like short stories than a novel, as it talked about how the Stone House came about, and then it took turn to explain each guest's stories... I suppose this is like the equivalent of beach read in winter. It was an easy read, but just not really my kind of books.



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book Review - Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern


Love, Rosie



Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

If you like chick lit, you'd prob like it.

If you don't usually, like me, then you probably will still feel the same about chick lit.



{{MAY CONTAIN SPOILER BELOW}}

Too long, too repetitive, and predictable. Maybe I'm getting old, but I believe in learn from your mistakes. Some characters in the book should prob do that. But then I guess there won't be a story anymore.

I think there's a move? Haven't watched it, and probably won't.



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Review - The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

The Engagements

 The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Summary:
A Diamond is Forever. Is it?

Review:
There are 5 different stories going on in this novel, and it was easy to forget who-is-who. In the end, you can see how everyone is tied together. Learned some historical facts about where the De Beer's phrase "A Diamond is Forever" came from. An okay read - at least I wanted to find out what happened; but none of the characters really made me feel for them one way or another. This was a book club read, so not something I'd have chosen on my own.



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Funny - 19 Problems Only Book Nerds Understand


Okay, maybe not #19...

19 Problems Only Book Nerds Understand





All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review - The Secret (The Secret #1) by Rhonda Byrne


The Secret (The Secret, #1)

The Secret (The Secret #1) by Rhonda Byrne

Summary:
Law of Attraction. Be positive, grateful.

Review:
Skeptical? Doesn't harm to try / believe.

Questions:
Has anyone tried and what was your experience? It was fun reading some real-life stories on their site here.


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.