Review: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

house-in-the-skyI’m having a *really* hard time with this book. I find Amanda Lindhout a very selfish person. I think she was completely full of entitlement.

Of course, I feel sorry for her. I wouldn’t want anyone to go though this experience. It must have been beyond imagination.

However, from the very start Lindhout put herself in danger time and time again. Why? She seems to just have a wanderlust that she desires to fill. Work, save money, then off again until the money runs out. She seems very clear that she became a journalist simply because it was a way for her to continue to travel and skip the going home part, waitress, save money, repeat. At no point in time did she show any desire to better the lives of the people she exploited (sorry, but it was an income to her, nothing more, that to me is exploiting). She would go to hotels and demand rooms from men that were very animate that she should not be there unsupervised. She would be turned away and then become enraged and go down the street from hotel to hotel with the same response.

Of course this is not a great way of life. However, it is THEIR RIGHT to live that way. It is their country. Lindhout was told it was not safe and her naivety (her words, not mine) didn’t really feel that applied to her. That’s the entitlement I felt she displayed.

As people from 1st world countries often do, Amanda felt that the entire world was open to her. That she should be able to come and go as she wanted. If she hasn’t felt that entitlement, hadn’t felt she had the right to do as she pleased (despite her parents warnings and pleas, despite the warnings from governments, despite the warnings from thee citizens of the countries she went into, despite the warnings of the other reporters, despite, despite, despite!) and go where she wanted, none of this would have happened.

I could almost forgive her if she had truly been trying to help the people who suffered in these countries, but again, she is quite clear (her own words) that she was just looking for a sensational story to win her a sponsorship to a major network without having to take the normal route. She simply decided to call herself a freelancer and went out….without training, without schooling, again, without, without, without…she simply went with the first person that would hire her and didn’t even bother to check what they stood for or if she agreed with any of their viewpoints…

Then there is Nigel. Perhaps this is where I disliked her the most. I firmly believe that there are always two sides to every story. The facts are, she invited Nigel (she later admits she did so in order to screw with his mind, again, Lindhout shows how self involved she is). She goes on and on about him crying all the time…like there is something shameful in that. She gets angry when he has relationships with some of the captors. She damns him for not being supportive enough, for not touching her or talking at times….and yet she tells the reader time and time again how weak he is. He doesn’t want to pretend to be muslim, she decides that it is for the best and just does it without his approval and forcing him to do the same. Again, Lindhout shows the world that it’s what she wants and that’s final. The rest can just deal with it. Here’s the thing, Nigel’s life is on the line as well and perhaps he is just trying to survive. Why is okay for Amanda to cry, and we should feel sympathy for her, but if Nigel does, it’s said in such a way that we should feel shame for him?

Again, I am sorry, I know everyone I know has loved this book. It just made me angry. Angry that she was in the position in the first place. Angry that so many people suffered. Angry that the governments of the captives had to deal with the political fallout from all of this. Angry that people think that they are above what everyone else is saying…

I really don’t care if this experience changed her. I don’t really care what humanitarian things she does now. I feel strongly that she gets well paid for all of it. She isn’t doing it for free. If she were, I somehow doubt if she would be doing it. Don’t misunderstand me, sure you can get paid for these things…the difference is, would you do so regardless of payment? What are your motives? I’m pretty sure where Lindhout’s stem from…

(side note) FWIW, many journalists criticized this book because it contradicted much of what Nigel wrote in his memoir that came out prior to this book…there are a few other instances that her integrity came into question and many believe she has lied about other events (prior to the kidnapping). Many things I read in this book (about her behaviour) didn’t ring true to me….

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

25150798-1Ah, Lisa See has done it again.

Her books are always a favourite because there is so much more than what is written on the pages. I can’t think of any of her novels that haven’t inspired me to research about what she’s writing about. I remember being obsessed with the love-sick maidens…of foot binding…of the treatment of those of Asian descent during the war…of paper sons…and this novel was no different…

Ahhh…tea….I used to enjoy loose leaf teas so much once upon a time…oolong and pu erh were always my favourites. I couldn’t stand the herbal teas…or the fruit teas…however, I had no clue about tea cakes! How could I not know this? So I read a bit, then I go off to google a bit…read a bit…order some tea….read a bit more…sigh….enjoy my tea…read a bit more….

This is what Lisa See always does…she changes me in some small way…yes, a couple of weeks after reading this novel, I’m well stocked with tea again for the first time in 3 or 4 years…but it’s more than that…Lisa See…well…her writing still sings to me…That’s what it was like the first time I read her…”Peony in Love” sang to me. I actually read it 3 times in a row! It was the song of my heart.

So maybe this novel hasn’t changed the person I am…except for now being inspired to be stocked up in tea….but Lisa See sings to me and enables me to see more clearly who I am…I can’t explain it…but I know it…every time I read one of her books, it doesn’t change me…but it makes me feel more…well…myself….I’m not Asian…I don’t have her heritage…but her novels sing to me none-the-less….

No other author touches me as Lisa See does…I’m lucky to have found her and honored to read anything she write…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Tea Girl at Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Review: The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

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This was one weirdly confusing book. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It left me thinking for a bit, wondering exactly how I wanted to proceed with my review. Because it’s a story that’s not for everyone. Some will love it, some will not.

The story opens with the arrival of children. Nobody knows where they came from or how they got there. And that remains the case for the entirety of the story. But they arrive one after the other, some left on the doorstep and some simply wandering up to the door.

As owner of the sprawling estate, it falls on Morgan to decide what to do. As a hermit, he’s lonely from time to time and comes to enjoy the company of the children as does Engel, the caretaker. Who, by the way, also showed up mysteriously shortly before the children. Strange children are accompanied by strange happenings, of course.

So here is the overriding mystery of the story. But another equally compelling mystery concerns Morgan’s reclusiveness. What happened during his childhood to horribly scar him? Yet another intriguing tidbit the author drags out as long as possible.

I guess I’m not sure exactly how to describe this book. It’s good, but frustrating at the same time. I wanted more answers but in a way am glad they weren’t given to me. And if I’ve confused you even more, so goes The Children’s Home.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Children’s Home

Review: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

18405Reading this novel 20 years after reading it the first time was a bit of a shocker. I won’t lie. Reading it as an adult…well, again, I was shocked in places. I sometimes feel it’s pointless to review a book that has millions of reviews already….however, I would be remiss if I just skipped over this novel and acted like there was no inspiration drawn from it. Even though there is no possible way for me give a review worthy of the book.

Parts of this book made me uncomfortable in my own skin. It’s hard to put into words the hypocrisy and the love that members of the South had for their slaves. Or even the same that the slaves had for the South. Harder still to see so many fight for a way of life that was in many ways just a matter of pride. I think Scarlett was a horrible person in many ways. She lacked intelligence when it came to understanding people and any type of “book sense”, but I think her feelings about the war and the South were often spot on, no matter how many would disagree. There are just so many things in this novel that one could review about…so I give up…a million thoughts are running rampant through my mind right now…it’s impossible to pin one down before another one goes running off in another direction…so I shall stop and leave you with an unfinished review…go read this book. It’s worth the weight of the book in your hands to read. One almost needs to feel the weight to appreciate the weight inside the pages as well….

I only wish to say that when I read this book as a teenager, I wasn’t so completely in love with Melanie as others were, in fact I had little to no patience for her. I had no time for Ashley from the very start, I wasn’t drawn to him in any way, shape of form. I thought Rhett Butler was one of the most honest, handsome, and daring men every. I didn’t know if I loved or hated Scarlett. And finally, I think the ending was one of the most brilliant endings of all time.

20 years later, those feelings haven’t changed a bit….they are probably the only constants I have with this epic novel…..I’m so very glad I made the commitment to revisit this novel…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell