Posts Tagged ‘love story’

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I had been hearing good things about this book for awhile, but just never got around to reading it until recently.  I wasn’t really sure what it was about (I tend to skim over summaries on book jackets or online) but if it was supposed to be good, I figured I’d check it out.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” is one of those books that jumps back and forth between time periods.  It is helpful that the year is stated at the beginning of each chapter.  Forgive me if I don’t follow the jumping back and forth between years exactly; it’s hard to remember.

The book starts with Henry as an older man; Henry is a Chinese American living in Seattle whose wife recently passed away from cancer.  He is struggling with the loss when he hears that a local hotel that had been boarded up for years recently was purchased and the owner found some items in the basement.  You then find out more about when Charlie was a young child.  His parents forced him to speak English, even though they only spoke Cantonese, so that he would fit in  and his strict father also made him wear a button saying “I am Chinese” so no one would mistake him for Japanese, who we were in a war with at the time in the 1940′s.  He was also made to go to an American school and worked in cafeteria serving lunch to get away from the other kids.  He met a friend there one day who was a young Japanese American girl named Keiko.  Although his father had given him strict orders to stay away from anyone who was Japanese, and especially to stay out of that neighborhood, Charlie and Keiko forged a friendship.  They also bonded over a the music of a local jazz musician who Charlie hears about from his African American friend, Sheldon, who played his saxophone on the street in the different neighborhoods.

When the war starts to get worse, the Japanese in Seattle are being “evacuated” to camps more inland.  Keiko and her family are forced to leave and Charlie tries everything that his 12-year old self can do to help them, but they still must leave.  Charlie manages to get a job helping the woman that he works with in the cafeteria; they will be serving food at the Japanese camps.  He goes there looking for Keiko and her family, and after awhile, finally finds them.  When Henry’s father finds out that he’s been associating with a Japanese person, he disowns Charlie and refuses to speak with him anymore.  Keiko is then moved to a different camp, and Henry and Sheldon make a bus trip to pay a visit and at that time, it seems like Henry is officially courting Keiko.  Once he goes home, they write to each other often, until the letters start coming less and less.  Henry writes one last letter to Keiko once the war is over and it is rumored that the Japanese are coming home from the camps.  He asks her to meet him in front of the hotel at a specific time.

I will leave off there and you can read the book to find out the rest!  As you know, I like historical fiction.  Other than the fact that I did learn some things about what was going on in the 40′s during the war, it was just a really good story.  The story does switch back and forth between young and old Henry, and my summary above left out most of the old Henry story.  It’s one of those books that really drew me in so that I didn’t want to put it down.  It was also a sweet love story that shows you how powerful love can be (even between two teenagers) in difficult times.   Loved it!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This is the first real book I’ve read in awhile.  By “real book”, I mean a book made of paper.  When the movie came out last year, I wanted to download it on my Kindle but it wasn’t available.  My mom recently borrowed this book from a coworker so I jumped right on that, especially since I knew I would use my super-duper fast book reading skills to be able to get it back to her quickly.

The Time Traveler’s Wife” is about a man named Henry who has time traveling skills; he first learns of this ability as a young child.  He can go back in time, sometimes forward, and even back in time to himself at another age.  When he time travels, he can’t take anything with him so every time he ends up somewhere, he’s naked and has to learn to obtain clothes and other supplies.  The story is also about a woman named Clare, who  meets Henry as a time traveler when she is a young child and helps him by getting him clothes, food, etc.  Even though she is just a young girl and Henry is an adult when they meet, they build a special bond and Henry visits her many times up throughout her teenage years.  The time traveling parts do get confusing (my mom warned me of this) – it goes back and forth to different years, Henry’s and Clare’s ages are listed each chapter so you know what time period it’s taking part in and whether or not Henry is time traveling.  I’m actually maybe jumping around a bit here in the summary because it’s so hard to go in order of the actual book, but you get the point.

Henry and Clare meet up in “real time” and while Clare has known Henry all of her life, “real time” Henry doesn’t know that he knows Clare but she fills him in on the whole situation.  They fall in love (more so than they already were) and become married.  The rest of the story other than these main points that I mentioned tells more details about how both Henry and Clare got to where they were and what their future is like together and how they deal with his time traveling “chrono-displacement” disease.

So let me tell you… I loved this book.  Yes, loved.  My mom was a little iffy about it because it jumped around, and sometimes after I put the book down for awhile, I had to flip back a few pages to remember what year/age I was last reading about.  Other than that, something about it was just so… romantic?  I’m not sure how to explain it.  The book didn’t make me cry, but just imaging the strength of the love between Clare and Henry really got me.  Normally I’d say something like “I wish I had a Henry”, but I’m pretty darn happy with my Matt.  And luckily, he doesn’t time travel (unless there’s something he’s not telling me).

Has anyone seen the movie?  I wanted to wait to see it until I read the book.  I’m sure I’ll be disappointed because how the heck could they fit all of the details into a 2 hour movie?  They can’t.  Is the movie going to make me cry?  I bet it will… sappy Rachel McAdams movies do that to me (like “The Notebook”).

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Dear John” has been on my radar for awhile but I never got around to buying it.  I’ve read almost every other Nicholas Sparks book except “Nights in Rodanthe” and maybe one or two others.  I decided to download this book and read it now because the movie is coming out and I figured that I should know what’s going on in the world.

I do enjoy Nicholas Sparks’ books, but something about this one… I don’t know.  Maybe I’m tired of unrealistic love stories.  I did like reading the book, but the story just seemed a little… fluffy (is that the word I’m looking for?).  The story is about a young man (John, duh) in the Army who meets an innocent, sweet girl named Savannah while he’s home from Germany on break.  They fall in love immediately and it’s the whole “opposites attract” thing: he used to be a rebel and a troublemaker (not anymore – the Army straightened him up), he drinks, has tattoos, etc,; she is young and naive, she’s a virgin and doesn’t drink, she likes volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in her free time.  They fall in love immediately but then John has to go back to being stationed in Germany and they lose touch, especially after he re-ups his service commitment after September 11th.  Needless to say, it doesn’t last.  There’s another part of the story that focuses on John’s relationship with his father and that part is sad.

The movie (although I haven’t seen it yet – is it even out yet?) kind of ruined the book for me because in the book, Savannah has brown hair, and Amanda Seyfried is a blonde.  Not like it makes a HUGE difference, but I like to imagine the characters in my own mind and hate when I keep thinking of the actors that they cast instead.  I have no desire to see the movie – I’m sure it could never beat “The Notebook” for me.  Plus, Amanda Seyfried’s eyes are distracting.  It was a sweet story and everything, but I’ve liked some of Sparks’ other stories better.  “The Guardian” was the first Nicholas Sparks book I ever read and although I don’t really remember the details because it was several years ago, it was one of my favorites of his.  If anyone sees “Dear John” the movie, let me know how you like it!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.

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