Book Reviews

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Buddha in the Attic Julie Otsuka

With simple sentences that say so much and read almost poetically, Julie Otsuka in The Buddha in the Attic delivers an emotional novel about Japanese picture brides who came to the United States in the early 1900s. 

They numbered in the thousands; each had her own story. Otsuka skillfully and with great economy of words tells the collective story of this group of women while at the same time giving voice to the individual. The novel starts with their boat ride to America and ends as they are bused to World War II internment camps.   

We hear about the hardships, the disappointments, the moments of kindness, the bouts of sickness, and the struggles with marriage. We read that the first English word they learned was “water” and how they raised children in a multicultural environment. We are told about the Caucasian women who employed them as maids and taught them about American culture. We learn how the Japanese woman learned to survive in a non-sensitive, white American culture. 

I’ve never had the desire to serve anyone in a restaurant setting. After listening to Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica, I want to even less. I do, however, have a greater respect for people who work in the food service industry, and I’ll think twice before I send my order back to the kitchen.

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter undoubtedly lives up to its name. We meet the author after he’s served a short stint in the corporate health care industry. Dublanica had high hopes for his career, but soon became disenfranchised with the events of his life.

After being laid off from his job, Dublanica takes a “temporary” position as a waiter in a restaurant where his brother works. He eventually finds himself staying in the restaurant industry well into his late 30s. In order to deal with the stresses of waiter life, Dublanica starts a blog called Waiter Rant. Writing anonymously as “The Waiter,” he blasts unfriendly customers, complains about the daily grind, and unveils the inner-workings of an upscale restaurant. 

Sisters of Sinai Janet Soskice book cover

In the late 19th century, few women received a good education and fewer still experienced extensive travel. Women also did not leave their mark on academic scholarship.

The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels by Janet Soskice tells the remarkable story of Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlap Gibson, twin sisters who located an ancient manuscript of the four Gospels.

Born in the mid-19th century, the twins received a good education, but they did not attend a university. Their father encouraged their study of languages and then arranged for them to travel to use their language skills. After their father’s death, the twins went to Egypt and the Holy Land.

After this year-long adventure, the twins settled in London seeking more opportunities than offered in their small Scottish village. They continued to study foreign languages, especially modern Greek and Arabic. Both women had brief but happy marriages. They moved to Cambridge and became acquainted with many in the academic community.

Most Dangerous Man In World book cover

Who is the real Julian Assange, the man behind whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks? How did he become one of the most feared and championed whistle-blowers in history? In a new unauthorized biography, award-winning Australian investigative journalist Andrew Fowler separates the man from the myth.

With interviews from members of the WikiLeaks entourage as well as Assange himself, Fowler traces Assange’s life from a turbulent childhood in Australia and his teenage-computer-hacker days, through his current personal legal battles and continued Internet publishing of sensitive documents.

The Most Dangerous Man in the World: The True Explosive True Story of Julian Assange and the Lies, Cover-ups, and Conspiracies He Exposed is at times a gripping page-turner with globetrotting narratives from Australia to Iceland as Assange and his associates hold covert meetings and plan the release of materials exposing government cover-ups and corporate corruption in the face of ominous government intelligence agencies and intimidating multinational corporations.

The Amish Midwife book cover

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould's new inspirational novel, The Amish Midwife, is about a search for one's identity and a place to belong. Depicting little-known America’s subculture with a unique outlook, this fiction combines adventure and mystery with a hint of romance.

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