Tag Archives: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

WWW Wednesday, 5-August-2015

5 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Hold HandsCurrently reading:  I almost hit the middle of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. So close. I might have to return it soon so I’m hoping I can renew it without losing it this time.
Oh hold with I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Stand by in case I lose Cloud Atlas.
Half way with The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I’m liking it, but still not 100% bought into the main character. You would think with such a long book I would be by now, but no such luck.
I’m on a mission to finish The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. The action was really slow to start and now that I’m over half way, I can finally see where this is going. I hope it picks up a bit more and I can get on with it.
I started a new eAudio: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. It’s his first YA and it’s not the kind of YA I’m used it. It’s very ‘raw,’ which makes sense coming from an author who normally writes for adults. I’m liking it so far. Bohjalian’s daughter narrates the audio. She’s a trained actress and does a great job.

MockingjayRecently finished: Two! Two whole books, both audio. The first is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. It was nice to refresh this one in my mind. I remembered the major actions, but not the details. It’s going to be hard to wait for November to get here! I also finished Andy Weir. This book was really great. I highly recommend it for sci-fi or adventure fans. The narrator has a strong voice so it’s great for any writers struggling with that as well.

One book review up for you all to enjoy as well, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I really liked this one and hope you all do, too.

WidowReading Next: I got the copy of A Widow for One Year by John Irving last week, but unfortunately that’s got to wait. First I need to read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls for a book club. I hope I can get to these soon!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (5/5)

4 Aug

I had heard this book was cute. You don’t get a lot of cute historical fiction so I was curious. I’d bought a second-hand copy really cheaply a few years ago and I recently convinced my book club to read this title so I was excited. And yes, I cried at the end. (I’ve had a bad habit of that lately.)

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Summary from Goodreads:

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship – and innocent love – that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice – words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Cute was the right description for this book. Henry and Keiko are adorable and I loved them both. They’re so naive to what’s going on around them and the ‘adult troubles’ that are shaping their lives. Their innocence makes the story more lovable and it becomes their story and not as much of a story about the Japanese internment. I liked how the book was more about the characters.

Nothing felt forced in this book (okay, one thing at the end I’ll get to). The characters were very consistent and seemed to grow in their own way in time. Keiko’s family was lovely and Henry’s father was terrible. And they stayed that way which I liked. It helped me focus on Henry’s character development and change.

It was hard not to love Henry. He’s a very modern character stuck in the 1940s. He didn’t see race or color and he worked hard to get what he wanted. He didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and knew how to stand up for himself. More than anything, he was in love and a person in love is hard to dislike. His feelings for Keiko were so pure and well-intentioned that even her parents could see it in five minutes. I loved that. He was such a sweet character.

Most people have a memory of a time their parents didn’t take them seriously. This book shows that time for Henry and it was easy to sympathise with him. He was becoming a man and had to find a way to be looked at like a man. I’m glad that Keiko could be a part of that story. She seemed a bit more mature and had a better relationship with her parents, which helped her seem older than she was. It was hard to remember these characters were in middle school!

Jamie Ford Image via the author's website

Jamie Ford
Image via the author’s website

I loved Henry visiting the camps. It was funny to me that the white guards couldn’t tell he was Japanese yet as soon as the inhabitants saw him, they knew he was Chinese but didn’t say a word. He wasn’t to blame for them being there. He was another American swept up in the war. He was so happy to see Keiko that he didn’t care that she was a prisoner in the camps. He didn’t care that they couldn’t pick a date to see each other again. He was just so happy to be with her for a little while that it broke my heart.

There was one part that bothered me. A woman from my book club brought up that there was a computer reference in the 1980s section that bothered her and it bothered me too, when I got to it. Marty looks up a person on the computer. In the mid 80s. With what internet did he do this? It sticks out a lot and Ford tries to explain it away that he called some people, too, but I didn’t buy it. It was a big miss in the editing process and the book’s ending really hinged on that research so it made the end feel forced. Other than that, I have no complaints.

 

Henry’s story is one of love. Mainly, in the ways he loved Keiko. But also in the way he loved his late wife, Ethel. I struggled with how I felt about Ethel for a lot of the book, but I think Henry loved her as much as a man can love his wife. Yes, he loved Keiko, too, but I don’t think that diminished how he felt about Ethel. He also loved Marty and will learn to love Samantha. Human’s have an amazing capacity to love and Henry is a great example of that.

Writer’s Takeaway: Ford took what he knew, his family and his home, and made a great story out of it. The old adage of ‘write what you know’ has some merit to it. Ford didn’t have a lost sweetheart in the 40s, but he did have Chinese relatives in that time and lived in Seattle. Sometimes, that’s enough. The details he added to Seattle made the book stand out to me. There were things about the sea that I wouldn’t have thought of living in Michigan. His bits about Chinese culture and being Chinese-American were great and helped develop Henry as a character. I thought he did a good job of using himself in his book without inserting himself into the lead role.

Cute, enjoyable, fast-paced, and an overall great book. Five out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford | Book Scribbles by Jen
Unconditional Acceptance: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford | Imperfect Happiness

WWW Wednesday, 15-July-2015

15 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Invisible BridgeCurrently reading:  My hold on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell came in! I hope to get some reading done on this one. I’ve had a lot more ebook time lately because I’m in physical therapy for runners knee and between waiting in the lobby to be called back and doing warm up on a recumbent bike, I get a few pages in each day.
Consequently, I’m letting my hold on I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai expire for now. When I finish Atlas, I hope to pick this backup.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is going well. I’m beyond the point of the first movie and this is the part I don’t remember too well. It’s getting excited. I’ve set aside my PT exercise time as Mockingjay time.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer is going slowly. As I feared, with my new commute, I don’t get as much audiobook time. I’m on the third CD of 22. I hope I can renew this one a few times!
I’m really enjoying Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. I love the Titanic so the setting has me really excited. I forgot how much her writing style makes for a quick read and I’m plowing through it. Hope to have this one finished next week.

HotelRecently finished: I cried while finishing Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. The ending was a huge heartbreaker for me and I really loved it. Though I was reminded a bit of The Orphan Train with the ending and kind of saw it coming. Oh well, still a good story.

A couple of reviews for you to check out as well. The first is A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. The long journey through the first book is finally over!
The second is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan. This was my favorite book of June and I highly recommend it!

Crossing to SafetyReading Next: I should get my copy of A Widow for One Year by John Irving next week so that’s forthcoming. There are a few other possibilities, though. My next book club selections are Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. I might jump on those early if I get a chance so I’m not stopping midbook to read one of them later this month. You have to plan ahead as a bookworm!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-July-2015

8 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


MockingjayCurrently reading:  Stil a hold on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Wait and see.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is going pretty well. With my big trip over the weekend, I didn’t get a lot of ereading time on my phone. Not much of a need for it in the middle of the woods. Hopefully this can pick up soon.
I’m really enjoying Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Henry is a really great character and I’m enjoying his story mixed between flashbacks and the 1980s.
Two new audiobooks this week. The first is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins which is a re-read for me. I wanted a refresher of the story before I see the film. I’m curious how much had to change because of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and how accurate they could keep the story.
The second new audiobook is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I don’t remember how this fell onto my radar but I think it might have been a recommendation? We’ll have to see how it is because I’ve only just begun. With my shorter commute to my new job, I’m not sure how fast I’ll get through this 22 disk audio.

HollowRecently finished: Two finished! Both audio. Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli was really good and it reminded me of all the awesomeness that is Harry Potter and being a Potterhead while the books were being released. Great read.
My husband and I flew through the audio for Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. I didn’t like this one as much as the first. I’ll have to write the review to put my thoughts together.

WidowReading Next: No changes to my plans. It will be a physical book that I read next. Either A Widow for One Year by John Irving or Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. Depends on when I get a copy of ‘Widow’ from my work book club girls. Sounds like I might get it soon!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 1-July-2015

1 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


MalalaCurrently reading:  No progress on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Hoping the hold comes through soon!
My audiobook is Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli and it’s going well. I find myself insanely jealous of Anelli’s life every time I open it up.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is going pretty well. I wish there was more about her. Right now it seems like a history lesson about her region of Pakistan. I know it’s setting up the political situation that led to her getting shot, but it’s still not as interesting as I was hoping for.
I started Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford earlier this week. Our book club has chosen it as our selection to discuss in July. No shame to say this was my recommendation! I hope it’s a good one, I’ve heard good things.
I technically haven’t started it by the time this post goes up, but my husband and I are leaving for a trip to the Smokey Mountains and of course we had to have an audiobook to supplement the nine-hour trip (each way!). We choose Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which we listened to last year. I hope it’s good!

BitesRecently finished: I fought my way through Wuthering Bites by Sarah Gray. It’s not that the book’s bad, but that I wanted to finish it by Monday. Wuthering Heights isn’t a book you rush through and this one is the say way. I kept wondering how much longer this was because of the vampire plotline.

And two book reviews! The first was for La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It feels good to have this one behind me because it was a long journey, but wrong because I enjoyed it so much.
The other is On the Okey Dokey Trail by I. Leigh Private. I enjoyed it but thought it lacked a little depth. Check out the reviews to know more!

ManforHimselfReading Next: There are two possibilities. The first is that my work book club gets me a copy of A Widow for One Year by John Irving before I finish Hotel.
If that doesn’t happen, I’m going to continue my fight to finish the When Are You Reading? Challenge. Next up is Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. I was introduced to Bainbridge a few years ago when I read The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress for my book club. The author has a really cool style. I saw that she had a book about my favorite event in history, the sinking of the Titanic. I was lucky enough to find it at a used bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI and I’ve been waiting for a reason to read it ever since. So pumped!


As I’ve said, I’m in a car on my way to Tennessee so please forgive me if responses are delayed. It all depends on how good the audiobooks are and how good the phone reception is!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 24-June-2015

24 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BitesCurrently reading:  No progress on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It was starting to get good and I lost my hold on the ebook. I’ll get it back soon, though!
My only audiobook now is Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli so I’m making some decent progress. It’s a long one, though, so it could be a while. I’m loving the re-living of my Potterhead heydays.
I grabbed a random book off my shelves. A few years ago, my husband was at a book exchange and decided he needed to grab me a copy of Wuthering Bites by Sarah Gray. I hated Wuthering Heights when I read it in high school but husband insisted it’s because I was too young and it would be better with vampires. So far, he’s right.
I also started another ebook while I wait for Cloud Atlas to come back (because I’m impatient). I choose I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I know it’s been out for a while, but I’m really excited to read this.

PenumbraRecently finished: So many finished! I got through On the Okey Dokey Trail by I. Leigh Private after posting this last week. It was okay: enjoyable for sure.
I also finished up A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin on Thursday. I really liked it and put the sequel on my TBR right away.
ALSO! We went on a road trip over the weekend and got through the entire audiobook of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It was awesome. I can’t wait to write the review for this great book. The audiobook is highly recommended.

HotelReading Next: The John Irving book may still be on, but not immediately. I still plan to go after Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford next. This will likely go with me on vacation in a week. It looks like a good one to read by the campfire.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 17-June-2015

17 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


TrailCurrently reading:  I’m almost done with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I was able to find a chapter by chapter summary online to figure out where I am. This should be finished in the week.
Not much movement with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Part II is a bit more interesting, but there are still other things I’d rather read. Oh well.
Moderate progress on Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli on my phone. This is an interesting balance of history and personal story and I like it, but I’m not crazy for it.
I started a new book! It’s a Goodreads First Reads book I received a long time ago and I’m overdue for a review. It’s On the Okey Dokey Trail by I. Leigh Private. Yes, I do like the pun in the name.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Recently finished: I finally finished La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon! This is my one book a year in Spanish and I liked the ending a lot. I’m not sure how good of a review I can write because I don’t remember the beginning well, but we shall see. Stay tuned for that one.

And two book reviews! Look at me. I wrote one for The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine last week. I hope I can convince a few more people to read it. I finished one for The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff earlier this week. It’s OK to skip that one.

HotelReading Next: Change of plans. Though I’d been planning on a John Irving book with my work book club, that’s not going to happen. I took a new job! I’ll be sad to leave those ladies and I’ll miss what they had to say about the books we read, but I’m going to put that book back on the shelf for a while. It would be a bit painful to read it now if I’m being honest. I think instead I’ll focus on Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford which is a selection for my book club. I recommended this historical fiction selection and I’m excited to read it.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added to my To-Read List (Part 2)

21 Nov

Part two following Monday’s part one. I’ve added so many books to my list since November started and it’s time to share them all. Am I wasting my time with any of these? Should I pick them up as soon as possible? Let me know in a comment, please!

  1. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. This is a side effect of finding an author I like. I instantly want to read everything he’s ever written. I went through this with John Irving in high school. It will fade, but it may take a while.
  2. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. This one has been floating around on my Goodreads “Recommended for You” lists since I joined. The story follows a Chinese-American man whose good friend in the 1940s was Japanese and was swept away into an internment camp at the outset of World War II. I saw this book at a library book sale and I had to grab it.
  3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. As I explained above, this is a result of loving Middlesex so much. I saw this one at the book sale as well so it was more than necessary to buy it.
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’ve heard so many opinions and controversy around this book that I feel I have to read it. Also, I saw it at the book sale for only $2 and I can’t fight that price. My book club was going to read it a while ago and then took it off because it’s still unavailable in paperback. We’ll read it eventually.
  5. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I added this book not knowing what it’s about. John Green tweeted that he loved it and I love John Green so it got added to the list. After reviewing that it’s about North Korea, I’m even more excited to read it.
  6. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. This one is on my Book Club list so I added it prematurely. KK said it was beautifully written which just makes me excited to read it. The Wisconsin setting intrigues me because I don’t think I’ve read any book that takes place there before.
  7. Daughter of the God-King by Anne Cleeland. This is another Goodreads First Reads win. I entered to in because it’s a historical fiction novel and I’ve always been intrigued by ancient Egypt, which is a central theme in this novel. It should be arriving in the mail shortly.

Finally, we’re caught up! That book sale I went to really did me in. My book shelf is pretty full and I’m forcing my husband to move some of his books off of it. What’s worth reading, what can wait? I’m always curious what you think, Reader.

Until next time, write on.