Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

March 2014 books

Life After TheftLife After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Easy, breezy, cute, forgettable fun. As far as Dead Girl Sorts Herself Out books go, this was miles better than If I Stay but not as affecting as Before I Fall.

The Tyrant's DaughterThe Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The main character in this book is a girl named Laila. She is the daughter of a coup-deposed dictator of a Middle Eastern country, seeking refuge in the United States. I have taught some real-life variation of this character almost every semester here. I have always wondered what it was really like for these young adults to be out of place, away from home, rich, and entirely out of favor with The Regime (or in favor with a regime that is out of favor with the rest of the world). Last year, I had a student give a presentation about Tunisia's exiled Ben Ali, focusing on how she grew up with one of his daughters. She was so eager to tell her side of the story, because it's certainly not the one we read in the newspapers. I devoured this book as a peek inside what life is like for some of my students. I would recommend this to young readers looking for an accessible introduction to the complexities of life for political exiles/expats.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce, #6)The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Audiobook. This book suffered from Eau de SPOILER "It was all a dream! Just a dream!" - all these extraordinary things in Flavia's life can be explained away by the fact that the grown-ups around her belong to a spy ring END SPOILER, but I still liked (not loved) it. ANOTHER SPOILER Was anyone else terrified that they were setting up Dogger to be the bad guy? I broke out in cold sweats any time I thought about the possibility. In the end, I was glad it was Lina even though that was the obvious choice. END SPOILER

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second reading 10 March 2014. I read the book in physical (Kindle) format this time and I think I liked it all the more for knowing when the story would come screeching to a halt, just short of a major cliff(hanger). Make that love. For the first half of the book, I kept pausing to savor a certain turn of phrase or snippet of dialogue. For the second half, I was too busy blazing through the pages to bother. Instead of being outraged by that last line, this time I just laughed gleefully. I love that last line and the character who says it.

I appreciated this moment:

""You're the only one who doesn't seem fazed by this," he said after a moment. "It's not that I'm accustomed to it, but I've run across some unusual things before and I guess I just...but Ronan and Adam and Noah all seem...nonplussed."

OK, awesome, right? First correct use of "nonplussed" I've read in a book in probably two years. But it continues:

"Blue pretended she knew what nonplussed meant."

So great.

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. This book was a little darker than its predecessor, thanks mainly to the introduction of a new character (Kavinsky). He's one of the more fleshed-out jerks I've ever had the displeasure of seeing portrayed in literature. I loved the experience of reading this book (except for the Kavinsky-heavy chapters) and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Also, I already knew this from The Scorpio Races but WOW, can this woman ever write a really creepy animal attack scene.

Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One FamilyGlobal Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family by Melissa Bradford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great book for me to read at this time in my life. I felt like I was talking to and learning from an older sister who's done this whole living abroad thing up and down and is giving me tips for raising kids and thriving overseas. I am surprised at how much I learned from her, considering that she has lived in very different countries than me (1st world vs. 2nd), but some things about living abroad are the same anywhere. This book did make me miss the days of living in Russia where we could blend in and integrate more into the culture. When you are blonde-haired and blue-eyed living in the Middle East, that puts up a wall between you and the locals before you even open your mouth. Sometimes it's hard to have that automatic distance there, and I found myself feeling jealous of how the author was able to fit in so well in Norway, France, and Germany.

Speaking of Germany: the Munich chapters. Woah. I was entranced by them and I think I will forever remember her visual of folding laundry by a window in Norway during a certain difficult period in her life.

Spring Break in Salalah

March 28th, outsourced