My Name is Asher Lev: A Book with an Outfit

I started a book club this year amongst the high school teachers I work with. It’s been a successful little club with the typical book club characteristics. One special perk though is I buy the book for all the teachers: sometimes they know what’s coming while other times I surprise them with a title. Recently, we had an author visitor, Julia Golding, and we read her super YA title called Dragonfly. Oh, it was so good–properly adventurous and romantic all at once. I loved it!! The special treat for our book club was meeting with this famous, UK author. By the end of the meeting, a big question was asked of her: what’s her favorite book? Her answer had me thrilled as it’s one of my favorite books as well–My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. It was decided; My Name is Asher Lev would be our summer read.

I first read My Name is Asher Lev during my freshman year of high school. To this day it has left me with such memories. Because it has always been a book I recommend to other readers, I decided to read it once again as an adult. The second time through I still loved it. Now this summer when I read it for a third time, I know I will enjoy it all over again.

Take a moment to check out my turquoise mascara! It is very reminiscent to turquoise lined eyes from my freshmen yearbook picture. Once I went into 9th grade, Mom allowed me to start wearing makeup. Finally! And well, I was heavy with the liner for a while! Hahah. To this day I love a little blue and now turquoise mascara. Love it!

A large component of this book is the spiritual conflict that Asher experiences. He’s a born and raised Hasidic Jew with very strong parental expectations to follow his religion closely. Yet, Asher is also a prodigy with an extreme talent for painting–and the subject matter that he cannot resist happens to be crucifixes. This definitely poses a problem for Asher and his devout parents. I don’t have extreme pressures to be Roman Catholic, but I will always recall the disdain I received from my mother for wearing a Hindu Lord Ganesha. After she visited me us India for over six weeks, I think she was able to relate to my appreciation and love for this Hindu god. Because of all the worldly experiences I’ve had, I can’t help but incorporate many faiths into my spirituality–Ganesha being one of my gods right alongside Jesus.

This book also brings back many sartorial memories: like those red patched jeans from Jill Kramp that I’d give anything to still own to this day. Those Levi’s were perfect and the only evidence I have of them is my senior picture. In attempt to be artsy fartsy, I wore my DIY painter jeans that were made with my adorable niece Maeve last summer.

The other item now found in my wardrobe that was ever present back in the late 80s were my penny loafers. Oh, that right foot penny loafer; may it rest at sea at the bottom of Coeur d’Alene. We were on board my father’s new purchase (spurned on my teenage bout of rebellion the night before–but that’s another story!). He had just bought a very big cruiser boat. We had just finished looking at it, when we all departed. I was the last to come off the boat, and as I was stepping on the the dock, the ladder I was holding on to started falling backward. Yes, I fell in to the frigid April lake waters. My dad grasped me by his army jacket that I wore without fail. As he was pulling me out, I felt my right penny loafer slip off, and I couldn’t retrieve it as best I tried. Now as an adult, I have a new pair of penny loafers that I love because of the first pair I owned. RIP right penny loafer shoe from 1988!

Gosh, I wish I still had my dad’s army jacket it too. It was so RAD–literally it was. It had a few medal pins on it plus the writing of his name and number. This is another item like the red patched jeans that I don’t recall giving away yet to this day wonder why I would do so. The “RAD” tee was an obvious choice for this homage to my late 1980s high school years. It was a word I consistently used then; it’s a word I so frequently (and nerdily so) use to this day. From penny loafers to painted jeans, to being rad and falling in frigid lake water in my dad’s waterlogged army jacket, it’s comforting to know I can pull out special items reminiscent of my high school days. It’s as if nothing has changed, but then everything has. And now, with my third reading of My Name is Asher Lev this summer, I wonder how I will interpret it one more time. One thing is for sure: I know I will enjoy it all over again because it is an amazing book!

The Sun is Also a Star: A Book with an Outfit

I’ve made a conscious decision to post at least one book in one of my outfit posts a month. Last month it was The Twentieth Wife. This month it’s The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. Oh, this author! She is absolutely amazing. First, I was enthralled with Everything Everything–which I hear has now been made into a movie, but we all know the book will remain better. Then, because I adored reading Everything Everything, I couldn’t wait for The Sun is Also a Star to get back into the library. I even put a hold on the title. And, oh, it did not disappoint. Both books are totally different, but the way Yoon writes completely grabs and sucks the reader in. I know I’m reading an amazing book when it becomes both my home and school reading material. I especially know I’m reading a good book when I purposely tag along to be left behind in a park to read while Kevin hikes and Gigi has basketball. That was the case on this Saturday when I finally finished The Sun is Also a Star. Is it enough just to tell you to read Nicola Yoon? Or do you want a synopsis? Ok, fine. Keep reading….

I love a story with multiple narrations which The Sun is Also a Star has. Natasha is a 16 year old illegal immigrant from Jamaica who will be deported within the day. She’s also a realist believing in scientific fact. Daniel is a sentimental Korean American who cries if he ever sees anyone crying. He’s also aware that he aspires to be a poet, but with Korean parents, they already have his plan of life outlined. These two individuals’ paths cross–more than once, and every time they cross, fireworks both implode and explode. Along with their narrations little factual tidbits are included from facts about African hair wigs to side stories of other characters. Basically, I never wanted to put this book down; rather I wanted to keep reading, learn more about the characters, and hope for an impossible happy ending…

PS Nicola Yoon, I sure hope you’ll want to come to Hong Kong when I invite you for next school year!

Books: Rehab Reading

Reading Books During Rehab

All the pictures from this post have been pulled from my Instagram feed, @krembdelakremb.

During the past three weeks I’ve been able to dedicate a fair amount of my time to reading. While having hip surgery isn’t the best reason for free reading time, I sure have enjoyed that aspect of my recovery. I read four books during my rehab, and I thought I would share my reviews with you.

Reading Books During Rehab

1. Eleanor and Park–5 Stars

Rainbow Rowell in my opinion is a master writer. I have yet to read a title of hers that I did not like, and I have read all of her books. Granted it took me two tries to get into Eleanor and Park, but once I did, I was smitten. Sometimes I think one’s state of mind is vital to appreciating a book. I must not have been in right place the first time around. The second time I went to read it, I could not put it down. Here are a few of the reasons why I think people would enjoy this book:

  • The relationship between Eleanor and Park takes place in the 80s–a decade filled with misfits.
  • The relationship between Eleanor and Park is interracial.
  • The relationship between Eleanor and Park happens despite demographics–one being poor and abused, the other being loved and supported.
  • The relationship between Eleanor and Park takes it’s time; it’s slow moving, cautious, and respectful towards the individuality of each of the two involved.

Basically this story is just lovely, and in quick alternating bits from Eleanor and then Park each chapter just passes by. Before I knew it, I’d finished this beautiful story of love that forms when friendship happens first.

2. The Winner’s Curse–5 Stars

Oh, this book was good! Marie Rutkoski has created a series with this Winner’s Curse that I want to read more about; it’s not guaranteed that I’ll continue with book two, but with Kestrel and Arin, I want to know what’s going to happen to them. Although it was made in a fantasty world, the setting became very medieval to me. It made me think that it could have happened in a land similar to Saudi Arabia with vast mountains set up against a sea. The women all wear a dagger right at their waste too–while it’s the style and simply for show, it’s a tool that works and sometimes comes out for its purpose to shield, protect, or harm. The relationship that’s instigated into romance between the general’s daughter and her slave was magnetic. Despite the fact that it shouldn’t work out, the reader desperately wants it too. A winner’s curse is an actual term; in an auction it’s win the winning bid wins, but really the winner didn’t win because the winner paid way too much for their prize. This story is so good: think war strategy with love mixed in…a dangerous combo for sure.

3. The Geography of You and Me–3 Stars

While reading The Geography of You and Me I thought it was good, but then now when I look back on it, I find it less memorable than the others. The book, like the other stories I read, is a romance, and I should like it better since it’s all about long distance and making a relationship work despite distance. I myself have lived the famous saying: distance makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not going to give up on Jennifer E. Smith and plan to give one of her many other novels a try. Similar to Eleanor and Park, maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I read this. I did like how committed both Lucy and Owen were to getting themselves together–despite some serious long distance and circumstantial troubles.

4. Red Queen–5 Stars

This book is superhero fantastic! Wow! I loved Red Queen! It’s one of those novels where readers are going to determine what team they’re on, and I am definitely on Team Cal. There are two different types of people: the reds with red blood and the silvers with silver blood. Silvers have extraordinary powers like being invisible, creating fire, or even water. Reds, Reds just work and create a comfortable life for the Silvers. They also go to war and die for the Silvers. When the heroine of this story, who has regular old red blood, finds that she has a power, she’s an oddity that the Silvers want to hide. While there’s some foreshadowing that I caught onto, there were some surprises along the way. There was also one kiss that gave me the butterflies in my tummy–always a really good sign in my book! (No pun intended.)

*Bonus Title: The Secret Garden

Coloring Books
This wonderful book is worth mentioning; Johanna Basford is an illustrator and has created several coloring books that are just spectacular. There’s The Secret Garden and The Enchanted Forest that I know about. Gigi received The Secret Garden for her birthday with some fancy markers. We’ve been having some relaxing fun just filling in these colorful flowers. We just sit there and chat and color petals in bit by bit.

Here! Buy the Books at Target:

*The book links used in this post are affiliate links: if you purchase any of these books from my links, I’ll receive a couple of cents. Thanks for shopping with Kremb de la Kremb. As always, if you have any requests, I’d be much obliged.

{Potential} Summer Reading List, 2015

Summer Reading List 1Summer Reading List 2
Summer reading is the best! There are hours in the day that can just be spent reading. I love my summer reading and look forward to it with a yearning. I’ll be reading all summer long: I can read in the car on the road trip between Spokane and Seattle, there’s my lovely cabin porch and my glorious bed that’s perched in nature, and there’s time in the summer sun on the dock, beach, or boat. I don’t have to worry about how long it will take me to read a book because I’ll have the free hours to put in to it. I love my summer reading and just thinking about it has generated some books I’ve wanted to read. I use Goodreads a great deal when determining the books I’ll read. I usually always shoot for a rating of 4.0 or over, but that’s not always possible. If the Goodreads rating comes in over 3.6, I’ll consider it–most of the time. I’ve included my summer reading book’s rating in parenthesis as a reference. Are you on Goodreads? Let’s follow! I’m Ann Krembs on this social network.

{Potential} Summer Reading

1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
I can’t wait to read the Outlander! First, it was recommended by Paige from House of Ginger (more about her later) and my mom. I enjoy reading books that come highly recommended. Then the book has actually become the plot for a television drama series–before I get hooked on that, I want to make sure and read the book. Here’s the premise: Claire is a nurse in WWII. She’s just been reunited with her husband, and they are on their second honeymoon. She happens upon a stone that she travels through and is taken to Scotland, 1743! I love time travel stories, and according to all that have read it, this one’s a winner. (4.16 on Goodreads)

2. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
Beautiful Ruins is one of those epic novels that spans 50 years. There’s bound to be plenty of characters and a great love story. The winning point to this novel for me is the Italiano in it. One of the main characters is an Italian man remembering and the stunning vision of a woman he remembers from way back. This tall, thin American actress arrived to the tiny Italian village and now he’s going to find her….Another great thing about this book is that it was written by a man from my hometown, Spokane! Also, I remember my sister devouring it a couple of summers ago. It’s about time I finally read it. (3.68 Goodreads)

3. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
Yes Please speaks to women advocating for themselves; I like books like this. I actually want to listen to this book–especially since Amy Poehler narrates it! She’s so funny. I just love watching her, and I have a feeling her book is going to hit home for me. The most recent review I read from Independent Fashion Bloggers really sealed the deal. I can’t wait to read this book and then be inspired. (3.8 Goodreads)

4. The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle
So, The Harder They Come isn’t really a book I would normally pick up, but…I’ve joined an online book club on Goodreads called Bookish Babes. This really neat woman that I mentioned up above started it. Paige is super fashionable, she’s a working mom, she writes a really cool blog, and she’s a reader. I have loved all Paige’s book recommendations and basically want to read anything she has liked. She recommended both Outlander and the next book It’s Kind of a Funny Story. For the month of May we were supposed to read The Royal We (my copy arrived on June 1st, so I’m a little behind), and for April we read FanGirl (luckily I had read that one). Anyway June’s book is The Harder They Come, and the moment I saw Vietnam veteran, violence, and anti-authoritarianism in the description, I was like, Uh oh. But, it’s a book club book, so I am trying to keep an open mind. The the keywords Central America and cruise also caught my attention, and I think I’ll be ok. T.C. Boyle wrote this book based on a true story, and it delves into the American psyche. Should be good and for sure interesting. (3.75 Goodreads)

5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini
Lately, there’s been a new trend in young adult fiction, and I’m not even sure what genre you would call it. Suicide genre? Anyway, there are so many books about suicide; I’ve read a few of them and put down a few too. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a suicide story, but since it was written in 2007, it’s before this whole trend in contemporary young adult lit has taken off. In this story, the main character succeeds in getting into that choice school, but once in he’s driven to suicide. The real story begins when he’s placed in a psychiatric hospital: the crazies he meets there help him to find the source of his anxiety and not to mention the possibility of happiness. This book has been recommended to me various times, so I’m happy to read it, but it’s going to be hard. The really sad part about this book that will make it difficult in reading is that Ned Vizzini, the author, has committed suicide. He suffered from depression and took his life in 2013. This novel was made into a movie in 2010. (4.15 Goodreads)

6. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
Has everyone read The Rosie Project lately? I feel like I see it being read everywhere. Maybe it’s because my library’s copy is always on hold, or it could be that Kevin is reading it right now. Anyway, it’s about a man with Asperger’s syndrome who has never been on a second date. When one of his friends–he can count them all on one hand–tells him he’d make a great husband he’s of course shocked but then intrigued. What ensues is his very thorough and data driven Wife Project; the result, being Rosie, is surprising! (4.0 Goodreads)

Summer Reading Books

Have you read any of these books? Do you want to read any of them with me? Just let me know here or on Goodreads. I’d love to follow more readers out there!

Best Books of 2014

A couple of weeks ago I stated that I’d start writing more about books on this here blog, so in an attempt to follow through, I’m posting the best books I read in 2014–in no particular order. On this list you’ll find some fiction for adults and young adults too–I am a high school librarian after all. Plus, you’ll find a couple of nonfiction reads that I absolutely loved–which was so surprising for me as I don’t typically read nonfiction. If you have a vacation ahead of you or just some good old lazy post holiday time, curl up, get cozy, and enjoy any one of these really great books!

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Christmas Books Roundup

Being a librarian it seems appropriate that I should be posting more about books here on Kremb de la Kremb. What a better way to start than with the family’s favorite Christmas titles. Each year, these books get brought out of storage and are placed under the tree. There are a few that get ready each and every year–even if they’re for younger readers. They’re just that special!

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