"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford

Some of the ladies in our new ward have a book group and I have been trying to participate as much as I can - which so far means I've read two of the books, but haven't attended any of the monthly meetings. I figure I'll get there at some point.

This is the book we're reading for January and although I struggled to really get into it - the beginning is very slow - I ended up liking it.

The story is about a young Chinese boy, Henry Lee, living in Seattle during WWII. He befriends a Japanese girl, Keiko, and an innnocent love develops between the two of them. His father, however, adamantly disapproves of the friendship because the Japanese are the enemy. Henry, however, refuses to give up his friendship with Keiko, but the two of them struggle to maintain contact after her family is sent to an internment camp in Idaho.

Jumping back and forth between 1942 and 1986, the story slowly pieces together what happened with Henry and Keiko. The book also explores the relationship between Henry and his ultra-Chinese father, as well as the relationship between Henry and his own son, Marty. Despite my dislike of the writing style, I did enjoy reading about the cultural conflicts taking place right here in the United States during WWII. The perspective of the Chinese Americans during that time is something I never thought about before. It was a difficult and confusing time for many of them, especially those like the fictional Henry Lee who didn't see any difference between themselves and their Japanese friends.

Overall, it wasn't my favorite book, but I'm glad I read it.


"Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer

Every once in a while, when I'm not completely bogged down with reading for one of my many English classes, I find time to read something just for fun.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to grab "Into Thin Air" off the shelf at work. I remember when it first came out and my brother Brian read it (being a climbing enthusiast) and told me how good it was. So all these years later, I finally decided I should give it a try.

Most horrifying story I have ever read in my life.

I cannot believe what people go through to climb Mount Everest. It's true that you have to have some level of craziness to even want to attempt it. I never realized how incredibly difficult (is that the world's greatest understatement?) it is for people to do this. And reading about a climb where so many people died was heartbreaking.

Jon did an amazing job describing the events of that fatal Everest climb. Despite being horrified the entire time, I couldn't put the book down. Jon writes it in such a way that you have to keep reading because you have to find out what happens to everyone. I admire his courage in writing such a difficult and personal story, especially since so many of the survivors have had to deal with countless problems because of their experience on the mountain.

I don't regret reading this. It took me long enough and now I know why people always say how good it is, but also seem to shudder when they say it.

Most of all, I am very, VERY grateful that none of my loved ones have dreams of climbing Everest.