Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday 56: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

 Welcome to this week's Friday 56 - this Friday 56 comes from Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians.

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader/
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Freda's Voice at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's my Friday 56 from Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians
In her teen years, the chatter spread even more feverishly when Celeste Ting, whose daughter was in the same Methodist Youth Fellowship group as Astrid, picked up a copy of Point de Vue at Charles de Gaulle Airport and came upon a paparazzi photograph of Astrid doing cannonballs off a yacht in Porto Ercole with some young European princes. 
The blurb:
Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occur when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry.  What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.  Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination. Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about whom her son should -- and should not -- marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian jet set - a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money, between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese -- and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily, rich.

About the Author:
Kevin Kwan was born and raised in Singapore.  He currently lives in Manhattan.  Crazy Rich Asians is his first novel.  Find out more about him at

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Madonna on the Moon by Rolf Bauderdick

The Madonna on the Moon takes us to Baia Luna, a small village in the Carpathian mountains, during Communist rule in the 1950s.  The village is sufficiently remote that the residents were not closely supervised and regulated.  The story is told by Pavel Botev from his perspective as a fifteen-year-old boy as he slowly realizes that his world is not what it seems.

Pavel Botev's school teacher Angela Barbulescu was known to be a notorious alcoholic with a mysterious past.  Pavel learns how beautiful Barbulescu had been as a young woman and he wonders what led her to become the bitter alcoholic years later and how it relates to the new Party Secretary.  Pavel undertakes to discover Angela Barbulescu's past and why she hates a prominent party member.

The story is complex, elaborate, and unusual.  I wasn't very familiar with the history of this part of Eastern Europe and Rolf Bauerdick made the area come alive.  Unfortunately, I didn't find the characters particularly sympathetic or interesting.  I didn't enjoy the book all that much though I recognize that I'm in the minority - the book has been very well received and reviewed.

ISBN-10: 0307594122 - Hardcover $27.95
Publisher: Knopf (July 2, 2013), 416 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.

About the Author:
Rolf Bauerdick was born in 1957. He studied literature and theology before turning to journalism and photography. His work has received numerous awards, among them Germany’s prestigious Hansel Mieth Prize. His articles have been published in Der SpiegelGEO, and Playboy, among other publications. He lives in a converted flour mill in Northern Germany with his wife and children. The Madonna on the Moon is his first novel.
Translated from the German by David Dollenmayer.