book review: Street of Eternal Happiness

Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz is a nonfiction book that provides a look at the lives of different Chinese residents along a street called the “Street of Eternal Happiness.”  Rob Schmitz tells the stories of these residents with caring humor.  He depicts their lives honestly – how the different generations view the current politics in China as well as the problems each generation has had to face.  At times, the book is an anthropological study and at times it appears whimsical in the story telling.

At first, the stories are heartbreaking, but when you encounter the tough stories, there’s always another story of survival.  For example, the book starts off describing a man who attempted to commit suicide as a teenager by slitting his wrists while he is sleeping next to his grandmother.  Obviously, the man failed and ended up moving on with his wife since the author met him as an adult.

It describes the corruption and the cover ups that happen in China’s “system.”  The Chinese sink or swim depending on how well they are able to maneuver the “system.”

The book itself, with the numerous stories, was interesting to read and gave a good look at what is going on in China today.  The part that interested me was how different people defined success.  Some people defined it financially.  Some defined success based on their children’s lives.  Others defined it as having enough money to pursue more philosophical ideals of enlightenment.

Obviously, China is very different from the United States culturally.  This book depicted those differences, but also showed that people the world over struggle to find their place.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-book from Penguin through their First to Read program in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: The Bee-Friendly Garden

I was excited to read this book because I have been doing a lot of reading about the disappearance of bees and how it affects our food supply.  The Bee-Friendly Garden started out well with an overview of what the problem was with bees and why we need to pay attention to the problem.

Most of the book consists of recommendations for what to plant to attract bees, especially native bees.  The only problem is that the layout isn’t very clear so you don’t really know which plants should be grown in which regions.  Sometimes the text explained that such-and-such plant would grow better in the Southwest or in sandy soil, etc.  It didn’t really give specifics, though.  Most other gardening books give you specifics such as temperature/climate to plant, tips on when to plant, recommendations for soil content, etc.

The most important ideas from the book are that native bees are better pollinators than honey bees so we should try to help attract native bees.  Native bees like native plants best.  The most helpful parts of the book were the links that were provided to a website so that you could contact the people in your specific area.  See http://www.fws.gov/invasives/what-you-can-do.html#native-plants for more information.  There is also a section in the back of the book that I found helpful.  it listed regions in the U.S. and bee-friendly plants for that region.

I liked that this book brought up an important topic, but I was disappointed in the book itself.  Most of the stuff that is presented (what type of plants attract bees) can be found on the internet.  There wasn’t much in the book about how to care for those plants or other gardening tips.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books

book review: Mug Shot

Mug Shot is a mystery that is part of the Java Jive mystery series by Caroline Fardig.  If you are a fan of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, you’ll probably like this book.  The book’s main character is a redhead named Juliet (Jules) Langley who runs a coffee shop with her best friend, Pete.  Like Stephanie Plum, Jules is caught between two men – Pete and cop named Ryder.  Pete and Jules have a mostly platonic relationship, but the sexual tension is always there, with Pete often eyeing Jules when she wears revealing clothing.  Jules even has a feisty grandmother, like Stephanie.  There are other personality similarities between Stephanie and Jules.  They both have a knack for getting into dangerous situations and sort of are bumbling detectives, yet somehow manage to solve the case in the end.  Like the Stephanie Plum books, you don’t have to read the entire series to understand what is going on in this book because there is just the right amount of back story explained without it becoming tedious for people who have read the other books.

In this book, Jules has to play detective to rescue Pete, who is arrested for the murder of his snobby socialite girlfriend, Cecilia.  Pete’s DNA is all over Cecilia and in the tent where her body was found.  To complicate matters, Jules is casually dating Cecilia’s brother, the black sheep of the family.  Break-ins, jail time, and love interests keep this mystery going at a decent pace.

This mystery is an easy, light read that would be perfect for lazy summer days by the pool or beach.

Disclaimer:  I received this complimentary e-book as part of #RHMysteryPack from Chatterbox.