Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mini-Reviews Part 3 (Adult Titles).

This is the third and final post in my attempt to catch up talking about the books I've read this year and haven't reviewed. The first two posts focused on young adult titles and this one is all about those adult books I've picked up and read in the last few months.

Keep in mind that these are just short little blurbs about the books and my impressions of them.

Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano

I was actually pitched this book for review and accepted for two reasons. First, the cover. Second, the title. If you are unfamiliar with Loteria, it is a card game-a bit like bingo-from Mexico. I took a lot of Mexican and Mexican-American history courses in college for my history degree (I have a specialization in Mexican-American Culture and Studies), and in one of my courses, a professor taught us how to play Loteria. I haven't played or seen cards since then, but when I saw the title of this book, I knew I had to read it.

Young Luz Castillo has been taken in by the state while her father is in jail and her sister is in the ICU. Alone and feeling very isolated, she takes to writing a journal in a very interesting way. With a deck of Loteria cards at her side, she pulls a card and writes a piece of her history. What unfolds is a very touching and emotional story of her childhood and how her family fell apart.

I loved this book. It was raw, emotional, and tugged at every heart-string. This is one of those books you don't see coming...but you need to read it. I promise.

*I will warn you that Zambano throws in quite a few Spanish phrases. Most you can pick up from context clues, but some are a bit trickier. I figured them out from my background, but some might be hard for you if you don't know any Spanish.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This was a book not at all on my radar. I really don't read contemporary adult fiction. I really couldn't tell you what's "popular" right now. But I remember hearing someone on the blogosphere raving about this book, and I had it in the back of my mind. So, while down in Indiana in May for the Indy 500, I went to the bookstore with my sister-in-law. This was on a shelf and jumped out at me. So I bought it.

At times this book was...absurd that I laughed out loud. There were phrases that just jumped off the page...including quite a few f-bombs. It just seemed so raw and edgy. It was in my face and aggressive. The footnotes were insightful and interesting. I just sucked them up.

The book is about the life of Oscar Wao, a Dominican living in the United States. Through a series of different narrators, the book explores Oscar's life and how he became the person he is. In some ways, the book reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude-not the magical realism part, but the depth of family history and strength.

By the end of the novel, I was completely obsessed. It was a book that just took me over. And told me that perhaps I need to read more adult fiction...from this era. :)

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

I've never read anything by Sedaris, but he is one of those writers I've been meaning to get to. Then this book came out and I was so intrigued by the cover and title that I figured I would read it soon. Then I happened to win a copy from the 24-Hour Readathon, so it was perfect.

This is a collection of essays from Sedaris about a whole range of topics. Many made me chuckle and I flipped through them rather quickly. I will say that some of them would have gone over better had I been listening to Sedaris talk. I feel like a lot of his humor is lost in the written form. He must be hilarious in person.

I did enjoy my first exposure and have another one of his titles on my shelf (Me Talk Pretty One Day). He is someone I will definitely read more of in the future!

As you can see, I don't read much in the way of current adult fiction and non-fiction, so please give me some recommendations for other titles to check out. I think I read diversely, but I know this is an area I know nothing about. :)


  1. I live in the part of the country where we have so much Mexican and Hispanic-influenced stuff, and our local grocery store partnered with a local artist a few years ago to make a new set of Loteria cards. The deck mostly has all the same cards, but there were a few that were dropped and a few more Tex-Mex cards added (like a Low Rider). The cards are bilingual, and the bingo sheets that came with it are double-sided, english on one side, spanish on the other. All the artwork is done in a very similar style as the original. Then the grocery store promoted these and sold copies, so we have a deck/game at home. The boys love to play with them. I can't wait to get my hands on that book!

  2. Yay! I'm glad you liked Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls! And Me Talk Pretty One Day is gold. Probably my fave of his books. He's definitely hilarious, and a lot of his essay recordings are available on YouTube.

  3. These mini-reviews are a great idea. I need to catch up too.

    I've seen Loteria around, and I love the cover too. I have no Spanish background, but I can always Google!

    I have this idea that Junot Diaz is overrated (no idea if he is, never read him) but the comparison to 100 Years is intriguing...