Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green
A deceptively simple tale told from the viewpoint of a 5 year old imaginary friend (Budo) who was brought into existence by Max now 8. Max is 'on the spectrum' and suffers from people who don't understand him, and in some cases, especially at school, people who are unkind and bullying. Max is kidnapped and it is up to Budo to rescue him, which is difficult given he can only talk to other imaginary friends, and can't affect the physical world. Superficially it could almost be a children's book, but it isn't. It is a book about friendship, choices, individuality, morality, love, grief, death, mental illness, acceptance - life, in fact. It is a really easy, delightful read yet has substance. Highly recommended.
Knight Assassin: The Second Book of Talon and Assassination in Al Qahirah by James Boschert
I didn't realise until I started reading Knight Assassin that it was the second volume of a series. Usually I find that extremely annoying, but this time I realised that I had already read the first volume a few years ago. The story lines in these books are very unsurprising and the characters not particularly well developed, but the background knowledge shows in the detailed descriptions of clothes, architecture, weapons, food, everything! They are a fascinating way of learning about the period of time of the Crusades and if you are interested in a bit of light, easy history, these books are well worth a read.
Bend, Not Break by Ping Fu with MeiMei Fox
The story of two halves: Ping Fu was born in China and lived there until she was 25. She suffered under Mao's regime - poverty, physical beatings, emotional abuse, rape - yet survived, looking after her little sister as well. After the cultural revolution ended she went to university, but wrote a paper on the way female babies were abandoned and killed by parents wanting a son but restricted to just the one child. The paper escaped the academic world and made it into the general arena - all over the world, in fact, and she was told to leave the country. She went to America, and after doing a course in English, studied computer science. The American part of the story is mostly about her rise in the computer world - she is now President and CEO of Geomagic, Inc. This a fascinating book about someone just nine years younger than me, who has had to struggle yet who has made it in the world in ways I never even imagined. I am happy in my life, and certainly didn't finish the book thinking, 'I wish that was me,' but I am filled with admiration. The one thing that really had me gobsmacked though was when I got to the end feeling that I had a good idea of what this high powered business woman was like: I continued reading for a moment before I realised I had past the end and was reading the acknowledgements. "To my coauthor, MeiMei Fox, whom I met at Burning Man in 2010." Where did that come from? Burning Man? I realise that this book only scratches the surface; there are way more layers to her than are shown in this book!