"Secret of a Thousand Beauties" begins when Spring Swallow, a young woman living in China during the 1930s. She was promised to her mother's friend's"Secret of a Thousand Beauties" begins when Spring Swallow, a young woman living in China during the 1930s. She was promised to her mother's friend's son before she was born. He died at birth and now that Spring Swallow is of age, she must become a ghost bride where she will still be married to the son even though he is dead. Instead of a life with her in-laws that she barely knows, she decides to run away and is able to find shelter with a woman that she calls Aunt Peony who teaches her the skill of embroidery. This is the story of one woman's determination to control her own destiny during a time where it may seem like she has no choice in the matter.
I loved following Spring Swallow's journey. She is such a fascinating character and definitely one who lives many lives throughout the book, each one as interesting as the last. With Aunt Peony, she learns a skill that she will be able to use to carry her through the rest of her life. She falls in love with a revolutionary, who might care more about the revolution than he does her. And these are just two of the stages that she lives. I loved reading about where her desires took her. Although she is often limited in what she can do for herself by society, she finds a way to make it work.
The book is told from the perspective of Spring Swallow, which I loved. It really allowed me to fully immerse myself in the story. The storytelling style is simple but powerful. I loved all of the historical detail that the author chose to include. I did not know much about China in the 1930s at all so I really enjoyed getting to visit a new time and place through this story! Overall, this was a great historical fiction that I thoroughly enjoyed!...more
3.5 stars. "The Demon Who Peddled Longing" is the story of Nam, a nineteen year old boy who is in the middle of a journey that will take him all over3.5 stars. "The Demon Who Peddled Longing" is the story of Nam, a nineteen year old boy who is in the middle of a journey that will take him all over Vietnam. He is looking for two brothers who raped his cousin. This journey will change him and will take him to meet people he may never have come across otherwise. Each character is struggling with something. These characters will force him to look into himself and to decide the kind of person that he will become. This is the second book that I have read by Khanh Ha and I continued to really enjoy his brand of storytelling.
This book is really hard to describe. It deals with some heavy topics. Nam is dealing with a lot and is a really fascinating character. He is trying to find who raped his cousins. He is also just trying to cope with becoming a man. The topics are heavy but the prose is almost dream-like and sometimes nebulous, which means you have to pay close attention to the book. The writing is also quite stark and I found myself wanting a little more detail about how Nam and some of the supporting characters were feeling. At first, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the book but once I hit my stride, the story was enjoyable.
The author does not shy away from painting a very real and sometimes brutal picture of what post-Vietnam War Vietnam was like. In this book, we meet several characters that are truly struggling to make ends meet. While I found myself wanting more detail, I did like that the author did not candy-coat Nam's journey! Overall, this is a difficult story but those that appreciate writing that is off the beaten path may want to try this one.
"Fahrenheit 451" is one of the original books on the dangers of banning books. Like many other book lovers, this book is definitely one of my favorite"Fahrenheit 451" is one of the original books on the dangers of banning books. Like many other book lovers, this book is definitely one of my favorites (and if you are a book lover and you have not read this book, get ye to the book store and pick up this book for your own collection and then read it and then read it again).
So in this book, we have Guy, a fireman. In this mixed up (and absolutely frightening world for book lovers) world, it is his job to destroy the written word. If it's a book, it has to go. No one in this world is supposed to read. Everyone must watch television instead. There is no room for thinking out of the box. Eventually he sees the light and realizes that books are sort of awesome and worthy of protecting. See, it's easy to see why this book is still a favorite for so many readers. The story has a great message and serves as a great warning too. This is definitely a book that has stood the test of time and I still love it!
This book is still by far one of my favorite dystopian novels. I have read this book a couple times before and while I have loved it every single time, I might have liked this time a little bit better. I listened to this book for the first time on audiobook, which provided a brand new perspective on this old favorite. Better yet, the book is read by Tim Robbins, a great actor and a person whose voice I really love. I loved the life he brought to this book. It definitely made for a really special experience. Even if you think that you know this book well, Robbins gives the story a new spin and is most definitely worth listening to!...more
"Fog Island Mountains" takes place in a small island village in Japan. The story focuses on the residents of this village and their dealings with each"Fog Island Mountains" takes place in a small island village in Japan. The story focuses on the residents of this village and their dealings with each other as well as the world changing around them. The story is told by Azami, the descendent of a storyteller who seems to be very different from many others in the village. This story is very atmospheric and in some places, almost like dreamlike, although the subject matter is very heavy. This is a book that I know that I am going to be thinking about for a very long time.
The characters are important in this book but in some places, it almost felt like the way that the characters were written was truly the key to understanding the story fully. Aside from Azami, we also meet Alec, a South African ex-pat, and his wife, who is convinced that he is going to die from his recently diagnosed cancer so she runs away. I really wanted to understand these characters fully. They are definitely complex but I loved the way that the author was able to give us a tiny bit of insight little by little in order to give us the ability to see where they are coming from even if we don't fully understand where they are coming from.
The writing of the book was good. I also enjoyed listening to the audiobook. I think listening to this particular book on audiobook was a little difficult because the stories of the characters and their dealings with each other were so intricate but if you pay close attention, you will be engulfed by this story!...more
4.5 stars. "Both of Me" is the story of misfits. There is Elias, a teen who lives in two different worlds. One is the real world and the other is a wo4.5 stars. "Both of Me" is the story of misfits. There is Elias, a teen who lives in two different worlds. One is the real world and the other is a world that was created from his own imagination where he gets stuck a lot of times and becomes an outcast for it. Clara is a young woman who is on the run from her past. Her family is utterly broken so she runs away from home and follows her father's extensive travel journal, which takes her to places she never could have imagined. When she And Elias meet, Claire feels a connection and knows that she wants to help Elias whether or not he wants her to. This is definitely a book that you have to play close attention to, especially as Elias moves in and out of his dream world. But if you pay attention, you will fall for these characters like I did!
I love when books can tell me stories that I've never heard of before and this story is definitely original. In this book, Elias has dissociative identity disorder or, which I had never read much about at all. I really like the author's treatment of the disorder and how Elias and those around him deal with it. Much of the book is about how the other characters come to understand his disorder as well as how Clara comes to understand Elias in spite of it.
I loved both of the characters of Clara and Elias. Both of them are dealing with a lot of different things from each other; however, at the same time they are also both dealing with not really understanding their place in the world. Clara has a lot of family issues. Her mother passed away. Her siblings don't seem to know how to take care of themselves and Clara is fed up with having to take care of them since it is such a thankless job that even her own siblings don't seem to appreciate. Her father has just returned from jail. Clara doesn't feel like there's anything for her in London anymore so she leaves to travel. It's only when she meets Elias that she thinks that she may have found a place where she can actually feel at home. I really liked reading about how these characters play it off of each other. On the surface they seem very different, but given a little bit of time it's easy to see how much they care for each other.
The writing of the book is a little difficult to get through at first. You have two main characters who don't always tell the truth. One of them is stuck in a dream world and the other one stretches the truth a little bit in order to save her feelings. Again as I said previously, this is a book that you definitely have to pay close attention to or you may miss out on something wonderful. I found myself reading a couple passages over again to make sure that I understood whether or not we were in Elias' dreamworld. But I didn't mind because the book was so engaging! Overall if you're looking for a young adult fiction book that is off the beaten path and like nothing you've read before, this would be a good pick for you....more
"Waking Up Joy" is the story of Joy, a never married woman who finds herself in a bit of a predicament at the beginning of this book. After freak acci"Waking Up Joy" is the story of Joy, a never married woman who finds herself in a bit of a predicament at the beginning of this book. After freak accident, she finds herself in a coma. Although the rest of the world thinks that she can't hear them including her big, comedic family, she can most definitely hear them and all of their different thoughts about what happened and what she meant to them.
At the beginning of the book, we know that Joy has a difficult past that she has been struggling with. The author gives us details little by little, which at times I found very frustrating because it was hard to get emotionally involved with the character without really knowing what was going on with her until towards the end of the book. We get to see you Joy as she wakes up and is determined to make the past right. It was really interesting to me to see how did Joy goes about doing this. In a way, it was interesting that such an event had affected her so much even though she was far removed from when it actually happened.
The writing of the book was okay. Joy's family was a lot of fun to read about. She comes from a huge family filled with a lot of different characters. We definitely got to know Joy the best out of all of her siblings; however, we also get to know one of her nieces pretty well too, which added to the story. Overall, I thought this book was interesting. If you like family stories and don't mind not knowing a lot of details in the beginning, this book might be a good pick for you....more
3.5 stars. In "The Unimaginable," we meet Jessica, a schoolteacher who is sort of adrift. She wants to escape her old life and try something completel3.5 stars. In "The Unimaginable," we meet Jessica, a schoolteacher who is sort of adrift. She wants to escape her old life and try something completely new so she moves to Thailand, where she quickly moves up the chain at a school and decides that she wants to go even further. She wants to see how far she can go and she ends up on a small boat with Grant, a guy who seems to be hiding from his own life. Together with Quinn, who works on the ship as well, they will encounter numerous dangers that neither one can imagine. This story has some romance and a lot of adventure!
It took me awhile to warm up to Jessica. She is just floating in the beginning of the book. She flits from here to there and we are led to believe that it is because she is trying to figure out her life. Some of her early actions in the book don't seem to add up, like why she leaves the school to post an ad to work on a boat but eventually we get to know her better once she gets on the boat. I did like the romance between her and Grant a lot though. It builds a lot and definitely gave me a lot to be entertained by.
The action in the book was good too. I really enjoyed seeing what happened to Jessica, Grant, and Quinn. The back of the book gives quite a bit away but there are still enough surprises in the book to keep readers on their toes. Overall, I liked the mix of romance and adventure in the book. I also really liked the exotic setting, which was another thing that kept me entertained. ...more
In "Passionate Nutrition," Adler uses her knowledge as a nutritionist to provide some common sense guidance for those that are looking to get healthi In "Passionate Nutrition," Adler uses her knowledge as a nutritionist to provide some common sense guidance for those that are looking to get healthier and to have a healthier relationship with food. Adler's background is very unique in that she had a very difficult life growing up where food was scarce and the scarce food that there was in the house was not healthy at all. As she grew up, she knew that she wanted to make her life's work in showing others how to use food as medicine. It's a fascinating look. I really liked how much of herself the author chose to infuse this book with. Adler makes a point to say that she usually doesn't tell her clients about her very painful past as she shares her story throughout the book. This truthfulness really adds a lot to this book and definitely enhanced my experience in reading the book. There were a lot of different parts of this book that I know that I want to try out in my own life. This book definitely has a lot of food for thought and I love when a book can make you think outside the box, which this one certainly does. This book would be a great pick for anyone looking to revamp their own outlook on food....more
3.5 stars. In "Past Encounters," our main character, Rhoda, finds out that the past has a very interesting way of sneaking into the present. She opens3.5 stars. In "Past Encounters," our main character, Rhoda, finds out that the past has a very interesting way of sneaking into the present. She opens one of her husband's letters and quickly finds out that she doesn't know everything about her husband's life during World War II like she thought she did. The narrative in the story goes back and forth between the past (1940s) and the present (mid-1950s) as Rhoda tries to unravel the mystery of why her husband has been hiding such a big secret from her.
Rhoda and her husband, Peter, definitely made the story very interesting for me. Their marriage is slowly unraveling when the book opens and Rhoda discovers that Peter might be hiding something really big from her. Peter spent many years in a German camp as a prisoner of war. He is haunted by his time there. Rhoda tries to be respectful and to not pry, partly because she has secrets of her own from the war that she does not want to come to light. It was so interesting to see how these two characters play off of each other. There is a love there but also a growing distrust as secrets begin to come to light. It's definitely an interesting juxtaposition.
The writing of the book is pretty good. I really liked how the author used two time periods to give us some different views of what was really happening to Rhoda and Peter and how their experiences during the war played out. There were a couple places where Rhoda and Peter were going around that I thought could have been slimmed down as the characters did not seem to be getting any further but overall, I enjoyed it....more
"While Beauty Slept" is a wholly original fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Oh guys, I love a good fairytale retelling. I love seeing an old fav"While Beauty Slept" is a wholly original fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Oh guys, I love a good fairytale retelling. I love seeing an old favorite story turned on its head into something new and fantastic. This book is definitely one of those. The story is told from the perspective of Elise, a servant in the household of the Queen and the King, who are fighting for their reign. Not all is happy in this world. The Queen seems to be potentially barren and it is imperative that she provide an heir for the kingdom or she and the King could lose their grip on the kingdom. The Queen starts conspiring with and consulting with Millicent (who you will of course remember as the witchy woman from the Sleeping Beauty fairytale). Action ensues.
This book has a historical feel but obviously there is a fantasy-type bend to the story with it being a fairytale. I loved the world that the author created. This is a world where who you know and who you are affiliated with can change your life. All of the matches between the different characters really pulled me in. When the Queen finally has a daughter, Millicent will do anything to get her hands (and her influence) on Rose, the now heir to the kingdom. We see how Millicent tries to work her own influence to get what she wants when it comes to Rose.
I loved that the story was told from the point of view of Elise. Although she is a servant, she is intimately involved in caring and protecting Rose, a job which she takes very seriously. Elise is a study in how a person who on the surface may seem of little consequence can save the day. Overall, I really enjoyed this story! ...more
"Faint Promise of Rain" takes place in 16th century India. It is a time of great change in the country with a new ruler coming to power. The story fol"Faint Promise of Rain" takes place in 16th century India. It is a time of great change in the country with a new ruler coming to power. The story follows Adhira, a young woman born into a family of dancers who tell epic stories and myths through their dances. The exotic setting combined with a fascinating main character makes for a great story.
I loved reading about Adhira and her close knit family. This book shows a lot of the changes that the family goes through as their country is changing around them. I loved reading about how they coped with everything. Adhira's family are all Hindu temple dancers and as Adhira finds out after she is tied to a wealthy patron, their lives are not always their own. I was not really familiar with the lives of these temple dancers before reading this book so I really ate up all of the detail that the author provided.
The description of the time and place that Adhira's family lives in really made this book stand out for me. I love reading about India but I did not know much about the time in which this book takes place. The author provides a lot of great description in a relatively small amount of space that really pulled me into the story! Overall, if you're looking for a good pick for historical fiction lovers, this might fit!...more
In "Stillwater Rising," the small town at the center of the book has just suffered an unspeakable event, a school shooting. The main characters in theIn "Stillwater Rising," the small town at the center of the book has just suffered an unspeakable event, a school shooting. The main characters in the book are at the center of the event. There is Charlotte, the mayor, trying to pull the community together. There is Jennifer, the mother of one of the children who was shot. Finally, there is Julia, the mother of the child who shot the other child. Each of these women adds a very different perspective to this book, which is truly its strength.
I loved that the author chose to include the perspective of all three of these different women. They are coming at this event and its aftermath from very different places. They each have their own fears, heartbreaks, and anger. The author really does a good job of creating a very unique and separate point of view and personality for each woman. It was fascinating to me to watch how these characters interact with each other. There is a ton of emotion in this book and it definitely made me think.
Overall, I liked the writing of this book. The juxtaposition between the various characters engaged me almost from the very first page. This book is the first in a planned series and while this book ended a little abruptly, I am hoping that the rest of the story continues in the next story about this town. If you're looking for a book that really packs a punch, this would be a great pick!...more
"Kitchen Love Story" is a non-fiction book geared for women and written by a female cabinetmaker (definitely not a lot of them running around). This b"Kitchen Love Story" is a non-fiction book geared for women and written by a female cabinetmaker (definitely not a lot of them running around). This book is supposed to be a tool to help women design kitchens that they will be able to fall in love with. This book has a very unique take on all of the various things that you have to consider in order to redecorate or renovate a kitchen.
There can be a lot to consider whenever you re-do a big room in your house, especially one that is as important as the kitchen. Our kitchens get a ton of use and as Finan points out in this book, if you want to renovate the kitchen, you want to make sure that you are going to get a lot out of whatever renovation you do. I get where the author was going and I do think that she was trying to make it easier for people to design a kitchen renovation but this book is quite basic and while it covers a lot, it may not cover enough in order to fully design a renovation but this is a good first step.
The writing of the book was fairly good. There were some parts that I thought were sort of almost talking down to the reader as the information was so basic. This may be a good pick for someone who has never considered a renovation before....more