This book should have been great. It had excellent bones, fascinating stories of three generations of women who didn't quite fit the mold... and yet I...moreThis book should have been great. It had excellent bones, fascinating stories of three generations of women who didn't quite fit the mold... and yet I found it wanting.
It was a SLOW read. So slow that even though I was interested in the characters, I had no problem putting it down. It took me nearly two weeks to read it.
The story concepts were interesting, and it wasn't exactly the dialogue or the background that was slow... it just was. I was a bit disappointed. Definitely not my favorite Amy Tan novel.(less)
This was an interesting twist on the classic Cinderella - imagine Cinderella as a cyborg mechanic, living in Beijing. I enjoyed this new Cinder - and...moreThis was an interesting twist on the classic Cinderella - imagine Cinderella as a cyborg mechanic, living in Beijing. I enjoyed this new Cinder - and her side kick Iko.
Although it was an enjoyable read, with an intriguing story, I guessed the big unveil about 25 pages into the book - and I'm generally hoodwinked by the story right up until the unveil, so this was unusual, and means it's pretty obvious.
The book was not terribly formulaic and had an interesting cast of characters, but they all seemed kind of - static and flat. I wish there had been more development with the characters throughout the story. For example, we know her guardian is going to be an uber-bitch, because it's Cinderella, but give us some insight into her character. What made her into this skank? Why is she so hateful?
I'll probably read the next book when it comes out, but I won't be anticipating it with the pain and suffering as some other series that are currently not completely published.(less)
The fact that this book could be placed on 19 of my goodreads shelves probably indicates that I should have listened to my best friend and read it lon...moreThe fact that this book could be placed on 19 of my goodreads shelves probably indicates that I should have listened to my best friend and read it long ago - even though I have never had (and still don't have) any interest in zombies.
The book is a series of fictional interviews with survivors after the zombie apocalypse. Although the interviews were fictional, there was a lot of conjecture based on current cultural and political situations throughout the globe that were realistic enough to be very interesting - it wasn't just a made up story with arbitrary situations. It's like the author looked that the globe country by country, considered their socio-economic, military, cultural, and political statuses as well as environmental and geographic settings and determined what could happen, and then wrote the stories like it did happen. When told from the perspective of the characters who were from those places, it made it completely fascinating.
Some of the things that will stick with me were: the F6 classification for unskilled labor in the US (I've already used it about 15 times in conversation), North Korea's complete disappearance, the painful/costly development of war tactics, and the results of the zombies freezing at lower temperatures on the Canadian wilderness. Also, the K9 teams, and the ideas of quislings and ferals will stick with me.
Obviously for a book about the zombie apocalypse, there needs to be some suspension of belief. Although I was able to do that throughout the book, afterwards, I was still left with some pretty large gaps in understanding - specifically 1. how did the disease begin, and what was it? and 2. how some of the changes on the human body take place - especially loss of feeling, ability to be in lower depths of water pressure without impact, freezing at lower temperatures - I want to know these things still. So it just can't get 5 stars.
However, I found it extremely entertaining - and much more cerebral than I expected.(less)
One of my early loves has been cultural anthropology. From a young age, I was fascinated with objects found through archaeology, not for the objects t...moreOne of my early loves has been cultural anthropology. From a young age, I was fascinated with objects found through archaeology, not for the objects themselves, but for what they told us about other cultures. This book basically is a look at the history of the world - as told by objects found in the British Museum.
The goal was to choose items from the collection that ranged from the beginning of human history right up to the present day. They had to cover the whole world - as much as possible. They had to be from literate and non-literate cultures. They had to address many aspects of the human experience, and tell about whole societies - not just the rich and powerful - so they had to include humble items as well as great works of art. They also had to include information from experts and commentators from all over the world.
Each of the chapters covered a different object - with a full color picture or two of the object. The chapters were short enough for you to absorb the info, and packed with information about the object and its cultural significance. Every page was a new interesting fact, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them all.
If I can provide a criticism it is that it was definitely told from the British perspective (pretty understandable since it was originally a radio program from the BBC, and from the British Museum). There are also no items from the city states that we now know were in North America - Cahokia, Chaco Canyon, etc. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that it's because they don't have these items at the museum. Still, I found it slightly annoying that we talked about the Aztec, the Olmec, the Maya, the Moche, and nothing north of Mexico - when in fact there were complex societies and trading routes that covered the entire North American continent. Finally, I'm not sure that I agreed with the items selected from the current period. Internet, airplanes, cell phones - the things that make our world global - were all missing. The closest thing to globalism was the credit card.
If I had to pick a top 5 most arresting/interesting objects, they would be, in no particular order:
Durer's Rhinoceros Ife Head Flood Tablet Standard of Ur Admonitions Scroll
It was hard to get this down to 5. I would say that at least 50 of the 100 were mesmerizing. what I appreciated most about this book was how it made me look at the objects and actions in my life and how they may be perceived by future generations. How would people of the future feel about my stamp on the front cover? What if my pantry were unearthed? What would they think about the pictures in my house? What do they reveal?
If you have any interest in history or culture, I recommend this book.(less)
I really wanted to like this book. a story about Pearl S. Buck (The Good Earth) and her time in China written by Anchee Min (Express Orchid and others...moreI really wanted to like this book. a story about Pearl S. Buck (The Good Earth) and her time in China written by Anchee Min (Express Orchid and others) - sounded fantastic and I grabbed it right up.
Sadly though it hasn't been good so far. I know a book is bad when I choose to turn on the tv ( which never happens!) to avoid a book.
I wound up texting the question "how many pages/% of a book do you need to read before you can decide its just not good?" The responses I got ranged from "1 page if its Love in the Time of Cholera" to "50 pages unless it was highly recommended by someone you trust" to "Two chapters unless its worse". I've gone through five chapters, and 50 pages, and I'm calling it quits.
It drags, the story hasn't really gone anywhere, and I'm annoyed by the methods of the Chinese missionary assistants to warp the message of Jesus to create converts. It may wind up being a good story, but as much as I wanted it to be good, its not worth dragging my way through.(less)
Finally - a proper ending to a story that started several years ago with Shanghai Girls. I have read them back to back, and I believe they must be rea...moreFinally - a proper ending to a story that started several years ago with Shanghai Girls. I have read them back to back, and I believe they must be read that way. They are two pieces of one book, not two separate novels.
Dreams of Joy does stand on it's own two feet - there are no extended "memory sequences" (thank god), and the story is entirely new - though still tinged with the deep feelings of the first novel. In this story we follow Joy and Pearl to China and the separate journeys that they experience there. We meet several characters from the first novel as they are 20 years later. Through Joy's eyes, we see the Great Leap Forward from the perspective of the communes, and the details and consequences of that particular campaign. Having read several fictional and biographical stories around this time in China's history, I will say that this was possibly the most graphic, and emotionally harrowing - similar to the foot binding scenes from Snow Flower, which were also the most vivid of all similar stories I have read.
I think this is an important novel in that the characters were not above falling into the political climate, actively participating in struggle sessions, and basically acting like the sheep that follow the rest of the herd, even when it leads to complete destruction.
I'm grateful that the ending wrapped up all of the stories from both novels in a satisfying coda.(less)
I picked this book up because I was looking for a decent, not to deep paperback that I could bring with me on a vacation. I wound up reading it before...moreI picked this book up because I was looking for a decent, not to deep paperback that I could bring with me on a vacation. I wound up reading it before I leave, but it would have been a perfect vacation book.
The story is of Xiang Xiang, who do to some unfortunate family circumstances is given to the Chinese version of a Geisha house. Through the story you learn about the decadence, arts, and world that the elite "ming ji" (prostitutes) live in. There were the typical characters - the vulgar Mama, the other "sisters" in the house, the rich men who call for services, and additional side characters. the story is not unique, but it was enjoyable to read, and I found myself pulling for Xiang Xiang to achieve her goals. There were also themes consistent with other novels in the genre.
The story was told completely from her perspective, which means even though this was a very interesting time in Chinese history (just before the Japanese occupation) there was nothing mentioned about it other than the occasional person making a reference during conversation.
I had no expectation that this book would be exceptional - and it was not - but it was entertaining.(less)
I initially heard about this book from the NY Times op-ed on the chinese mother approach. I was immediately intrigued, because it was spectacularly fi...moreI initially heard about this book from the NY Times op-ed on the chinese mother approach. I was immediately intrigued, because it was spectacularly firm - with Amy Chua piece after piece of her daughter Lulu's doll house into the car to be sent to goodwill because Lulu couldn't play a difficult piece on the piano perfectly. I was hooked.
I grew up in a strict household with high expectations, but plenty of love. The story sounded like my parents were very much a tiger mothers, so I wanted to read about Amy's plans, reasoning, and results.
The girls are expected to have perfect A's (agree!), no sleepover parties (I never got to go to one), no play dates (we weren't allowed to have people come over), required to play instruments (both my brother and I played two each), and were expected to be respectful, exceptionally well behaved, and hard working. Where we deviated from Amy's plan is that we were taught to think critically, to question, and to not make decisions solely on what someone in authority said. Also, I would never ever have been told I was fat, stupid, or lazy, and there was a clear level of scale. We loved each other, and so never said hurtful or mean-spirited things, and there were several statements from Tiger Mom in this book that shocked me.
What I found most intriguing was how successful her plan was with the oldest, and yet what a complete disaster it was with the second child. Only after starting to write this review did I realize that as the oldest, it worked very well for me - and was a tremendous failure with my brother. If nothing else, it's a lesson that your plan on child-rearing can be good, but you have to be able to be flexible to work with the actual children themselves.
The book is obviously meant to be self-deprecating and humorous in it's extremities, but it's also very clear that though she states that she's "rehabilitated", she still struggles with allowing her children to do anything without her meddling. It's really a 3.5 star book, but I marked it down rather than up because battles over daily practice sections and all of the music pushing was a little weary even coming from a musical family, and I'd imagine that it was slow reading for anyone else.(less)
Some journalists write great books. Some journalists write books that could have been about 100 pages shorter. I've found that the books I like from j...moreSome journalists write great books. Some journalists write books that could have been about 100 pages shorter. I've found that the books I like from journalists (like Nick Kristof and Malcolm Gladwell) are a variety of different stories that come together to make an overall point. This book, however, told the same story over and over. By page 65 I was pretty sure I had it - the girls leave their homes without permission, don't listen to their parents, don't do really well saving money, and only progress by continually swapping factories. Got it. Oh, and they all want boyfriends even when the city is 70% female.
Maybe it's because this topic was already familiar to me, and that I've been exposed to the factory life for young women in China before, but I couldn't finish this book. I even skipped ahead to see if maybe it would change - no, every page I looked at was about one of the topics previously described above.
If you haven't heard about China's progress or the impact young women are having on the economy it'll probably be a good read. If you have, skip this one. There's nothing new here.(less)
I have always enjoyed Lisa Ling's work, from the time that I was a student watching her on Channel One News. I had been aware of her sister Laura, and...moreI have always enjoyed Lisa Ling's work, from the time that I was a student watching her on Channel One News. I had been aware of her sister Laura, and Euna Lee's arrest in North Korea, and signed a petition asking the DPRK's government to release them. This is Laura's story of what happened and what she experienced while in North Korea, as well as Lisa's story of doing everything in her power - including yanking nearly every string that she could pull from political and media contacts.
I thought that the book was written in easy prose, and captivated me because it covered not only the political wrangling, communist countries from the inside (something that fascinates me), and the love of two siblings when one of them got into serious trouble and the other one was going crazy trying to save her (why would that be familiar?.
This didn't get five stars because it wasn't a life-altering novel, but I did consider it. It was obvious that the DPRK treated Laura quite well (after the initial arrest) and that that they were concerned that she feel like she was being treated well, so the US would know that they were taking care of her. I'm incredibly interested in how Euna Lee was treated, since she is Korean, and spoke Korean. Her book isn't released until Septermber, but I'll definitely be reading it when it comes out.(less)
Peony in Love is the story of Peony, a girl during the Qing Dynasty, who falls in love with the opera The Peony Pavilions (a chinese Romeo and Juliet)...morePeony in Love is the story of Peony, a girl during the Qing Dynasty, who falls in love with the opera The Peony Pavilions (a chinese Romeo and Juliet), and the impact of the opera on her life and afterlife.
What I love about this novel are the details provided of dealing with and being a ghost in the Chinese culture. I also love that even after she dies, she doesn't immediately know everything, but still has to try to solve her life and family puzzle.
As with all Lisa See novels, there are emotional swells, and deep characterization that allows you really experience Peony's world.(less)
This is the true story of Wong Jade Snow, the fifth daughter of a chinese family, who was born and raised in Chinat...moreAnother good book from my neighbor.
This is the true story of Wong Jade Snow, the fifth daughter of a chinese family, who was born and raised in Chinatown, San Francisco. The story was told in an unusual third person, because she spoke of her family - Daddy, Mother, Prosperity, with first person knowledge, but referred to herself as Jade Snow throughout. It took a little bit to get used to, but once you were in the story was very interesting.
The story starts when she is quite young, and shows the clear differences between life and expectations at home vs. with the "foreigners" (I thought this term was classic, since they were living in San Francisco). She is a dedicated young learner, though as her brother says she has no creativity or personality, but takes that drive and shows them all that she is not only a valuable part of the family, but that she can be a success in her own way. Without her family's support, she put herself through college, worked successfully for teh Navy during WWII, and started her own business, which allowed her to write this book.
I think it was most interesting because it was a true story, and she wrote about her life from a perspective that showed the depth of other people's feelings as well as her own.
Utterly and completely unreadable. This is based on the life of Easern Jewel, Yoshiko Kawashi, who was a cold and heartless ______ (feel free to fill...moreUtterly and completely unreadable. This is based on the life of Easern Jewel, Yoshiko Kawashi, who was a cold and heartless ______ (feel free to fill in the blank, they are all true). Not only could I not relate to this character, but her calculating and careless destruction of other people's live sickened me.
The author was trying to write from this woman's perspective, which must have been quite a challange, but the way the "character" thought about things just - it just wasn't human.
I'll never ever read this again. I got about halfway through and just tossed it.(less)