Thanks to goodreads First Reads for the free copy of this book.
The Scavenger's Daughters takes you into the life of Benfu, a poor man in China who prThanks to goodreads First Reads for the free copy of this book.
The Scavenger's Daughters takes you into the life of Benfu, a poor man in China who provides for his family by collecting and recycling trash. His family over the years has included dozens of girls, all of whom he found abandoned while at work.
Bratt does an excellent job of setting the scene and putting us in China; for me there were enough touches to show her experiences there (descriptions, Chinese phrases) and that she knows what she's talking about, without being overwhelming or hard to understand. I really appreciated how Benfu's family is portrayed, and how she manages to distinguish so well the seven daughters in addition to Benfu and his wife; each girl had her own personality and traits.
The story overall was captivating, and heart-wrenching, and I found it hard to put down. Having peeked at the end notes and learning that there is factual inspiration only made it more compelling.
That said, some of the more political aspects didn't come over very well. The conversations that Benfu has, such as with the stranger Pei and his long-time friend Gong, sound artificial; in both it was obvious that the author was speaking. For someone not familiar with this aspect of Chinese history, the content itself is a bit harder to understand, though Bratt doesn't go too far into it.
Also, as heart-warming as the ending was - no spoilers - it was a little much for me. There were a few questions left unanswered - and not the type to come up in the next book - and it just felt a little overdone, considering all that had come before.
Still though, a very interesting read, and I look forward to more in the series....more
Thanks to goodreads FirstReads for the free copy of this book.
Per the Acknowledgements section, Philida is the story of a real slave who lived beforeThanks to goodreads FirstReads for the free copy of this book.
Per the Acknowledgements section, Philida is the story of a real slave who lived before and during the emancipation of South Africa. Brink used historical records to trace the outlines of her life - her official complaint against her master's son and her four children he sired, the failure of her master's farm, and her eventual sale to another city just before emancipation.
At first, I wasn't sure what to make of this novel. At first, it's a hard read. The subject matter is difficult, and there are several scenes that are just shocking to a modern reader, even knowing that it was once common. I found myself having to take breaks after a few chapters, to step away because it's so intense. Also, Brink is liberal with his use of Afrikaans, and I wish a glossary had been provided. It didn't help that my own knowledge of South African history is near non-existent.
As tough as it was to get into though, Philida's character draws you in. She's not locked in to one aspect of herself - she goes through a lot of growth and change, and that is so compelling. Towards the end I couldn't put the book down, because I just needed to find out what she would do.
Overall a very interesting, very different by the FirstReads algorithm, and I look forward to reading more of Brink's novels....more
Thanks to goodreads FirstReads for my free copy of this book.
Corasanti's The Almond Tree is the memoir-style story of a Palestinian man, starting witThanks to goodreads FirstReads for my free copy of this book.
Corasanti's The Almond Tree is the memoir-style story of a Palestinian man, starting with the death of his baby sister by land mine - he was seven - through his childhood of extreme poverty and hardship, followed by scholastic and professional accomplishment in his advanced years. It's a tale of family and sacrifice, country and occupation.
This is one of many recent novels about Israeli and Palestine (The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East and Mornings in Jenin come to mind immediately) and seeks to provide a stronger Palestinian viewpoint that what is normally found in American media. To that end, it succeeds. Corasanti's portrayal of brutalities suffered by Ichmad's family is harsh, and the living conditions in Gaza as described are shocking. The lack of peace - even basic human rights - in that region is no less than outrageous.
So there's a gold star for putting focus on a deserving topic.
Beyond that though... I wasn't particularly impressed with Corasanti's writing style; while she tells the story well, poor editing in a couple spots had me rereading. And while the story line makes sense as a memoir, this is a work of fiction, and I would have expected more completion on some threads of the story. For example, there's great length put into the story of Ichmad's courtship of his first wife Nora, and she develops a real personality; she is killed days after their marriage. A year later Ichmad remarries at the behest of his parents, and all he can really say for the first year of their marriage is that she's pudgy and doesn't trim her eyebrows - but suddenly in the last part she's an educated, English-speaking businesswoman with a master's degree and he loves her very much. It was a big leap without much supporting it.
I'm also curious about the intended message. At the end, Ichmad feels a lot of guilt for escaping Palestine the way that he did through academia, even though it allowed his family to survive (and prosper, by the description of his family's home and the many, many educational accomplishments of his siblings, nieces and nephews - all paid for apparently by Ichmad), and he vows to spend the rest of his life working towards peace in the Middle East. And his first step? Open a foundation named for his bright nephew who became a suicide bomber when he was unable to escape as Ichmad did. The subtext on that just rings odd, and I was left with a sense on incompletion, like the author doesn't believe change is possible after all.
Overall I found The Almond Tree thought-provoking, but it's one of many such novels on the market, and I can't say that this would be my first recommendation. ...more
Thanks to goodreads First Reads for the free, advance reader's copy of this book.
I think that for most American readers, Mazzantini's Twice Born is aThanks to goodreads First Reads for the free, advance reader's copy of this book.
I think that for most American readers, Mazzantini's Twice Born is a harder read. For starters, I personally didn't have much to go on to place this story in context - I'm not super familiar with the region, and have never read anything about the turmoil in this area recently or historically. The narrator doesn't help in that regard; a few names are dropped, and nothing more. While I understand not wanting to bog the story in side story details (does which war really matter?), it was hard to wade through so disorientated.
Another reviewer made the point that had this been an American novel, the focus would have been largely on Gemma and Diego's relationship - the love story. Instead we get a much more complex story with heavier emphasis on all the relationships. It's unexpected, but refreshing. Even though the narrative kept me jumping (and to be honest, I was wishing for just a bit more cohesiveness), the overall effect works. This was heartbreaking and the slow pace steadily drew me in to the story.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel. It's different, it's compelling, and despite any criticism I might have, it was tough to put down. I look forward to reading Mazzantini's other works. ...more
Thanks to goodreads First Reads for this copy of Love Will Follow.
Things I Liked: - A historical setting that doesn't hit you on the head with hard hThanks to goodreads First Reads for this copy of Love Will Follow.
Things I Liked: - A historical setting that doesn't hit you on the head with hard historical facts (names, dates, etc) - An interesting and varied cast of characters, most of them likeable - Believable dialog! - The right amount of fictional convenience and coincidence - Easy, quick readability
Things I Didn't Like: - The lack of depth to the "bad guy" - A couple of plot inconsistencies: Kittie finds out about X's death during the snow storm, and then appears shocked by it again several chapters later; Amos in the jail would have heard her referred to as Kate when she went missing, then later identifies her as Kittie when Henry goes after her - The lack of the "orphan train": from the blurbs about the book, I was expecting it to play a more prominent role in the setup - The mystical dream scenes: the paranormal bits seemed out of place and overdone...more
I wish I had more to say about this book. It was a good kid's chapter book - a novel idea, a nice blend of historical fiction and fantasy elements, anI wish I had more to say about this book. It was a good kid's chapter book - a novel idea, a nice blend of historical fiction and fantasy elements, and some likeable characters. I think the telling of the story was a bit lacking - either it's a big long for the depth Walsh reaches, but there are hints of a deeper story that she doesn't touch. Personally I would have liked to see some more back story on the fairy elements, or a stronger indication of where it would take dear William. Still though, a good read....more
I don't understand why anyone (much less the hundreds who have already rated this) would read the movie script instead of the book itself. I ordered tI don't understand why anyone (much less the hundreds who have already rated this) would read the movie script instead of the book itself. I ordered this after reading the original book and seeing the movie, assuming it would have some insight into the film, what went into the filming process - basically that it would deepen my appreciation for the film. No. There's about 10 pages of introduction, from which I learned that the film had been shot in western China, and the rest was just the shooting script. No commentary, no insider information... A quick read, but it wasn't worth the time. Go read the actual novel by Khaled Hosseini. ...more
I'd like to thank Goodreads FirstReads giveaways for this advanced reader's edition. A hopeful pick, as always.
After finishing this novel, my strongeI'd like to thank Goodreads FirstReads giveaways for this advanced reader's edition. A hopeful pick, as always.
After finishing this novel, my strongest comment is that it's "chick-lit" trying to pass as historical romance. There's the historical setting, the forbidden affair, the disapproving family... but honestly, not a lot of romance. As a reader I never really connected with the characters; the descriptive writing was well presented, but the characters - even after 400 pages - fell flat. Throughout the novel I wanted to know more about them - especially how Erika and Peter met or what exactly keeps the romance going long distance for eight years - but Erika and Ravell struck me as rather empty.
So getting back to my point, I don't think this works as a historical romance novel. However, it is an interesting read from the perspective of women's role in the workforce (and not in the home). And had the novel been written more strongly in that tone - with more emphasis on Erika's point of view / personal struggles as a woman, and less on attempted romance - I think The Doctor and the Diva would have been a more relevant, captivating read. ...more