I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history whOriginally posted here.
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history which I know nothing about. However, if a book comes highly recommended by someone I trust, I can't help but give it a try. Plus, Angie sent a copy already so the least I could do was read the book, right? :) The Road Home has two sections: the first part deals with Rebecca working as a nurse in Vietnam and the second part is about her coming back home to the States. I thought The Road Home was a standalone novel but looking at Ellen Emerson White's website, it looks like she wrote a series called The Echo Company which focuses on a certain soldier's experiences in Vietnam and Rebecca comes into the picture in the latter books. This is probably why when I was reading The Road Home, I felt like I came into the middle of the series.
As the story starts, Rebecca is working in an American hospital in Vietnam. She's a Radcliffe-educated nurse straight out of college and she signed up mainly because of issues with her family. It sort of felt like things already happened to Rebecca and the book is dealing with the aftereffects of those events but I didn't really mind. Rebecca's helicopter was shot down in the jungle and she was MIA for a couple of days until she meets a squad of American soldiers and one of them, Michael, becomes a close friend. Based on hints throughout the novel, Rebecca used to be a cheerful and lively girl and everything changed when she was lost in the jungle. Mostly she runs on autopilot as she tries to save lives when she doesn't even understand the point of it all. During her remaining time in Vietnam, we see her struggle to connect with other people: the Chief Nurse Major Doyle, Michael and even her mother and father through letters.
The Road Home is more than just Rebecca's story of coming back from Vietnam. It's about coming to terms with everything that she encountered while she was there and trying to understand how she's going to go on living when so many people died. Rebecca lost touch with herself when she went off to join the Army and this novel is about her finding herself again. The characters are believable and real - from their experiences during the war to how lost they were after they came back. It's an understatement that it's difficult to overcome the horrors of war. Your heart will break several times over while you're reading this one but I think it's worth reading. The last few chapters are my favorite part of the novel, when Rebecca decides to go on a road trip. Plus the ending? *sigh* It's perfect for the story. So again, I thank Angie for encouraging me to read a book that I normally wouldn't have picked up. I never thought I'd find comfort in a novel about war. I'm baffled that the book is out of print because it deserves to be read by more people. ...more
I read Whiskey Road by Karen Siplin along with good friends Janice and Holly. We all finished reading the book a couple of weekOriginally posted here.
I read Whiskey Road by Karen Siplin along with good friends Janice and Holly. We all finished reading the book a couple of weeks ago but haven't gotten around to writing reviews of it until now. I'm going to link to their Retro Friday reviews as soon as they're up. I always enjoy doing readalongs because it's fun to discuss details about the book with friends who are reading it at the same time. Although we haven't been lucky with some of our other readalong choices before, we all enjoyed reading this one. Thanks again to Michelle for passing along her copy.
This is the first time I've read a novel with a paparazza as a main character. I found it fascinating that Jimi loves her job, not because of the money, but because of the thrill that she gets out of the chase. She's like a private investigator - hiding in Dumpsters or up in trees just to get the perfect shot. Paparazzi are not always portrayed as nice people, you know? So it's good to get a different kind of perspective, it felt like Jimi justified her reasons for doing what she does throughout the course of the book. When she gets tired of it all, she plans a cross-country trip on her motorcycle on the way to visit her brother. She wanted to see how beautiful the countryside in America is but doesn't expect to get robbed along the way. I was surprised by how big an issue racism is in this novel. Granted, most of it is set in rural America but I had no idea that it was still a problem. I even checked the publication date - 2008 - which is fairly recent. I have a feeling I'll remember this book if I ever get the idea that it would be nice to go on a road trip to explore rural America (hint: probably not a good idea when you're a minority).
While Caleb isn't exactly warm and welcoming, he's a lot friendlier than other people in his town and I liked that about him. Felt like he was seeing Jimi for who she really is, instead of just looking at the color of her skin. I liked how both of them warily circled each other in spite of their attraction. It took time for them to get to know each other before they acted on what they were feeling. Both Caleb and Jimi have problems and neither was looking for a relationship when they first met each other. These two have a quiet kind of love story, focusing on how they're both getting over the difficulties in their lives and how they're reluctantly falling for each other. One of the scenes that stood out to me was when Jimi discovered that Caleb loves motorcycles just as much as she does and they go for a motorcycle ride on Whiskey Road. Note to self: ride a motorcycle someday. Whiskey Road is an under-the-radar novel that I'll recommend to readers who like slow burn, complicated romances. I think I got the original recommendation for this from Angie and I don't think I would have found out about it if not for her review. Feel free to recommend other titles that you think have the same feel as this one....more
I was thinking of how best to describe the experience of reading an Eva Ibbotson book and I came up with this: it feels like reOriginally posted here.
I was thinking of how best to describe the experience of reading an Eva Ibbotson book and I came up with this: it feels like reading an old favorite even if you're reading the book for the first time. Does that make sense? I guess it's because the writing is so lovely that you know you can never go wrong with reading one of her books. The premise of A Company of Swans is similar to The Reluctant Heiress - an older self-made millionaire as the male protagonist and a heroine who's not particularly beautiful but is so vibrant that she glows from within and their story is set in a historical setting full of quirky secondary characters. Another similarity that I noticed in her writing is that her characters usually love one form of art. In A Company of Swans, it's ballet and in The Reluctant Heiress, it's music and theater and in A Countess Below Stairs, it's all of these.
I really enjoyed reading A Company of Swans. You can't help but feel sorry for Harriet and the life that she's led because of her father and her aunt. You'll root for her from start to finish. As with all of Eva Ibbotson's other villains, Harriet's father and aunt aren't evil exactly. They don't mean to treat her badly, it's just that they believe strongly in certain things and can't be swayed to accept that Harriet deserves to make her own life choices. I was glad for Harriet when she went away with the tour group to perform ballet in the Amazon. The South American is so lush and beautiful, it makes you want to go that jungle and see for yourself what it looks like. I love how the point of view changes to show us flashbacks of Rom as he was growing up and what he thinks when he sees and meets Harriet for the first time. It made me feel like I was getting to know both main characters from the inside out. The rest of the story unfolds in the same way.
If you've never read an Eva Ibbotson book, I suggest that you remedy that situation right away. ...more
I must say that this line "Chloe Saunders sees dead people." strongly reminded me of the movie Sixth Sense. I'm a huge baby when it comes to horror moI must say that this line "Chloe Saunders sees dead people." strongly reminded me of the movie Sixth Sense. I'm a huge baby when it comes to horror movies (or horror stories for that matter) and I don't watch/read them as much as possible. I was actually a bit scared when I read the prologue and the first few chapters of this book because it talked about ghosts but I got over it. I was really interested in the premise because I haven't read a book with a main protagonist who can see ghosts but I didn't really get into this book. I got put off by Chloe's narration and the way she kept asking questions in her mind. I get that she's confused by everything that's happening but I felt like it felt too long for her to figure things out and I had to wait before things could be revealed. That said, the latter part of the book was faster-paced that the earlier part. When I got near the end, I stayed up reading because I wanted to finish the book.
Again, this is probably just a case of "this book wasn't meant for me" because I've heard good things about it. I am curious as to what will happen next to Chloe because the book ended on a cliffhanger but it's not like I want to rush out and buy The Awakening. *sigh* I've yet to find an urban fantasy series to love. Lament, I have high hopes for you!...more
I enjoyed reading a book about Mulan because I only know her story because of the Disney movie, which I really liked because I love warrior women. I rI enjoyed reading a book about Mulan because I only know her story because of the Disney movie, which I really liked because I love warrior women. I really like the beginning of this book but my usual complaint with the Once Upon a Time series still stands, I think it would've been better to add more meat to the bones. I felt like the latter part of the book wasn't fully developed. The events felt too abrupt.
It's still a light and fun read for those who're interested in Mulan and those who just enjoy fairy tale retellings. ...more
When Lennie goes back to school after her sister Bailey passed away, she knows that nothing will ever be the same and she feelsOriginally posted here.
When Lennie goes back to school after her sister Bailey passed away, she knows that nothing will ever be the same and she feels like no one understands what she's going through except for Bailey's boyfriend, Toby. She's bowled over when she meets the new student at band practice, Joe Fontaine of the incredible eyelashes and grin the size of continental United States. She doesn't understand why she's so affected by this stranger and why he occupies her thoughts when she should be thinking about Bailey.
It was easy for me to empathize with Lennie, having experienced the loss of a loved one a couple of years ago. I love how this book tackles grief and how Lennie handles hers in ways that even she doesn't understand. The Sky is Everywhere is so much more than a story with a love triangle as the summary implies. Even if the story occurs after Bailey passed away, you still feel like you get to know Bailey through Lennie's memories of her. I like how the book deals with loss, but balanced with that unhappiness is the sense of wonder and giddiness that comes with falling in love. Lennie struggles to cope with her sorrow and learns to accept that life goes on even without her sister.
There are a lot of quotable lines from this book but here's one that I especially liked:
My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.
I highly recommend this book because I have a feeling a lot of people will be able to relate with Lennie and everything she's going through. I enjoyed reading about the quirky secondary characters - it seemed like every character in this book has a very original personality. I also liked the poems scattered all throughout the book, poems about Bailey that Lennie writes in every surface that she can find. In the UK paperback edition, I've seen that the text is blue and it looks like handwriting in a journal and that the poems come in colored pictures that make the whole thing look like a scrapbook. I have the US hardcover edition, where everything's in black ink. All in all, a very strong debut for Jandy Nelson and I will watch out for any other book that she writes....more
Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon is a Chinese-inspired YA fantasy novel. Last week, I mentioned in my KniOriginally posted here.
Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon is a Chinese-inspired YA fantasy novel. Last week, I mentioned in my Knife review that R.J. Anderson is a fellow Sounisian and Megan Whalen Turner fan. I believe Cindy Pon is also a fan and look, they even went surfing together! My friend gave me a copy of Silver Phoenix for my birthday last year so I've had it for almost a year. I'm sorry it has taken me this long to read it but there are just so many books in the TBR pile.
I know there's been a lot of talk about the cover for this book and how the design from the hardcover (pictured above) changed to this design for the paperback. I don't want to go into that here but I wanted to point out an artwork for the book that I found from the author's website:
Isn't that beautiful? It shows Chen Yong and Ai Ling. How I wish that this lovely artwork was used for the cover instead. So I really liked that this book is different from other fantasy novels because of its Asian flavor. I may not know a lot about Chinese history and culture but it was refreshing to read about Eastern myths for a change. Several people warned me that I might go hungry while reading this book because of all the food references. I just said that we have a lot of Chinese restaurants here in the Philippines so that's not going to be a problem. I thought it was great that Ai Ling had such a big appetite and that most meals are described in detail. At the start of the novel, Ai Ling reminded me of Disney's Mulan because they're both unsuccessful at becoming proper brides and they both run away from home to go on quests. That's where the similarities end and Ai Ling's story goes a different way.
As much as I loved that Ai Ling's adventures involved demons and mythical creatures derived from Chinese lore, I felt like there were too many of them in the story. I mean yes, I get that Ai Ling is coming into her own powers and these demons were needed to show how she developed her abilities while fighting against them but eventually, I got tired of it. Also, I wasn't as invested in Ai Ling as I would've liked - I wasn't rooting for her because I felt like she would be able to get out of whatever predicament she manages to fall into because that's what kept happening in the book. It felt like there was a disconnect between me as a reader and Ai Ling as a character and that kept me from being truly immersed in the story. Those were some of the problems that I had and while I didn't exactly fall in love Silver Phoenix, I'd still recommend it to fantasy fans because of its unique world. It's certainly better than some of the YA paranormal books (yes, I'm not a fan) that are available right now. I think it would be great if more Asian YA fantasy novels are released in the future. I would probably pick up the sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, to find out what happens next to Ai Ling because this one was a bit open-ended. Oh it looks like Fury of the Phoenix will be released on my birthday, March 29. :)...more