I love this book in so many ways. First and foremost, the women are strong and brave and sparkle like the sun. They have magnificent relationships wit...moreI love this book in so many ways. First and foremost, the women are strong and brave and sparkle like the sun. They have magnificent relationships with each other and with the men in their lives, because they are respected for their minds even by men in power. Not all of them--and those are the men we are meant to despise.
Jahanara goes through many cruel things in this book, mainly at the hands of her brother Aurangzeb or her husband Khondamir. There are depictions of rape (so be forewarned) and there is most certainly gore due to the wars that Aurangzeb fosters. There are promises of dismemberment and there are years of imprisonment. It might be hard for some people to get through these things, but I found them an important flip-side of the coin: when Jahanara is with those she loves, it is like magic surrounds them, and she is full of spirit and light. It would be almost cloying if there were not different shades of black to come with it.
I feel irrevocably in love with Jahanara, her parents the Emperor and Mumtaz Mahal, her lover Isa, her daughter, and with her best friends Ladli and Nizam, who throw themselves into peril without question for her sake. There is such loyalty and love between all of them.
I understand why some would be frustrated that the story is not true to the actual story of the Taj Mahal. As someone who knows little about that period of time it seemed remarkably imagined and beautiful to me, but I assure you, were it a story about a time period I know much about and it was not historically accurate, I would be quickly pulled out of the story. But historical India is not a place and time that I'm familiar with, and so the portait that was painted for me was a lush one that I willingly fell into and didn't want to leave. (less)
This wasn't a bad book. It was a retelling of Shahrazad's tales from the point of view of someone else in the harem. It was a good, quick read, strong...moreThis wasn't a bad book. It was a retelling of Shahrazad's tales from the point of view of someone else in the harem. It was a good, quick read, strong on description, with an attempt at intrigue that I didn't find particular tension-inducing, but not something I feel I have a need to read again. My one serious gripe with the style was how many things were italicized for emphasis. After a while, it gets distracting and weakens the prose.(less)
I didn't entirely dislike this book, as evidenced by the fact that I finished it. I greatly enjoyed the character growth and change of all the Corneli...moreI didn't entirely dislike this book, as evidenced by the fact that I finished it. I greatly enjoyed the character growth and change of all the Cornelias, and the way they grow to accept each other's idiosyncrasies, and even love them because of them.
What frustrated me was the constant use of the word 'slut' and the shaming that was going on. Granted, the girls who were accused of that mostly just rolled their eyes, and it never stopped them from being sexual, or denying sexuality when they felt like it.
I do feel strange about the writing style, as well. On the one hand, there was strong visual imagery. On the other, I felt distanced. There were a great many asides and flashbacks, and while they weren't long, they were incredibly common and popped out of nowhere without warning, so you would be jumping around from scene to scene and back and often not quite sure which one was the 'real' one.
Not sure if I'd want to read it again, but I might read the follow-up book (more for the characters than for the writing or plot.)(less)
Not a bad book, though I wasn't blown away by it. It's Shehrazad telling her own story, and it takes several liberties with how quickly the king falls...moreNot a bad book, though I wasn't blown away by it. It's Shehrazad telling her own story, and it takes several liberties with how quickly the king falls in love with her. While the writing has some evocative moments, much of it is telling instead of showing. A quick read.(less)
The Taming of Mei Lin is a much shorter story than it should be. It happens over the course of a day, via four chapters, which is much, much too fast...moreThe Taming of Mei Lin is a much shorter story than it should be. It happens over the course of a day, via four chapters, which is much, much too fast for any actual character development. There are sparks, and it starts out well, but the emotions quickly become impossible to sympathise with because they are far too abrupt, deep without depth, and superficially perfect.
There were some good flaws given these characters--Mei Lin's volatile temper and sharp mouth, Shen Leung's poor heritage and sense of honor--but they weren't actually used by the author. At the end of the story I have no idea what brought Shen Leung to Mei Lin's corner of the world, nor why he is famous, nor what his mission is. And while you can argue that it's not important to their romance, I feel like he's merely an outline of a character, and not one with full realism, because we're never shown his background. Nor Mei Lin's. We know her parents are gone, we know her aunt and uncle aren't thrilled to be raising her, we know she can use butterfly swords, but that's it. There is so much here on the surface that can be dug into--why were we never shown anything but the inflamed passions of the two?
And, sadly, The Taming of Mei Lin practiced a trope that I find an immediate turn off. Mei Lin is a competent, strong woman, who can FIGHT. So why does the story put her in a situation where she must be rescued from rape by her knight in shining armor? I really dislike it when plot takes a women's strengths are taken away so that a man can save her.(less)
A beautifully written tale about an old man and an old woman and the child that brings joy back into their lives. The setting is Alaska, which is trul...moreA beautifully written tale about an old man and an old woman and the child that brings joy back into their lives. The setting is Alaska, which is truly gorgeous, and the language is rich but not overburdened. I loved following their lives through the progression of time, and watching Mabel and Jack try to reconnect with each other, and to connect to the people that live near them.(less)
Time Cat did not do what I was hoping it would. The plot is very thin: after a brief introduction of a few pages where main character Jason discovers...moreTime Cat did not do what I was hoping it would. The plot is very thin: after a brief introduction of a few pages where main character Jason discovers via simple conversation that his cat, Gareth, can talk, AND time travel, off they go to Ancient Egypt. In Egypt, Jason has to teach the Pharaoh that cats can't be commanded. Once the Pharaoh is taught his lesson--over the course of two chapters--off they go to the next period in time.
The time periods are awfully simplified and unrealistic. No one looks at Jason and thinks, "Hey, you don't look like you belong here, what are those weird clothes you're wearing?" He fits right in everywhere, even Japan, which is ridiculous, since they were famously closed off from Western culture for centuries. In each era, Jason becomes the voice of reason as he goes about teaching everybody a lesson, or else Gareth's presence somehow precipitates change and causes a historic event. Except in the case of their visit to Leonardo da Vinci, where they just watched him paint a portrait of Gareth and afterwards his parents decide he must be an artist instead of a notary--but Gareth insists that it wouldn't have mattered what Leonardo painted anyway.
Not to mention Jason's character was boring as a cardboard box. He just sort of wandered around and was a Good Guy and set things right and had no personality at all.
There are three simultaneous stories. There is the story of the animals at the barn, and how new faces keep appearing, most of them outcasts that beco...moreThere are three simultaneous stories. There is the story of the animals at the barn, and how new faces keep appearing, most of them outcasts that become a family. There is the story of Ben, the son of the man who owns the barn, and how he cannot read because of his dyslexia. Then there is the story of Dick Whittington, told by Whittington the cat to the barn members.
This was awkwardly done. While I found Dick's story the most interesting, I simply could not believe that Whittington the cat knew anything about traveling at sea, dowries, or the way people preserved foods in Dick's time. It was far too detailed and well-researched for a cat to be able to recite.(less)
Out of the Easy starts off with a bang. It has intrigue, suspense, drama, and clean, detail-oriented writing that spirited me away. There is a love tr...moreOut of the Easy starts off with a bang. It has intrigue, suspense, drama, and clean, detail-oriented writing that spirited me away. There is a love triangle, too--isn't there always, these days?--but the romance was secondary to the main plot, and the characters were multi-dimensional and filled out their spaces in the book with ease. There were several passages that brought tears to my eyes.(less)