“The decision was the toughest I’d ever faced. The choice was between my husband and my son. If I moved to Taiwan, I could save one but ruin the other“The decision was the toughest I’d ever faced. The choice was between my husband and my son. If I moved to Taiwan, I could save one but ruin the other. … My only consolation was that I was abandoning him to a good home. Thus, with a heavy heart I left Patrick behind and flew with my four other children to Taipei. It was the summer of 1963.” Pg. 263.
How much would you sacrifice for your children? Most people would do everything. But would you do it at the expense of breaking up your family. In Journey Across the Four Seas by Veronica Li, the question of how much you’re willing to do for your children is at the heart of the book. The author’s mother Li-Shing-Ying (Flora) was a cut above the rest.
In 1920s Hong Kong, Flora’s family is struggling in the aftermath of her father’s death. Education for girls is considered taboo. It’s better to gain knowledge from the older women in the family. They know things, and can warn you of danger ahead. It’s knowledge that boys aren’t privy to.
“Even in a society where men are supreme, the advantages of being a girl, especially the only girl, outweighed the disadvantages. For one, Mother loved me the most. … A daughter has another advantage – access to information. While my brothers walked around in a fog, I always had an older woman to light my way.”
I think this something that every woman can relate. Think of the times you sit around the kitchen table with your mother, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins. You have a language to yourself that men just don’t understand. Flora was also more aware of the family’s struggles than her brothers. Her mother pawned her jewelry to keep the family afloat.
Something that was a little foreign to me was Flora’s mother. Her reactions to some things are something my U.S.-born brain can’t relate to. Flora’s tears were considered bad luck, and her mother thought she brought bad luck to the family. It’s a totally different generation and culture, so it’s hard for me to grasp why a mother would blame a child for a family tragedy.
Against all odds, Flora was able to continue her education all the way to Hong Kong University – a very prestigious school. While reading the book, you get the sense that education is a big source of pride – not just for the parents but for the entire family. If you don’t do well, it’s not just your failure it’s the extended family as well.
Marrying an unstable husband and having four of her five in five years would stress anyone, but Flora still wanted her children to have the best education possible. Which is why leaving Patrick behind was such a tough choice. That drive for a top education didn’t stop when the family moved to the U.S.
The story is told to Veronica over series of tapes, each chapter is tape in Flora’s very rich life. Reading this, I think you learn not to take things for granted. The older generations went through a lot to get us where we are, something we often forget.
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the author Veronica Li in exchange for an honest review. Also, I'm currently on vacation. Outside of scheduled reviews my postings will be infrequent. Normal posting will resume a week from Monday. Thanks!!...more
Do you go with what is familiar to you? Or do you try a new path? In Trance of Insignificance by Jennifer Rainville, Jules Duvil is at a crossroads inDo you go with what is familiar to you? Or do you try a new path? In Trance of Insignificance by Jennifer Rainville, Jules Duvil is at a crossroads in her personal life. Does she continue her relationship and marriage with clean-cut Noah or give into to Jack -- the man who has hurt more than once.
Jules has worked her way out of her working class neighborhood in Boston, and made her way to New York. She followed her dream of becoming a reporter, but the road to that dream was full of obstacles. The main obstacle being Jack. Jules starts at the bottom rung of the newsroom, while Jack is the handsome station anchor. Some magnetic force draws them together, but it's a mistake from the start. Jack is all about Jack.
Chances to advance her career are met with resistance -- and downright sabotage by Jack. Jules has a chance to scoop the New York market on a big political story. She seeks Jack's advice on how to break it. He plays the supportive boyfriend, offering suggestions even. But the next day uses the exclusive for his network. Does he love her? I think not. If someone truly loves you, they wouldn't try to sabotage your career. Nothing about their relationship screamed love. It was more destructive than anything. He struggles with alcohol and monogamy. His character just screamed, "JERK!"
Years pass before Jack and Jules meet again. She has moved on from a professional and personal standpoint. Her novel is about to released, and she has supportive circle of friends. Jack is married with a kid. As much as Jules doesn't want to get sucked back in, she does. I'm thinking, "Why? Why?" Perhaps it's because every failed relationship since traces back to Jack. The novel opens with Jules and Noah breaking up, but they find their back to each other. They get married, but reading it you can tell there is something missing. Noah seems very boring, no spark to him. He's an Ivy League grad, he goes to work, goes to the Hamptions and that's about it. While being a bit of a jerk, Jack has something over Noah. He truly understands how far Jules has come from the rough streets of Boston.
Jules wants to be better than her dysfunctional upbringing. A mother who blames Jules for the problems in her life. A mother who tells lies to fit her version of the truth. An absentee father and an erratic brother are also what Jules has to deal with. Jack understood that, but can Noah? But like her mother, Jack also tells lies to fit his version of the truth.
Life imitated art with this one. Author Jennifer Rainville was once a reporter. A lot of her professional experiences are reflected in the book. If there is one caveat, it's the timeline. I used to books with a linear timeline, but this one jumps back and forth. Sometimes it was little hard to keep track. The ending was a mix of sadness and hope for Jules' future. There are a lot things people can relate to in this book. Professionally, who hasn't gone through the trials and tribulations of being the new kid on the block? At least once in your life, you will wonder about the one that got away. Has that person changed enough for you? Have you changed? What kind of future can you have? Is it worth it to try again with that person? Give this one a read.
Notes: I received a copy of the book from author Jennifer Rainville in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Could it be as bad as a curse? No, it's Alice in Verse.
Take it from me, you'll want to see this journey.
ThisThis is a first for me. A tale in verse.
Could it be as bad as a curse? No, it's Alice in Verse.
Take it from me, you'll want to see this journey.
This tale is retold again by J.T. Holden.
What do I think of this tale?
It's a tale for man, woman, and child. It's a tale for all ages.
It's a tale full of magic, nothing tragic.
Alice is still that wide-eyed lass, who goes through the looking glass. She's unafraid, she's very brave. Just as before, in the story told many years before. She goes down the rabbit hole and finds the poison. Does she drink? What do you think? No wide-eyed child can resist, no matter how much you insist.
The first stop on this magical journey? The caterpillar. The pillar of words and verse. He gives Alice a terse lesson in verse. Could he give me a session?
Next up, the cook, the duchess, the pig!
No worries, the hatter and the hare are still there. Still speaking in oodles of riddles. "No room," he says. "No room." But Alice must sit at once for is no room to spare! How can she sit if there's no room? Oh that funny bunny!
Is this working? How many of you are lurking?
Back to Alice, and the palace of wonderland.
The oysters turn the tables on the sneaky walrus.
Then we must ask, who has stolen the Queens tarts? The suspect? The Knave of Hearts. Has he stolen the Queens tarts? That louse of a mouse sure didn't think so. Hmmm!!
How does it all end? You will just have to find out for yourself. Fluid prose, that glows and glows. Beautiful pictures in this wonderful mixture. A tale of whimsy and laughter.
Notes: I did love the book, and this was my attempt to try something different. I could have gone the traditional route, but this is not a traditional book. Also, I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Candleshoe Books) in exchange for an honest review....more
Sometimes all it takes is shiny cover art to get my attention. I don't even have to know what the subject matter is and I will read the book. The coveSometimes all it takes is shiny cover art to get my attention. I don't even have to know what the subject matter is and I will read the book. The cover art for Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey sold me. That girl is preoccupied by someone or something. The cover, like the story itself, has an air of mystery. Is that girl even alive? Did something happen to her? Why?
Sixteen-year-old Violet Willoughby is a reluctant partner in the family business. Her mother has a "talent" for talking to spirits. That "talent" is attractive to the cream of society in Victorian London. The only problem is her mother's "talent" is nothing but smoke and mirrors. With the help of the dashing teenage Colin, who was roped into the business after being orphaned at a young age, Violet and her mother have an "in" to the top of the social ladder. Violet would rather spend her time engrossed in books, which her mother feels is a waste of time. Meeting a rich suitor is more important. If it came down to protecting her own reputation, Violet's mother would rather protect herself than her daughter.
You feel sad for Violet at times. This isn't a normal mother-daughter relationship. Violet can't always be herself because she's afraid of what her mother will do. What if someone discovers the truth? She's stuck in her mother's web.
They ride the gravy train to the stately home of Lord Jasper, but this time the scheme is a little trickier. They can't rig Lord Jasper's home like others in the past. I had to laugh at how Violet's mother forced her to rig her body with so much stuff, Violet could barely walk. Imagine your leg going numb just so your mother could swindle some rich people. Only this time, Violet starts seeing things and people that make her think she is going crazy.
Surely everyone can see the teenage girl dripping wet? Surely everyone can feel the cold air seeping in the room? Or is Violet going crazy? Not everyone can see what she sees. Who can she trust? Certainly not her mother. If her mother knew, she would find some way to exploit it. How about her best friend Elizabeth? How much can she tell Elizabeth?
There is even a little romance mixed in. Colin has always been there. In the beginning he seemed more like a big brother, than a suitor. He's there to protect her. Colin is familiar. But Colin isn't of the pedigree Violet's mother wants.
Too many strange occurrences force Violet to confide in Elizabeth. They discover the dead girl, Rowena, drowned under mysterious circumstances last year. Everyone says it was an accident, but the signals from Rowena indicate otherwise. Just asking questions about Rowena is met with resistance. Someone literally wants to stop Violet. Will she stop? The murder mystery kept me turning page after page. How much danger is Violet willing to put herself in? The only caveat in some of those passages is the dialogue. They talk about "getting justice" for Rowena. That term seems more modern-day, than Victorian England. I don't believe in ghosts, but maybe you will after reading this. It's a good one.
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Bloomsbury) in exchange for an honest review. For more on author Alyxandra Harvey, visit http://alyxandraharvey.com/...more