Dacia and Lou are New York society girls going to Romania to meet their family. Little do they know there is more to the Florescus than they've been tDacia and Lou are New York society girls going to Romania to meet their family. Little do they know there is more to the Florescus than they've been told. Soon they are caught up in supernatural secrets and political intrigue. Soon, the marriage prospects of a New York season are looking like a pice of cake.
This book has all the right elements: supernatural creatures, strong female friendships, a late 19th century setting. I really enjoyed Dacia and Lou. They had a strong bond despite their personality differences. Additionally, neither was potrayed as the "poor wallflower" type which is easy in period pieces. Yes, Lou was a little weaker at the beginning, but she was never judged for it. And she was always strong in her own way.
Conversely, our villain is rough. For one, he seems somewhat cliche and vague in his goals. Of course he wants to usurp the throne and take over all of Romania. Why wouldn't he? But it all feels very thin in terms of development. And I really didn't enjoy the assault of Dacia as a plot device. It takes a character we have hereforto seen as strong and uses her as a prop for the villain to sexually assault. Yes, sometimes that's how villains try it. But Mihai was nowhere near developed enough for this to work. It felt forced upon the narrative. Let's make Dacia a victim in this situation. A guy will want her real bad, and he will attempt to force himself on her.
Additionally, the world here did not feel fully fleshed out. I'm all for twisting the Dracula and Vlad the Impaler mythology, but it didn't mesh together well here. At one point a character tells the girls he is worried for their safety around Mihai because of the popular novel Dracula. But the novel Dracula does not at all fit in with the world established, and neither does the author use it to explore the sensationalism and gossip. I understand wanting to acknowledge the novel, especially as it came out in the period we are set in, but it doesn't really work. And the Florescus themselves didn't present thesmelves vibrantly. I understand the mythology, but not why I should care.
While George deoes a wonderful job at developing Dacia and Lou, I would have liked to see this translate to the world around them as well. Some parts felt more tell than show. And the setting was not nearly as richly built and exciting as it could have been. And why Romania and how Romania as a setting is any different than Paris or New York would have been at this point remains to be seen. I'm not given the all the pieces I need to make this stand out in a sea of wonderful young adult supernatural fiction. Still, it wasn't a chore to get through, and would made a good, quick summer read. ...more
China Rich Girlfriend is the sequel to 2013's Crazy Rich Asians, and a pleasant surprise for this reader who had no clue a sequel was in the works. ThChina Rich Girlfriend is the sequel to 2013's Crazy Rich Asians, and a pleasant surprise for this reader who had no clue a sequel was in the works. This go-around we return to some of our favorite characters from the first novel, while meeting a new cast of characters as well. The novel skips a few years into the future, bringing us to Rachel and Nick's wedding. Thanks to some meddling from Nick's mother, even though they're still estranged, Rachel is given the chance to meet her dad. He just happens to be a part of the Chinese big money, and readers are treated to even higher stakes in terms of crazy spending.
This reminded me in a lot of ways of those fanfics where Harry suddenly inherits a huge sum of money, or comes into his inheritance. And then we read chapters and chapters of his spending his money in Diagon Alley. Or wielding his influence, or what have you. This novel had a lot of throwing money around. Except I have a strong emotional tie to Harry. I'm like, "yes you lived in a cupboard under the stairs for eleven years you buy all that chocolate." But I didn't have that same emotional attachment to characters in this novel. And while I recognize Kwan is making a commentary on that culture, even the characters that were my in weren't really pushing the story far enough by themselves. While in the first novel I remember the crazy spending and opulence as the world complicating Rachel and Nick's journey, this time the world seemed to gobble up the journey in many ways. I almost became desensitized to the opulence because it seemed ridiculous at many points. From the record-setting art auction at the beginning of the novel, to the whirlwind shopping trip to Paris, and everything surrounding. Even as I'm sure there are many people that live like that.
One thing I loved about this novel was that it didn't rely on relationship drama between Rachel and Nick. Sure, there was some of that in the first novel, although it was all completely understandable. But this time they were always a strong, united front. And they had a maturity, even when facing the immense opulence of other characters in the novel, that helped ground everything.
While I loved being reacquainted with Rachel and Nick, they weren't the characters that had the most compelling story for me this go-around (with the last 20% of the novel as an exception). Rather, this time I was pulled into Astrid's journey as she struggled with a bad marriage. It wasn't over the top. But it was honest. And it was heartbreaking to watch a proud, strong women slowly diminish herself to fit her husband's perceived needs. And it was empowering to fight for her, and watch her fight for herself. Astrid brought a humanity and vulnerability that a lot of the rest of the characters in the novel lacked. She made it about more than just absurd people doing absurd things. I also enjoyed getting to know Rachel's brother, and would have liked to spend some more in-depth character time with him.
Overall, while this did not eclipse Crazy Rich Asians for me, it was a solid sequel. And a very enjoyable summer read. Everything ties up nicely in China Rich Girlfriend, but I see plenty of opportunities in where we left characters for this series to continue. I guess we'll just have to wait and see....more
Jeremy is a politician in the Outback for a few days. Ryan is his helicopter pilot. Jeremy is closeted. Ryan is out. They are instantly attracted to eJeremy is a politician in the Outback for a few days. Ryan is his helicopter pilot. Jeremy is closeted. Ryan is out. They are instantly attracted to each other.
This story has a lot of the familiar tropes, without much new being added. Still, there was a lot of potential. I really liked the characters. But I wish I had more time with them. There was barely any character development and backstory. I wish this novella was a novel. It had room to spread out and grow. Everything felt very rushed, and I was willing to spend more time in this world....more
If you liked titles such as The Girl on the Train, the First Bad Man, or The Woman Upstairs, Luckiest Girl Alive is a natural progression. We've got pIf you liked titles such as The Girl on the Train, the First Bad Man, or The Woman Upstairs, Luckiest Girl Alive is a natural progression. We've got potentially unreliable narrators, and female characters that are complex, if not particularly likable.
In Luckiest Girl Alive, Ani (pronounced Ahnee) seem to have it all. She's got a high powered job in NYC, and a prominent fiancee. And she knows it. She's image concious and can play the game. While planning her wedding, she is also gearing up to film a documentary bout an event that happened at her old high school, an even that changed her life forever.
The writing in this is good. I like Knoll's voice, even if at times I had trouble connecting to the characters. I didn't like Ani, which isn't a flaw of the book by any means. Women should get to be just as unlikeable as men. It just made it harder for me to have something to grasp onto. And the subject matter can be intense. It could be weird to hear such brutal honest from Ani, particularly around social things, but her character was just willing to articulate a lot of ugly internalized things of being a woman.
The pacing felt weird in places. The carrot of whatever happened to Ani seemed to be dangled for a long time, and to a certain extent I wasn't sure we really dealt with things well. The first 1/2 of the book was harder for me to hook into in many ways, although I may have just been in the wrong frame of mind. I flew through the second half. The ending was satisfying for me as a reader. ...more