THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT MOON is a riveting story that place over a couple hours on a rainy Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in a tribal regiTHE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT MOON is a riveting story that place over a couple hours on a rainy Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, as three brothers and two of the women they love find their past, present, and future merge together. It is the thriller-like anticipation and the elegant language that had me reading this book in one session. I was interested in reading this book on a region in Pakistan that I knew very little about except from the pov of news updates regarding the American militia experience so I did “google” the town – Mir Ali before beginning the book and that gave me the necessary understanding to fully appreciate this enthralling storyline.
The prologue sets up the storyline as the three brothers are breakfasting together before going about their day but first they have to decide which mosque each will attend as, “It is too dangerous, too risky, to place all the family together in one mosque that could easily be hit. They no longer know by whom.” Then as the minutes/hours tick by, we learn actually what each brother is doing and why. The flashbacks provide the necessary background information and the lyrical language shows how the people go about their lives doing ordinary things overshadowed by the hovering violence that is never spoken about out loud. While the stories concentrated mostly on the male characters, it is the two women characters whose resolve and spirit surprise those around them – their love ones and their opposers.
As the pace quickens toward the climax I am holding my breath as I turn the page to see what happens, the story ends. As I re-read the last couple of pages to see if I missed a clue it dawns on me that this ending is intentional by the author. How can she provide an ending when there is no known ending to this conflict and turmoil in this region. I might have finished reading the book but the story is not over.
Overall, this is a thought-provoking book on loyalty, identity, love, and sacrifice. A very solid debut novel and I look forward to reading future books by the author. ...more
Jade Dragon Mountain, a debut historical mystery, enthralls with lyrical language, a fascinating historical journey, political intrigue, and unique chJade Dragon Mountain, a debut historical mystery, enthralls with lyrical language, a fascinating historical journey, political intrigue, and unique characters and setting. It is late 18th-century China and disgraced imperial Chinese librarian Li Du has arrived in the small remote town Dayan as it prepares for the never before arrival of the Chinese emperor. Li Du is required to report to the magistrate who turns out to be his cousin. Societal expectations requires some hospitality to be extended but the magistrate who does not want a hint of scandal or blemish on the upcoming festivities would just prefer if Li Du left quietly. But when an elderly Jesuit priest, a friend of the Imperial Court, is found dead plans start to go awry. Tenacious Li Du is determined to uncover the truth without compromising his integrity. As he goes about his investigation the author is able to paint a vivid portrait of this time and place so the readers feels like his is intimately familiar with the political and social protocols. As times ticks down to the Emperor’s arrival, another murder, lives in danger, finger pointing, hidden agendas need to be resolved for the stability of China.
Ms. Hart uses a diverse cast of characters to show the internal and external issues facing the fate of China. I enjoyed how these issues were explored more from the Chinese perspective than the Western one. One of my favorite secondary characters is the traveling storyteller Hamza whose riddles are often the perfect foil to play off of the logical Li Du.
This is well-written atmospheric tale unravels nicely with attention paid to the smallest detail and the satisfying ending will please readers. This is a most welcome addition to the historical mystery genre. I do hope this is the start of a new series. ...more
This futuristic inventive adventure tale mesmerized me from the beginning with its captivating protagonists, beautifully rendered landscapes, and provThis futuristic inventive adventure tale mesmerized me from the beginning with its captivating protagonists, beautifully rendered landscapes, and provocative themes. I was not quite sure what to expect from The Girl In the Road, but my past reading experience has shown that I enjoy stories that often defy fitting neatly into a specific genre. I enjoyed the format of the parallel storylines while both set in the future but not at the same time, and the tension building in each of the storylines knowing not quite how but still knowing they will intersect at some point. Meena awakes with snakebites on her chest, thinking someone is out to get her, flees Mumbai deciding to go to Ethiopia to find out the truth of her mother’s death. And since she does not want to be tracked decides to take the Trail, an energy-harvesting bridge spanning from India to Africa. The only thing is the Trail has a mysterious aura of its own, and is a dangerous forbidden way. Mariama, a young girl is also fleeing her home in western Africa and joins a caravan of misfits going to Ethiopia. As one travels from east to west, and the other from west to east, both landing in the same place, now the new power center of the world is in in Africa and energy is the resource fueling this shift of power. My only nitpick is that the storyline sagged a little in the middle, but it did pick again for a stunning ending. Byrne’s has penned an impressive debut of two strong appealing female protagonists of color seeped in the richness of an impressive non-European worldbuilding environment.
I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a honest review. ...more
This was a very enjoyable mystery. As an armchair traveler - I enjoyed learning about Laos from the character's pov, and there was just enough tongue-This was a very enjoyable mystery. As an armchair traveler - I enjoyed learning about Laos from the character's pov, and there was just enough tongue-in-cheek humor to keep me smiling. I will be reading more books in the series as Dr. Siri Paiboum and his assistants are quite the characters....more
This was a wonderful escapist thrill read! I so enjoy the intelligent competent Ava Lee who gives an exciting twist to being a forensic accountant. HeThis was a wonderful escapist thrill read! I so enjoy the intelligent competent Ava Lee who gives an exciting twist to being a forensic accountant. Her job is to recover missing money and valuable possessions in touchy delicate situations often with unsavory persons. In this book, she takes on an assignment that is personal and while Ava is razor-sharp as always, she needs to delicately balance her family dynamics against what is necessary to save her half-brother’s business and his partners life. This storyline allow us to see a more vulnerable Ava and she learns some valuable business lessons. This story unfolds in Hong Kong and Macau, the landscape, culture, business protocols and of course the food reveal the multi-faceted complexities that will challenge Ava in her latest adventure. This is the perfect book for putting the stress of everyday life aside and immersing yourself in a world of mesmerizing secrets, intrigue and risky ventures. I look forward to reading the next Ava Lee adventure ...more
My thoughts: • Enjoyed the story and I am enjoying the series – while I have not read all of the books I have read the last couple of books so am up toMy thoughts: • Enjoyed the story and I am enjoying the series – while I have not read all of the books I have read the last couple of books so am up to date • I like the character development and the characters of Sano and his family • Good pacing, political intrigue, Japanese history keeps me reading • I will say that there were a couple of actions at the end of the story that were a little off the believable radar but I let it go as it advanced the storyline and showed the bond of the family ...more
This breathtaking, heart-breaking book provides an insightful look into the intimate details of life in the Annawadi settlement. In many books I haveThis breathtaking, heart-breaking book provides an insightful look into the intimate details of life in the Annawadi settlement. In many books I have read about India, they have mentioned and skirted around the issues regarding the settlement slums which have spun up around Mumbai, but none have made me feel like I was actually there living these lives as Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Through Katherine Boo’s skillful writing and journalist research, the economic, political, historical, social restraints and changes are seamlessly woven into the tales of the residents. Often times I had to remind myself that this was not fiction, but the lives of real people. I have to admire the inventiveness and optimism of all presented in the book for their belief that a better life is possible by following the rules that are made to keep them as “undercitizens”. I commend Ms. Boo for providing this spellbinding story of people with ordinary concerns of living with dignity and compassion...more
Women's fiction with a literary edge. Artful storytelling with vibrant characters Eloquent language and fully-flushed characters draws you into the storWomen's fiction with a literary edge. Artful storytelling with vibrant characters Eloquent language and fully-flushed characters draws you into the story....more
Rating = 3.5 Heading = From the Future to the Past to the Present
I had myriad of emotions while reading this heartfelt story. I was grateful to the autRating = 3.5 Heading = From the Future to the Past to the Present
I had myriad of emotions while reading this heartfelt story. I was grateful to the author for writing a book which focused on the people of the northern part of Vietnam and their need to free themselves from the colonial presences and in the end retained a different yoke on their souls. I was sadden to once again be reminded that war damages people far longer than the conflict itself and is never-ending. I was amazed by the resilience of the people to maintain their humanity through the horror of the many conflicts. And lastly I was enlightened on the history and culture of North Vietnam.
The author was able to invoke all of these emotions through the skillful storytelling of the three main characters, each of whom will need to resolve their personal demons, and find that will come when they come together and accept each other for who they are. A strong cast of secondary characters rounds out the story. The writing was beautifully subtle invoking time and place.
While overall I enjoyed the story, at places the story was repetitive and this seemed to drag out the events. ...more
For lovers of historical fiction, nothing is better than a book that has you immersed in the storyline and engages all of your five senses, so that whFor lovers of historical fiction, nothing is better than a book that has you immersed in the storyline and engages all of your five senses, so that when you look up from reading it takes you a couple of seconds to re-orient to your current surroundings. Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan was just that book for me. When Shadow Princess opens we are transported to 17th century India as the Mumtaz Muhal, the much beloved wife of the Emperor, is about to give birth to her 14th child. Also, in the room with her are her two teen-aged daughters, Jahangir(17) and Roshanara (14). As the birth process continues, it appears Mumtaz Muhal may not survive, and she reaches out for Jahangir, neglecting Roshanara, who also rushes to her mother’s side. But, despite the best of care available, Mumtaz Muhal dies, leaving behind four sons, two older daughters, a newborn girl child, and an inconsolable husband. But when the Emperor is finally convinced to resume his morning appearances before the royalty, it obvious that he is in a very fragile state; for a show of unity, Jahangir thrusts her four brothers out into the balcony to stand by their father. At this moment, all four brothers, despite their young age, feel the surge of power of being Emperor and this becomes each of their goals. Roshanara, once again feeling left out, and in her bitterness wonders how to control her destiny in this male-dominated world.
While this is the third book in the Sundaresan’s trilogy on the Mughal Empire, it is not necessary to read the prior books to enjoy this storyline. Sundaresan’s passion and research for this period of Indian history comes through in her exquisite writing and the decoding of the culture. This a tale of the lush life of the royalty and those favored by them. Even for the reader who knows the outcome of the power struggle, Sunderesan weaves an interesting path of getting to this point, focusing the story on Jahangir and Roshanara and the roles of women in shaping Indian history. What most of us know of this era is the building of the Taj Mahal as a tribute of a man’s love for wife, Sundaresan took a chance and made the Taj Mahal a character in the book and it is only fitting as the influence of women have often been overlooked in the telling of this period; however, this oversight is corrected by this trilogy.
I recommend this book to not only readers of historical fiction, but also to readers who enjoy reading about sibling rivalry, unrequited love, uncontrolled ambition and adventure. ...more