Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: 2014-june-posts
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-06-30 02:59
Thoughts On: Jade Island
Jade Island - Elizabeth Lowell

While I liked Jade Island and its characters a bit better than I liked the first book, this one isn't without some flaws that I couldn't overlook. Writing style is smooth and detailed, but the narrative did a bit of unnecessary meandering. There were at least two or three scenes in the book that made me wish we could just move on with the story since the present subject didn't mean anything to me, nor did it add to the main conflict.


It's a fairly good read if you're looking for something similar to the first book in the series, Amber Beach, as it goes into detail about the historical significance of a precious stone.  There's then also the inclusion of the theft of a priceless artifact that may or may not have come from a historically significant place that may or may not exist, though there are rumors.  In Amber Beach it was the theft of a panel from the Amber Room; in Jade Island it was the theft of the entire burial tomb of a Ming Dynasty emperor who buried himself in jade.  The little guy gets blamed, the government gets involved and politics are thrown around.


I'm more interested in murder mysteries, to be honest, but this story wasn't all too bad.

Again, like the first book, I mainly love the interactions between the characters and their witty dialogue. The characters are a little better developed in Jade Island than I felt the characters in Amber Beach were -- I sort of... cared more. The history and the info about jade was interesting to read about, much like it was interesting to read about amber. Again, the concluding mystery reveal was pretty predictable, but the build-up to the ending wasn't bad.  As for the mystery itself, it almost felt pretty non-existent. The romance was cute; like Amber Beach, the main couple has quite the chemistry and banter going on. So the book was pretty enjoyable -- possibly one of my favorites so far even if I had some issues and my rating isn't in the "Awesome!" bucket.

I think I'm growing to like the Donovan family, and Kyle is certainly different (if typical) of most romantic suspense male characters. He's standard alpha male with a good heart, good looking and tall, and has that intense need to save his damsel in distress. But of the many main males I've read about, he has to be one of the most cynical male characters I've come across. Whenever physical looks and general attractiveness is mentioned, he keeps deferring to his eldest brother and denying that he's good-looking enough for any female to want to approach. I never thought it possible in men, since it's typically women who put themselves down regularly, as a rule. So this is a first. Although it seems that all the characters in this series so far have a penchant for the cynical.


Lianne doesn't think she's good looking because she's not full-bodied or bright-eyed like the Donovan twins who have mile-high legs.  The Donovan twin sisters think Lianne is more stunning because she's part-Asian, petite and exudes exotic attractiveness.  In a word, "The grass is always greener" and these people spend way too much time playfully being jealous about other's attractiveness.  Even the eldest brother, Archer very subtly puts in his two cents (even if very briefly) about how he ranks his younger brothers as better looking than him with Kyle at the best; Kyle's rankings put Archer at the top with their twin brothers in the middle.


While modesty is a virtue, fishing for compliments is kind of annoying.  It's like my best friend -- this petite-sized, cute-as-a-button, size small girl whom several men have referred to as "hot" -- going around about how she's not pretty enough and how she's fat and trying to show me her "fat" tummy rolls by pinching off a small non-existent millimeter of flabby skin.


I mean, you people are good-looking, sexy, and you attract the attention of the opposite sex like bees to honey, so quit acting like you're Plain Janes, because you have to know that you're good looking!

It just makes the rest of us plebeians feel cranky.

Anyway, on a small side tangent:

I always get a little wary whenever I read anything that infuses Asian culture. At first I worried that things would be overly stereotyped -- there's nothing worse than watching a movie or reading a book about your own culture and cringing at what other cultures' impressions present themselves as. But we spend enough time with the more American side of the story that the Asian aspects didn't seem to be a big deal -- some parts were stereotyped while others were fairly genuine. At least she uses the term "chopsticks" instead of "eating sticks" like some other author I just finished reading.

Traditionally rich Asian family's can get pretty tied up in the whole male dominance side of their culture. Sons and brothers are at each other's throats for the family fortune; family members use one another for their own gain; women and children get sacrificed for the "greater good" of someone's devious plans; there's bloodshed and heartache and.... well, it's all typical melodramatic material.

However, I'm not certain just how subservient the women were during the time this book was written, even in rich, traditional Asian families. While there are still public and social taboos and rules, the women, especially if they were from Hong Kong, were pretty modernized and well-acquainted with the women's rights and such. I'm not saying that these differences don't still exist; the Asian communities, even in Hong Kong, are still pretty backwards thinking when it comes to women, especially in the more traditional families. But women have managed to earn their places for themselves.

For a half-American-Chinese modern girl growing up in Seattle, despite being under the watchful eyes of a traditional Asian family, Lianne Blakely felt too incredibly subservient and traditionally Asian to be possible. I had at least expected a little more fire in her, more of a backbone -- Asian women born in America recognize one thing that they know they have an advantage over Asian women born in China: opportunity and freedom of choice. You can still make a life for yourself without the constraints of family or social standards weighing you down as a woman.

There were moments where I started questioning whether or not Lianne was some peasant girl in ancient historical China (what with her family duty and responsibility and such); but other times I recognized the blatantly American characteristics she had (with her modern thinking and her own career and her own life and such). Then again, she was also stuck with a need to prove that she can be part of the Tang family, even at her own expense; and I can be agreeable with that need to belong to a family, even if that family isn't so ideal. When she was with the Tangs, she loses all her sense of self-worth and lets them walk all over her; when she's outside of her so-called "family" she exudes all the confidences of a modern independent woman who knows to put her own needs into perspective. She was certainly an interesting character for me to analyze casually.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-06-29 08:07
Brief Thoughts: Amber Beach
Amber Beach - Elizabeth Lowell

Enjoyable as a typical romantic suspense, though a little on the lukewarm side. The narration goes on for quite some time about sailing and politics, but I let it roll off of me. I was particularly interested in the stuff of history and about the Amber Room as well as some detail and info about amber -- that was quite interesting. The romance was mopey at times, but the relationship between Jake and Honor was charming and fun; dialogue got quite witty at times and I appreciate Honor's sarcastic streak, especially when she's angry.


There was a line of dialogue exchange wherein I actually laughed out loud -- respect for the school of sarcasm.


The characters aren't all that great -- very standard stock romantic suspense characters.  Really the only thing I liked about them was their penchant for witty dialogue which I do attribute to Elizabeth Lowell's writing style.

The ending was abrupt, but I'm not complaining, though the ultimate conclusion and mystery reveal was pretty predictable. The writing was smooth and extremely detailed, but not detailed to the point of overwhelming.

Overall, quite a good read.  I look forward to finishing the rest of the series as well as checking out any other books by Elizabeth Lowell.  Although hopefully we've covered enough boating, fishing, sailing and the like that we don't go into too much detail about it for the rest of the series.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2014-06-25 11:01
Reading progress update: I've read 175 out of 338 pages.
Silver Phoenix - Cindy Pon

A little over halfway through this book and things are still dragging along.  However, as boring and monotonous as things are going, I've found myself curious enough about the conclusion to our little adventure and the newly introduced "Evil-slaying" plot device to continue on.


Again, I wonder if I've been struck with some sort of "Why do I hate myself?" streak; I've been forcing myself through books that I haven't been able to enjoy.  I had already had reserves about reading Silver Phoenix due to some of the low to mediocre ratings and some disappointing reviews, but I had to let my curiosity get the better of me (as well as a bias towards anything remotely Asian and adventure-like, doncha know).


Anyway, the world is described with a lot of detail and seems like it's built quite well.  Unfortunately, the revealing of the world, the characters, and even Ai Ling's major conflict all unfolded on a fairly flat tone.  The background is pretty stylized, but told in really boring fashion.  The characters could be great, but they just seem to be trodding along as if yanked by the Almighty Author's narrative planning... which also sits in tune with all the talk of fate and destiny and how everything is ordained and no one seems to have control over their own life in this world.


I get that in Chinese culture, historical China was a pretty dreadful place laced with societal standards, taboos, social rules and regulations... all the stuff that modern Americans (men and women alike) would never really stand for.  Ai Ling's continued shaming at not being a proper lady/daughter/woman kind of grates on my nerves and I keep expecting her to finally break the mold and act out to cement a certain strength in mind and will that, narratively, she's supposed to have.  At the same time, I keep having to remind myself that women weren't always treated fairly back in the good old days.  


Just the mere fact that Ai Ling almost gets raped, yet everyone around her were more worried about pride, reputation, and a lost father's letters than her well-being, and then ultimately making her feel like the entire incident was her fault should have forced me to drop the book already.  Or how she is constantly being reminded that "A lady should not be doing such and such" and all sorts of double standard crap.


And yet, I continue to persist, probably with the hope that Ai Ling will become a girl beyond her own time and that these issues will be addressed.


And is that a potential triangle brewing between Ai Ling and the two brothers, Chen Yong and Li Rong?  I'm already rolling my eyes.


Anyway, now that the main point of the adventure has come to light (finally), maybe things will pick up a little.



P.S.  Why do we keep calling them "eating sticks"?  I'm sure everyone and their neighbors know what chopsticks are.  It isn't even any sort of direct translation from the Chinese characters for chopsticks, so what gives?  Am I missing something here?


Also, for an adventure, there sure is a lot of resting and eating and resting and eating going on.  Let's just skip the monotony and move forward, shall we?

Like Reblog Comment
text 2014-06-19 15:54
First Impression: A prologue, chapter 1, and historical sexy picture books
Silver Phoenix - Cindy Pon

Ai Ling let the book fall open to a random page. Her face flushed at what she saw--a man and woman stark naked, their limbs entwined. THE DANCE OF THE CRANES was printed neatly above in black ink.


"Mother..." She could not bring herself to meet her mother's gaze.


"Keep looking, Ai Ling. This book is informative, with all the things you need to know about the bedchamber and what it takes to pleasure your husband."




Did her mother really just give her a book of "How to" on sex?  With pictures?  And it's called The Book of Making?  Making what?


Setting aside the whole "young marriage in a fictional historic Chinese setting" (which I totally understand)...  How old is Ai Ling?


But never mind.  Historical China always sucked when it came to women's rights and double standards and crap like family pride and social standards.  I'm glad I never had to live any of it.  Being disgraced and made to feel shameful just because some stuck-up family's mother and son didn't want you for a wife really kicks the balls in this type of society.


If I still had to live according to those types of rules of life, I'd have been disgraced at least ten times over... I guess.


But anyway...


From the fairly confusing prologue to the somewhat stilted telling of the first chapter, things seem to be moving along quite slowly.  There are no mentions of the fantasy aspects yet aside from Ai Ling's latent ability to read minds and sense another's feelings through touch.  Some mysterious conflict seems to be brewing already as we see Ai Ling's father leaving for the Palace (with a capital 'P'), and so hopefully the story and the adventure will start to pick up from here.


Until then... let's see more of that Book of Making...

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2014-06-17 14:13
Starting: Ruin and Rising
Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo

Please allow me to fangirl and squeal to my hearts content.


Because this is totally happening right now.


Because I have waited a full year for the final, concluding book of this trilogy.











I really only planned on reading the first chapter and then going straight to sleep, cause I'm sporting a massive headache and all... but I've found that I really want to keep reading.


So far... it is just so awesome!


Is sleep really all that important?

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?