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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-25 16:24
Review: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

 

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'Please Look After Mom' by Kyung-sook Shin is an intriguing, if sometimes difficult, book to read. A best-seller in her native Korea, it's the chronicle of the dynamics within a family after their elderly mother goes missing in Seoul. Told in four segments- each from POV- a daughter, an eldest son, her husband, and a conjecture about the missing woman, each person struggles to come to terms with what it meant to be the mother of their family, and what it may have cost her.

 

The difficulty comes not from the shifting perspectives, but from the narrative. Often slow and ponderous, their memories, emotions and angst are the meat of the story as you'd expect. But without a true sense of urgency to push it forward, it frequently gets bogged down by weight of everyone's personal baggage as they reflect upon their personal moments with her, finally beginning to understand what her life was like and what she gave up for her family's sake. But that's where it often shines- long buried insights and sudden revelations combine to reveal much about the woman they knew so intimately and yet not at all while also providing a vivid picture of the demands of life in a rural Korean community.

 

There's not much more to add that hasn't already been said, so I'll end with this: W.E.B. Dubois once wrote a book titled 'The Souls of Black Folks'. This one could well be called The Souls of Koreans.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-23 14:08
Shōgun (Asian Saga #1) by James Clavell is Full of Quotable Quotes!

 

 

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I already have the second in the series, Gai-Jin, which I bought at the KUBF'18. This is the edition I own:

 

 

 

Have you read any of these doorstoppers? What did you think of them?

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on February 23, 2018.

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review 2018-02-08 04:51
Eternal Samurai by B.D. Heywood
Eternal Samurai - B.D. Heywood

I didn't like Koji, I couldn't connect with Tatsu whose annoying overuse of Japanese made him even less appealing to me, I did not understand Arisada's love for a traitor and a cheater, I couldn't figure out why some of the characters were in the book to begin with, even less so why they deserved their own POV. Editing was poor. As in you're/your poor. Half imaginary star (since GR doesn't deal in halves) to make it up to 2 is for the truly evil villain. I liked him.

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review 2018-02-08 04:47
Counterfeit Bride by Zi Yue
Counterfeit Bride (冒牌新娘) - Zi Yue,籽月

I eally enjoyed this little story. 

Ling Shuang, a daughter of a nobleman, is about to be married to a complete stranger. She is not happy with this arranged marriage. She already has a lover and they made plans for their future life together. 

On her way to her betrothed's house, Ling Shuang forces her male servant, Jie Yi, to put on a female dress and makeup and play a role of a bride. She also gives him a cheap pearl bracelet as a small bribe. They part, Yi to go and get married to the stranger, and Ling Shuang to reunite with her lover.

Tian Yang doesn't want a wife. He remembers his own beautiful aristocratic mother running away to find a better life, far away from the children and the ranch which belonged to their family. This betrayal is so deep, that Tian Yang is determined to undermine any future marriages, arranged or not. When Jie Yi arrives, claiming to be Ling Shuang, Tian Yang take him to a remote warehouse/hut to test his new bride. But Jie Yi, as beautiful and delicate as he is, doesn't mind the hardship; after all, he grew up a servant. 

Over a few weeks, Tian Yang finds himself suddenly drawn to the beautiful young lady, who seems to be perfect for him and is not afraid of hard work. One day, with two young people living so close together, things finally get out of hand. Yi's secret is discovered. Petrified, he leaves the little hut.

In the meantime, Ling Shuang shows up at Tian Yang's ranch, claiming little Yi robbed her blind, left her sick on the road and pretended to be her in order to take her place. Her proof? That little pearl bracelet....

Fun begins :)

****

As far as BL novels go this was pretty decent, with plenty of twists and turns. The ending was a bit disappointing, with numerous relatives complaining 'oh, my god, two men together! No, it's OK you can stay, but oh, my god, maybe you should leave...' Round and round and round it went.

Translation was confusing at times, but I can't hold it against the book or the person who translated it. All I can say is "thank you for you hard work" :)

3.75 stars.

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review 2018-02-04 15:58
The Lotus Palace (Pingkang Li Mystery #1) by Jeannie Lin
The Lotus Palace - Jeannie Lin

Yue-ying is the personal servant to the most beautiful and accomplished song girl in the pleasure center, Mingyu. As such, she is not owned by the madam and can come and go as she pleases. Her birthmark (a read cresent on her left cheek) makes her noticeable in town, but her association with the Lotus Palace protects her as well. I liked Yue-ying - she is observant, practical, and a sweet heart without being overly sweet or fake.

 

Bai Huaung is one of Mingyu's admirers/constant patron (minus the sex part), and the flower prince of the pleasure quarter. His reputation as a flakey, shallow man who enjoys life's pleasures over his responsibilities (such as passing the imperial exams and getting a job); he is fine with this reputation, as it allows him to do his real job without notice. When two dead bodies turn up a connection with Mingyu, Yue-ying and Huaung partner to solve the mystery and fall in love.

 

The murders are the kind you find in cozy mystery series - light on gory details, the focus is on the motivations and who-dunit. Also the mystery takes a back seat to the romance. There isn't any suspenseful scenes, it is a mellow kind of mystery. I found it was just enough mystery to give the book a fresh take on the historical romance subgenre.

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