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review 2016-02-01 18:00
The Sailmaker's Daughter by Stephanie Johnson
The Sailmaker's Daughter - Stephanie Johnson

This was my world books challenge book for Fiji. I’d read that the author based it on her grandmother’s story and assumed the grandmother was Fijian, so was disappointed to discover that the characters are all actually English colonists in Fiji. Unfortunately, I have not found any books starring native Fijians.

This is a work of historical fiction, set over a few weeks in 1918 when influenza was raging through Fiji. The book follows numerous characters, including 12-year-old Olive, who is sent with two of her brothers to stay with an aunt and uncle on another island while her mother is dying; her father, a sailmaker, and mother, a former actress; her oldest brother, a veteran with PTSD; two of her other brothers, who get into scrapes; her grandmother, a cranky old woman who has a vaginal infection due to wearing too many underclothes (?); her aunt, who after several miscarriages is addicted to laudanum; her other aunt, who has an intellectual disability and lives hidden in an outbuilding; a pair of lady travelers who happen by and are having an affair . . . too many for a 250-page book, and the book is forever jumping around amongst them and between the first and third person. It doesn’t help either that while some things happen, events aren’t organized into a plot, and many don't seem to contribute anything to the story. It’s telling when the last 25 pages of a novel suddenly introduce a whole new family not previously mentioned and focus on exploring their dynamics. There is no structure, no cohesion, and little reason to invest in any of these many characters.

That said, the book is readable, and a quick read to boot. It also does provide an interesting view on life in Fiji in the early 20th century. It was a diverse place on the cusp of change, though you wouldn’t want to live there – according to this book, if you weren’t white, you’d be oppressed, and if you were, you’d most likely be miserable.

Anyway, I am not going to spend a lot of words slamming a book no one has heard of. For good reason; there's nothing to see here.

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review 2015-10-31 01:50
Not Really A Review..
Falling in Fiji (The Falling in Paradise Series) (Volume 1) - Casey Hagen,Lisa Ricard Claro

I won this book from another site. I had entered because it was touted as a "romance".

Not so, romance is misty, understated and yes, romantic.

This book is erotic, sex taking the place of plot.

Guess my age (72) might color what I believe is romance, but this just wasn't.

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review 2013-06-27 00:00
Fiji: A Novel
Fiji: A Novel - Lance Morcan, James Morc... Fiji: A Novel - Lance Morcan, James Morcan It was a nice story with a rather well structured plot. Unfortunately the writing style was a bit weak and repetitive. However, there were very nice sentences and phrases in it as well.
The ending was quite lovely, and I was even a bit surprised by some violent on-goings, as well as
all the deaths in the end on the "good" side as well - hadn't seen that coming.
If I wasn't someone who finishes a book once it's started, I would have cancelled reading at some point in the beginning. The plot was really okay though, therefor reading it through was really okay.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-06-12 01:30
Fiji: A Novel - Lance Morcan,James Morcan

**may contain very slight spoilers**

What's pink, yellow and blue with white stripes? Carries clubs and guns too, speaks in tongues and might also eat one too?

Give up?

You will find out if you give this book, with it's gritty storyline and richly descriptive imagery when it came to the indigenous people, a try. The idea that drove the story was a strong one, it's been done before...done to death. Where I found this book let me down was in the mechanics of the writing. I was fairly picky as you'll be able to see below in my notes.

15% - Yep, I get it! Rod is a simpleton. Quit telling me every time he is mentioned!!
A fair bit of head hopping between Nathan and Suzannah. Kind of distracting, no real break between either.

16% - very abrupt changes between scenes. More could have been added to tie the scenes together instead of such a jarring change. (S+N to maiden and sailor)

18% - why didn't we find out about Waisale's birthmark the first time we saw him in the story?

22-24% - I am not sure about this 'he/she would later learn...' Line. It is putting in information the characters don't yet have for the reader.

88% - why didn't they go back? Check on the men? It seems a little odd...

These things aren't the be all and end all when it comes to writing a book, and if you can overlook some of those things I think you'll thoroughly enjoy this tale.

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review 2012-10-03 00:00
Fiji: A Novel - Lance Morcan, James Morc... Fiji: A Novel - Lance Morcan, James Morcan Warning, this will probably read as harsh and snooty:

To be fair, I rarely read things that get the label "romance." VERY rarely. Sometimes if they cross with mystery, I can take it (Iris Johansen in limited doses, the Eve Dallas books, and, yeah, I read the Twilight books). But I'm not a romance person. I'm rarely even a chick lit person. To be fair, I have also been reading REALLY good books lately. But given that I have not yet read EVERY really good book, it is very hard to justify spending time on this one. So much so that I bailed about 10% of the way in. And I also almost never bail on books. I feel it is not fair to judge them unless you know where they are going. I wanted to use this book for one of my Oceania reads in my 6 books, 6 countries, 6 regions challenge, and Oceania books are hard to find at all. But I just couldn't do it. I couldn't.

After reading passages like"Better the peak of art than the slough of sex. Contrary to the popular notion of his wantonness, the artist, Mother believes, must forget about sex. If he can’t, then he’s a mere mortal; but he shouldn’t be a mere mortal. He should be divine! Unfortunately, biographies of artists, which are the most important things about artists, teem all too often with the sexual ruses and abuses of their protagonists. They inveigle the reader into thinking that the cucumber bed of pure harmony grows upon the compost heap of sex." which is just a randomly selected passage from The Piano Teacher,

to then read "As Susannah continued reading, the forbidden thoughts returned. This time they were even more intense and exciting. Her pulse raced and her breathing became labored as she imagined strong hands caressing her body," just doesn't work for me. There have to be better ways to spend my time. Actually, I was already getting skeptical when the authors referred to a Bible "translated from the Hebrew in 1583." Ok, only the first half was ever in Hebrew in the first place. I know I'm being picky, but I was afraid these details would pile up. If you can overlook that the New Testament was in Greek, what else will you gloss over?

And if cultural insight is depicted like this "Looking into the eyes of the old Fijian, Nathan reminded himself he was looking at the end result of thousands of earlier generations. He wondered what claims to fame the old man’s forebears had.," I'm, again, not feeling really hopeful. I kept feeling like I was reading something written by a good but not truly talented high school student. Again, maybe if you are looking for a steamy island read about a not-so-repressed daughter of a missionary, then maybe this will work for you. I'm looking for something more than that. So I will have to find my next Oceania read somewhere else.
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