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review 2017-11-21 00:09
Very Cute Story
A French Girl in New York - Anna Adams

This is another book I got as part of Nook's Free Fridays program. Unlike the last Free Friday book I tried and failed to read, this one was actually decent.

 

First, having a non-white protagonist who was described rather ambiguously instead of using the classic, hit-you-over-the-head language to obviate a character's ethnicity was a breath of fresh air. Maude, the main character, was also written to where she was relatable even if I don't see much of myself in her image, proof positive that non-white characters have a certain relatability to those who do not share the character's ethnicity.

 

The grammar in it was pretty clearly marked by a non-native English speaker's pen. It wasn't overly distracting from the story, but it was obvious. The lack of commas in particular made for an occasional challenge in reading.

 

Finally, the plot was good. The standard rags to riches story was spliced with a coming of age story, a dash of mystery, and a bit of romance. All of this led to a highly unique story that only left me knowing the ending within the last 20 or so pages.

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review 2017-11-20 22:15
The Girl in the Tower
The Girl in the Tower - Katherine Arden
Someone needs to tell Vasya to quit being such a gambler and to stop accepting all the wagers that come her way, as I don’t think my heart can take any more! When Vasya decides to forego marriage and the convent to spend her time experiencing the world, I don’t believe she was envisioning bandits, talisman, or competitions. Vasya wants to see the world, she wants to be free to see new sights and sounds, she wants to witness what was beyond her reach but as she leaves her comfortable surroundings, other concerns and situations develop that she must address before she reaches her destination.
 
The minute Vasya rides off on Solovey, her world becomes an astonishing adventure, a captivating journey where she is pushed and pulled in every direction. She meets so many different individuals, sometimes it was hard for me to keep all these individuals separate. I don’t know where Vasya would be if she didn’t have Solovey at her side. Solovey, this fierce stallion, is beyond incredible. Able to understand and talk with Vasya, Solovey becomes her companion, her partner and advisor. Then, there is Morozko, the snow demon. I wished I had read the first novel in this series so I would know how tight their bond is but from what I can tell and from what transpired, these two are close. I worried for Morozko, as he seemed to be more committed to their relationship whereas Vasya acted nonchalant. Who really needed who, in this novel?
 
I enjoyed reading about Vasya as she was bold and determined and enthusiastic about what she believed in. What an incredible novel. What’s next? I am going to read the first novel in the series to catch myself up and then, I will wait for the next book to be released as I need to know what happens to Vasya.
 
I won a copy of this novel from BookishFirst and Random House, thank you! This review is my own opinion.

 

 

 

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review 2017-11-16 01:42
Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson

Book: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

 

Author: Rae Carson

 

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance

 

Summary: Elisa has always felt powerless, useless. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king - a king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could save his people. And he looks at her in a way no man had ever looked at her before. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young. Most of the chosen do. - Greenwillow Books, 2011. 

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review 2017-11-14 19:35
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
The Girl Who Drank the Moon - Kelly Barnhill
What a delightful fairy tale! This was such a joy to read. I loved the mix of characters. There is a perfectly tiny dragon who truly believes he is simply enormous, a good witch with a heart of gold who rescues babies left in the woods to die, a poetry loving swamp monster, and so many other characters both unique and interesting.
 
As a child I know I would have adored this book and read it over and over. I would recommend this book to young, old and everyone in between who enjoys a captivating fairy tale filled to the brim with stardust, whimsy, moonbeams, and all things enchanting.
 
 
-SW
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review 2017-11-13 18:16
Not a Strong Showing by See
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane - Lisa See

Trigger warning: descriptions of infanticide 

 

I think that if Lisa See had cut down on some of the historical elements and developed her characters more I would have liked this. I do think that part of the problem was the overly abundant coincidences in this book. And I also think that the ending was written before the beginning. One of my professors used to tell us when we are writing, to not be so focused on the ending, but on the beginning and the middle. The ending was a great gut punch, the middle and ending of this book, not so much.

 

See focuses on the Akha people (the Akha are an indigenous hill tribe who live in small villages at higher elevations in the mountains of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Yunnan Province in China). I bring that up, cause a casual reader may be confused by this (as I was at parts). I felt I had to do a lot of look up words/research while reading this book which I just wasn't in the mind-set to deal with at this time.

 

The main character is Li-yan (FYI I had to go and look that up since her real name is mentioned only maybe twice in the book, she is referred to as Girl [a good 50 plus percent of the book] or Tina [eh maybe 10 percent of the book] throughout the book.

Li-yan is the daughter of the village midwife and is expected to marry well and become a midwife as well. Her life changes though after a strange dream and then meets a young boy at the market.

 

Li-yan starts to see her people as backwards due to their traditions (parts of this story are very grim so be careful with reading this one). Li-yan realizes that she doesn't want to follow in her mother's footsteps and is going to do what she can to get placed in secondary and third schooling so she can be someone outside of her village. She also dreams of marrying a young boy from her school and having lots of children with him.

 

Li-yan's life gets off course though when she has a baby out of wedlock which means the baby should be put to death when born (not a spoiler, in synopsis) when Li-yan goes against tradition, she finds herself living a life outside of her village. 

 

The writing is just okay. I think that other reviewers have noted that there is a lot of historical information in this one and there is. I think that See decided to do what she did with her "Shanghai Girls" books and decided to have a book that covers a lot of historical events. It just loses something I think in this telling when you have a character remarking on something that I don't think in the moment they would find to be momentous. 

 

Also, I have to say, that for how "backwards" the village where Li-yan is shown and their traditions, I had a hard time believing these same people would so willingly part with them.


I also hope you like reading about tea, cause this book includes every little detail about them and I got bored. I love tea! I just don't want to read pages upon pages about how it is picked, smelled, how it should be brewed, etc. 

 

I think that the book starts off pretty slow. We begin with Li-yan relaying a dream to her family and going tea picking. You don't get a good idea of what is even going on for a good 15-20 percent of the story. See jumps around a lot (enjoy that) and goes into 

Li-yan's family, her best friend's family and some (not all) of the villagers. We get historical dumps (that is what I am calling them) throughout the story by Li-yan or other characters. Nothing quite gels together. 

 

I think for me, the moment when I totally lost interest was when Li-yan realizes the man she gave up a lot for is not what she thought. I just had a hard time buying her realization considering she ignored everyone that tried to tell her about him before. 

 

I also hate how we jump over things that I think would have been interesting. 


The book jumps back and forth between Li-yan and her daughter. I think the book would have been stronger if both POVs would have been told in the first person. Instead we get first person POV from Li-yan and just excerpts from Li-yan's daughter via her mother, teachers, and even therapist at one point. I never got a chance to know her and I really didn't feel drawn to her as a character.

 

After the 25th coincidence (kidding, but not really) the book ends. 

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