So I picked this off my bookshelf yesterday while I was waiting for something. I have read only the first two chapters (again) but I had forgotten what an extraordinary writer Arthur C. Clarke was. The book itself is old with microscopic print and cost only £1.50! You wouldn't even get a coffee for that these days. I won't be in a hurry to finish it but I will dip in and out as I go savouring every quaint morsel.
It's been a while since I read a Lisa See book. I had a digital copy of this book thanks to NetGalley, but I opted to listen to it when I had the chance. Sometimes, when there are foreign names and places, I prefer this, rather than have the voice in my head stumbling over unfamiliar words. This was a well done audio book, but not my favorite Lisa See book of the bunch I have read - Snowflower and the Secret Fan is probably still my favorite.
In any case, I did learn a lot about the ethnic minority Akha people and the tea growing region in China, and the characters were interesting and unique. There were some things that didn't jibe for me, including the fairly open-minded views about sex in the culture, but then an almost complete ignorance of how these actions relate to procreation. Despite Li-yan's age and far flung experiences, she still seemed incredibly immature even as she aged throughout the story. I found the historical aspects and the details of the tea industry fascinating, but there were other parts that were predictable and repetitive that distracted from the story.
I was reminded of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland (I saw the movie, not sure if I would recommend it, unless you need a reason to drink) while reading this book because I had the same shocked reaction to discover that the story took place in the present day. Li-yan's village has barely seen a car in the 1990s; when an actual date was finally mentioned well into the story I was stunned — I thought I was reading about a culture from the 1800s. So yes, Lisa See once again presents a compelling topic and a wealth of information, and for that reason I look forward to the next book she has to offer.
I haven't read Gayle Forman's YA books, but of course I've heard good things about them, so I was eager to read her first book of adult fiction. (I feel weird and grown up at the same time calling it that.) Anyway, while her writing was undeniably compelling, I found the subject slightly too close to home, having myself been a 40-something working mom with toddlers at one time. Happily, I have never had to deal with a health crisis like Maribeth's, but abandoning my children is an idea I could relate to only in theory. My own experience was more of a peculiar longing upon passing hotels — wanting to spend a long, uninterrupted night, and leave late in the morning with the bed unmade and the dirty dishes from a delicious breakfast by the door — but maybe that's just me. A lot has been said of the premise of the book, so clearly Forman has hit a nerve and sparked a conversation.
The logistics of Maribeth Klein's departure from her family and her job did not seem all that realistic to me, and the life she led in their absence strained belief, but thankfully Forman's crisp writing kept me reading. I find it hard to lose myself in a story where I do not like the main character, and honestly, I did not really like Maribeth. I can't help but think that despite what she considered compelling reasons to leave (prior to her health issues), most of these were "first world problems". Meanwhile, her husband Jason has to be the most unrealistic character of all, barely fazed by her behavior and eager to accept a good part of the blame for her abandonment. If only.
There were many things I liked about the book; many minor characters were depicted with fine detail and clarity. While I liked Maribeth's ultimate search for her adoptive mother, I felt that it should have been more of the point of her leaving, rather than the backhand way she happened upon that search. As a reader, you knew where this was going, there were just some parts along the way you might have wanted to skip.
Based on the film The Purge I thought the premise for this book sounded interesting so why not treat myself, I thought, I'm worth it! So far I'm not disappointed. Ben lives in Berlin. He is a 39 year old ex band member who is amicably estranged from his wife and has a daughter lying in hospital in a coma after a suicide attempt. While walking home one night he sees his face on a larger than life screen but just doesn't know what is going on. So he gets out his phone and discovers that he has become the most wanted man in Germany for the next twelve hours. He is one of the targets of a 'government approved' game called the AchtNacht (the 8 night - so called because it starts on the 8th. August at 8.08pm) in which his name has been drawn from a countrywide lottery. He has been declared an outlaw and anyone can capture, maim or kill him for the next twelve hours without legal consequences. No one in their right mind believes the game to be legit, unfortunately there seem to be plenty of people not in their right minds and the 10 million Euro reward isn't helping.
The start is a bit slow but it has picked up pace and I'm enjoying it more than the last one of his I read.