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review 2018-03-15 17:29
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko - Min Jin Lee

It took me almost four months to read Pachinko. As I read, I began wondering about my slow pace. My fall semesters are busier, yes, but I still manage to finish most books in what's a timely manner for me. It certainly wasn't because I found the book hard to read in terms of comprehension or engagement. As I got closer to the end, I realized: it was because I was so invested in the characters and storytelling I had to take time to process the intense feelings the novel evoked. There are also regular gaps in time that take place between chapters where characters' situations change significantly; I needed mental space before diving into the story again. I can't think of another novel that required this sort of reading from me.


In addition to Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh, Pachinko has served to establish that "family sagas" can engage me, or at least when another culture is involved. Through the family portrayed here, I learned more about Korea, but it never feels like a history lesson. Everything comes from the characters. The novel also provokes thought about national and racial identity.


There were moments I dreaded, as with the return of a less sympathetic character, though not in a way that made me dislike the novel or its author. There were moments that shocked me to the point of gasping. There are many scenes that easily and vividly come to mind when I recall my reading, which I finished more than a month ago.


I would love to teach this novel. I have the feeling I may reread it some day, regardless. For me, that's a rarity, a compliment, and a sign of deep gratitude. 

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text 2018-03-02 11:46
Middle Grade Fantasy Freebie!
The Book of Kindly Deaths - Eldritch Black

The Book of Kindly Deaths is currently free for the Kindle version. If you like MG Fantasy I highly suggest you grab this one.


The blurb: Eliza Winter's whole world is turned upside down when she discovers a hidden room in her missing grandfather's sprawling Gothic house. Inside the room, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the hour, waits The Book of Kindly Deaths.

Desperate for clues for grandfather’s whereabouts, Eliza opens the book of ominous, enchanted tales and soon discovers that nothing is what it seems, and that sometimes fairy tales are true...

When a sinister man claiming to be a book collector arrives at the house, Eliza realizes there's far more at stake than she could have ever imagined.

Now Eliza must battle her darkest fears to save her family from the book's guardian, the terrifying ghoul Grim Shivers. Soon she is forced to travel into the heart of the Grimwytch, a haunted world of terrifying monsters where it's forever midnight.


My review:


2 Cups original imagination from an obvious talent

1 Cup Grimm’s Fairy Tales

½ Cup Incorrigible children like those from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

1 pinch each disgusting, gross and weird

Fold in one plucky heroine, one missing grandfather, and one very mysteriously creepy book

Season with atmospheric description and deliciously creepy writing

Mix together and sprinkle lightly with gruesome details.

"On a desk in the room with the stained glass windows sat a book.
It was a thick volume with a worn and cracked black cover showing a gold symbol, a rectangle within two circles that sparkled and flickered as if teased by ghostly fingers. Voices whispered from inside the book, growing in volume, a few human, a few not."

Poor Eliza has a dreary mother, one of those practical sorts who doesn't allow things like imagination and curiosity. I already know I don't like her much. But perhaps she does have reasons for this sad flaw.

Twelve year old Eliza has come with her parents to clean out her grandfather's house and catalog things of value. As her grandfather is missing this seems a bit odd and perhaps slightly premature.

As Eliza reads some of the stories in The Book of Kindly Deaths there are clues these might not be simply stories. Including a strange memory she has of the last visit to her grandparent’s home six years before when she was only six.

"The phantom of a forgotten memory crossed her mind. A ghost of an event that had occurred the last time she was at this house. Although the recollection was fleeting, she still felt an icy sting of dread."

After Eliza, and we the readers, are treated to some tales from The Book of Kindly Deaths, where we learn a bit about the denizens of a place full of nightmarish creatures called Grimwytch, Eliza comes to be in immediate danger and finds herself in Grimwytch. There she finds both villains and allies, and learns what happened to her grandfather.

This book has that dark fairytale vibe, and stories within the story. The writing is descriptive and deliciously creepy.

There are a few mildly gruesome bits, but nothing I’d hesitate a middle grade reader reading, as long as they enjoy dark and creepy stories. Young people who delight in spooky tales will eat this one up.

I also think people older than Middle Grade will enjoy this one. I’m an adult and I sure did. I very much hope there are more stories of Eliza to come.

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review 2018-02-19 22:00
Honor's Flight
Honor's Flight: Fallen Empire, Book 2 - Lindsay Buroker

Kindle version ends at 85%. However, since what is included after that is the short story

Starfall Station (Fallen Empire #2.5), which is a direct continuation of their story, I think that's perfectly fine in this case.

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review 2018-02-18 16:19
Atlic by Sophie Davis
Atlic - Sophie Davis

Thankfully the angsty romantic uncertainty with the MC, Stassi, that was annoying me cleared up around the 20% mark, and I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Not quite as much as the first one, but still liked it and went on to read book three.


One thing I really like about Stassi is that she has a lot of empathy. Even when she was doubtful of wanting a relationship with the LI (though clearly attracted to him, and vice versa), she was able to put herself in his shoes, and snapped herself out of being unfairly cold to him, treated him as a friend, and had understanding for his situation.


And again, this story contains a romantic angle, but it's not a huge focus, which I also appreciated.


This book covers an interesting heist that takes place in their current day, the future. No time travel then, but a lot of fun and imaginative high tech to play with. Overall a satisfying read. Although, dang it, it ends in a bit of a cliff hanger. Main present plot is resolved, but then there's a bit more that occurs that is of the "To Be Continued" type.

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review 2018-02-18 02:00
Legends Untold by Sophie Davis
Legends Untold: Timewaves #3 - Sophie Davis

I need the next one right now.


Couple quibbles: They go back to the time of Lady Jane Grey, London 1500-whatever. Language used by the contemporaries isn't really true to the time, but not too jarring to someone not expecting historical accuracy, except a few times. Once, when Lady Jane says, "okay". Um, yeah, that's so anachronistic it's jarring. Another time another contemporary says it, and our MC says it to a contemporary - when she's a time traveler trying to, you know, fit in with the time.


In one scene Lady Jane is wearing silk pajamas. I'm not an expert but I'm pretty darn sure women didn't wear pajamas in the 1500's. Pants of any sort were a big NO, even for sleeping attire.


But with the story it's really pretty minor. I don't expect anyone reading this, particularly after reading the first two and knowing what to expect, is going to be displeased. A thoroughly enjoyable time travel adventure. Sadly ending, again, in a cliff-hanger.


I NEED the next one!

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