Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

13202496Overview: In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See takes us on a journey back to a captivating era of Chinese history and delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.
 
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, an “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she has written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together they endure the agony of footbinding and reflect upon their arranged marriages, their loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace in their friendship, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their relationship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

My thoughts: I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I couldn’t put it down and kept reading chapter after chapter, staying up until 4 A.M. to finish it. On the other hand, the main character’s actions were disappointing. Most of the younger characters start out as something different; they’re rambunctious, active, and playful, but later they just turn into stereotypical old people, especially Lily, the main character.

The hardships of the girls kept me turning the pages. Some of their problems, such as foot binding, are gruesome. Their flight to avoid war also adds to the tension and page turning aspect of the story. However, Lily can be a pain sometimes. She seems to close herself off from the world and become shallow, sticking to tradition although her laotong, Snow Flower, strives to create her own path within the traditional structure.

Part of me had to put away my 21st century view of women to deal with this story. The two girls couldn’t do much to control their own fates, and historically, that’s the way women were treated. I think Lisa See does a great job with the historical elements and not breaking her character’s point-of-view. However, that’s also the downside of the story. When the character does have a break through, it tends to be small, weak ones as if there’s nothing Lily can do to change the past or take hold of the future. She does do a few things to change and control her children’s future, but it’s as if she gives up on making her life better, just like her mother does when Lily is little. Some of the characters’ development tends to be superficial.

Snow Flower is probably my favorite character because she tends to be a bit more unconventional, and she stands up for herself by forming friendships with other women when her laotong doesn’t treat her kindly.

It’s a good quick light read, and I’d recommend it for people interested in historical Chinese stories.

I borrowed this book from my library.

Advertisements

Delivered to My Kindle 3/19/13

Here are some cool books that are available today at Amazon.

davinci_code_fThe Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown:

(From Goodreads) An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe. An astonishing truth concealed for centuries . . . unveiled at last.

While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

 

Revenge of the Taken by Shane Scollins:

Revenge of the Taken_cover_light

Every year in America, thousands of women disappear never to be seen again, and one man has dedicated his life to finding them…

Humble Walker has an amazing gift rooted deep in an ancient Navajo legend. It’s a power that may be as limitless as his imagination, if he could only learn how to control it.

Waging a clandestine war in the shadows of the New York City underground, Humble has taken on an unassuming drug research facility, abducting women for nefarious mind control experiments. They’re powerful, corrupt, and have perfected a brain-altering narcotic like the world has never seen.

Beautiful and spunky Kat Carson is the latest victim. Taken from her comfortable suburban life, she represents a tipping point in the ongoing battle, but all she wants is her life back. With the help of Humble and a small band of refugees, she has a fighting chance.

Even with the best plans, things can go horribly wrong. Unthinkable betrayal derails their efforts and backs them into a corner. But, that is the one place you don’t want to put Humble Walker.

 

16122779

Focus–A Memoir by Ingrid Ricks:

Imagine walking into an eye doctor’s office for the first time in your life expecting to walk out with a cute pair of red cat-eye frames–only to learn you suffer from an incurable eye disease and are already legally blind.
In her powerful memoir, Focus, Ingrid Ricks delves into the shock of discovering at age thirty-seven that she was in the advanced stages of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a devastating degenerative eye disease that doctors said would eventually steal her remaining eyesight. Gripped with the terrifying fear that she wouldn’t be able to see her two young daughters grow up, would become a burden to her husband, and would lose the career and independence that defines her, Ingrid embarks on a quest to fix her eyes that ends up fixing her life.

Through an eight-year journey marked by a trip to South Africa to write about AIDS orphans, a four-day visit with a doctor who focuses on whole-body health, a relationship-changing confrontation with her husband and a life-changing lesson from her daughters, Ingrid learns to embrace the moment and see what counts in life–something no amount of vision loss can take from her.

 

Taureg by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa

taureg

One of Gazel’s guests is murdered, and so he must fight to fix the wrongs according to his ancestor’s ways. His journey takes him from the middle of the Sahara Desert to a wasteland from which no one returns to a foreign city beside the sea. In this story, tradition clashes with the modern life as good intentions clash with corruption. Upholding either law only seems to add to the chaos of Gazel’s solitary war.

Gazel is a hero with a flaw, which of course makes this story a tragedy. He has a lot of persistence and resourceful skills. His presence makes the book fun to read. The other characters definitely add to the color of the story. There are Gazel’s foil, the ultimate bad guy, the nice guy just following orders, the nurturing women, and then pawns of the military. Ultimately, independence and remaining faithful to your values permeates this story.

I don’t necessarily agree with the treatment of some of the characters, but that’s probably because I’m not used to the Tuaregs’ culture. The story was translated from Spanish, but it’s still well written. It flows very well, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have any chapter markers. Every now and then, there are breaks in between the storyline and perspective changes. Some of the perspective changes are confusing because the section starts with “he” rather than a name. Grammar mistakes can be found in the book; there are a few missing verbs and common problems.

I found this book on Goodreads and downloaded a PDF version for free.

piggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmall

Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Ponzer

6307485
Reality Bites Back is a very thick book. There are millions and millions of hours of reality TV and different types of reality TV, and so this book needs to be thick to accomplish its goal. In part, I think it does, but in other aspects, it doesn’t.

If I had titled this book, it would’ve been Unscripted Women Bite Back: Age Old Views in Reality TV or something of the sort. Most of the book focuses on women, which is probably the author’s strong point, but I think that made this book weak. Gender does not exist in a vacuum, and we know that more than one gender exists. Degrading women doesn’t just hurt women. It also hurts men, and reality TV shows men in a negative light. The book only contains a few paragraphs about men, but I feel like it would’ve been a stronger argument if a whole chapter or more was dedicated to how men are falsely represented on TV.

The themes go in between women, minorities, and LGBTQ (I’m sorry if I missed a group). It’s great that the author has lots of material, but all of it gets mashed into a big jumble and it’s hard to dissect apart. I think the author had good intentions of separating topics by chapters, but then topics blended into each, and women issues ended up in chapters about LGBTQ. Those issues are probably connected, but it would’ve been nice if she created a few borders between them so that the topics were more understandable. I thought that maybe the author could’ve divided it by TV shows, but then lots of TV shows share similar themes, so that wouldn’t have worked either. Honestly, there are just too many themes and topics to discuss about reality TV, and not all of them can fit into a book. It might’ve been better if she wrote multiple books on reality TV, each focusing on a different theme or different type of reality TV.

The chapter at the end of the book is fun and thought provoking. She encourages you to keep watching your favorite reality TV shows, but to speak up, make fun of, or analyze what’s going on as you watch the show. I wanted to try her ideas and attempted to watch The Kardashian Show…but I failed miserable. That show really bored me, so maybe I’ll try another one later.

I feel like this book just scraps the top of reality TV, like taking the sugar off the top of homemade jelly. If you really want to experience the jelly, you have to take some of the sugar with the jelly underneath, bit by bit at a time. That’s not something this book does. The book’s argument just goes on and on, which can leave you mentally exhausted. While reading this, I wanted to take a step back and just think about a point Pozner made and digest it. I also wanted to find out more information and read more sources about the topic before moving on.

Basically, if you’re interested in TV and cultural views, then I’d recommend this book, but I’d also recommend you read something else. It’s a good book to have in your repertoire to get an idea of reality TV, but I don’t think it should be the one-all and be-all book that you read. Another way to put it is if you were writing an essay on Reality TV, I’d suggest you read this book to get an idea of what to write about and basic knowledge, but don’t quote it as a source when you get into the deeper details of your paper (unless you’re actually using it to make your point, of course).

As a side note, I don’t watch reality TV unless my mom is watching. Every time she watches it, I don’t see what’s so great or attractive about watching other people’s lives. That’s just weird to me and makes me feel like an awkward peeper…

piggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmall

New Release – Rescued From the Dark

Today I bring you another book on sale: Rescued From the Dark by Lynda Kaye Frazier.

rescued-300x450

Overview:

She has no memory of their love…

Kidnapped by terrorists and sent into a drug-induced coma, FBI intern Mercedes Kingsley awakes with no memory of her ordeal—or the intimate interlude that left her pregnant. Convinced her child was fathered by her ex-fiancé, Mercy walks away from the only man she has ever loved, determined to make things work with her ex, a man the FBI suspects is implicated in her abduction.

He knows the truth, but no one will listen…

FBI undercover agent Jason Michaels remembers what Mercy can’t and those memories are breaking his heart. Forced to keep his distance from his lover and their unborn child, Jason risks his life to protect Mercy from a cell of international terrorists who have vowed to get the secrets locked in her memory, no matter the cost. Can Jason convince Mercy to trust him until she remembers their past, or will he lose her to a man who will trap her in a nightmare world of darkness from which there is no escape?

Ok, so, I’m shamelessly promoting this book for a friend. Her mom wrote this book, but it still sounds like it could be interesting. Although it’s a romance novel, the plot isn’t a typical romance formula. If you’re interested in it, I suggest you order it from the publisher’s website because it’s cheaper there than on Amazon. The website can be find here: Black Opal Books.

1fc58f6aca180a7e9d9a4f.L._V398945284_SX200_Lynda Kaye Frazier is an avid reader of romantic suspense and started her writing career with a dream. A cliche, but it’s true. She works full time at a Cardiology clinic, while writing her own novels at night. She grew up in Pennsylvania, but now lives in Arkansas where she enjoys the four seasons without a long, cold winter. She has five children and three grandchildren that she adores. Other than spending time with her family, her favorite things to do are writing, reading and listening to music, but her most favorite is going to the beach. Surf, sand and a good book, her stress relief.

Author Bio from Amazon.

New Release – Their Promise

Today I bring you a book on sale: Their Promise by Brina Courtney.

Theirpromise

Overview:
One moment can change your life.
One moment to find love.
One moment to lose it.


Hannah Dewmont and Chase Harper are the perfect pair. With their lives intertwined since childhood and their love in full bloom, it seems only natural that they’d make plans for a future together. A future that includes promises… promises that will prove impossible to keep.


If you’re looking for a new YA book (which is geared more towards New Adults 18-20-somethings), you can check this one out. You can find it on Amazon or Barns & Nobles. It seems like it can get quite emotional when he pulls out a ring and asks Hannah to love him forever The book is $0.99 for a limited time, and it may just be a good late Valentine read for you.


Brina - Author PhotoBrina Courtney is a young adult author obsessed with chocolate, crime shows, and fantasy movies. She’s spent the last few years as a beauty queen and elementary teacher. She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two very loud, small dogs.

Contact her! Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg

Candy and the  CankersaurOverview: Candy’s father brings her lots of cool toys from all over the world, but he rarely spends time with her. To make his daughter feel less lonely, he buys her a Cankersaurus Rex, which she names Cank. Candy spends lots of time playing and training with Cank, but her next door neighbor becomes jealous and steals Cank. Will Cank and Candy ever be together again?

I was asked to review Candy and the Cankersaur by the author, Jason Sandberg, and I have to say it’s a great child’s ebook. For one, the colors are amazing, for the lack of better words. They’re very complimentary, and I love the repeating purple and yellow scheme. The scenes just pop out and they’re very vibrant, which will definitely hold the attention of a child. Even though it’s drawn in a cartoon style, the objects also have textures, and so it doesn’t look like a flat picture. There’s definitely substance on every page.

The writing is a bit different from other children’s books, and I mean that in a good way. Instead of just simple sentences, the author uses complex constructions, which are great for introducing a child to a wide variety of language skills. He also uses not so common children’s words, like sulk and devoured, but that’s a great way for a child to expand his or her vocabulary. I think this would be a great book for parents and children to read together.

The story itself is rather complex. It’s not just one straight line, but rather a story that has a plot and character development. It’s interesting how there are parent-child relationships, friend relationships, and pet-ownership relationships that all develop within about 28 pages. If you’re looking for an ebook for your child, I highly suggest this one. Besides, it has a dinosaur. What’s better than that?

On a side note: Perhaps this is me being too picky, but it’s a bit depressing that the dinosaur, Cank, only has one facial expression. When it says that he’s frightened, the dinosaur still looks happy. However, the people characters display emotions well.

For more information, check out the ebook’s webpage: Candy and the Cankersaur.

piggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmallpiggytranssmall