Tag Archive | friendship

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.

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.

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Send by Patty Blount

Overview: It’s been five years since I clicked Send.Image
Four years since I got out of juvie.
Three months since I changed my name.
Two minutes since I met Julie.
A second to change my life.

All Dan wants for his senior year is to be invisible. This is his last chance at a semi-normal life. Nobody here knows who he is. Or what he’s done. But on his first day at school, instead of turning away like everyone else, Dan breaks up a fight. Because Dan knows what it’s like to be terrorized by a bully—he used to be one.

Now the whole school thinks he’s some kind of hero—except Julie. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn’t really Daniel…

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book. I definitely enjoyed reading it and read every single word. In fact, I read some parts so quickly that my brain couldn’t process what was happening, and I had to force myself to slow down. The opening was very enjoyable. I even developed a crush on the main character. He was sweet, trying to stick up for others and help them. Besides, I also kind of have a voice inside my head like his, except not as extreme, so I can connect with him. I liked reading in his perspective until he started repeating things he already said, but that’s a different story.

Then the middle section of the book came, and I started to grimace. My crush instantly disappeared at that scene, the scene which really added no worth to the book in my opinion and only added to my dislike for Julie. However, that’s probably me being biased because of my crush.

When it comes to bullying and cyberbullying, I have little to no experience in my life with those topics, so I don’t feel like I’m qualified to talk about the themes of the book. Honestly, I kind of understand all the talk about not forgiving and forgetting or forgiving and such, but then I don’t think I understand what was happening with that topic in the context of the book. I do think that it’s wonderful that Blout was able to combine all of those topics into one book, something I don’t think many people can do without struggling and thinking a lot about why and how bullying works or doesn’t work.

Towards the end of the book, I felt like the story started to fall apart. The opening was fantastic, the middle was so-so, but by the end of the book, I was ready to slap a big one-star on the book and be done with it. It’s like I was on a reading roller coaster and the cart flew off the track and crashed with a firey explosion, but I got up and walked away only with a maimed leg when I should’ve been dead. The ending was definitely over melodramatic and unnecessary in my opinion. Dan seems pathetic in the falling action, and how does no one on the beach notice? I really love how Dan prepares to move forward with his life, but at the same time, it seems horrible because he’s described as skinny and not appearing too well.

I won a copy from Joy Prebble’s blog, and the author actually wrote me notes. It was awesome ^_^. She’s a really nice person, and I hope she writes another novel some day. I’d like to read more of her fiction work.

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The Amulet by Alison Pensy

Overview from Goodreads: To seventeen-year-old Faedra, faeries were nothing more than the figurines she collected and displayed in her curio cabinet. She was in for the surprise of her life.

Faedra had no idea that faeries controlled nature, and with a book no less. Nor did she know that her descendants had protected an ancient fae amulet for thousands of years. An amulet that if ever was reunited with the book would give the wearer power to control the weather, too. She didn’t know all this because the one person to teach her died when she was just six years old. Well, now it was time for her to find out…

A letter from the grave reveals her true identity the day of her eighteenth birthday. But she barely has time to digest the revelation when she is plunged into a fight for her life and that of mankind.

My thoughts: Honestly, I’d give this book more of a 3.5. I really enjoyed reading it, but there were a few things that confused me.

Let’s begin with the impossible actions. There are a few scenes that seems impossible to me. The action described defies the basic laws of physics. I recognize that they’re in another world with magic, so it’s possible for unrealistic things to happen. However, the skeptic in my just doesn’t agree with the possibility of defying the laws of nature in a book that’s not science fiction.

I do like the main character Faedra. Her “goody-two-shoes” personality appeals to me because sweet main characters aren’t too common lately. The author does a good job of creating a character that is nice and usually follows the rules but still has quirks that makes her interesting. The one thing I don’t like about Faedra is that sometimes she seems like Kristen Stewart, except with four emotions instead of one. She’s also easily impressed and usually dropping her jaw.

There are some instances in which Faen acts out of character. It could be because Faen is guarding himself well and only let’s his real personality out occasionally, but sometimes I just don’t understand why Faen acts out of character, especially later in the book when developing his relationship with Faedra. I like their relationship and friendship, and I think it adds a great element to the book. However, their relationship seems awkward at first, and my reaction to their relationship climax was, “What the heck did I just read?!” I think the climax could’ve been orchestrated better and not seem so force.

Plot wise, I love the twists and turns. It’s not just like any other faerie/fairy story out there.  I love love how Faedra’s mother plays into this story. The mysterious mother keeps my attention, and I hope there’s more information about her in later books. I like how she purposely laid out Faedra’s task yet still left questions for Faedra to solve, allowing Faedra to grow on her own.

One other thing that bugs me is Faedra’s interactions with her family. Maybe the British act differently than Americans, but Faedra’s relationship with her father, uncle, and aunt just seem so casual. She doesn’t address Uncle Leo’s wife as “Aunt Nicki.” It’s just Nicki. To me, this is completely disrespectful. She also treats the older people in her family more like friends than family, and it just baffles me. However, I realize that all families are different, and that I should appreciate this book showing me a different style of family. It’s just very different from my own.

There’s lots of description, and some of it is chunky. It makes the book a bit hard to slug through at times. That’s the main easy I didn’t rate this book as a 4. Description can be a good thing, and sometimes it’s well used in this book. However, if some of it was subtracted or made more concise, the book wouldn’t have lost its meaning.

Also, just for kicks, since the author grew up in England, she uses lots of British terms. I learned some new words from this book. Yay, learning experiences!

I found this book for free on Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle.

But, Ogres Don’t Play Chess by Terri Bogard

Overview: To win the heart of the woman he loves, an ogre must pretend to be something he’s not. Can he convince her he’s more than just a set of muscles?

This story is part of The Monster Exchange Program series.

Short Story – 3700 words

My thoughts: This story is a really short one. Short and sweet. It’s beginning is probably the biggest adventure and also the scene with the most details. It takes stereotypical characters and turns them into interesting creatures with different anatomical features.

The setting seems like such an interesting place with a mix of present and sci-fi elements. However, it’s not fleshed out enough. The story is pretty fast pace, relying more on dialogue then description. Sometimes the events became confusing because they’re described pretty vaguely.

It would’ve been nice to be introduced to both sisters at the beginning of the book, and also have more information from Glumf’s side of the story. It’s a good things these guys are aliens or else I’d wonder if Glumf’s intelligence was realistic.

It’s a good short read and has a lot of potential to become something more if it’s fleshed out with more character depth, screen descriptions, and more events between the crushes and the crushees. On that note, I would like to add that I really liked the ending. I just wish it had more description on Glumf’s thought process. The last event was a bit rushed.

I found this short story for free on Amazon.com and downloaded it to my Kindle.

Menthol Kisses by Abby Stewart

Overview: Logan is a teenager stuck between trying to live her life and simultaneously run from it. Her need to fade from a soul-crushing reality overshadows everything else after a secret abortion and the loss of a close friend. As Logan struggles with drugs, sex, and relationships, she only further digs her heels into the distasteful small town life she so badly wants to escape from.

My thoughts: I debated for a while whether to give this book three stars or four stars. In the end, four stars won because I enjoyed the book and because I read it in one sitting. It was almost impossible for me to stop until I got to a point that made me lose interest. That being said, let me clarify something. The story in itself is a great one. However, it does have a few issues. Let’s start with the bad.

The number one problem was comma issues. The story flowed well, so that I was able to forgive missing commas and misused ones at first, but then the missing comma issue got worse towards the end of the book. That’s one reason why I wanted to give the book three stars.

Some of the story is borderline stereotypical, but at the same time, these characters feel like real ordinary people to me. A lot of cliche things happen, especially considering everything that I’ve been warned about when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and sex actually happens in the plot. Another huge stereotypical thing is that it’s set in a town in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, the tone of the story and the way it’s written makes the cliche and stereotypical things seem acceptable.

The sequence of events becomes really confusing. It seems like the author either didn’t know what else to write or she wanted to skip boring scenes and get to the juicy bits. Therefore, the story is fast paced and skips huge chunks of time, leaving me a bit confuzzled determining the timeline of the story. The main character basically goes from birth to around age 20 or so, and everything happens so fast that you can definitely tell that the main character is going to get into trouble. This was another reason I thought about giving the book three stars.

I lost interest when Logan and Brittany got to the warehouse. I understand their motives, and the scene seems very realistic, but at the same time, either the writing style changed or I just have an aversion to that kind of stuff, such that I wasn’t interested in that issue at all. In fact, I find it gross and a bit degrading, though I think that’s the author intention since Logan really gets into a tough spot. However, the book definitely gets better after that whole part (I’m trying not to spoil it).

I’ll admit that everything that Logan does goes against my morals and I would usually find stuff like that to be very sickening. However, the way it’s written takes away from the sickening part and makes Logan’s actions seem real. It’s all she knows and all her actions flow so well that I can’t really complain. Whether it’s morally right or not is an argument that I don’t think belongs here. It’s more important to notice how she ends up in those situations.

I loved two things about this book. One was the way Stewart depicted the characters as ordinary people. I love how she made them close friends even though they bonded over drugs. The way they bonded even though they were using a substance considered unfriendly and horrific really intrigued me. It leaves you with this odd feeling. They’re doing drugs yet they’re still somewhat kind to each other and good friends. Still, do good friends let others do drugs? It does bring up great questions regarding social behaviors and drugs.

The second part I liked was the ending. I loved everything in the last scene, including the fiance and all that jazz (that I’m trying not to give away). Let’s just say, it makes me happy.

For its price on Amazon, this is a good read. I think it’s worth it. On the other hand, it’s more on the PG13/R rating due to the issues it tackles. Nothing is too explicit, but at the same time, I would recommend this book to people who are around 18+. I think it would also be very good for teenagers or people who are struggling with drug addictions. This kind of book isn’t for everyone, but it is a really good read for people who don’t mind putting strong moral judgements aside.

The author has a website located here: http://abbystewart.com

I got this ebook for free from the author in exchange for a review.

The Changelings by Elle Casey

Overview: Jayne Sparks, a potty-mouthed, rebellious seventeen-year-old and her best friend, shy and bookish Tony Green, have a pretty typical high school existence, until several seemingly unrelated incidents converge, causing a cascade of events that change their lives forever. Jayne and Tony, together with a group of runaway teens, are hijacked and sent into a forest, where nothing and no one are as they seem. Who will emerge triumphant? And what will they be when they do?

My Thoughts: To begin with, the opening of the story is weak. It’s easy to predict what happens and is stereotypical. Things feel forced together, not meshing until later. The main protagonist is a pain. She’s the kind of student I hate to be in class with because she’s wasting her time and yet blames it on the school, not taking responsibility for her actions. Later on, she does change a bit, so I understand why she acts the way she does in a literary sense. Still, she’s kind of unbearable at first. It’s quite stereotypical that she acts this way at school because she has a poor family life. It seems like the author has almost turned this main character into a statistic.

The scene with Jared on the beach is way too forced. I almost stopped reading at that scene because it was too obvious something was going on. It was really annoying how everything was just out in the open. The author writes more in the telling style than she does in the showing style.

The book didn’t draw me in until the later forest scenes. Sure, some of it is a bit unbelievable and too fast paced, but the writing is much better than in the beginning. The book lacks in-depth descriptions of the settings, so it becomes confusing at times. There are a lot of inconsistencies with the characters and that does detract from the reading experience. Maybe it’s because I’ve read and watched a lot of fantasy things, but the book is very predictable to the point that I rolled my eyes when the main character finally realized what was going on.

My favorite character is Tony. He seems like a well developed character and not that stereotypical although his physical description is stereotypical. I’d love to have him as a best friend. He’s very much an in-control character, which is what I loved about him. I’m really glad he and the main character don’t fall in love. That’d be too stereotypical, falling in love with your best guy friend.

I think most of the characters are a little flat. For instance, Spike smiles, has tatoos, and is the carefree “badboy” (which he’s not at all. Jayne is delusional), Flinn is a redneck who wants beer, and Chase is the strong silent type awkward with emotions. That’s way too stereotypical and common. These characters have a lot of potential that doesn’t develop well in the first book.

Sometimes, I think these characters are insane. They break into laughter over things that aren’t funny at all. I don’t understand the placement of those parts, except maybe to show how desperate they are. Jayne is a pinwheel of emotions. I understand that she acts very much like a high schooler would, but I’m not sure if her emotions should realistically flipflop that much. To me, her emotions become too far flung to be taken seriously. I think she’s a bit different from the usual female protagonist, but I wish someone would take her brain, tie it up, and keep her thoughts straight. Her sidetracked thoughts interrupt the flow of the story.

Overall, the Kindle edition has tons of grammatical errors. They keep staring me in the face, annoying the heck out of me. There are missing commas, misplaced commas, and misspelled words. I think the author needs to check her work or get a better editor. I felt like I was reading a rough draft.

The story had a Hunger Games feel to it, except I think this book is much better than The Hunger Games. Although I don’t particularly like the main character, I didn’t want her to die like I wanted Katniss to. This particular story is geared towards older high school students. This is a book that will probably never make it to any high school library due to the language and implied sexual themes. Honestly, the author does a good job at getting into the mind of a teenager, but by doing that, she has reduced the audience to people who are ok with vulgarity.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, then you’ll probably like this book. However, be warned, this book contains lots of curse words. It’s not as kosher as The Hunger Games.

I found this book on for free on Amazon and read it on my kindle.