Tag Archive | PG13

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.

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 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.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Overview: Two years before Edgar Rice Burroughs became a worldwide celebrity with the publication of Tarzan of the Apes and its twenty-two sequels, which together have sold more than 30 million copies, he published the futuristic sci-fi romance, A Princess of Mars. A Princess of Mars tells the story of John Carter, a Civil War veteran who inexplicably finds himself held prisoner on the planet Mars by the Green Men of Thark. With Dejah Thoris, the princess of another clan on Mars, John Carter must fight for their freedom and save the entire planet from destruction as the life-sustaining Atmosphere Factory slowly grinds to a halt.

A Princess of Mars is the first in Burroughs’ eleven book Barsoon series, following the continued adventures of John Carter.

My thoughts: I had a hard time getting into this book at first. I had to reread many sentences to understand what the author meant. A few sentences contradict themselves. First, the author says, “Most…” but then counters with “A few…” right after it. Reading carefully is required to understand what’s going on. I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi, but the construction of the author’s world is very believable with a few flukes. He adheres to general scientific reasoning, especially considering it was published back in 1917.

The gender roles and characterization of the Indians in the book annoyed me a bit, but it was written a long time ago. I had to keep reminding myself of that fact as I scoffed at Dejah Thoris being unable to protect herself although the author seemed to set her up as someone who could fight for herself.

Towards the end of the book, I became more engrossed in it. It’s not the most interesting, entertaining, best thing I’ve read, but the middle and end of the book keep my interest and pulled me in. I don’t recommend me this for everyone. However, if you like sci-fi, then this will probably be a good match for you. Even though this book is a part of a series, I think the first book is complete in itself. I don’t plan to read anymore of this series, but we’ll see what happens.

I found this book for free on Amazon.com and downloaded it onto my kindle.

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

Overview: Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel’ Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes. Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab’s untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well–walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness. A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith…of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.

My thoughts: The book in general kept me entertained. However, it seemed a bit unbelievable at sometimes. The most unbelievable part was probably Rahab’s instant conversion to Judaism. It didn’t make sense that she would so easily believe in another God when her society’s gods failed everyone. It’d make more sense if she was skeptical of God. She has Christian ideals before Christianity even exists. I know I’m supposed to believe that her prostitution is bad, but I don’t believe the book gives enough evidence since details aren’t given and she’s very choosy about who she does things with. She has freedom that other women in her time period don’t have. If her career choice is ripping her apart on the inside, she doesn’t show it much except towards the end. It’s quite unbelievable that her culture would look at zonahs as bad people since prostitutes are in the temple, too. In fact, it feels like the book endorses friends with benefit relationships when Rahab takes in Debir and looks back fondly on their friendship. The book doesn’t show the gruesomeness of her profession.

The writing isn’t very descriptive when it comes to deep feelings, and a lot of cliche figures of speech are used. A bunch of figures of speech are too modern for the time period of the setting. I felt like the ending was a bit anti-climatic and expected something more. The book moved very quickly time wise.

The book was cliche just like the writing. It was like a romance novel except with intercourse after marriage instead of before. The Salmone’s love at first seemed unbelievable, but later it was convincing. Personally, the love scenes sort of filled me with warmth, but at the same time the cheesiness made me laugh. It’s a very good light read, but I’d only recommend it if you’re Christian. I may be wrong, but unless someone has a background of Christianity, I don’t think they’d understand the values and ideals in the story.

I found this for free at Amazon.com and downloaded it on my kindle.