Quick Review: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

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Girl in Translation is the story of Kimberly Chang, an immigrant to the US from Hong Kong. It follows her from when she arrives in the States until after her high school graduation. In the novel, we follow her story as she works to balance school and her life helping her Mother with factory work after school. We see her struggle to fit in with the American students while also maintaining her home culture. We see her survive, push through, and thrive.

 

It is really great novel. I enjoyed listening to it. The audio book is read by Grayce Wey and I really liked how Wey used accent to change from inner to outer monologue. (And, I may have been imagining this, but I also liked that her accent got mellower as the novel went on.)

 

I read this as part of the #AsianLitBingo Challenge. Lit Celebrasian did a character interview with Kimberly Chang over on their blog and it is a lot of fun! You can check it out here!

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Review: A Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

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**Some Minor Spoilers**

I’m actually sorry that this was only a trilogy as there are so many Sherlock Holmes canon that she could have played with but it was a satisfying ending.  The Case for Jamie takes place a year after the ending of The Last of August.  Both Jamie and Charlotte are still reeling from the events of the last book and the death of August Moriarty.   Jamie is back at school doing his best to get his grades up to get into a college.  He has a new girlfriend and is still playing rugby but really he’s just going through the motions.  He misses Charlotte but can’t bring himself to forgive her for what she did.  Charlotte for her part is doing what she does best.  Investigate.  She’s trying to figure out what Lucien’s next move is as she knows that they haven’t seen the last of him.  She’s doing her best not to fall back into her destructive behaviors and missing Jamie too.  Strange things start to happen to Jamie at school.  He’s already a little paranoid from his experience in the last year and starts to lash out and everyone around him.  It’s clear that he’s struggling with PTSD.  As things start to spiral out of control, it becomes clear that even though he and Charlotte are no longer together, someone out there wants to get the band back together.  We go back and forth between Jamie and Charlotte’s point of views as we piece together what’s going on.  As the reader who has the benefit of knowing both sides making it much easier to come to the conclusion faster than our heroes but it was so well constructed it didn’t take away from the mystery.  I felt actually quite proud of myself that I was able to piece it together before the formidable Charlotte Holmes.  *pats self on back*  I really liked both of these characters.  They were both relatable in through own ways.  Jamie being the clueless boy who just want’s to fit in and have friends and Charlotte the overachiever who is consistently looking for approval.  They’ve spent the last three books trying to accept themselves for who they are and not who people perceived them to be.  At the end they are still working on that as it’s not something that happens overnight but they have truly learned their lessons.  I also liked that after everything that happened they didn’t just immediately get back together.  While reconciliation is on the horizon, they both realized there were things about themselves that were not good for each other and took time work on themselves and get to know each anew.  It’s a good lesson for us to learn.  Mystery fans out there, I encourage you pick this series up.  I think you will love it.

Review: The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

fates divide I liked this one a little better than Carve the Mark.  I think maybe because the world was more established and the complicated relationship between each character was more set.  Also opening up the universe to new planets made and introducing more characters with darker skin as more than just warriors or brutal dictators also helped.  That doesn’t make some of the character development any less problematic but I do think that Veronica Roth listened to the criticism of the first one and took that into account while writing this one.  I’m also grateful that this is only a duology and not a trilogy.  Knowing that this was the last book, I felt the pacing was better, the story more concise loose ends tied up.  That being said, she did leave an opening to return to this world if she wanted to but I’m happy with how it ended.

The Fates Divide picks up right after the end of Carve the Mark.  Cyra and Akos, along with Ryzek, Cisi and Isea and Eijeh have fled the arena and leaving the Shotet in chaos.  With Ryzek presumed dead and Cyra leaving their is a power vacuum in Shotet that unfortunately gets filled by her once presumed dead Dad, who makes Ryzek look tame.  If that wasn’t enough, Isea is grieving for her lost sister and using her Chancellor position to take revenge with the help of the Assembly.  They also have those pesky little fates to contend with.  They must all overcome all these obstacles and succumb to their fates but at the same time create their own.  It’s tug of war.  Cyra really comes into her own in this one.  She has been told her whole life that she wasn’t worth it.  She had a gift that could only bring pain and for that reason she pushed people away and expected people to disappoint her.  Akos is rattled with guilt because he promised his dad to save his brother and that is almost impossible now.  They both are way to earnest and way to self-sacrificing for my liking but it is who they are.  In this one, we also get the point of view of Akos’ sister, Cisi and Eijeh.  Eijeh who is destined to be an oracle but after years of torture by Ryzek has changed him but through him we see how the oracles work and how unreliable they can be.  Cisi’s point of view gives us a glimpse of the other side of the Thuve and Shotet fight.  The first book was only of Cyra and Akos and the Shotet.  The Shotet are not well liked by and seen as pest because of their militaristic ways and constant scavenging.  We can see how quickly things can escalate when you stop looking at the other side as less then they are.  Our own hurt and pain blinds us to the hurt and pain of others and forces us to make rash decisions.  Cisi tries to be that moderating voice before real a catastrophe happens.

Overall it was a good series that I enjoyed.  I’m glad that the problems of the first book didn’t carry over to this one.

What I’m Reading Now: French Concession by Xiao Bai

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My first book up for the Asian Lit Bingo challenge is French Concession by Xiao Bai. This is a noir thriller set in 1931. Picking the books for the challenge, I wanted to start with my tbr stack. I have loads of books that I’ve bought because they looked good. It was about time I found an excuse to pick one or two of them up. I’ve had this on my eReader for a few years (it is a little embarrassing to admit that) so I’m excited to have a reason to start reading it!