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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Reading Challenge! Asian Lit Bingo!

Lit Celebrasian tweeted out this great challenge!! I am going to try and do it. I’m always up for an excuse to go book shopping (but, I already have some sci-fi in mind) and this is a perfect excuse to go through the #ownvoices tag on twitter and find new favorite authors!

The challenge is in honor of Asian American Heritage Month. So, we’re looking for books by Asian authors with Asian main characters. The link above takes you to the main page if you have anymore questions

Im still working on my TBR, so I will get back to you with that!

Quick Review: Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes

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So ends the Falling Kingdoms series. It’s been quite a ride. What started as a power struggle to verb who rules all of Mytica turned out to be an all out fight against magic itself. With the Kindred powers of Fire, Earth, Water and Wind have manifested themselves into real bodies and threatened to recreate the world to their liking and forcing former enemies into allies. Magnus, Cleo, Lucia and Jonas must find away to work together to defeat the kind reds and save the world. First they all have to reunite. Not as easy as it sounds in this series that often sends its characters all over the place for seemingly no reason. It’s also seems like everyone gets a redemption story even if they don’t deserve it. King Gauis who is no longer under the spell of his mother finally comes to his sense and realizes what a terrible father he has been and we are so to forget all the things he did to get us into this position in the first place. He was the one who set everything in motion by kidnapping Lucia in the first place. Amara killed her entire family to gain power but she grows a conscience the last minute so she isn’t so bad? This kinda drives me crazy about these kind of novels. Why can’t they let bad guys be bad guys? Also while I always root for happy endings but that doesn’t mean that all the main characters have to survive to make that happen. How many near death experience does one character or multiple characters deserve before it loses its impact? This is a series that has a high body count but still was too afraid to go there when it could have made a real impact on the story. All in all it was an enjoyable series. I just wish at times it was braver than it was. 

My Top 5

This year has been something, hasn’t it? I have done so little fun reading (hence the lack of posting) but I did read enough to do a Top 5!

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’m pretty sure that I read this in high school but I couldn’t remember how it ended, so I decided to re-read it. I also snap chatted my rage; the narrative inspired a lot of it.

Atwood gets the paranoia and tension right. She also nails the guilt, I think, of feeling like you didn’t do enough in hindsight to stop bad things from happening.

4. Wool by Hugh Howey

This is a claustrophobic dystopian tale. In a future in which all that is left of humanity lives in an underground bunker, exile is a death sentence and is used as punishment. Exiled folks are put into a suit and given steel wool to clean the outside censors so that those still inside can see a constant live image of the bleak landscape. Many death row inmates swear that they will not clean the censors when they leave and yet, they all do. This tale surprised me with its mystery, the humanity of its characters and ultimately with the horror of how the world came to be like this. It was great, even when it hit a little too close to home.

3. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

I have a huge crush on Trevor Noah, so you know that I had to read this. Well, listen to it. Noah’s stories are heartwarming and heartbreaking and I loved listening to this audio book (read by the author.) I didn’t know a lot about Noah, outside of what I’ve gleaned from seeing some of his stand up and watching him on the Daily Show so I didn’t know where the story was going and was pleasantly, sobbingly, surprised by the end. If you are at all interested in reading a personal narrative from Apartheid South Africa and the following transition away from apartheid, this isn’t a bad place to start.

2. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity by Julia Serano

This collections of essays is sharp and insightful. Serano is a trans woman and a biologist and she brings both of these things to a discussion of femininity and how it is viewed by society. She builds on that and focuses is on how views of femininity shape and have an effect on the public’s opinion of trans women. As a biologist, she addresses many common misconceptions of transness. This collection was great and I am so glad I read it.

1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I got this book from the library as an audiobook but then I thought I wanted to actually read it and not have it read to me, so I got it as an ebook. Then, it won the National Book Award and when I didn’t finish it during my loan period from the library, I got put on a stupidly long waiting list. Boring story short, I finally just bought it and two years later I have finished it. I’m glad this book had and still has a long wait list at my library. It is one of the most important things I have read in a long time. I am a numbers person, so I find statistics and well done analyses compelling, but this book really filled in the gaps on race in America that you can’t get from statistics. I know Coates has gotten a lot of shit lately but I’m glad his work is out there. If you’ve not read it, I really recommend it.

So, here’s to the end of this year and it a Happy New Year full of many books and book reviews!

Quick Review: Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

intensity I have missed my sassy Cajun, Nick and his friends.  Eight books in and boy that boy has been through a lot.  This is the last book in the Chronicles of Nick but not really as it’s lead in to a spin-off series, I guess? I’m not really sure how I feel about it.  First, the book was fun and zippy.  Just like the other books in the series, it’s no-stop from the beginning to end.  It’s fast paced that I had to slow myself down or I would have read it all in one sitting.  Nick’s son, Cyprian Malachai has come back from the future to make sure that Nick stays on the path to destroy the world.  In doing so, he frames Nick for the murders of his former friends that kicked off the whole series.  That plot line is actually a nonentity in the book itself as it’s quickly resolved but it does lead to Nick start to understand what is really going and how to stop it.  The one thing that has separated Nick from the all the Malachai’s before him is that he was loved by his mother and he has the loyalty of his friends.  Cyprian makes it clear that one of the reasons he hates Nick is that he is well liked while Cyprian is not.  This seems kinda weak to me but who am I to judge.  I’m sure we will get more in the Shadows of Fire series that will feature both Cyprian and Nick.  So how does Nick defeat his foe.  Obviously major spoilers so if you want to read more, check under the cut.
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