Hello, everyone! As you know if you’ve read my blog, I’m a big fan of the author Lisa See and have reviewed a few of her books on the site. Recently I read her newest novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, and was disappointed at the drop in quality. Even though all of See’s tropes are present, Tea Girl lacks her other novels’ greatest asset: a compelling protagonist. See writes fantastic female characters who suffer from hardship, betrayal, and restrictive cultures, but in this novel, she gets caught up in a net of her own favorite gimmicks. After the brutality of the Taiping rebellion in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, the tragedy of the Manchu invasion in Peony in Love, and the horror of the Mao regime in the Shanghai Girls duology, the hardships of a girl in 1990s China pale in comparison. But See is a sucker for suffering, and her insistency on emphasizing the plight of protagonist Li-Yan just makes it that much more obvious how See has seem to run out of catastrophes.
Hello, everyone! With the frenzy surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, I’d like to add my contribution to the discussion of under-appreciated female powerhouses by reviewing Anita Amirrezvani’s Equal of the Sun, a historical novel about Pari Khan Khanoom, a Safavid princess in 1500s Iran. In her debut novel The Blood of Flowers (my review here), Amirrezvani brought the world of 17th century Iran to life through her story of an anonymous female carpet maker who is forced to enter into a shameful temporary marriage. She explored the everyday powerlessness faced by Persian women, but also highlighted the craftsmanship of female artisans who to this day remain anonymous. In her second novel Equal of the Sun, Amirrezvani goes back in time to the rule of Shah Tahmasp I and the cut-throat power struggle that ensued after his death. Her novel takes the themes of her first book and probes them further, showing us the rise and fall of a princess who is destined to be a ruler, but prohibited by her sex. Exhilarating and penned with exquisite prose, Amirrezvani paints a novel of a royal court and a nation in turmoil, which upon further examination, isn’t so different from the political struggles Americans and other countries around the globe face today.
Hello, everyone! I write this book review from the safety of my bunker in the icy Siberia that was once the United States. Florida, rest in peace. Today, I’m reviewing another Tana French novel, The Secret Place. If you read my review of her other book, The Trespasser, you might think I’m just gonna bash this book. But never fear, a rare event occurred when I read this book: my opinion on an author actually changed. When it comes to directors, I am lenient, but with authors I tend to judge harshly. The Secret Place is not a murder mystery of unparalleled quality, but it’s a capital G good book. And that’s enough to change my mind. So what’s the difference between French’s work with The Trespasser and The Secret Place? The latter isn’t trash.
Hello, everyone! Another day, another book review, another book about people whose last name is Day. That book is Dark Places, Gillian Flynn’s second novel between Sharp Places and Gone Girl. I’m a big of fan of Flynn’s other two novels, but while Dark Places kept me entertained and contains some fantastic, insightful writing, it wasn’t as successful an effort as Flynn’s other works. So, what are the best parts of Dark Places and what are the worst?
Hello, everyone! Today I want to discuss one of my favorite novels, Lisa See’s Peony in Love. If you read my last review on The Blood of Flowers, you might think that I have a thing for historical fiction about female artists and I can’t say you’re wrong 🙂 I also wrote another review on Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls duology which you can read here. Peony in Love was the first Lisa See novel I ever read, and her insightful glimpse into the intersection between femininity and traditional Chinese culture led me to read and love many of her other novels. But while See’s other novels focus more on the realistic trials of women in China, Peony in Love dares to go beyond, diving into 16th century Chinese opera and the Chinese afterlife. She also challenges the traditional role and value of women in traditional China without rendering judgment. With so many ideas to balance, See’s novel might have become unwieldy, but she manages to write a thoughtful novel with delicate prose.
Hello, everyone! Sorry it’s been such a long time since I last posted on this blog. My sophomore year of college has been sucking up all my energy and I’m directing my first real film! You can check out the film at my Indiegogo page here and even donate if you want! But enough of all that shameless plugging! I’ve been re-reading a lot of my favorite books lately and I’ve just finished Anita Amirrezvani’s The Blood of Flowers (for like the 6th time). This book is phenomenal, written in gorgeous prose, featuring a truly dynamic protagonist, and set in a fascinating historical period. But what I love most about this book is how it grows with the reader and their experiences. When I first read TBOF, I was probably about eleven or twelve, and I didn’t understand the character’s often frustrating life choices. Now, as an adult (or as much of an adult as a 19 year old can be) I find myself sympathizing with the main character a lot more. With that in mind, let’s get started!
Hello, everyone! The price of perfection is not a novel theme in literature, but through the lenses of innocence, sex, and parenthood, Megan Abbott’s newest novel You Will Know Me spins a tired premise into a tense, grim look at the world of competitive gymnastics. Though I took issue with the Abbott’s writing style, the book won me over in the end due to its frank take on the often exploitative relationship between parents and their champion children. In a youth-driven sport like gymnastics, kids become legends in their teens and fade only a few years later. Abbott’s novel pokes at this phenomenon by questioning the ethics of a sport that pushes kids to their physical limits in an often futile quest for stardom.
Hello, everyone! If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably stumbled across the forked tongue beast of the book world: the overhyped novel. These books spread like wildfire across the nation, appearing on every book lover’s nightstand, even if it’s just to see what all the fuss is about. It’s the allure of the New York Times Best Sellers List that convinced me, two years after the initial publication, to give Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train a try. So what do you get when you combine “the next Gone Girl” with two years of expectation? A healthy dose of disappointment.
Hello, everyone! In summer you can usually find me curled up on the weekends, re-reading a book for the fourth or fifth time. This summer is no different and I’ve returned to one of my favorite authors, Lisa See, a Chinese-American author whose novels Peony in Love and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan reveal the lives of Chinese women during the 17th and 19th centuries, when they were cloistered in compounds, isolated and uneducated, and restricted by the morals of a strict, repressive Confucian society. See’s Shanghai Girls series jumps forward into the 20th century, yet still focuses on the lives and relationships of Chinese women as they move from China to the United States and back again. Although the protagonists Pearl, May and Joy may live in a more modern world than their peers in See’s other novels, See’s key theme remains the same: in a culture in which women are restricted in thought, behavior, and expression, the most important link between women can be faith in a shared secret life.
Hello, everyone! I want to start by apologizing for the massive screw up with gifs on my blog over the past 2 weeks. I didn’t realize that if I deleted gifs from my media library, they would also be deleted from the posts. That seems like something that shouldn’t need to happen, but anyway, PSA: do not delete images from your media library! Don’t do it! It took me five hours to fix everything. Again, I repeat, don’t do it! This has been a PSA.