Reading

What We Were Promised By Lucy Tan | A Book Review

Title: What We Were Promised

Author: Lucy Tan

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a debut novel about a family who returns to Shanghai after trying to chase the American dream in the United States.

I received a free copy from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I felt excited to read a novel about Chinese characters written by a Chinese author. I expected I’d be able to relate.

I love the title and cover page. It took me a few chapters to get into the story though.

Characters: Wei, Lina, and Qiang grew on me. They’re all flawed, but they’re hard to hate. Wei Zhen is married to Lina, but she has feelings for Wei’s brother, Qiang, who left home years ago. Sunny is a housekeeper and later she gets hired by the Zhens to look after their daughter, Karen. The adults have interesting issues to say the least.

Quote:

“Why do our minds fixate on the kinds of love we’re not getting instead of the kinds of love we are?”

Writing: In both the exposition and dialogue, Tan includes some words written in pinyin, which get repeated throughout the book. I understood most of them. The author offers an English translation or enough context to decipher the meaning. She describes the scenes well, including a lot of detail.

I think the nature of the story calls for more telling than showing. That being said, I would’ve liked more of the latter.

Final thoughts: My favourite part of the story is the ending. The characters confront the past and everything finally made a lot of sense. Overall, I think the novel increased my knowledge of Chinese culture and customs.

I recommend What We Were Promised to fans of contemporary reads about families. If you know Mandarin and pinyin, you’ll recognize certain words in addition to what they mean. Even if you don’t, the writing is still accessible.


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Reading

Confessions Of A Book Reviewer

  • I don’t always remember to write a review after finishing the book. My memory isn’t what it used to be.
  • I copy the same template for all my reviews. My reviews would be a mess if I didn’t structure them.
  • I forget some details. Sometimes I’ve even looked up the protagonist’s first name.
  • I don’t take notes while I read. Maybe I should.
  • I love reviewing physical books. More often than not, they’re fiction. But hopefully one day, I’ll get around to reading more nonfiction.
  • I finish every book. I feel like it isn’t fair to the author or potential readers if I only read and review half the novel.
  • I use the same phrases in my reviews. There are only so many ways to say I recommend a book.
  • I don’t write in books. I can’t do it. At most, I’ll write on a sticky note to mark a specific passage or page.
Reading

The Fallen By David Baldacci | A Book Review

Title: The Fallen

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s the fourth novel in a series that follows Amos Decker who works for the FBI.

I received a copy of the book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love Baldacci’s works, so I had high expectations. I enjoyed the action-packed beginning where Decker discovers a crime scene.

The title and cover page are great. I haven’t read the other books in the series, but it’s not necessary.

Characters: Amos Decker is a complex character because he develops over the course of the story. Alex Jamison works with Decker, and she’s likeable as well.

The book has many characters, yet Baldacci makes it easy to keep track of everyone’s identity. Also, there’s more than one bad guy.

Quote:

“Sometimes that’s all you need for a major life change: a dream.”

Writing: I’m a fan of the short, suspenseful chapters. Baldacci balances description with dialogue well. He moves the plot along at a good pace without rushing scenes or dragging things out.

The author created a well-written, well-edited book. It’s easy to follow along but still hard to predict everything at the same time. Bonus, there’s no romance.

Final thoughts: I read the ending in one sitting because I didn’t want to put the novel down. A lot happens, and I didn’t see much coming. If you love a good suspenseful thriller, be sure to check The Fallen. I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.

All in all, the novel is a fun, fascinating read about different issues such as drugs, specifically the opioid crisis in America.


Do you have an arc or galley I should read? Check out my Book Review Policy.

Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading.

This post contains affiliate links to Book Depository. If you make a purchase through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Reading

Dawn Among The Stars By Samantha Heuwagen | A Book Review

Title: Dawn Among The Stars

Author: Samantha Heuwagen

Genre: Science Fiction

About the book: It’s the first in a series, following the perspective of three characters: Kayin, Henry, and Melissa in that respective order.

I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I like the premise of the novel with other beings arriving on earth. I also love the title, and the cover page reflects what the story is about.

Characters: The three characters are different with each having their own goals. What’s more, the secondary characters are likeable.

Maybe it’s just me, but Kayin, Henry, and Melissa seems younger than they actually are.

Quote:

“Sometimes it is better to be disappointed than to never know at all.”

Writing: There’s a mix of description and dialogue. The world building is done well because the author doesn’t bombard readers with too much information all at once.

Even though the book follows three characters, their perspectives are written in the first person.

Final thoughts: The book wraps up many loose ends but still leaves questions to be answered in the second instalment of the series.

If you love sci-fi reads about survival, check out Dawn Among The Stars.


Do you have an arc or galley I should read? Check out my Book Review Policy.

Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading.

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Reading

The 49th Mystic By Ted Dekker | A Book Review

Title: The 49th Mystic

Author: Ted Dekker

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the first in a series about a blind girl named Rachelle. As the 49th mystic, she has to find five seals before it’s too late.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

First impressions: Dekker eases you into the story. I especially enjoyed the beginning when the author gets into the science of epigenetics. That was eye opening and educating.

Characters: I could relate to Rachelle. During her journey, she learns a lot about herself. In my opinion, Rachelle becomes more likeable as the story progresses. Her father also plays a big role, and I liked him too.

Quote:

“All fear springs from an averison to being threatened or wronged on some level.”

Writing: I got to the end of the novel before realizing there’s not much romance, which I loved.

Dekker’s a good writer and storyteller. He’s descriptive, making the scenes come to life, even when Rachelle can’t see.

Final thoughts: The ending sets the stage for the second novel, so it wraps up some loose ends but doesn’t provide complete closure. I’m curious to see what’ll happen next.

The author manages to weave various storylines together into a cohesive read. It’s a little over 400 pages, so the book didn’t feel too long or too short.

If you’re into fantastical reads that involve two different worlds, check out The 49th Mystic. It wasn’t what I expected, but I liked the premise a lot.


Do you have an arc or galley I should read? Check out my Book Review Policy.

Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading.

This post contains affiliate links to Book Depository. If you make a purchase through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Reading

The Hope We Seek By Rich Shapero | A Book Review

Title: The Hope We Seek

Author: Rich Shapero

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s a stand-alone novel about Zachary who seeks gold, and along the way, he meets a woman named Sephy. They find a camp run by a man called Trevillian, but Zack wants to overthrow the boss.

First impressions: It’s such a strange story. I had no idea what was going on at the beginning. Nothing made much sense to me.

Characters: There are so many characters. I could barely keep track of them. Worse, I didn’t know how anyone looked like.

I wish I had a better sense of everyone’s role. If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to lose track of who’s who. The author could’ve done a better job introducing new characters and establishing their identity.

Quote:

“To escape from desire is to withdraw from life.”

Writing: The writing isn’t that bad. Shapero is descriptive and uses a lot of dialogue. That being said, I still struggled to imagine what was happening. The book has some mature scenes as well.

The chapters are long, but the breaks in between helped. The hardcover’s a little over 400 pages, yet it felt longer.

Final thoughts: The Hope We Seek was not my cup of tea. I wouldn’t recommend it to most people either. Even after finishing the novel, I’m still a bit confused.

The beginning and middle advance at a slow pace. There’s a bit more action towards the end though. At least, the novel sort of comes back full circle.

The premise of the plot seemed promising, yet it ultimately fell flat for me.


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Writing

Have You Ever | Writer’s Edition

  • Have you ever killed off a character only to regret it and bring them back to life?
  • Have you ever cleared your search history after a research session?
  • Have you ever used a napkin like a notepad?
  • Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to write an idea down?
  • Have you ever been caught staring at a stranger in public?
  • Have you ever lost sleep worrying over your own characters?
  • Have you ever stolen a pen from someone?
  • Have you ever started a novel and actually finished writing it?
Reading

My Father’s Wives By Mike Greenberg | A Book Review

Title: My Father’s Wives

Author: Mike Greenberg

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone novel about a man named Jonathan Sweetwater who goes on a journey to meet his father’s wives.

First impressions: I didn’t know anything about the author, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the story started off strong.

Characters: Jonathan isn’t perfect, and eventually he realizes his father, Percy Sweetwater, isn’t either. The wives are all different. Jon also has a wife named Claire as well as two kids, a daughter and a son. I would’ve liked more development from the secondary characters.

Quote:

“There’s nothing in the world worse than rooting for something not to happen, because if that’s all you care about then all you can do is lose.”

Writing: Some scenes felt a tad unrealistic to me, which made it harder to relate to in my opinion.

Greenberg writes in a way that’s easy to follow. His style comes off as casual and conversational. It’s told in first person point of view, so readers get to know Jon’s thoughts and feelings.

I found some of the sports references interesting in a good way. I especially enjoyed the one about baseball. Jon and Bruce, his boss, also play a lot of basketball.

The chapters are short, since each day is a different one. It’s not long at a little over two hundred pages, so I wonder if the plot would’ve benefited from additional scenes.

Final thoughts: I’m left with more questions than answers. There are some loose ends. That being said, the story ends in a semi-predictable manner.

I wouldn’t recommend My Father’s Wives to everyone, but I think some adult males will enjoy it, especially those interested in father-son relationships and sports.


Do you have an arc or galley I should read? Check out my Book Review Policy.

Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading.

This post contains affiliate links to Book Depository. If you make a purchase through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!