Reading

Throwaway Daughter – Ting-Xing Ye | A Book Review

Throwaway Daughter - Ting-Xing Ye with William Bell

Title: Throwaway Daughter

Author: Ting-xing Ye with William Bell

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a standalone about Grace Dong-mei Parker, a Canadian teenager, who travels to China in search of her birth mother. After China introduced the one child per family policy, thousands of infant girls were abandoned or killed. Grace was adopted by a Canadian couple, but she sets out to discover the truth of what happened to her mother.

I received a reader copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: As a Chinese Canadian myself, I was excited to read this novel and learn more about Grace’s journey. I like the title as well as the cover. There’s a map of China and a short prologue that introduces some of the characters.

Characters: I enjoyed following Grace because I could relate to her and some of the struggles she faces. Although there are many different characters, I found it easy enough to keep track of everyone.

Quote:

“I had learned at an early age that hoping makes life hard to live.”

Writing: It’s a quick read at about 240 pages with short chapters. Some of the scenes are quite sad and heart-breaking. The author explores history, family, and identity by weaving events of the past with the present. I love that the author uses pinyin to write out Mandarin words with English translations throughout the novel.

Final thoughts: I’m a fan of the ending as I think it does justice to the story. If you’re interested in a young adult adoption story, check out Throwaway Daughter.


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Reading

The Messy Lives of Book People – Phaedra Patrick | A Book Review

The Messy Lives of Book People - Phaedra Patrick

Title: The Messy Lives of Book People

Author: Phaedra Patrick

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about Liv Green, a mother of two, who works as a cleaner but dreams of being a writer. She works for a famous and reclusive author, Essie Starling who passes away shortly after. Liv learns that Essie wants her to finish the author’s novel. As Liv starts to write, she uncovers a secret, revealing a connection between the two women.

I received an advanced reader copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love writing, so I was interested in reading this novel. In my opinion, the title and cover encapsulate the story well. I was curious to see how it would end.

Characters: The book is mainly about Liv and Essie, but there are several secondary characters as well. They’re different in their own way, which made it interesting to learn more about them. It was easy for me to relate to Liv and Essie.

Quote:

“Success didn’t feel very big when you had no one to share it with.”

Writing: It’s about 350 pages with chapter titles. The pacing is slower in the middle as we learn more about Liv and Essie. I liked the references to different books and the parts about writing.

Final thoughts: I predicted the mystery connection between the women, but I still enjoyed how everything came together because the ending ties up loose ends. It’s a fun, easy escape read about books and family. If you’re a writer or like books about writing, consider checking out The Messy Lives of Book People.


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Reading

Vanishing Acts – Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult

Title: Vanishing Acts

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about Delia Hopkins who was raised by her father, Andrew. She now has a young daughter in Sophie and a fiancé in Eric. As her wedding nears, Delia begins having flashbacks of events she doesn’t recall happening to her. Soon after, a police officer knocks on her door and reveals a shocking family secret.

First impressions: I’m a fan of Picoult, so I was looking forward to reading this novel. There’s a short prologue, and the beginning introduces readers to many of the key characters.

Characters: The story follows Delia, Andrew, Eric, and Fitz. They develop a great deal throughout the book. Even the secondary characters are well fleshed out, making the plot easy to follow.

Quote:

“Maybe knowing where you belong is not equal to knowing who you are.”

Writing: Told in alternating points of view, the book is a little less than 500 pages. I enjoyed that it was broken into several sections and chapters with short scenes. I liked how the author explores interesting issues such as motherhood along with alcoholism from different perspectives. There are some graphic and violent parts in Andrew’s chapters.

Final thoughts: The ending was my favourite part with twists and turns I didn’t quite see coming. If you want to read about family as well as memory, I recommend Vanishing Acts.


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Reading

The Great Godden – Meg Rosoff | A Book Review

The Great Godden - Meg Rosoff

Title: The Great Godden

Author: Meg Rosoff

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s about a family who spends the summer at a holiday house by the sea. When the Godden brothers in Kit and Hugo arrive, everything changes. This coming of age novel explores the loss of innocence.

I received an advanced reader copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The cover is interesting and drew me in. I remember reading the premise and wondering what would happen. It starts off slow, establishing the setting and introducing the different family members.

Characters: Even though the story is told from the narrator’s point of view, they are never identified by name or gender. This was an interesting choice by the author that added another layer to the story in my opinion.

The narrator’s family includes their parents, Mattie, Tamsin, and Alex who each have individual interests. I was intrigued by the two brothers who are two complete opposites: Kit is sexy, Hugo is surly.

Quote:

“After all, most of getting something is really wanting it.”

Writing: The simple writing and short chapters make it an easy read at less than 200 pages. I felt like the story focuses more on the characters than the plot, especially in the beginning. Not a lot happens at first and then everything changes all at once.

Final thoughts: The ending was quick and unexpected. I wouldn’t have minded if the author spent more time exploring the effects of the event on everyone. If you enjoy a coming of age novel about relationships and romance, consider picking up The Great Godden.


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Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

Rich People Problems - Kevin Kwan

Title: Rich People Problems

Author: Kevin Kwan

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s the third and final book in the Crazy Rich Asians series. When Nicholas Young’s grandmother, Su Yi, has a heart attack, the family rushes to her side in Shanghai. Nick’s childhood home isn’t the same with everyone wondering who will inherit what from her fortune.

First impressions: I read the first two books already, and I would recommend reading the series in order as this novel references previous events. I was looking forward to seeing how Kwan would wrap things up.

Characters: There’s a family tree included at the beginning, and I found myself referencing it often. With so many characters and relationships, I had to read slowly and carefully. By the end, I grew to like a lot of the family members for different reasons. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and well developed.

Quote:

“Sometimes, the thing that at first apears flawed can end up being the most perfect thing in the world for you.”

Writing: The book is almost 600 pages in length, but the chapters aren’t too long with breaks throughout them as well. Kwan has such a distinct, descriptive writing style. The pacing picks up as the plot unfolds, and he includes some interesting twists along the way.

Final thoughts: Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’m satisfied with the ending. If you’re looking for a fun series filled with drama, humour, and romance, check out Rich People Problems.


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China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

China Rich Girlfriend - Kevin Kwan

Title: China Rich Girlfriend

Author: Kevin Kwan

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s the second book in the Crazy Rich Asians series that follows Rachel Chu as she prepares to get married to her fiancé, Nicholas Young. In an interesting turn of events, Rachel discovers the identity of her birth father, and she’s drawn into a world where everyone seems to be rich.

First impressions: I enjoyed the first novel, so I decided to check out the next one. The beginning wasn’t what I expected, but I liked it nonetheless. I found it easier to follow the different storylines because I was already familiar with the characters.

Characters: There are some new characters introduced but not too many. As such, it was easier to keep track of who was who. I like Rachel and Nick, but I also adore some of the secondary characters. Even though they are so rich, I still found myself being able to relate to them.

Quote:

“What she truly wanted, what she had always wanted but failed to realize until this moment, was someone who loved her just the way she was.”

Writing: It’s over 500 pages long, which doesn’t make for a fast read. The author is very descriptive, including a lot of detail about what people are eating, wearing, etc. Kwan uses footnotes to elaborate further or to provide a translation when he uses Chinese words.

Final thoughts: I felt the middle dragged on for a little bit, but I enjoyed the ending. I recently read Crazy Rich Asians, and I liked it better than the sequel. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, consider picking up China Rich Girlfriend.


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Reading

Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

Title: Crazy Rich Asians

Author: Kevin Kwan

Genre: Contemporary (Adult Fiction)

About the book: It’s the first novel in a trilogy that follows Rachel Chu who travels from New York to Singapore, spending the summer with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young. Young and in love, Rachel has to navigate all the challenges that come with rich Chinese families.

First impressions: I’ve heard a lot about the series and finally decided to check it out. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by all the characters, so it took some time to get into the story. I wasn’t as invested in all the storylines, but eventually, I enjoyed following the various subplots.

Characters: There are a few main characters and many secondary ones. The family tree included at the start of the book is a helpful reference, and I used it to keep track of who was related to whom. Rachel, Nicholas, and others grew on me over time. I loved the fact I could see myself and my family members in these characters. The author did a good job representing different aspects of Chinese culture.

Quote:

“At some point, we all have to pay the price for our excesses, don’t we?”

Writing: Kwan includes a lot of detail and description. As someone who speaks Cantonese, I liked that he sprinkled Chinese words throughout the novel. There are footnotes providing additional information and translations.

Final thoughts: The ending resolves lingering questions. I’m interested to see what happens in the series. If you’re looking to read a fun novel set in Asia, check out Crazy Rich Asians.


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Reading

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng | A Book Review

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Genre: Contemporary (Adult Fiction)

About the book: It’s a standalone novel set in a suburb of Cleveland where every aspect of the community is planned. One day Mia Warren, a single mother, and her teenage daughter, Pearl, rent a house in Shaker Heights. A custody battle over a Chinese baby ensues between family friends of the Richardsons who want to adopt the child and the mother who works with Mia. Elena Richardson who believes in playing by the rules begins to look into Mia’s mysterious past. The story explores art, identity, motherhood, and much more.

First impressions: I’ve heard a lot of good things, so I had high expectations. The novel begins with the Richardsons house burning down. Ng spends some time describing the town of Shaker Heights and how it’s similar yet different from other cities. It took me some time to get into the story.

Characters: I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Mia Warren and Elena Richardson. Mia’s daughter, Pearl, and Elena’s four children Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy are all different from each other. I also appreciated the racial diversity with white, black, and Asian characters.

Quote:

“Sometimes, just when you think everything’s gone, you find a way.”

Writing: It’s written in the third person, shifting between the perspectives of various characters. The book is a little under 400 pages long with detailed scenes. This isn’t a quick, fast-paced read but rather a slower, character driven novel.

Final thoughts: The ending ties up loose ends but leaves room for interpretation. If you enjoy novels that make you think about mother-daughter relationships, check out Little Fires Everywhere.


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