darlingfox: ([misc] read and learn)
While browsing my tags I realized that I'd completely forgotten a book meme I started last year. ...Oops? Well, back on the metaphorical horse it is! This'll count as part of the body since bones are, in fact, part of the body.

Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs


A forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, her relationship with Det. Andrew Ryan on the rocks, welcomes the distraction of an unidentified New Brunswick skeleton from Québec's cold case unit. But when the bones are determined to be that of an adolescent girl, Brennan is convinced they belong to her childhood friend, Évangéline Landry, who disappeared at age 15. Now Brennan must come to terms with Évangéline's possible death, while trying to ignore her feelings for Ryan as they investigate a series of teenage abduction murders that could be tied to the mysterious bones.
- says Amazon. com

And because I'm feeling lazy, I'll just copy+paste my Goodreads review (you can connect to Goodreads with your Twitter! omg technology):

I do like the series as a whole and Tempe as a character, but this book was a disappointment.

It seems that when Reichs chooses an issue she wants to write about, she will write about even if there isn't enough plot for a whole novel. I think this might have been better as a short story: the main plot would've been tighter and the unrelevant side "plots" would've been absent.

Or maybe a stricter editor would've helped. For one, maybe Tempe's never ending questions would've been cut out. Readers can actually think, the author doesn't have to tell us what we should be asking. Also, when every chapter ends in a dramatic cliffhanger, it loses it's effectiveness in about three chapters.

Still, this was entertaining enough a read and I know I'll read the next Tempe book, too. I wasn't too bored, I finished this and at no point did I want to throw the book against a wall.
darlingfox: ([misc] read and learn)
And now for something slightly different! These are Finnish books and as far as I know, haven’t been translated into English or any other language. Since most of you don’t have an opportunity to read these, I figured that I might as well write the reviews in Finnish. To save your delicate foreign eyes, I’ll put the reviews behind lj-cuts.

Kirkkaan selkeää - Maarit Verronen

[The title is a reference to clear and bright weather, so it counts as a (state of the) weather.]

Velkakierteestä selvitäkseen Tiksu P värväytyy tosiTV-ohjelmaan, jossa hänestä leikellään kirjaimellisesti monta numeroa pienempi. Tämän jälkeen hän aloittaa elämänsä puhtaalta pöydältä ja värväytyy säätutkijoiden matkaan. Tämänkin työpaikan mennessä alta Tiksu ja entinen orja Jan kiertävät Eurooppaa työn ja edes jonkinlaisen elämän perässä.

Kirkkaan selkeää )

Yösyöttö - Eve Hietamies

[The title means night feeding, as in feeding babies during the night which is obviously a time of day]

Avioliitto. Asuntolaina. Auto. Toimittajana työskentelevän Antti Pasasen elämä on mallillaan ja Pia-vaimo viimeisillään raskaana. Kunnes Naistenklinikan edessä kaikki muuttuu. Tuhiseva käärö syliinsä tyrkättynä Antti katsoo, kun taksin perävalot häipyvät näkyvistä, taksin takapenkillä Pia ja heidän tulevaisuutensa ydinperheenä. Elämä vauvan alias Paavo Pasasen ehdoilla alkaa, eikä Antilla ole aavistustakaan, mitä se tulee häneltä vaatimaan.
- Otava.fi

Yösyöttö )

Salatut lapset - Irja Wendisch

[The title translates as Hidden/Secret Children and I’ll count it as a relative because it means a specific set of daughters and sons, not some starange kids running on your lawn.]

Vuosina 1941-44 Pohjois-Suomeen oli sijoitettu yli 200 000 saksalaissotilasta. Suomalaisnaisten ja saksalaisten välillä syntyi romansseja ja lapsia pantiin alulle. Kun saksalaiset vetäytyivät Lapista 1944, osa naisista lähti heidän mukaansa, toiset jäivät. Jääneet vaikenivat saksalaissuhteistaan ja niistä syntyneistä lapsista. Aiheesta ilmestyneet kirjat ovat olleet suuria myyntimenestyksiä, ja ne ovat aiheuttaneet laajaa keskustelua tästä kauan vaietusta aiheesta. Irja Wendisch on koonnut tähän kirjaan uusinta tietoa saksalaissotilaiden jälkeläisistä. Samalla hän kertoo kuusi tarinaa, jotka kaikki alkoivat saksalaissotilaan ja suomalaisnaisen kohtaamisesta.
- Suomalainen.com

Salatut lapset )
darlingfox: ([misc] read and learn)
Wild Swans by Jung Chang

Jung Chang recounts the evocative, unsettling, and insistently gripping story of how three generations of women in her family fared in the political maelstrom of China during the 20th century. Born just a few decades apart, their lives overlap with the end of the warlords' regime and overthrow of the Japanese occupation, violent struggles between the Kuomintang and the Communists to carve up China, and, most poignant for the author, the vicious cycle of purges orchestrated by Chairman Mao that discredited and crushed millions of people, including her parents.
- Amazon.com

Wild Swans is an autobiographical story/family history of three generations of Chinese women in the 20th century China. It's a thick book but the story was so engrossing that it didn't feel long at all.

I've always liked cultural history more than political because politics tend to bore me. In Wild Swans, the political aspects were very important but they were usually shown, not told to the reader. Perfect for me, then! I would've loved to hear more about Yu-fang and the China of her time but since she was the author's grandmother, it's understandable that her story was the shortest. The author's story overlaps with her mother's and the differences between a child and an adult's perpectives of the same events were sometimes very startling.

What I found particularly interesting was the portrayal of people as a mass and how difficult it was to be an individual in an environment where it was discouraged and where everyone was watching you. Following the author and her growing doubts in the midst of the Cultural Revelation was sometimes difficult to read because it was clearly very painful for her. After reading the book, I did some googling and wasn't surprised at all to learn that it's been banned in China.

Whenever I'll have time and I'm in the mood for it, I'll read Chang's book about Mao.

Peony in Love by Lisa See

Set in 17th-century China, this is a coming-of-age story, a ghost story, a family saga and a work of musical and social history. As Peony, the 15-year-old daughter of the wealthy Chen family, approaches an arranged marriage, she commits an unthinkable breach of etiquette when she accidentally comes upon a man who has entered the family garden. Unusually for a girl of her time, Peony has been educated and revels in studying The Peony Pavilion, a real opera published in 1598, as the repercussions of the meeting unfold. See offers meticulous depiction of women's roles in Qing and Ming dynasty China and vivid descriptions of daily Qing life, festivals and rituals.
- Amazon.com

Okay, let's be honest here: I didn't like this book because I didn't like the narrator and certain inconsistencies within the novel's mythology. I didn't like the Never-ending Whinings of Young Werther either and from what I can remember, it had something in common with this story. For one, the play Peony Pavilion did in China what Werther did in Europe: encouraged young people to commit suicides.

(Which, strange as it sounds, is not something I think is a fault in a book. But I digress.)

Peony in Love is for the most part a ghost-story so I don't think I'll spoil anyone if I tell you right away that the main character dies soon enough (unlike Werther). Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her death, she's stuck here as a ghost instead of continuing her way to the more pleasant parts of afterlife.

The premise is interesting enough but it gets lost in a writing style I didn't particularly like and a main character I actively hated (whyyyyy don't you just die, Werther?). After her dead, Peony became a horrible person who did horrible things and I was left with the impression that the readers were supposed to support and cheer her on.

See got some things just right and some so wrong in her story. The horrifying foot-binding scene was told just right: while some of the characters found it emotionally difficult to do, no one denied its importance or decided to rebel against it. In that setting, no one would have. On the other hand, the whole afterlife business was wasted potential because it wasn't internally consistent. The characters used remedies based on their beliefs to cure people. Fine, makes sense. But why did some of them work and some didn't? Peony never wondered that but I definitely did.

I wouldn't read this again and I doubt I'll read See's other novels.
darlingfox: ([clamp] if lady luck gets on my side)
Remember that book challenge I mentioned? No? Well, I do.

I’ve actually read 10 books out of 16 (and many books that have nothing to do with the challenge), I’m just a really lazy reviewer. Today I thougth that if I’m not up to writing anything Deep and Meaningful, I could at least say a few words, a couple of books at a time.

Today’s theme is Patricia A. McKillip because two of the books I read were hers.

Song for the Basilisk:

A royal child escapes fire and certain execution by hiding in the ashes of the castle fireplace. Flame and death fill his mind and shape his thoughts so he is invisible to his enemies. His rescuers send him to the bards living on Luly, the music school on a rock at the end of the world. There he is called Rook. Thirty-seven years pass and his family's enemy again reaches out his hand to crush any remaining members of the house of Tourmalyne. Rook remembers his real name and journeys home. There he becomes an impetus for revolution and an inspiration for the royal opera, which draws the novel's principals together for a performance before the Basilisk and his family.
- from Amazon.com, edited a bit to shorten it

It was refreshing to read something that wasn’t about a young boy with mysterious past, a quest and a future as a king (mind, I don’t dislike that kind of fantasy: after all, I also read shounen manga which is pretty much the same thing). In fact, I was surprised to notice that the main character was a middle-aged man with an adult son and a failed relationship with a woman he loved. He had a revenge quest, but it was very different to read from an adult’s point of view. The book wasn’t about Rook growing up and finding his destiny as foretold by a prophecy. He was a grown-up already with real responsibilities and his final destination was his own choice.

The book and author get cookies from their treatment of women. Rook’s wife (if they were even married, I’m not sure) had her own life and when she decided that it didn’t go hand in hand with Rook’s she left him. And that was all right, no one judged her for that. Lady Luna was also an interesting character and I definitely didn’t expect the direction her story took. She was strong without being, well, traditionally masculine like so many heroines, and I really appreciated that she wasn’t made to be Rook’s love interest.

In the Forests of Serre:

Everyone in the kingdom of Serre avoids the Mother of All Witches, an ugly, powerful, and dangerous woman who lives in the Forest of Serre. But then the grief-blinded Prince of Serre rides down the witch's white hen and earns her curse. Prince Ronan believes nothing can be worse than what he has already experienced, but soon the curse destroys what little the prince has left, and he wanders lost and half-mad through the Forest of Serre, pursuing a beautiful, elusive firebird. His only hope may be the young Princess Sidonie of Dacia, to whom his brutal father betrothed him against his will... and hers. But Princess Sidonie may have no interest in helping a man she's never met. And her powerful, mysterious magician-guardian, Gyre, has secret intentions and desires of his own.
- from Amazon.com, shortened a bit

I didn’t like this as much as I liked Song for the Basilisk, but it was still a good read. I’m a big fan of fairy-tales and folklore, and this book was full of those.

It wasn’t until after I’d read the book that I realized that nothing had happened. Well, obviously a lot of things had happened, but it lacked... showiness? Some things that happened affected a lot of people but they weren’t flashy acts of magic or big battles. It was all very quiet and the fantastic things, talking foxes and such, were just an ordinary part of the scenery. More plot threads were left open than resolved. For example, spoilers )

The book gets the same cookies the Basilisk did: the female characters were well-rounded and interesting. This was also an another example of a rather unusual love story. The prince had already been married and that had ended horribly. He still loved his first wife but was, eventually, willing to marry the princess, who didn’t really know her husband even at the end of the book.

I definitely recommend both books. They're interesting and the language McKillip uses is so very beautiful. ♥ Sometimes I had to stop reading just to admire it, and I was reading the book in Finnish. I have a third McKillip, Ombria in Shadow, waiting for the moment I’ll be inspired to read it. I hope it’ll be as good as these!

This was also day 13: a fictional book in that 30 days meme I suddenly remembered...
darlingfox: ([misc] books)
day 06 → whatever tickles your fancy

Anyone up for a reading challenge?

Risingshadow.net has an interesting one going on and while I'm not joining them (no account, too lazy to make one), I thought I might try it here.

The challenge is to read sixteen books in one year, with titles that each fit one of the following categories:

first name
a place
(state of the) weather
a plant
time of day
a relative
part of the body
a building
medical condition
body of water
a title [as in, king or president etc.]
music term

For example, Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night could be a "time of the day" and Elaine Cunningham's Windwalker a "state of the weather".

I'm not counting anything I have to read, just the books I read because I want to. Rereads are also forbidden because it'd be too easy. I'm still unsure what to do if/when I read something with a changed-in-translation title: if the original has "food" in it and the translation doesn't (or the other way around), does it count? Decisions, decisions...

You, of course, are free to do this however you want to, if you want to! I just thought it'd be interesting to see what you lot read and what you think about those books if you actually review them.


darlingfox: (Default)

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