Tag: Book review

Janie Chang’s — Dragon Springs Road *****

Janie Chang’s — Dragon Springs Road *****

When the Fong’s estate near Shanghai is sold and the Yangs arrive, Jialing’s mother disappears and Jialing becomes a bond servant to the new family. Through her friendship with the spirit fox and Anjuin, the Yangs oldest daughter, she survives. A group of teachers rent a section of the estate and Jialing is given an opportunity to go to school. But even with her education and perfect English no one will employ her because she is zazhong— half Chinese, half Eurasian. How will she survive once the Yangs move to Shanghai leaving her behind?

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Victoria Finlay’s — Buried treasure, travels through the jewel box *****

Victoria Finlay’s — Buried treasure, travels through the jewel box *****

During my travels I was desperate for something to read and was handed Finlay’s book. I’m not a lover of jewels so I approached the book with low expectations. How wrong I was.

This book deals with the history and intrigue behind searching and acquiring jewels from amber, jet and opals to the more expensive emeralds, rubies and diamonds. I was hooked from the first page and fascinated by every fact from this non-fiction gem.

Shyam Selvadurai’s — The hungry ghosts *****

Shyam Selvadurai’s — The hungry ghosts *****

When Shivan prepares to return to Colombo to bring his aging grandmother to Canada, memories of his childhood flood back. He remembers how he was the one forced to befriend the greedy and callous matriarch so his widowed mother and sister would not be kicked out of her house. He suffers her beatings and insults because his grandmother despises his mother for marrying a Tamil and producing two half Tamil children.

Set through an era of political hatred towards the Tamil minority (that still persists to day) and grappling with Shivan’s sexual orientation, this is a story wrought with tension on many levels.

Joanna Goodman’s — The home for unwanted girls *****

Joanna Goodman’s — The home for unwanted girls *****

Although Maggie’s mother is French Canadian, Maggie is sent to an English school by her English father. But in spite of her predominantly English up bringing, she falls in love with a poor French boy, Gabriel. At fifteen she discovers she’s pregnant. Pressured by 1950s Quebec’s stance on unwedded mothers and her beloved father’s threat of abandoning her if she keeps the child and has any more to do with Gabriel, Maggie’s child, Elodie is taken from her.

Goodman presents the English/French mistrust in Quebec to perfection and while at times the story is predictable, the experiences of little Elodie’s time in two institutions reflects the horror orphans of that era went through. A compelling read.

Marie Benedict’s — The other Einstein *****

Marie Benedict’s — The other Einstein *****

In the late 1800s with the support of her father, Mitza Maric leaves her Eastern European home to study physics and math at the Polytechnic in Zurich. She is the only woman in her class where only Albert Einstein, a young student, befriends her. Mtiza is ambitious and a gifted math student, but when she becomes pregnant, her dreams are slowly shattered.

This fascinating tale based on research, makes us question how much of Einstein’s discoveries are accredited to the wrong scientist?

Lily King’s — Euphoria *****

Lily King’s — Euphoria *****

In the 1930s, Nell is an anthropologist with a grant to study a New Guinea tribe. When Nell and her Australian husband, Fen and another anthropologist, Andrew find the group they want to study, Fen changes. He’s jealous that his wife has received the grant and he begins to break all the rules amongst the tribe. Nell grows wary of his behaviour, but not careful enough for what lies ahead.

Not only a great tale, but an interesting setting. In 2014 this book was nominated as one of the ten best books by the New York Times.

Kobo Abe’s — The woman in the dunes ******

Kobo Abe’s — The woman in the dunes ******

Over two decades ago I saw a haunting Japanese movie based on Kobo Abe’s book that has always stayed with me. It was time to read this strange story of a man who walks into the sand dunes in search of beetles that survive in this unique environment. When the day draws to a close, Niki seeks shelter in a strange village he encounters. He is billeted with a woman living alone and only when he wakes the next morning does he learn his fate. This unique story will have you spitting sand and brushing it off your shoulders with every page turn.