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Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

82751Blurb

A Chinese proverb says, “Falling leaves return to their roots.” In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to paint an authentic portrait of twentieth-century China, as well as to tell the story of her painful childhood and her courage and ultimate triumph over despair.

After her mother dies giving birth to her, Adeline’s affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck . Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to their stepmother’s disdain, while her half brother and half sister are thoroughly spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not what she really yearns for — the love and understanding of her family.

My Perspective

As I’ve mentioned before, my younger brother (I can’t say little anymore because he’s taller than me now!) isn’t a huge reader so when he does read a book and recommends it to me – I will always take the time to read it.

For school he had to read the book, Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted daughter by Adeline Yen Mah, and after reading it, thought I might be interested in it.

The book follows the true story of Adeline Yen Mah, an unwanted daughter in China from around 1935 to around 1950. Adeline’s mother died soon after her birth and therefore she is seen as bad luck by her siblings. Her father remarries and soon forgets about her and her other siblings, his new wife taking control and relegating them all to almost servant status – Adeline being the least. All she wants is for her father to love her and be proud of her and this is her story of how she works so hard to achieve that – even if it’s only for a moment.

This book was sad. The fact that it’s true and doesn’t have a ridiculously happy ending like the story of Cinderella does, made it even sadder. Obviously there are children who have been a lot worse off in China, especially daughters, however reading someone’s memoirs of feeling so unloved as a child just breaks my heart – especially as I have a child of my own now.

Adeline was adorable and so eager to please. She worked so hard and was so strong. I really admired her resolve, especially as she was so young. It really makes a lot of the children I come across on a regular basis seem like massive spoiled brats. Her stepmother was a real piece of work and I actually can’t believe people exist like that! How can people treat other people like that? I didn’t mind her father so much, he was just weak and under his wife’s thumb. Her siblings were interesting and there was a kind of love/hate relationship with them. Aunty Baba, Yi Yi and Nai Nai were extremely likeable.

The story was well written. I also enjoyed the fact that the author added various Chinese characters to the text – it added an extra touch that gave it a greater depth.

The story was interesting and informative as well as emotionally involving you – I can see why it was chosen as a school text.

Overall I enjoyed it although it was sad and tugged a bit at my heart. I would definitely recommend it to those who like historical memoirs/autobiographies.

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Akarnae (The Medoran Chronicles #1) by Lynette Noni

23569787Blurb

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings’s world changes—literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities.

Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her… but he’s missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can’t ignore her fear that something unexpected… something sinister… is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex’s shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race’s survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world—and maybe even her life—to save Medora?

My Perspective

I follow Lynette Noni’s blog and I’ve been wanting to read her debut novel for some time now. I got my hands on a copy and I’ve finally been able to read it!

Akarnae follows Alexandra (Alex) Jennings as she is transported to another world, Medora and the Akarnae Academy for the gifted. Much to her surprise, her arrival is expected and the only person who can help her get home again is Akarnae’s headmaster – who happens to be absent. In the meantime, she is enrolled into the academy, makes two best friends, and is discovering all that this new world has to offer.

A common description for this book is a mix of Harry Potter, Narnia, and The X-Men. While that may make it unoriginal, to me if you enjoyed the story and can’t wait to read the next book, well the author has done her job.

At first the writing felt unnatural, like the author was trying too hard however it soon started to flow a lot better and settled in to a great YA story.

Alex was easy to like. She was down to earth, a bit of a klutz and really put a solid effort in. Her acceptance of being thrown into another world was a little bit unbelievable however the overall tone of the book feels more lighthearted and fun than major epic so I’m not sure whether the author is going for that so isn’t too concerned about it being too believable (this goes for all the technology too, which wasn’t so much far fetched – just the way it was explained was a bit simplistic). The other characters were fun and likeable – Jordan and Bear are definitely the kind of guys a teenage girl wants as her best friends. The villain wasn’t as strong as he could have been, he was the only character who I was disappointed in. He fell a bit flat. In turn, the whole “complication” of the story fell a bit flat. That was probably my only major qualm with the story.

The story is interesting, holds mystery and adventure, is super fun and really goes all out with the imagination. I really loved that even though Alex obviously is attracted to some of the fellows in the book, it’s completely not a focus at all. That part felt very realistic and gains a huge thumbs up for me (so many YA are bogged down in ridiculous romance).

Overall I really enjoyed the story and I found it hard to put down. I was pulled into Medora along with Alex and although it’s not the most original text, it’s fun and lighthearted and full of adventure. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series – Raelia – it comes out on March 23rd!

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Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

Murder+at+Honeychurch+HallBlurb

In Hannah Dennison’s Murder at Honeychurch Hall, Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house at Honeychurch Hall, an isolated country estate located several hundred miles from London.

Yet it seems that Iris isn’t the only one with surprises at Honeychurch Hall. Behind the crumbling façade, the inhabitants of the stately mansion are a lively group of eccentrics to be sure—both upstairs and downstairs —and they all have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

When the nanny goes missing, and Vera, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead in the grotto, suspicions abound. Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, and a treasure trove of antiques, and there is more than one motive for murder.

As Iris’s past comes back to haunt her, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all. A when the bodies start piling up, it is up to Kat to unravel the tangled truth behind the murders at Honeychurch Hall.

My Perspective

This is the sixteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Murder at Honeychurch Hall from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

Murder at Honeychurch Hall follows Kat Stanford as she travels to country England to look after her mother who has just broken her wrist soon after buying and moving into the carriage house on the Honeychurch Estate. Soon Kat finds herself caught up in the estate and its mysteries, which somehow has something to do with her mother.

The first chapter of this book was rather abrupt and kind of threw you in the deep end. I found the dialogue between Kat and her mother quite annoying and so unfortunately the book and I got off to a bad start. I don’t know I’d say that it fully redeemed itself either.

Kat is a bit of your cliche female protagonist. She’s fairly smart, has a passion for something a little unusual that has brought her fame, has a striking feature (that is beautiful of course) and is in a relationship where she is SO OBVIOUSLY being played. I wouldn’t say I disliked her, she had a down to earth sort of charm that helped me to bear with her. I quite liked her mother, whom although was again a bit cliche, was enjoyable. Richard was vomit inducing and cliche – come to think of it most of the other characters were all fairly cliche too. Maybe that was the point and I totally missed it.

The story was fairly well written and held mystery however I didn’t find it super original. Usually that doesn’t bother me however the story wasn’t actually interesting enough to hold up all the cliches and typical “murder mystery” scenario, I think it fell quite flat.

Overall (as you can probably tell), I was quite disappointed in this story as the premise seemed like it was going to be a great “Whodunit” kind of novel and it really wasn’t. Not a terrible read however definitely not the next Agatha Christie.

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Didn’t Quite Make It – Again!

In 2015, i again attempted the Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal was (again) 52 books, which works out at a book a week. I really thought i could achieve it this time and i was quite disappointed that i didn’t reach my goal and only managed to read 41 of the 52 books by the end of the year. That’s one less than the previous year! I think I’m more annoyed that even though i didn’t finish the challenge, i didn’t even improve on last year’s challenge. However, i did have a baby so i guess that is a good excuse!

I have decided to attempt the challenge again this year, and have given myself what i hope is a super realistic goal of 12 books (only a book a month!). Hopefully i will be able to accomplish that!

I’d love to be your friend on Goodreads so add me if you haven’t already :)

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2015 In Review

Here are some books that i read in 2015 that i didn’t review. I definitely recommend reading the first two books, especially the second book (life changing!). I wasn’t a huge fan of the last book (some things i am out rightly against after further research) however there were a few tips that i was able to glean from it.

Sister Freaks: Stories of Women Who Gave Up Everything for God by Rebecca St. James

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Around the world, every day, young women are boldly putting themselves forth as believers-regardless of the cost. Sometimes they suffer for it, but they never waver in their conviction that God has called them to serve Him. They are confident. They are committed. They are…

SISTER FREAKS

“Sister Freaks.” These are words that evoke strong images-images of extreme faith…of radical devotion…of sacrifice and triumph. They are life-changing words. And they are at the core of the stories related within these pages. Here you will meet both contemporary women and historical figures from around the world-from Joan of Arc to a Midwest high school student to an Olympic athlete. But whether the account is of a historical heroine or a woman of today like you, the stories are always inspiring. Their goal: to demonstrate to you that living radically for God can change your life, whether halfway around the world or in your hometown.

SISTER FREAKS is divided into twelve weeks. Each week contains profiles of inspiring women, thought-provoking questions, and space for journaling. Become empowered as you read about these very real and godly role models in whose footsteps you can follow. Become a Sister Freak!

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul By John & Stasi Eldredge

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Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the Beauty of the story. Those desires are far more than child’s play. They are the secret to the feminine heart.

And yet-how many women do you know who ever find that life? As the years pass by, the heart of a woman gets pushed aside, wounded, buried. She finds no romance except in novels, no adventure except on television, and she doubts very much that she will ever be the Beauty in any tale.

Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficiency and duty, chores and errands, striving to be the women they “ought” to be but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christen women add to the pressure. “Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman.” The effect has not been good on the feminine soul.

But her heart is still there. Sometimes when she watches a movie, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, her heart begins to speak again. A thirst rises within her to find the life she was meant to live-the life she dreamed of as a little girl.

The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman- they are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.

The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret To Calm And Confident Parenting by Gina Ford

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The prospect of bringing a tiny baby home for the first time is daunting. Stories of sleep-starved nights, inconsolable crying and feeding on demand can make any proud parent fearful of what the future may hold. Take heart because The New Contented Little Baby Book is here to help you.

Fully updated and expanded to include helpful input from members of her website and readers who love her routines, The New Contented Little Baby Book gives you reassuring and practical advice from Britain’s number one childcare expert Gina Ford. Gina’s secret is simple and the results are amazing. Once you’ve established her routines, your contented baby will:

* feed regularly and well from either breast or bottle

* be less likely to suffer from colic

* sleep through the night from an early age

And what’s more, you’ll be a calm and contented parent too!

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Ch-Ch-Changes

WordPress notified me the other day of my fourth anniversary with them. This in turn reminded me that it had been at least two months since I’d last blogged – far too long. Plus every day my unread email notifications of new blog posts of those I follow kept increasing, and increasing. I never truly caught up after our trip overseas and last count I was almost up to 5000 emails. Up until a few Saturdays ago, I still wanted to read them all. And then when I actually had some free time to sit down and start reading some, I found my heart wasn’t in it like it previously was. Was it because the task seemed too overwhelming to actually accomplish? Possibly. Or was it because when I started blogging I was in a vastly different stage of life than I am now? Most definitely.

These kind of after baby posts are quite common. Either the blogger continues blogging as usual or you never hear from them again. Or they have their “moving on” last post. I’d like to believe that this is different. I definitely would still like to blog however maintaining a weekly commitment is too much at the moment – not so much getting a post up but reading a darn book every week so I can review it! And having the luxury to read each and every one of the blog posts of all those that I follow – well I barely have time to do the washing!

Plus my son will only be this little once. I want to enjoy him to the fullest so yes, blogging is less important to me than him and with working part time, I want to spend the time I have with him, with him.

What does this mean? I will still blog because I enjoy it however it will be sporadic. I’m okay with this and I don’t expect to gain many followers blogging like that but that’s not the point! I’ve connected with so many people through this blog and I’ve had the opportunity to expand my reading horizons and the pleasure to read and review others books. It’s been most rewarding and I believe it will continue to be so!

For those who I follow, you will hear from me now and again! I will look at my “Reader” instead when I get the chance and will actually enjoy it rather than it being a chore that I have to get through – which it started to become.

So here’s to 2016!

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Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale by Rachel HartmanBlurb

As Seraphina travels the Southlands in search of the other half-breeds to help in the war effort, the dragon General Comonot and his Loyalists fight against the upstart Old Guard – with the fate of Goredd and the other human countries hanging in the balance.

My Perspective

Shadow Scale is the sequel to Seraphina and follows Seraphina as she makes her way to Ninys, Samsam, and Porphyry to find her fellow ityasaari and convince them to come back to Goredd to help in the war effort. However she soon attracts the attention of someone else wanting to use the ityasaari and things begin spiraling out of Seraphina’s control.

The story pretty much seamlessly flows on from the previous one and there are little tidbits of information throughout that help you remember any of the important details you may have forgotten.

Seraphina seemed to have lost some of her nerve in this book and I found her attitude a bit galling. She wasn’t as brave and she harboured so much guilt over Jannoula and what had been done to her (even though she had nothing to do with it) that I felt she was a bit submissive in regards to Jannoula’s actions. I really liked Abdo and I enjoyed getting to know him a bit more. I absolutely abhorred Jannoula and was like, please, someone kill her already! What she went through was horrific however instead of turning her life around, the way she dealt with it was so cruel and manipulative. It was fun to meet all the other ityasaari.

The story was interesting and kept you on your toes and I enjoyed reading about the different places that they traveled to.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the ending though. I found it a tad lame.

Overall the book was enjoyable and a must read if you’ve read Seraphina to complete the story however it definitely wasn’t as good as the first book.