Three Souls

Three SoulsThree Souls by Janie Chang
Published by HarperCollins Canada on August 20th 2013
Pages: 439
Goodreads

An absorbing novel of romance and revolution, loyalty and family, sacrifice and undying love

We have three souls, or so I'd been told. But only in death could I confirm this ...

So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife. Beside her are three souls—stern and scholarly yang; impulsive, romantic yin; and wise, shining hun—who will guide her toward understanding. She must, they tell her, make amends.

As Leiyin delves back in time with the three souls to review her life, she sees the spoiled and privileged teenager she once was, a girl who is concerned with her own desires while China is fractured by civil war and social upheaval. At a party, she meets Hanchin, a captivating left-wing poet and translator, and instantly falls in love with him.

When Leiyin defies her father to pursue Hanchin, she learns the harsh truth—that she is powerless over her fate. Her punishment for disobedience leads to exile, an unwanted marriage, a pregnancy, and, ultimately, her death. And when she discovers what she must do to be released from limbo into the afterlife, Leiyin realizes that the time for making amends is shorter than she thought.

I quite enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t your typical ghost story, but it wasn’t your typical historical fiction either. It was a very good mix of both.

The characters were all intriguing and the little bits of background given about the side characters made you that much more involved in the story.

The locations were richly described without bogging down the story and I genuinely felt for Leiyin even when her actions were a bit stubborn.

Definitely pick this novel up!

-M

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Postmistress

The PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake
on February 9th 2010
Pages: 371
Goodreads

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better...

The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds-one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve-and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how stories are told, and how the fact of war is borne even through everyday life.

This book was amazing. It exceeded all of my expectations by about a mile.

To start off, I am a huge history fan, especially regarding World Ward Two. I love the idea of focusing more on the people surrounding the war than directly involved in the war. It paints a picture that is more easily relatable to most people I believe.

It might be a bit of a slow start (especially getting used to all the characters and remembering who is who) but once it gets into the story, it really starts going. There were a couple of parts that had me almost in tears.

My favourite part has to be the way it was written though. You know what is coming but you continue reading hoping against hope that you are wrong. That is what makes an excellent book.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Taker

The TakerThe Taker (The Taker, #1) by Alma Katsu
Published by Simon & Schuster on September 6th 2011
Pages: 438
Goodreads

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening--until a mysterious woman, Lanore McIlvrae, arrives in his ER, escorted by police. Lanore is a murder suspect, and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of St. Andrew’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever, but the price she pays is steep--an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate.

I couldn’t put this book down. It was absolutely stunning and surpassed any and all of my expectations.

My favourite part about this entire novel is the narrative voice. I think Alma Katsu could write 300 pages about watching paint dry and it would still mesmerize me. The story line alone was fantastic, but when told the way it was, it easily took The Taker to the top of my recommendation list.

Narrative aside, I did love the plot as well. The cover copy gives you an inclination of what the story could be about, but I was still absolutely surprised ever time I turned the page. I finished the book satisfied, but I still want more at the same time! I want to see where the story goes and how the characters develop.

I would highly recommend The Taker to anyone. But I would suggest having a solid chunk of time set aside to read it, as it’s very unlikely you will be able to put it down.

-M

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Y

YY by Marjorie Celona
Published by Hamish Hamilton Canada ( A H C ) on August 1st 2012
Pages: 350
Goodreads

"Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over. Why? . . . My life begins at the Y."

So opens Marjorie Celona's highly acclaimed and exquisitely rendered debut about a wise-beyond-her-years foster child abandoned as a newborn on the doorstep of the local YMCA. Swaddled in a dirty gray sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife tucked between her feet, little Shannon is discovered by a man who catches only a glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. That morning, all three lives are forever changed. Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures abuse and neglect until she finally finds stability with Miranda, a kind but no-nonsense single mother with a free-spirited daughter of her own. Yet Shannon defines life on her own terms, refusing to settle down, and never stops longing to uncover her roots — especially the stubborn question of why her mother would abandon her on the day she was born.

Brilliantly and hauntingly interwoven with Shannon's story is the tale of her mother, Yula, a girl herself who is facing a desperate fate in the hours and days leading up to Shannon's birth. As past and present converge, Y tells an unforgettable story of identity, inheritance, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Celona's ravishingly beautiful novel offers a deeply affecting look at the choices we make and what it means to be a family, and it marks the debut of a magnificent new voice in contemporary fiction.

I don’t think I have ever been so sad to see a book end. It caught me by surprise and I must have stared at the last page for 5 minutes before I finally closed the book. It was like saying goodbye to a friend that you don’t want to lose. I grew so attached to the main character that I almost cried.

One of my favourite things about this book is the way it was written. The narrative is beautiful and 150% suits how you imagine Shannon would think if she was an actual human being. She doesn’t always describe what’s going on in full sentences, but when you think about it, when does anyone in real life think to themselves in full sentences when something is going on? I sure don’t. In my opinion the narrative is pretty much what made this book exceptional.

I loved how not one character in this book was perfect. Their flaws don’t get pointed out blatantly, but you know that they have them and you know what they are for the most part. It’s like you’ve been talking to this character for a bit and you notice they have a tick or something. Their flaws are slipped in just like that. And it makes them so much more vivid and life like.

Last but not least, the plot. I only have one word for this: phenomenal. I seriously can’t explain it any other way. If I had the time and I thought someone would actually read it, I’d write two pages on just the plot alone. It flowed so smoothly and weaved together so wonderfully that I didn’t even feel like I was reading a book. No questions were left unanswered, and yet there was still a hint of mystery at the end. But I was left satisfied instead of upset with that.

I would, and have already, recommend this book to everyone I meet. Strangers walking down the street might even be told to read this book. I loved it that much.

Asha

AshaAsha by Kevis Hendrickson
Published by Smashwords on September 8th 2011
Goodreads

Asha is a 15-year old girl with the soul of a demon. She plans to wage war against heaven and hell using humanity as her main weapon. Asha begins the epic tale of the revenge of the dark goddess of demons.

Asha is a young adult urban fantasy short story featuring demons, witches, magic, and high school mayhem!

I’m not generally a fan of short fiction, but I quite liked Asha.

I almost wish the book was longer so I could see more of our world through Asha’s eyes. In some spots her character came fully to life, especially during the scenes where she flexes her power. In other parts she tends to fall flat. I understand that on one hand she probably isn’t supposed to have emotions, or show emotions like a normal person would, but I feel with some tweeking that would come across a lot better.

It would be interesting to see Asha when she’s older, to see if her point of view changes at all. As much as she doesn’t care about our world, she cares for her earth-mother (for some reason I love that she called her this). It would be interesting to see if as she got older more people would have this kind of an impact on people. If she’d fall in love or not.

All in all, this was a great short read. I certainly would recommend it to anyone who has a couple of minutes to spare and who enjoys a cold plate of revenge every now and then (you know who you are).

-M

One StarOne StarOne Star

The Last Romanov

The Last RomanovThe Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen
on April 3rd 2012
Pages: 333
Goodreads

She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majesty. Yet, decades later, her time spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for those murderous events that changed everything?

If only she can find the heir, maybe she can put together the broken pieces of her own past - maybe she can hold on to the love she found.

Bursting to life with the rich and glorious marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale of second chances and royal blood.

I picked this book up simply because it had the name ‘Romanov’ in it. I’m not even kidding. I didn’t even read the back of the book to figure out what it was about, I just bought it. I love reading about history and different spins on history, and what happened to the Romanov family is well known.

The book was a tad bit disappointing. The writing was a little slow, and not much of the mystery that happens in the book is explained. I was expecting the book to revolve what happened to the Romanov family, or the events surrounding their deaths, but it didn’t really.

The book took me a long time to get through because it never really grabbed my attention. Unfortunate because I really wanted to love this book.

-M

One Star