[Canadian 🇨🇦 Book Talk] 40 Things I Want To Tell You by Alice Kuipers


Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Read: May 2017

Synopsis:

Amy (a.k.a. Bird) seems to have the perfect life: loving parents, a hot boyfriend, the best friend ever. She even writes an online advice column, full of Top Tips, to help other teens take control of their lives. But after a new guy shows up at school, Bird can’t seem to follow her own wisdom.

Pete is the consummate bad boy. He’s everything Bird is not: wild, unambitious and more than a little dangerous. Although she knows he’s trouble, Bird can’t stay away. And the more drawn she is to Pete, the more cracks are revealed in her relationship with Griffin, her doting boyfriend. Meanwhile, her parents’ marriage is also fracturing, possibly for good.

Bird is way out of her comfort zone. All it takes is one mistake, one momentary loss of control, for her entire future to be blown away . . .

My Thoughts

When I was going through the unread books on my Canadian bookcase (what, you don’t have one of those?) I was drawn to the cover of Alice Kuipers book – it’s one of those covers that just makes you have to read a book because it’s so gorgeous! I did really enjoy reading the book, too, and felt that her writing was very engaging even if the story could have been a bit longer for me.

I really liked Bird’s character, even if I didn’t really like a lot of the choices she made. I felt like a lot of the drama in this book happened so quickly and decisions were made without thought and were almost uncharacteristic of Bird. It’s very much a teenage drama book, one that I had a hard time connecting with as an adult. Actually, while I couldn’t connect with parts of the story, I felt empathy towards Bird, especially when it came to her relationship with her parents. They drove me a bit crazy with their own drama and I wondered who was the teenager at times.

However, while I felt that a lot of the story was predictable and maybe too young for me, I really enjoyed reading it and thought that Alice Kuipers wrote in a way that just pulled me in, wanting more. It was a really fast read and it really is such a pretty book for the bookcase. I do look forward to reading more of her titles, too!

But don’t take my word for it … read some other reviews! 

Fab Book Reviews
Book Nerd
YA Books Central

[Audiobook Talk] The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See #LoveAudiobooks

Audiobook Details:

Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Narrator(s): Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, Alexandra Allwine, Gabra Zackman, Jeremy Bobb, Joy Osmanski, Emily Walton, Erin Wilhelmi
Length: 14 hours 7 minutes
Read: May 2017

Synopsis:

The thrilling new novel from number-one New York Times best-selling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been abandoned and adopted by an American couple.
Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate – the first automobile any of them have seen – and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her audience. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change.

Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins, and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Lisa See book, so it was due time to read one! I feel like every couple years I long for one of her novels since she’s so great at weaving family stories into passionate historical tales that are true to their culture and emotionally driven. This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to of her books and it’s definitely not going to be my last!

I loved learning about the Ahka culture and Li-yan growing up in it. This isn’t an easy historical to read; just like in Snow Flower and The Secret Fan, there are some very heavy and difficult passages to read, so I definitely took this book in smaller doses than I usually do with audiobooks and listened to it over a span of four days. Lisa’s writing is super compelling and she pulls me in right from the get-go, and the great narration had me loving this book. I loved all of the tea culture and even though I thought I new a lot about tea, this taught me so much more, and it was really great to read how tea is actually harvested – I knew it was picked by hand, but the process is just so much more.

I also loved how this story wasn’t just about tea and the Ahka culture, but also about this child that Li-yan had to give up. Being adopted myself, it was really interesting to read!

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was that the ending seemed super rushed and almost … fantastical? I guess? It was exactly what I had predicted would happen and almost too easy. I don’t want to give anything away, but in a way it was definitely a great ending, but just not too realistic.

A note on the narration, I really enjoyed listening to this one on audiobook. At first I was a little scared because there were so many narrators, but it was nice to really just have one main narrator for Li-yan’s part of the story, and then there were letters and case notes with other narrators and it almost helped break up the story, making it really enjoyable. I loved how the story came to life in the audio and it was almost more compelling than it would have been if I read the physical book. I think listening left me my hands free to gasp in shock at certain parts and to really focus on what was being told to me. It was also nice to have the proper pronunciations and have that emotion really come across through the narration.

But don’t take my word for it … read some other reviews! 

A Pretty Life
Literary Hoarders
Lost In A Great Book

[Book Talk] A Breath of Snow And Ashes (Outlander, #6) by Diana Gabaldon

a-breath-of-snow-and-ashesBook Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Read: January 2017

Outlander series

  1. Outlander
  2. Dragonfly in Amber
  3. Voyager
  4. Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross (no review)
  6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
  7. An Echo In The Bone
  8. Written In My Own Heart’s Blood

Synopsis:

Eagerly anticipated by her legions of fans, this sixth novel in Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander saga is a masterpiece of historical fiction from one of the most popular authors of our time.

Since the initial publication of Outlander fifteen years ago, Diana Gabaldon’s New York Times bestselling saga has won the hearts of readers the world over — and sold more than twelve million books. Now, A Breath of Snow and Ashes continues the extraordinary story of 18th-century Scotsman Jamie Fraser and his 20th-century wife, Claire.

The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.

With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence — with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie’s death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.

My Thoughts

I’m writing this review after finishing this book in April … after I started it in January! I had started it and was really enjoying it, then when I got 300+ pages in I put it down to read something else and just never picked it back up again! It’s not like this book wasn’t good — it was amazing! — but it seems to take me FOREVER to get through Diana Gabaldon’s books. They’re so detailed and long that it takes me at least an hour to get through 3-4% so I feel like I’m not making progress after reading it for a week.

Anyway.

This book was so good! I loved how it started with the premise about the newspaper clipping on Jamie and Claire’s death, their house burning down and them burnt to death inside. So we all know that that’s where the story will go in the end. There was so much going on and so much action and even though it was a long book (at 980 pages) and it had a lot of characters, it was just so intriguing and interesting and just when one drama would end another would begin. And don’t even get me started on the ending because it was intense!

It’s funny because even though this took me forever to read and I got to the point where I just had to force myself to finish it (thank you Tome Topple for the motivation!), once I did I wanted to immediately start the next one! I loved all of the mysteries this book brought up (and don’t keep reading if you haven’t read it!) with Brianna and Roger (will we get more of them in the next book??) and what is with Jamie’s dreams?? I loved the first epilogue and nearly cried with Roger and Brianna’s revelation … it was just so heartwarming and beautiful!

Such a great book and an amazing series!