[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! 

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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!

[Book Talk] The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Book Details:

Format: Ebook
Source: Library
Read: March 2017

Synopsis:

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of The Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.

Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate’s two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

In The Status of All Things, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke combine the humor and heart of Sarah Pekkanen and Jennifer Weiner while exploring the pitfalls of posting your entire life on the Internet. They raise the questions: What if you could create your picture-perfect life? Would you be happy? Would you still be you? For anyone who’s ever attempted—or failed—to be their perfect self online, this is a story of wisdom and wit that will leave you with new appreciation for the true status of your life.

My Thoughts

This was a lot of fun to read! I love those stories where something happens and you can see what someone’s life is like if they head in the direction of that thing happening, and if they also head in the opposite direction if nothing happened. This story is kind of like that. Something happens and, with a little bit of magic (and maybe some faerie godmother-ing), Kate has the power to change her life. But is she changing it for the good? Or will her life play out the way it was supposed to?

There was definitely some silly stuff happening, but it was still an enjoyable read. It was also one of those books that made you think of the “Facebook effect” … we all post the good part of our life and it’s so easy to see someone’s life and wish you had what they had, or wonder what their secret for a perfect life is, but the truth is that nobody is perfect and sometimes it takes going OFF of social media to see that.

I will for sure be reading some more of Liz Fenton’s work … I’ve had my eye on a few of her titles and can’t wait to try them out!

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

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