Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine!


Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yup!
For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)

Summary

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on ton the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. 

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (11/8/22)

Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine
Expected Release Date: November 8, 2022

Recommended: yup!
For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)

Summary

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. 

Thoughts

I’ve been reading book about Covid-19 since Covid-19 was still locking everyone at home. For me, it’s cathartic in a way to read about so many other people’s experiences of this one global experience. It’s a connection to basically everyone in the world, which I find quite incredible, though of course it’s not the connection I’d have asked for. Point being, while the topic can be difficult because of the recent and ongoing pain around it, I do still love reading about it, and this book is a prime example of why.

Mei is my tiny hero. I aspire to be more like Mei. Though this is a book about Covid-19 and it’s onset, it’s also a book about perseverance and generosity and just being a really decent person. Mei not only steps up to help those around her, but she encourages others to do so as well. Standing up to anyone can be tough, but especially tough when you’re a young teenage girl and you’re standing up to a scared mob of large adult men. What a powerful moment that was, among so many others.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (11/8/22)”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Recommended: sure
For a long journey with characters you’ll fall in love with, for a narrative that places you more as an observer than an active participant

Summary

It is 1938 in China and, as a young wife, Meilin’s future is bright. But with the Japanese army approaching, Meilin and her four year old son, Renshu, are forced to flee their home. Relying on little but their wits and a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, filled with ancient fables that offer solace and wisdom, they must travel through a ravaged country, seeking refuge.

Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood. How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family’s story?

Spanning continents and generations, Peach Blossom Spring is a bold and moving look at the history of modern China, told through the story of one family. It’s about the power of our past, the hope for a better future, and the haunting question: What would it mean to finally be home?

Thoughts

My note in my book at the end:
“The last words are the title and it’s so perfect and fitting it brought a tear to my eye.”

The title fable was gently included throughout, referenced in various situations. Along with other folktales, this book had so many smaller stories within it that resonated with me a surprising amount. Those were the moments I was most entrance by this story: when they unrolled the scroll, ran their fingers over the silken strands, and fully envisioned each scene before sinking into the tale. I was right there with them in those moments.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Today: She Who Became The Sun, 7/20

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, and it’s actually publishing TODAY. I missed my post about it for Friday, but I’m really so excited about this one that I still wanted to include it! So here’s what to look forward to, and you don’t even have to wait! 😊
Expected Release: today! July 20, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Ancient Asian countries are always a great setting for me. The cultures have been around and developed for so long in China particularly that I feel like it’s just rife with fascinating content and moments in time to explore.
  • It’s like Twelfth Night by Shakespeare, except probably way more dramatic and definitely not a comedy. The “worthless girl child” ends up slipping into her brother’s place after he dies with the goal of attaining some freedom for herself and the power to actually do something in her life. She IS attempting to hide from fate though, and I’m not sure even a monastery can help with that. We shall see, I suppose?!
  • Ah, let’s just watch Zhu destroy everything that dares oppose her. I assume she’ll have some great cunning and shockingly rebellious ways (in the eyes of the authorities, I’m sure). To be honest, I’m getting vibes like from Marilia, the Warlord by Morgan Cole, and if that ends up being accurate, I won’t be mad.

Summary

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

Posted in Reviews

Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Verdict: Probably a better read for everyone else than it was for me. My experience was somewhat dull, but I have no doubt this will be a hit with most other readers if they think they would like it!

Recommended: eh
For a glimpse into 1920s Shanghai, for a historical fantasy gangster story (not a common combo I think), for flavors of Romeo & Juliet but ultimately its own standing story

Summary

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Thoughts:

Look, I know. This book has everything. Shanghai in 1920s, one of my favorite place-time combos. A basis in Shakespeare. A fantasy element of monsters. A touch of brutality and gore to darken the story.

So why didn’t I love it???

I’m a bit baffled, honestly. I’ve tried to pinpoint what kept me from falling in love with this book, as I should have by all rights. I think my issue was partly that I wasn’t expecting it to be intertwined with magic and I wasn’t really in the mood for that — and obviously that’s a personal issue, nothing with the book. But the bigger issue I faced was that I just didn’t really care about either of the main characters.

Continue reading “Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

LiYuan Library is like reading inside a cozy tree hollow

Approaching, you wouldn’t even know it was a library or reading room. The gorgeous LiYuan library is designed with the same sticks the locals collect for fuel in the winter. It makes it blend in to the mountainside where it’s built just a five minute walk out of town.

The stick covering also creates a lush and calm atmosphere inside, with plenty of daylight softly tempered by the scattered pattern from the sticks. The rest of the interior is made of wood as well, and clever split level changes. It looks positively magical and warm; you can’t convince me this isn’t a place I’d want to stay forever. 🥰

Posted in Reviews

Review: Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai by Dina Gu Brumfield

Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai by Dina Gu Brumfield – ⭐⭐⭐
Expected publication: August 4, 2020

Recommended: yes
For a generational story of understanding, for a look at recent historical Chinese eras, for a story that pierces your heart and makes you want only the best for the characters, for a blend of romance and survival and coming-of-age.

love love love the cover. love.

Summary
​Mini Pao lives with her sister and parents in a pre-war Shanghai divided among foreign occupiers and Chinese citizens, a city known as the “Paris of the East” with its contrast of  vibrant night life and repressive social mores. Already considered an old maid at twenty-three, Mini boldly rejects the path set out for her as she struggles to provide for her family and reckons with her desire for romance and autonomy. Mini’s story of love, betrayal, and determination unfolds in the Western-style cafes, open-air markets, and jazz-soaked nightclubs of Shanghai—the same city where, decades later, her granddaughter Ting embarks on her own journey toward independence. 

Ting Lee has grown up behind an iron curtain in a time of scarcity, humility, and forced-sameness in accordance with the strictures of Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution. As a result, Ting’s imagination burns with curiosity about fashion, America, and most of all, her long-lost grandmother Mini’s glamorous past and mysterious present. As her thirst for knowledge about the world beyond 1970s Shanghai grows, Ting is driven to uncover her family’s tragic past and face the difficult truth of what the future holds for her if she remains in China.

Thoughts:
This was an elaborate and impressive saga of romance, and survival, and coming-of-age. Ting ages from a child to an adult women in the course of the story, and we see Mini from late teens to her elder years. That span alone is a lot to cover, and so the story relfects that in how long it can take to read. While it was engaging the whole way through, the concepts and stories are complex enough that it simply takes some time.

Continue reading “Review: Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai by Dina Gu Brumfield”