Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

25150798-1Ah, Lisa See has done it again.

Her books are always a favourite because there is so much more than what is written on the pages. I can’t think of any of her novels that haven’t inspired me to research about what she’s writing about. I remember being obsessed with the love-sick maidens…of foot binding…of the treatment of those of Asian descent during the war…of paper sons…and this novel was no different…

Ahhh…tea….I used to enjoy loose leaf teas so much once upon a time…oolong and pu erh were always my favourites. I couldn’t stand the herbal teas…or the fruit teas…however, I had no clue about tea cakes! How could I not know this? So I read a bit, then I go off to google a bit…read a bit…order some tea….read a bit more…sigh….enjoy my tea…read a bit more….

This is what Lisa See always does…she changes me in some small way…yes, a couple of weeks after reading this novel, I’m well stocked with tea again for the first time in 3 or 4 years…but it’s more than that…Lisa See…well…her writing still sings to me…That’s what it was like the first time I read her…”Peony in Love” sang to me. I actually read it 3 times in a row! It was the song of my heart.

So maybe this novel hasn’t changed the person I am…except for now being inspired to be stocked up in tea….but Lisa See sings to me and enables me to see more clearly who I am…I can’t explain it…but I know it…every time I read one of her books, it doesn’t change me…but it makes me feel more…well…myself….I’m not Asian…I don’t have her heritage…but her novels sing to me none-the-less….

No other author touches me as Lisa See does…I’m lucky to have found her and honored to read anything she write…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Tea Girl at Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Review and Revisit: Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

20140419-225500.jpgCalliope has already reviewed this novel a while back. I waited several months to include mine…one because I wanted her review to stand out as she is the true “HEA” reader between the two of us, whilst I am merely an imposter that pretends to from time to time (reel your neck in…I don’t pretend to love anything…hahahahahaha, so this review is a true reflection of how I felt about the book). I also waited in the hopes of perhaps reminding you to pick up this book if you have forgotten to do so after all the new release excitement has dissipated (yes I really am that thoughtful…you’re welcome).

In this novel we have the continuation of Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. If you’re familiar and love the series then this one won’t disappoint. This is the story of Sam and Dellina. They are forced to work together after a misunderstanding that has caused them to avoid one another for months. Once they are forced to confront each other it’s only a matter a of time before they are forced to confront their feelings for each other as well. Sam’s parents are a bit over the top, but perhaps there *really* are people out in the world like them….I just haven’t been fortunate (or…errrr…unfortunate) enough to have met them.

There are plenty of hints throughout the novel of more names and romances to come as this series continues….Before long Fool’s Gold will be a booming metropolis!

Until next time,
Urania xx

ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Buy it now Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery

Review: First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

first-comes-loveI’ve read many Emily Giffin books in my time…This was nothing like any of the previous books that I’ve read by her. If you’re looking for some silly lighthearted reading, this isn’t the book I would recommend to you.

I have to admit, I was looking for silly and lighthearted when I picked up this novel…so was a bit disappointed.

This is a hard book to review. Not just because it was different from I expected. I just found it extremely hard to get into. At about 20% I was wishing I hadn’t even started it. I can’t say there was much of anything I was enjoying. I didn’t like the characters. More so, I hated the way they treated one another.

At about 40% – 50% things turned around and I didn’t want to put the book down. However, I can’t stress this enough, I absolutely HATED one of the characters, and as much as I tried to make allowances for her behaviour, I simply could not set my dislike aside. Even as I finished the last page, I still was flabbergasted at an adult acting like she did.

I’m not sure if Griffin meant for me to feel that the character that was presented as the most unsettled and immature, in my opinion, turned out to be more mature than the majority of the others, including the one that was settled, smart, and level-headed. Perhaps it should be noted at this point that everyone that leads a *perfect* life might, in fact, be hiding just how messed up their life really is…and those that seem scattered, and unsettled, might in fact be solid, steady, and perfectly okay.

Yes, the second half of the book is really engaging and you’re invested in the characters, and was well worth the time of the reader…however, I don’t think it should take half a book for things to start being interesting.

The book is really full of some adults that over the process of 15 years seem to revert to selfish children. I don’t feel any of those things ultimately changed at the end of the novel…I wouldn’t want those type of people surrounding me in real life…and sadly, at the end of the day, I didn’t want them surrounding me in my literary life either…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

Review: A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

pale-horsemanThis series is just breathtaking. Seriously, I kid you naught, it left me breathless more than once. I won’t say that Cornwell’s battle scenes are g rated, but I have read much more graphic…however Cornwell does have me having to slow myself down, alternately, afraid of what I am about to read, whilst at the same time trying to rush ahead to see what happens next. At one point in the novel, I think I actually said, “HOLY SHIT” in the middle of the night.

But before you wander off, thinking this isn’t the story for me because you hate that type of thing, let me remind you that this isn’t just about battles. In fact, there are only a few that take place in this novel. This is a novel about a young warrior named Uhtred. Northerner nobleman by birth, English by circumstance, Dane by force, Pagan by choice, but warrior at heart.

One has to be reminded time and time again that Uhtred is only a young man in this, the second novel, of the Saxon Stories. He is still battling with his choices, his conscious, his loyalties, his religion and most definitely with his warrior soul.

Watching Uhtred make his journey into adulthood and trying to weave his way through all that he faces, be it strategical, personal, or political, is in of itself, well worth the time it takes to read this series. You will be hard pressed to find someone who inspires or moves you as much as Uhtred does.

More than that though, this is an amazing retelling of history through fiction. I find myself searching for Alfred the Great and reading more about these battles and the locations. Of the defeats and the obsession of religion. Of how he came to be…and of how he came not to be..This is a story that inspires one to learn more about what came before.

I have always found England fascinating. From time to time, I’ve asked people, here in England, how does it feel to know that you walk where kings and knights have walked? On the very same ground. Where legends were born and countries were made? They often look at me like I am either daft or a lunatic. Here, however, is the proof. The very same places that I see around me are here, mentioned in this novel. The chalk grounds I see are where blood was spilled in the wars between the Saxons and the Danes.

That is what great story telling is about. As I went to sleep each night reading this novel, I awoke, not in the 21st century, but in the 9th. In England as it must have been then, the damp, the sound of battle cries in my head, the smell of fires, the bitter cold, and the knowledge that we fight for a cause…and her name is England…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

fine-balanceHow does one even attempt to review such a scopious novel? Seriously…I think I need to weep, but there’s just nothing left inside of me at the moment. Perhaps a bit of happiness, hope, faith restored…but only a tiny bit…and perhaps there is some despair, hatred, anger, even dubiosity….or maybe they all just cancel one another out and that is why I feel so much…nothingness…I want to be all of these things…I want to have all of these emotions…and I want to make sense of it all…but I just can’t…

Who can make sense of destiny? Who can think they know better than fate?

“..my life would have been so different today. But our destinies are engraved on our foreheads at birth.”

I think this novel has left me in shock…it gives so much hope in so many places, but just as real life often does, it snatches it all away in a blink of an eye. You want to be angry, but how can you? What gives you that right when the characters themselves handle their fate with so much grace and acceptance. How can you even attempt to place blame, when they themselves do not…How can you weep for them, when they do not weep for themselves?

As I sit here writing this review, I am not ashamed to say that as I sit here, trying to make sense of it all, that my numbness has turned to me openly weeping at this book’s ending…Nor am I ashamed to admit I do not know who I weep for the most…it could be any single one of these characters..they have all touched me in some way….or maybe I weep for myself…or all of humanity together…

Read this book…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Review and a Revisit: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

how-it-alwaysOur very own Thalia reviewed this novel a few weeks ago, but it’s so important I wanted to do another review in hopes that you will pick up this fantastic novel…Plus, I REALLY wanted to review it too! I loved it so much!

I loved this novel. I couldn’t stop thinking about this novel for days on end. I wish so much that every family in the world was as amazing as this family. I wish that every child that felt different had a Nan that went out of their way to make them feel normal. I wish all schools were led with forward thinking leaders that had the best interest of the children in mind.

The truth is, I personally feel, that it’s a vast minority that are like this.

I think I’m pretty open-minded. Or at least I try to be. I feel as if I understand what some people must feel. Reading this novel…well, how naive was I? This book made me see some things from a totally different angle. Yes, it’s one thing to hear an adult say that they always felt different…it’s another thing to actually see a young child going through something so difficult.

This book is so important.

Again, the parents of this novel did an amazing job! I loved them so very much. The siblings, again, A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!! I know parents and families like this DO exist.

However, if I had one complaint about this novel, it’s that the parents did too great of a job. That the siblings were too amazing. That the school leaders were too brilliant. That the fellow students were too perfect.

I don’t know. That sounds horrible. I so loved Claude and Poppy. THEY WERE VERY REAL TO ME…they broke my heart over and over again, and they gave me such joy as well. I want the happiness. I don’t want them to be hurt. I understand they were hurt. However, as in real life, much of the hurt we feel as preteens/teens is in our mind. No, that doesn’t make it less real. It’s still a valid hurt. It’s still a real hurt. I’m just saying that it wasn’t as bad in the school for Claude and Poppy as they imagined it to be. The peer group in the school DID accept them.

I don’t think the real world is like that. I think it’s just as bad as Claude/Poppy imagined it to be…no…I think it’s much worse. I don’t want that to be true…but I am afraid it might be.

That saddens me to say that maybe, for me…and families that are going through this…well…maybe the book was a small disappointment in that regards. It might be hard for the Poppy’s in the real world to relate to such perfect families and friends, when their own family and friends are very different.

I don’t want that to be true…I want the Poppy’s of the world to be free to be themselves. I want them all to be happy at the end.

I don’t know how to reconcile this desire with the reality of so much of the world…

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Review: Always by Sarah Jio

alwaysI enjoyed this book…but it just wasn’t a great book for me. It felt a bit flat…More like an outline for a great book, but missing all the real meat of the story.

At the end of the day though I have to hand it to Jio. So often in love triangles, the author always turns around and tries to make one of the characters into some sort of villain or undesirable person to make it easier for the reader to accept the choices made. Jio didn’t do that. She kept it real. I really appreciate that. I wish more authors did so. Life isn’t always in black and white with clear-cut choices…so why should books be?

This book also made me miss Seattle a wee bit…okay….more than a wee bit…I knew all of the places mentioned.

I wish I had loved this book more. It was a great story and yes, I found it interesting. It was also a very quick read for me. I couldn’t wait to see what happened so I had a hard time putting it down. That happens less and less these days, so again, I give even more props to Jio.

I don’t wish to discourage anyone from reading this book. Please do pick it up and give it a try. It is a good book….but it did feel a bit like a lifetime made for TV movie.

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Always by Sarah Jio