SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See
I fell in love with Lisa See's writing a few years ago when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. As such, I was really looking forward to reading Shanghai Girlswhen it came out. Initially though, people began saying that it did not compare. So it was with trepidation that I began reading this book, afraid that I would be disappointed. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America around the time of the cultural revolution in China. From the beginning of the book in Shanghai, through their journey out of China, to their stay on Angel Island, and finally their life in Southern California, I was captivated by Pearl and her sister May. Two sisters could not be more different, but more attached than the two women in this book.
As usual, See has imbued this story with a wonderful cast of characters who surround the sisters and help tell the story of the bewilderment of the Chinese population after the 1937 invasion by Japan, the assimilation of the Chinese into American society in the 1940s and 50s, and finally, the mistrust, prejudice, and panic in the US towards Chinese Americans after the rise to power in China of Mao Tse Tung. See is such a gifted storyteller, that you feel like you know the characters personally and the pages just fly by.
My only complaint was that the end of the story left so many loose ends. In a way it was fitting, but at the same time there were many questions left unanswered. I was, therefore, very excited to hear that Lisa See is planning to continue the story of Pearl, May, and Joy in another book.
IMMORAL by Brian Freeman
One thing I always look forward to in a book, is not being able to anticipate the ending. Because of that, I have become a real fan of the thriller genre with it fast pace and high amount of plot twists. In fact, I was beginning to think that no amount twists could be to many, but I have to say, in this book Brian Freeman accomplished it. There were so many plot twists in this story, that I actually had trouble keeping up with them all. Not really, but almost. That is the only thing that I could possibly say bad about this book, though. All in all, it was a fantastic story. Every time I felt that we HAD to have gotten to the final twist in the story, the author would throw in another one and keep the story going for a while longer. The result is a thrill ride from start to finish. And far from detracting from the story line, each plot twist seemed to enhance the story.
In addition to a great story, this book was also filled with a lot of great characters. I found Jonathan Stride's character to be just the right mix of male characteristics, and his relationship with Maggie was really fun to see. In addition, Serena and Cordy were a good match for each other. Obviously Jonathan continues through the series, but I certainly hope that Serena, Maggie, and Cordy also continue to be players in the future stories. Along with the major characters, the characters that the murder plot revolved around were varied and interesting.
All in all, I am glad for three things:
I am glad that I have such good GR friends to recommend books. Thanks for this one goes to both Wendy C and Marilyn
I am glad that I was looking for a book that took place in Minnesota for a monthly challenge. See, there is a definite benefit to reading for challenges.
Mostly, I am glad that I read this book.