Category: 2017 books

Title: Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               I’ve been wanting to read Pachinko ever since one of my book club friends recommended it to me, and unfortunately, I had to return it to the library the first time around. Determined to discover what all of the fuss was about, I reordered it, and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while. As soon as I was finished with The Whisper Man, I dove in, not sure what to expect, because I’ve never read any of Lee’s previous work before. Pachinko is nothing less than historical fiction at its finest: it tells the story of four generations of a Korean family, beginning with the occupation of Korea by the Japanese and ending in the 1980s. This book was a meaty, epic family saga, told with wisdom and tenderness and chronicles a period of sixty years. I loved all of the characters, the pacing was breakneck; the prose was absolutely gorgeous but brutal, as if gouged into the page with a scalpel. I was spellbound, even as my heart broke and my eyes ran with tears. This is one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait to read more of Min Jin Lee’s work!

               The story begins with a young Korean woman named Sunja, who, after a fling with a Japanese businessman, becomes pregnant. Scrambling to salvage what is left of her soiled honor over a first love, a Christian minister offers to marry her, and the couple leaves Korea for Osaka, Japan. What follows is the fracturing of the family, both from outside forces and within, over a period of years. It was painful, real, and offered a perspective on a time in world history that I knew very little about. I loved all of the characters, and one of my favorite parts of this novel was seeing the two countries of Japan and Korea change as the story went on. I also adored the way that Lee depicted the blatant racism and prejudice against Koreans, some of which still happens today, unfortunately. This book was nothing less than a bittersweet gem, and Lee has cemented her place in my heart as one of my favorite authors with Pachinko. It helped me learn, broke my heart, made me cry, and made me think, and isn’t that the whole point of a great story?

               Pachinko was a fantastic novel that opened my eyes to the cruelty that colonialism and imperialism has wrought upon the globe, and I can surely say that I will never forget it; this book may be the magnum opus of Lee’s body of work, and I can’t wait to read more of her novels; it’s been over a week since I finished Pachinko, and I still feel stunned, like I was punched in the stomach and had the wind knocked out of me. I will never forget this beautifully wrought, sad tale of a family torn apart at the seams by tragedy and circumstance. The bottom line: Rich, detailed, bittersweet and brutal, I loved Pachinko! Next on deck: It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell!

Title: In Other Lands

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Sarah Rees Brennan has been one of my favorite authors for a long time; I read her first series, The Demon’s Lexicon, when my husband and I first moved, and I’ve been obsessed with her ever since. When I saw In Other Lands sitting on the shelf of a library I go to, I snatched it up. It had been sitting in my library stack, and since I couldn’t renew it anymore, I began it as soon as I was finished with The Best Lies. I wasn’t quite sure to expect, because this book was different than any other in Brennan’s body of work. But regardless, I adored In Other Lands. Full of wit, humor, romance, a fair amount of blood, gore, and death, this book kind of reminded me of the Harry Potter series, with more of a focus on the war aspect of things. Despite that, I was immediately entertained by this hilarious, sarcastic book about an altogether different kind of chosen one. This made me realize just how much I missed Sarah Rees Brennan, and exactly why she’s one of my favorite authors.

               The Borderlands are a magical place, in which modern technology does not properly function, things such as pens are practically unheard of, and I haven’t even mentioned all of the fantastic people and creatures. Elves, harpies, and mermaids are all real, and a war as old as time has been raging. And then there’s Elliot. He’s an obnoxious, nerdy thirteen year old teenager. His best friend is a beautiful elf warrior named Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of Battle, and his other friend, Luke, is perfect in every way. Though Luke is more of a frenemy than a true friend. In Other Lands follows the redheaded, snotty teen through four years, as he ages. This is fantasy at its lowest, and I mean that in the best possible way. I was laughing throughout the novel; one of my favorite things about Brennan is her humor. Elliot was a hard character to root for at times, but I liked him and his character development throughout the novel. I also adored Serene, Luke, Dale, and the rest of the characters that populated the Borderlands. One of my favorite things about SRB is that the worlds she builds are always original, and I loved her take on a Harry Potter style tale. The bottom line: Fizzy, funny, romantic and original, I loved In Other Lands! One of my favorites of Brennan’s work! Next on deck: The War Outside by Monica Hesse!

Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills Review: undefined

Sufficiently Distracted: undefined

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee Review: undefined

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore Review: undefined

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard Review: undefined

Currently Reading: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard! (Not my photo! Not my photo! Only using for cover purposes. All credit goes to the photographer!)

Renegades by Marissa Meyer Review: undefined

(Not my photo! Not my photo! Only using for cover purposes; credit goes to the photographer!) Currently Reading: Renegades by Marissa Meyer! @marissameyernw I started this on Thursday, and I’m loving it so far! What are you guys currently reading this week?