(Review) The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger
Publisher and Publication Date: Flatiron Books. 2019.
Genre: Fiction. Malaysia. Coming of age story. Mystery.
Pages: 384.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers wanting something different. A mystery but also a coming of age story. Setting is in Malaysia during the 1930s British colonial era.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link 

I finished reading this book December 26, 2019. This book is shelved with books read in 2019.

 

Summary:
The year is 1931. Malaysia.
Ji Lin is a young woman who is an apprentice dressmaker. She is also working as a dance-hall girl in order to pay off her mother’s mahjong debts. Her job as a dance-hall girl is a secret to most, as well as the debts her mother owes. She has a step-father and a step-brother. Her step-brother, Shin is studying to be a doctor. While Ji Lin is dancing with a salesman, a small cylinder falls out of his pocket and she catches it. The salesman is unaware. Later, Ji Lin looks in the cylinder and finds a finger.
Ren is an eleven year old boy. His twin died. He promised a dying man he will find the missing finger and bury it in his grave. He has 49 days or his soul will be taken. Ren works as a house boy for a surgeon.

My Thoughts:
The Night Tiger has a storyline that I’ve not read before. It held strong interest to me all the way through the book, till I knew the outcome or resolve.
In addition, there is a mysterious supernatural element in the story of victims being killed and half eaten (supposed) by what the locals believe is a ghost animal (possibly a tiger.) This conflict in the story is an example of the people’s superstitions. The people believe in luck. For example, people can be lucky or unlucky and this determines their life. Ren believes he must carry out the dying man’s last wish or he will suffer soul consequences. Ji Lin hates her unlucky life. She feels trapped by duty. What can she do to change things?
Ren needs what Ji Lin has. How will these two people come together for a satisfying resolution for both of them?
I enjoyed reading this book! It’s a different type of read for me.

 

(Review)Written in their Stars by Elizabeth St. John

WITS_Blog Tour Poster

02_Written in Their Stars

Publisher and Publication Date: Falcon Historical. November 19, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 474.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who love the time period of mid to late 1600s England.
Rating: Excellent.

Book tour landing page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Amazon link The Kindle Unlimited is free.

Two additional books were previous to the book I’m reviewing.

The Lady in the Tower

Book One 

by love divided

Book Two 

About the author:
03_Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An award-winning author, historian and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…
For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Summary:
London, 1649. Horrified eyewitnesses to King Charles’s bloody execution, Royalists Nan Wilmot and Frances Apsley plot to return the king’s exiled son to England’s throne, while their radical cousin Luce, the wife of king-killer John Hutchinson, rejoices in the new republic’s triumph. Nan exploits her high-ranking position as Countess of Rochester to manipulate England’s great divide, flouting Cromwell and establishing a Royalist spy network; while Frances and her husband Allen join the destitute prince in Paris’s Louvre Palace to support his restoration. As the women work from the shadows to topple Cromwell’s regime, their husbands fight openly for the throne on England’s bloody battlefields.
But will the return of the king be a victory, or destroy them all? Separated by loyalty and bound by love, Luce, Nan and Frances hold the fate of England—and their family—in their hands.
A true story based on surviving memoirs of Elizabeth St.John’s family, Written in their Stars is the third novel in the Lydiard Chronicles series.

My Thoughts:
The main reason I love this story is it shows the love of family. And just in this one theme there are several things noted: strength, loyalty, perseverance, steadfastness, affection, protection, and dedication.
I love this story, because it is the history of the author, Elizabeth St. John’s family. This made the story enticing and rich.
The time period for this novel begins at the execution of Charles I. Afterwards, the Commonwealth and Protectorate ruled (1649-1660.) Charles II, was crowned April 23, 1661, as King of England. It was during these years the book shares the life stories of the following characters: John and Luce Hutchinson, Allen and Frances Apsley, and Nan and Henry Wilmot. Each of them had strong rolls in the history of England.
Dialogue is strong in Written in their Stars. The conversations are between the characters. They discuss fears, gossip, plots, insecurities, sadness, joy, prayers, and an anguished heart. It is because of the intimate dialogue that I became apart of the story and apart of the character’s lives.
Nan is my favorite character. She is a valiant person. There were times I imagined her with a crown on her head-as ruler of a nation and not just in her home.

Giveaway:
During the blog tour, we are giving away two signed copies of Written in their Stars! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules:
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Link for the giveaway: https://gleam.io/APiuX/written-in-their-stars

 

(Review) Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Finding Dorothy
Publisher and Publication Date: Ballantine Books. Paperback published December 3, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 384.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Readers who want to read the background story of the book and film, The Wizard of Oz.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link

https://binged.it/2tKOZLL

 

 

Britannica link for L. Frank Baum
Biography on L. Frank Baum 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a link at Britannica 

800px-L._Frank_Baum_(1911)

L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)

L._Frank_and_Maud_Baum_in_Egypt_1906

Frank and Maud Baum in Egypt (1906)

Maud Gage Baum (1861-1953)
I’ve searched her name. She has a Wikipedia bio but she is not on Britannica.

Summary:
Finding Dorothy is about the wife of L. Frank Baum. Maud Gage Baum found out in 1938 that Hollywood was making a film about her late husband’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She worked hard at trying to get on to the set of the film so she can make sure the film is true to what her husband had written. Maud was a formidable woman. She had tenacity and a keen eye. She didn’t take a closed door as a no. She also took under her wing, Judy Garland. She had empathy for the young starlet.
I was drawn to the book because I love the film, The Wizard of Oz. I also enjoy reading about Judy Garland. I love to hear her sing. I love to watch other films she made. I thought the book was about Judy Garland or the film, because of the title. I was mistaken. The book, Finding Dorothy, is about the life of Maud Gage Baum; and, secondly, it is about the book and film, followed by Judy Garland.
The book goes back and forth in time. Beginning in 1871; and, also in 1938. In the year 1871, Maud is a young girl in New York state. This is where her life picks up. Maud will reflect back on life before marrying Frank Baum, their married life, and the years the film was made (1938-1939.)

800px-Tin-Man-poster-Hamlin

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My Thoughts:
As I’d shared under the summary, I’m disappointed the book was more about Maud Baum. I wanted to read a book about the making of the film, The Wizard of Oz, and about Judy Garland who was cast as Dorothy. However, I understand from reading Finding Dorothy how Frank Baum came up with the creative ideas for the books. There is actually a total of 43, plus a few that are Oz related. I’ve not read any of the books. I found, way back on my Kindle list of books, the first book in the series.
My favorite parts in the book is Maud’s observations of Judy Garland. Maud is the fly (so to speak) in the room watching the filming of scenes. Maud has reservations about Judy’s age, but when she hears the voice of Judy singing, Over the Rainbow, her opinion changes. Through Maud’s observations, I see the affects on Judy from what the studio groomed her to be. She was a young girl with a big voice. She had a talent that the industry swept down on like vultures. They saw big money. And, her mother didn’t help.
Letts’ gave a strong and vivid picture of Judy as an innocent, doe-eyed beauty.
In Maud’s life story, I learned about culture and standards for women during the late 1800s. Maud’s mother was a suffragette. She worked tirelessly to gain the ability for women to vote. Maud was a woman with strong opinions and she voiced them. Many women in this era kept their mouths closed.

(Review) Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor

Beyond the Moon_Blog Tour PosterBeyond the Moon_web

 

Publisher and Publication Date:
The Cameo Press Ltd. June 25, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Fantasy fiction. Romance. World War I.
Pages: 496.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but I was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Readers of World War I. Romance. Dual time periods.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link
The kindle copy is free in Kindle Unlimited.

Book tour landing page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

About the author:
Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London. Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.
Catherine Taylor website
Catherine Taylor

Summary:
Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.
*Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19
In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.
A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.
Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.
Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art – Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time. An intelligent read, perfect for book clubs.

For fans of Diana Gabaldon, Amy Harmon, Beatriz Williams, Kate Quinn, Kristin Hannah, Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley and Paullina Simons.

“A poignant and stirring love story… Taylor’s accomplished, genre-bending book succeeds as a WW1 historical novel and a beguiling, time travel romance… The sharply written narrative deftly moves back and forth between the past and present.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A time travel romance, yet so much more than that. It is also an unflinching portrait of the horrors of war, and a look at the torturous extremes a human soul can endure. It is a sonnet to the transformative power of love, even as it is also a criticism of the futility and pointless destructiveness of war.” — Shaylin Gandhi, author of By The Light of Embers

My Thoughts:
This is a first novel for Catherine Taylor!
Beyond The Moon is a busy story. It’s busy because several themes are running through it. Examples of themes: PTSD, war, depression, survival, love, death, prison, art, medical practices, family, friendship, private hospitalization/treatment center practices, pacifist, and addictions. The lengthy list of themes, and the categories the book fits, had to have been a very big challenge for Taylor. I believe she pulled it all together for a great story. I read the book in two days! The story held my attention until the end, because I had to know how the story would wrap up with the two main characters.
Dual time periods has become common in historical fiction books. In other books, the dual time periods go back and forth with the change of each chapter. Beyond The Moon allowed one time period to stay through repeated chapters at times. This gave me a chance to relax.
Solid description writing of the scenery that helped me become apart of the story.
Taylor is wonderful at painting the scenes.
Great dialogue. In one scene, people are having a conversation about the war (World War I.) This conversation gave me an idea of how people on both sides felt about the war.
Fantastic reading about medical practices used during World War I. Some of the practices are primitive, yet they are on the edge of transformation in learning new things.
The ending is not believable, but I consider this story to be fantasy.
A wonderful first novel! Bravo.

Giveaway: (Impressions In Ink is only posting the material for the giveaway.)
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules!
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Link for the giveaway: https://gleam.io/lAcVI/beyond-the-moon

(Review) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles

Publisher and Publication Date: Ecco. An imprint of HarperCollins Publisher. 2011. 2012 for paperback.
Genre: Greek mythology. A retelling of The Iliad.
Pages: 378.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Greek mythology.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link
Barnes and Noble link

Further links of interest:
Greek Mythology 
Britannica
Ancient History Encyclopedia

Patroclus: GreekMythology.com – Dec 17, 2019

I’ve read The Odyssey by Homer.
I’ve read two spinoff stories about Odysseus.
The Oracles of Troy by Glyn Iliffe
The Voyage of Odysseus by Glyn Iliffe

The Iliad is free on Kindle Unlimited. In this program you actually borrow the book. I plan to read this story soon.
There are several choices at Amazon to read Homer’s works for free or inexpensive.

I found The Song of Achilles on a table at Barnes and Noble just before heading to the check out line. I love Greek mythology. It’s rare to find spin-off books in this genre. I didn’t understand too much about the book before purchase. After I got home, I read a few reviews. After reading some of the reviews (that were harsh), and then reading the book, I believe it’s unfair to identify it as a book about a sexual relationship between two men. This book is so much more.
Madeline Miller has knowledge about the subject of Greek mythology. The following is a bio. from Goodreads:
“Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.”

I don’t usually write a review that gives away spoilers. I’m hoping to write a thorough review that will still hold surprises for a future reader of the book.

Summary:
The Song of Achilles is a retelling of The Iliad; and, it’s the story of Patroclus and Achilles’ told by Patroclus.
Patroclus, according to Greek mythology was the companion, close friend, and a valiant warrior of Achilles. It is unknown if they were lovers. In The Iliad they had a close bond. Homer didn’t define that love as being sexual. Of course all these stories are works of fiction.
The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War. The ten year siege against Troy. Multiple Greek states converged in order to fight against Troy, because a son of the Troy king, Paris, had taken Helen. Helen was the wife of Menelaus who was the brother of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae. Agamemnon was one of the leaders in the Trojan War.
Several years before, before Helen and Menelaus married, males (various ages) who had met to possibly win the hand of Helen, promised on oath to uphold and defend her husband. Achilles and Patroclus were at this meeting and swore oaths.
The Song of Achilles began by telling the life story of Patroclus, the events surrounding his birth, parentage, early childhood. Further, the incident that led him to exile in Phthia; the relationship with Achilles; Achilles’ biography; and ending with the ten years in the Trojan War. I’m amazed all of this was told in one volume of 369 pages.

My Thoughts:
I read the first 200 pages and then returned to page one to begin again. Why? I wanted to have a discerning eye on the story and not just read for entertainment. I took 13 pages of notes!
I want to get “two” things out of the way before proceeding.
1. If you love Greek mythology, I recommend this book.
2. If you are a reader who doesn’t want to read a love scene between two men, skip page 100. This is the only page that has detail about their physical relationship.

What I love about this story:
•Miller showed me the transformation of Patroclus, Achilles, and their relationship. It is Patroclus who tells the story. He is a young boy at the beginning, later a teenager, and then a man. His personality, reasonings, feelings, impulsiveness, temperament is all described at each age level.
•Patroclus is a child that was not wanted. His mother is considered “simple.” He never lived up to the expectations of his father, the king. He’s an only child. He had no other family. He didn’t have friends. He was unwanted and unloved. Tragic. And through another tragedy he is moved away to be in exile with other exiled boys. He sees himself as unattractive, awkward, thin, and simple. (There is that word simple again.) Then, Patroclus sees the golden child. The word golden or similar type words will be used often in the story. Achilles is golden. He is bright like the sun. He is noticed and admired by everyone, including Patroclus’ father. His father remarked that Achilles was “what a prince should be.” He is beautiful, strong, and fast. Achilles chose Patroclus to be his companion and friend. Patroclus is wanted, admired, trusted, and grows to love Achilles. They are at first closer than friends, more like brothers. They are a family unit. Later when they are in the mid teenage years they become lovers.
•Achilles was the only child of a king. His mother was a sea-nymph creature. She was a goddess. Achilles was swift and fast. This was his god-like power. In his life, even as a boy, he stood out as bright as a star. He was always noticed by others. In this story, The Song of Achilles, Achilles and Patroclus are opposites. It is a writing feature used sometimes, to make one character the opposite of the other, it makes the differences appear crisp and dramatic.
•The relationship of Achilles and Patroclus changed or transformed through the years. All long-term relationships go through changes, because the people who are in the relationship grow, develop, and change. Patroclus realized Achilles was destined to be great. Patroclus made the decision (shown in his behavior) to be the supportive and caregiver partner. All through their years together Patroclus is devoted, adores, and worships Achilles.
The Song of Achilles doesn’t just focus on the last few years of the Trojan War, but touches on all the ten years. Miller has the characters discuss the long-term affects of the war on them. They blame Achilles for the lengthy war.
•The gods are shown as devious, calculating entities not to be trusted. However, the word god is often used with how mortals see life and themselves, and what they hope to become.
•Through this story, I saw the cultures and standards for men and women. Especially how women were treated. Females were treated as property to be exploited, abused, traded, and sacrificed. Men were seen in how masculine they were. How they fought in battle.
•Odysseus is a favorite character of mine, and not just in Greek mythology. I was happy he had a strong role in the book. He’s still my hero.
•One of my favorite parts of the book is the description of Hector. Fantastic description of his body, clothing, and mannerism; and, most important his affect on people watching!
•An interesting mystery. Helen is remarked on, talked about, and referred to. Helen has a brief scene in the book. Even though she doesn’t have a strong dialogue, her presence in the room is palpable. The few words she says creates energy.
•From what I understand, The Song of Achilles is close to being true to Homer’s story. I saw a few exceptions. For example, a goat is sacrificed instead of a horse.
•The battle scenes are violent and dramatic. How a person is dressed for battle is described-this includes the layers of clothing and weaponry.
•The last part of the book is important. It holds the list of characters. Information about gods and humans. Two essays—my favorite is “Stealing Hercules’ Club.”

The Song of Achilles is a book that I could gush on for a very long time. It is powerful. It is sweeping. The characters are memorable. This is true to Homer’s books. If the characters and story in The Song of Achilles were not true to Homer’s books (or even close), it would fall flat.