4 Stars · Book Review · China · Favorite Authors

Adventure abounds in Jeff Wheeler’s latest novel, The Killing Fog

41SJKIH2+DL._SY346_Hey friends!  How are you?  Are you reading a lot more lately?  I’ve seen a lot more posts in the books subreddit  on Reddit and a ton more book discussions between friends on Facebook.  It looks like most of us are dealing with these stay-at-home orders by indulging in lots and lots of reading.

So tell me, what are you reading?  I don’t have the stomach for anything dystopian at the moment, but Jeff Wheeler’s newest book just arrived and it was like Christmas morning on my kindle.  Y’all know how much I enjoy Jeff Wheeler’s world building and The Killing Fog just really took me in completely.

One of my favorite things about Wheeler’s writing is that he takes familiar-ish stories, locations or times and gives them a very magical supernatural spin.   His world building skills are incredible and The Killing Fog delivers completely in this sense.  The characters were much stronger than in The Harbinger Series  and the writing itself was almost as strong as that of The Kingfountain Series.    I’ve always find it interesting that Wheeler’s main characters are almost always strong capable young women and that he tends to write them fairly well for a middle aged man.

Hands down, The Kingfountain Series is still my favorite of Wheeler’s works (and I HIGHLY recommend these books if you’re in the mood for something well written, intriguing and magical), but The Killing Fog comes in at a strong second.  While the Harbinger Series, Muirwood and Mirrowen were good young adult fiction, The Kingfountain Series and The Grave Kingdom Series are better suited for mature readers and really show Wheeler at his finest.

Wheeler’s books are meant to be read as a series, they’re not standalone books, which can be a little bit annoying.  Especially since the next book in The Grave Kingdom series isn’t out until June, but it’s also nice to have something to look forward to.

Take care!  until next time, cheers!

-R

3 stars · Book Review · China · Historical Fiction · thoughts

Threads of Silk by Amanda Roberts

51b+W4jz72LHey y’all.  I’ve been digging the free monthly Amazon Kindle books lately.  I just finished reading Threads of Silk by Amanda Roberts.

This historical fiction follows Yaqian, as she makes her way from a barefoot village girl to a valued artisan living in the emperor’s service.  The political turbulence of last decades of the Chinese Qing Dynasty (late 1800’s and early 1900’s) provides the historical backdrop that make Theads of Silk so interesting.

From the beginning, Yaqian is different.  Bold and head strong, she doesn’t fit into the obedient female role predetermined to someone of her gender and station.  In an act of defiance, Yaqian begins embroidering shoes, which sell quickly and attract the attention of an embroidery master.  Yaqian is quickly whisked away to the embroidery school, where her head strong and bold personality launch her directly into the emperor’s court.  As a court artisan, Yaqian quickly becomes part of the inner circle and witnesses first hand the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

I don’t know much about Chinese history, so it was very interesting to read about life in China at the point in time.  However, it felt odd that a royal artisan would have so much involvement in so many different court happenings and be so intimately involved with the royal family.  The constant “in the right place at the right time” situations tend to jar the plausibility of the story with  as do the constant number of times Yaqian seems to be exempt from behaving in a manner of her age and station.  The story is well written and quite beautiful but it didn’t feel authentic.  At some point during the book, it became very evident that the author was not Chinese and was writing as an American woman who wanted a strong Chinese female lead character.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read.  I learned a lot about China and enjoyed the story.  It just didn’t hit the mark for authenticity or believably.  We’ll rate this one a strong 3.5 stars.

Until next time, happy reading.

Cheers,

R