The Valley of Amazement – Amy Tan

The Valley of AmazementTitle : The Valley of Amazement

Author : Amy Tan

ISBN-10 :  0062107321

ISBN-13 : 978-0062107329

Paperback : 608 pages

The Plot :

Violet Minturn grows up in Shanghai’s most exclusive courtesan house, the striking and wilful daughter of its American mistress. In 1912, when the Emperor is deposed and celebrations rock the city, a cruel act of deception separates Violet from her mother.

Forced to become a virgin courtesan, Violet determines to master the arts that will make her one of the most desired women in Shanghai. In this new way of life, romance is an illusion and seduction nothing more than a transaction; but she can never relinquish her hope of finding truth in love.

Violet’s need to understand her past fires her quest to uncover the truth about her mother and the men – father figures and lovers – who have shaped her journey. Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement is a deeply evocative narrative of a fateful family history. With her characteristic wisdom, grace and humour, Amy Tan conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and betrayals, its power and truth.

Review :

To me a good book is one that keeps you so engrossed in the story that when you are reading it you are blissfully unaware of things around you. Personally I could have read The Valley of Amazement in the middle of a parade route and not looked up from the book for a second. The one word I can think of to describe the story has to be ‘mesmerising’.

The characters are so likable that you are so invested in their lives from the very first chapter. The 600 plus pages is like living a lifetime with Violet and I enjoyed every minute of it. Amy Tan has a beautiful way of looking at even the most mundane things and making them sound exotic and her lyrical style is very engaging. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden you will love this book. In my opinion this is a definite must read.

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Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and parkTitle : Eleanor and Park

Author : Rainbow Rowell

ISBN-10: 1250044995

ISBN-13 : 978-1250044990

Paperback : 320 pages

The Plot :

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

Park is the bot at the back of the bus, black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you are young and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love–and just how hard it pulled you under.

YA Fiction is not often the genre I would pick up and read but this was a book my friend recommended I read. I was sceptical when I started reading and was sure I would not like it. To my surprise, halfway through the book I was hooked and wanted to know what happens next. I loved the characters and was rooting for them throughout the book. It’s ideal for a quick read on a lazy Sunday. All in all I would recommend you read this book if not for anything but a nostalgic trip down memory lane about being in love at 16. Looking forward to the movie adaptation in 2015.


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The Heretic Queen – Michelle Moran

The Heretic QueenTitle : The Heretic Queen

Author : Michelle Moran

ISBN-10: 0307381765

ISBN-13 : 978-0307381767

Paperback : 416 Pages

The Plot :

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family–with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

Once again Michelle Moran manages to engage the readers in a beautiful world set centuries ago. The plot is gripping and the characters are relatable even though they are long gone. The descriptions of the palaces and the lives the Pharaohs led, in itself make this book a compelling read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone with a fancy for historic fiction.


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