The Walled City Review

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin.  

Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. This set of rules stamped on the cover of this book had me sold. I had heard a few things about this book but nothing more than action packed. I went into this without knowing much and that was a great decision! 

This story is told through three view points: Jin, a young girl disguised as a boy who snuck into the Walled City to find her sister. For someone so small, she packs a punch. Jin is full of determination and perseverance and such a strong desire to find her sister that she really instills her strong value for family regardless of her parents mistakes. Mei Yee: a sister who was sold by her father into a brothel as a prostitute. Throughout the story we really get to see major character development for Mei Yee. She starts out as very survival based. Keep your head down, obey the master, take your clients, bite your tongue, but as the story progresses you see her come into her own. She wants to fight back and escape and is willing to risk death to do so. And Dai: a boy from the City Beyond, no one knows how or why he is in the Walled City. He has a past that haunts him and he spends the book trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the City Beyond, if he fails he spends the rest of his life behind bars and he knows it. He is a strong and clever character eager to throw himself in harms way. 

The Walled City, Hak Nam, is where all of the criminals flee to in order to avoid arrest, its dirty, diseased and dangerous. There is no government, no laws, and no one to help if things take a turn for the worst. The City Beyond has no jurisdiction over Hak Nam and won’t send anyone inside to help. I really like where the author found her inspiration for such a setting, which came from Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. The fact that she derived this whole story or survival around one very real location just shows how powerful the human imagination can be. The world building at the beginning of the story is wonderful but what really blew me away was that she continued to World build throughout the story. The author pays a close eye to details not only in describing the world but the characters, situations and scenes as well. 

He different view points make the plot a bit addicting because each character wants something different. But when Dai convinces Jin to help him with drug runs for the most dangerous man in the Hak Nam, this helps both of them. Dai is able to get into the brotherhood to look for needed info and Jin gets to search it for her sister. The whole plot is based around survival and secrets. You are kept on your toes. 

There is a strong caste system in place while reading but it’s very subtle when discussed. What I mean is, when it’s mentioned you can feel how heavily it ways on the characters but the author doesn’t spend every two pages making sure you know who is higher up on the chain of command. 

I also really loved that there was no insta-love in this story at all!! I hate instantaneous love, you don’t just fall in love at first sight. But it’s a very prominent trope in the ya community so I deal with it. I usually won’t comment on it but I have to with this one. Dai and Mei Yee meet and you can see they are interested in each other. The scene is something similar to a princess locked away in a tower but less cheesy. Mei Yee wants Dai to help her but knows that it may not happen. And there is no “my heart skipped a beat when I saw him/her” type of feelings or commentary and I believe this is due to the characters being so focused on survival. 

I also want to mention a much smaller character who I fell in love with. His name is Chma and he is a cat. Yes, a cat. This little stubborn ball of fluff is a light comic relief when the scene gets tense and he provides so much character comfort that people tend to skim over because he is just a cat. I have noticed this with animals in other books but I think this one really stuck out to me because now I have a cat that is really coming into his personality and it just warms my insides. So anytime Chma was mentioned my heart melted a little bit because I can relate now! 

Over all I gave The Walled City a 4.75 out of 5 stars. I didn’t give it the full 5 because there were scenes that I wish had a bit more to them, and the same scenes I wish had more where a bit slow for my liking, but everything else was solid for me! I love this book and look forward to reading more from the author. Thank you reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Review

Jonathan Safran Foer is known for writing such meaningful and brilliant novels, his work is highly praised across the globe. I was so excited to finally read something of his and I had such high expectations for this book, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. 

When picking up this book, all I had heard was how absolutely wonderful it was! It held so much meaning and it was whimsical! While the book did hold those qualities, they didn’t strike me as hard as I had hoped for. 

We follow a nine year old boy by the name of Oskar. Oskars father died in the attacks on 9/11. This heartbroken boy stumbles upon a key in his late fathers closet and is determined to find what it opens. He wonders maybe his father left it for him to find. He spends well over eight months scowering the city of New York to find its lock and meets wonderful people along the way. But I’d ultimately let down when the key is unrelated to his father. 

I was bewildered by the fact that we had a book that took place around such a large American Tragedy. The attacks on the World Trade Center are not something we see in literature, especially young adult literature and it astounded me that the author thought to base a story around one young boy who was so effected by this event. I loved the fact that we followed such a young character, who is experiencing a plethora of emotions and is searching for answers he may never get. That will hit anyone in the feels, regardless of where you are from! 

I feel for Oskar, he is depressed and this key gives him something to put his mind to for awhile and helps him cope with his lose. I was really hopting to see more symbolism in this story, as I am sure there is. I just missed it. I don’t think I read this book at an appropriate time in my life to see all of it. It took me nearly a month to complete. But the symbolism I did see, I loved enough to want to reread this later in my life. I loved that Oskar was scared to show his mother the recordings he hid of his dads calls. I loved that his mother knew that he was walking around New York City searching for this key and never told her son she would call all these people he would meet ahead of time to keep him safe. I love the deep and profound love his grandmother has for him. I think I enjoyed reading the tidbits we get from Oskars grandma the most. We get an onsite into why his grandfather left and what an odd relationship they had, we get to see a man trying to redeem himself to be in his grandsons life. There are so many touching moments in this story and it saddens me that I didn’t get the impact I was expecting. 

Overall, at this point in time, I gave the book a 2.75/5 stars. I will round that up, 3/5 stars. The writing was beautiful, but slow at times. I love the symbolism I did see and hope to see more when I reread this at a later date. I feel like we lost sight of the plot at times, some of the events in the book just didn’t fit. This book was way over hyped though and I believe that is part of the reason I am still holding out hope. But I will continue to hold that hope. Thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany

Redeeming Love Review

I have never read a Christian Historical Fiction. I have never read a Christian anything aside from the Bible. It’s just not something that has been for me, but when a dear friend of mine handed a copy to me and told me I had to read her favorite book…you bet I read it. 

 We follow two main characters the first bring a prostitute named Angel and the second a god loving farmer named Micheal. This novel is set during the California Gold Rush, no it’s not what you’re thinking. Micheal receives a message from God, who has a strong presence in the book (keep in mind the genre) that he is to marry Angel. Angel is a woman who has had a hard life starting from childhood. She was the product of an affair, grew up knowing her father didn’t want her, her mother was a prostitue who died when she was eight, then at that same age she was sold into prostitution to a child molester. All her life, prostitution is all she has known. Please the man, get the money. And she is stuck in her ways. So when micheal shows up determined to marry her, she protests. Micheal is an honest, good man, seeking a good life with a wife he can love forever. After servicing a brutal beating micheal marries her and takes her back to his farm where he is determined to help her lead a better life. 

I opened this book and told myself I was going to keep an open mind. I am extremely judgmental when it comes to any sort of religious aspect in any book no matter how hard I try not to be.  It’s just something I feel is extremely dramatized or is never done without being overbearing, even if its only a paragraph in the entire book. But. I am a person who will support you in whatever faith you have whether it’s a singular god, an unknown force or an inanimate object. It’s your right to worship whatever you want and I think that is wonderful! But it bothers me that people tell you that you are wrong for believing something different. You’re not. So I am a little ashamed that I didn’t keep my mind wide open when I started this. For the first 100-150 pages, the characters would say or do something and I would judge them, hard core. So I had to stop and give myself a talking to, upon picking it up again I found it so much easier to read! Because it’s ok that the authors views differ from my own, I’m here to enjoy this story. And I did very much. 

Micheal. Micheal. Micheal. For a good three fourths of this book I was very annoyed with his character. Micheals character is self explanatory, he is honest and good and wants a woman to spend his life with. But some of his behaviors and mannerisms worked themselves to the point of overbearing to me. Some of the actions he took I respected him for, like not having sex with Angel until she was ready even though he wanted to. Others I wanted to slap him for. I felt there were several times in the story that he was pushing Angel too hard and that only added to her reluctance, which I know the author did on purpose but, it’s still irritating. The last portion of the book he grew on me a bit because he was at his breaking point, we got to see just how much of a toll this woman had taken on him. 

Angel. Loved this character. She’s knows she’s been through hell but still manages to keep her head up. She’s strong willed, stubborn and smart. When she does finally admit to wanting a life with Micheal, witnessing her character growth is stupendous! Her growth throughout the book is stupendous! There isn’t much to say on her because she is such a wonderful and well written character that you relate to her without experiencing her hardships. 

Overall this book was a rather quick read despite the size. It was fun two watch these two characters grow on each other and into a life together. The writing was elegant and flowed very well. 4/5 stars! Thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,

Tiffany