Aentee at Read at Midnight is hosting the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon (#DAReadathon) to promote the reading of diverse books. This wonderful challenge started on January 1st and concludes on January 15th, 2017. I’ve been posting about my progress in this Twitter thread, but I am also going to be posting mini reviews of the books that I have read here on the blog.
The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho
Release date: December 6th, 2016
Publisher: Smashwords Edition
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.
It’s a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn’t choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she’s reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.
Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua’s creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.
“In hell, as in every other world, man was man’s greatest enemy.”
Beautiful. Haunting. Original. The Terracotta Bride was a fascinating novella (or novelette as it’s only 51 pages long) that examined life, death and rebirth. I haven’t read anything like it before. I sat down and devoured it in one sitting. Usually short stories are a mixed bag: they feature intriguing plots but don’t offer enough character or world building. This book was different. I’m still floored by how the author could build such a rich and engaging world in 50 pages! *mind blown*
I cannot thank the other bloggers who recommended this to me enough! It’s such an interesting look at human behaviour. The story takes place in hell, which is very similar to the world of the living. There’s corruption and violence. Money can get you just about anything. People are greedy and just want more and more. The story, set in this bleak world, is told by the naive and young Siew Tsin. After being sold as a bride by a family member, she lived in a sort of limbo. She couldn’t leave her husband, but also didn’t want to move onto her next life where she would be reborn. Everything changed when her husband brought home the terracotta bride as his third wife. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I can’t say anything more about the plot. What I will say though is nothing in this story is what it seems. There are twists and turns that will hold you attention until the very end!
I cannot recommend this book enough! I now really want to explore Cho’s other works such as the Sorcerer to the Crown.
I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb
Release date: October 8th, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
I don’t even know where to start. I Am Malala was eye opening, honest, inspiring and heartbreaking. Malala Yousafzai is a phenomenal young woman. Her advocacy for female education has inspired people of all ages from around the world to stand up for what they believe in. It’s hard to believe that she accomplished so much — winning awards, making speeches, fronting campaigns — at such a young age. She did this all while living under threat from the Pakistani Taliban. Standing by her beliefs under such a threat, even after being shot by the terrorist organization, shows just how brave and courageous she is. I’m in complete awe of her and her beautiful message of peace, knowledge and equality.
While I obviously adore Malala and enjoyed the book, there were times that the book’s writing style felt detached. It read as rigid and unfeeling. There is tons of history and politics in each chapter and the facts and explanation parts were very heavy. I appreciated the history but wish it wasn’t so impersonal or cold.
With that said, I really do think everyone should read this book! It taught me a lot about a region of the world that is constantly in the news. I knew a little about what was happening in Pakistan (the corruption, lawless regions along the border, the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Sharia law) but next to nothing about the local Pashtun culture. What’s happening in Malala’s homeland is heartbreaking, but her love for where she grew up and her courage to stand up gives me hope for the future. Really, READ THIS BOOK!