Review: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

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Chances are, you’ve heard of the musical Wicked.  You probably even know that it’s based on a book by Gregory Maguire.  What you may not know is that he has written a number of books based on fairytales, among them, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.

We have all heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty … and what curses accompanied Cinderella’s looks?

Set against the backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris’s path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister. While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household — and the treacherous truth of her former life.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister gets four out of five stars.

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Review: The Joy Luck Club

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Let’s backpedal a bit today, to my 2016 Reading Challenge.  The category: A book you should have read in school.  The book: Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. Have you read this one? Many people have. Nonetheless, a refresh:

In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters. As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined.” (Via Goodreads)

I’m giving The Joy Luck Club four out of five stars.

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Review: Underground Railroad

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Today, I’m highlighting the book that was just voted Goodreads’ Best Historical Fiction book for 2016: Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad.  If you haven’t gathered from the title, a short summary should do:

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. (Via)

I’m giving Underground Railroad four out of five stars.

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Review: Leviathan Wakes

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Today’s read is way out in left field for me: James S. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes.  The first in a series, this sci-fi novel may not be on your radar.

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.
Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe. (Goodreads)

I’m pleasantly surprised to give Leviathan Wakes five out of five stars.

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