Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

My friend, Lori, sent me the novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, quite a while ago. I put it in my to-be-read pile without even glancing at the book description. I already had so many books to read, I just didn't know when I'd have time for it. Every time I saw it in the pile, I felt an urge to read it. When I finally did, I knew exactly why Lori sent it to me... I soon found myself immersed in nineteenth-century Chinese culture as well as the friendship of Lily and Snow Flower. Their deep connection and even their misunderstandings reminded me of the deep friendships, including the one Lori and I share, I've had in my life. See's descriptions of the foot binding process had me rubbing my toes and arches. Knowing the pain of ill-fitting shoes, I couldn't even begin to imagine how these young girls survived the foot-binding process. I cringed as I read passage after passage of the treatment of women of those days juxtaposed against the strength the women exhibited in trying times to keep their families from totally disintegrating. The hardships of life lead to a heartbreaking misunderstanding between Lily and Snow Flower that causes painful betrayal and a complete break in communication. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan pushed me to open communication in my own friendships and to search for ways to make the lives of the women of my day better.


 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Two O'Clock Heist by Joanne Pence

As the clock ticks to Two O'Clock Heist, Rebecca Mayfield finds herself enchanted and frustrated with Richie Amalfi once again. When Richie shows up at Rebecca's desk in the homicide bureau of the San Francisco Police Department worried she's been killed, she is torn between frustration, embarrassment, and affection. His determination to assure her safety ruffles her independent feathers even as she revels in his concern for her. Rebecca discovers the actual victim is a former police officer friend, who is being maligned for her tenuous, at least in Rebecca's opinion, connection to the Russian mob. Rebecca's loyalty to her friend combined with her determination to find the truth no matter how it turns out leaves Richie frustrated but determined to keep her safe even as she continuously puts herself in danger, or as she sees it as just doing her job, and thwarts his attempts to share his affection for her. Rebecca's independent streak is further challenged when she feels forced to move into Richie's guest room after her apartment is broken into and her beloved dog, Spike, disappears. The search for Spike had me blinking back tears and on edge fearing for his fate. As Joanne Pence weaves the intrigue around a series of burglaries, the victim's missing daughter, and the victim's possible involvement in the thefts, Richie's skirting the edges of the law pushes against Rebecca's dedication to enforcing the law challenging both to make decisions they might otherwise not make. The chemistry between Rebecca and Richie had me cheering them on even during those moments when I questioned their compatibility. Pence offers a refreshing change of pace with a male character who doesn't come across as the typical caricature of a man devoid of emotional expression as well as a strong woman who doesn't need saved from herself.