July 18, 2018

Abbreviations #60 | The Bird and the Blade, The Paris Wedding + A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

The Bird and the Blade is the story of slave girl Jinghua, who has lost everything, and who winds up involved with Prince Khalaf and his father as they escape their enemies by fleeing across the Mongol Empire. As they race to outrun their enemies, plot to find a way for the prince and his father to reclaim their former positions and Jinghua uses their travels to get herself closer to her former home, she starts to develop feelings for the prince. When he ultimately decides to rise up to a princess’ challenge that could end in his death, Jinghua is forced to confront her past, her feelings and decide just how far she’ll go for the boy she loves. While there were certainly some interesting elements to The Bird and the Blade (I’ve never read a tale inspired by this opera before, which made for something a little new-to-me), I ultimately think that this one was just not for me. I never really connected with any of the characters, nor did I feel like they were particularly fleshed out past the hard and fast facts about each of them.I also wasn’t emotionally invested in the plot, or any of the relationships, which really affected my overall feelings towards this tale. I’m sad to say that this one was pretty forgettable after I finished reading it. (Plus, that ending! I have feelings about that ending. And they’re not good ones, sadly.)

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Publication Date: June 5, 2018 | Source: e-galley downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

What would you do if your ex invited you to attend his wedding in Paris with all expenses covered? In The Paris Wedding, this is exactly what happens and Rachael decides to take this opportunity to travel, seek closure with her former paramour and figure out what she’s going to do next with her life. Now, if you can just squint a little to suspend your disbelief over the events of this one, it’s actually a decent (if predictable) contemporary fiction read. I did like the fact that Nash worked to portray Rachael’s story as more than just the romantic bits alluded to in the premise. I also liked that it was set in Paris (of course, that’s not surprising), and it made me nostalgic for places I’d only gone to once or twice. It also, oddly, gave me Bridges of Madison County vibes, which could totally just have been my take on things, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. But really, despite the things I liked about it, The Paris Wedding just didn’t end up being a new favorite and instead ends up joining the ranks of books that I thought were okay but ultimately forgettable.

The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash | Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks | Publication Date: June 12, 2018 | Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

I don't read a lot of short story anthologies, if I'm being terribly honest. But when I heard about A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, I immediately knew that this was one I would want to check out! Written by a number of well-known Asian authors, each story is a spin on a particular culture's own lore or mythose or folktales. I had been hoping to fall head over heels in love with this collection, but unfortunately, that was not the case (and it was likely because I might have had expectations going into it that weren't met, but only on a vague level that I can't even put into words). This is not to say that I didn't enjoy my time reading it. For the most part, I found the variety of genres and plots to be very intriguing. While I didn't love every single story, but I also didn't particularly dislike any of them either - which is always a good sign. My standout favorites are The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Myers, Code of Honor by Melissa dela Cruz, Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman, Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar, The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon and Eyes Like Candelight by Julie Kagawa. If you're interested in getting glimpses into a number of different Asians cultures as well as trying out stories from any of these authors, I'd encourage you to check this collection out for yourself.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh + Elsie Chapman | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | Publication Date: June 26, 2018 | Source: e-galley downloaded from Edelweiss (Thank you!)


  1. Aaaack, I'm so sorry these three books were pretty bad :\ That is the worst feeling when reading. Sigh. I have read so many bad books this year, lol :D And gah, The Bird and the Blade has a bad ending as well? So rude. Lovely reviews sweetie. <3


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