Mãn by Kim Thúy

“I offer you
The life I have not lived
The dream I can but dream
A soul I’ve left empty
During sleepless nights”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 153 pages.
Read from September 30, 2020 to October 6, 2020.

After reading Ru, the winner of the 2015 Canada Reads debates I was interested to see what else Thúy had to offer. This was also a nice short read to help me catch up on my reading goal for 2020.

This is the story of Mãn, a girl born in war torn Vietnam and how she came to under the care of three different women and what brought her to Montreal, Canada. She dutifully marries a Vietnamese restaurateur in Montreal and finds that she has a passion and knack for cooking. The food brings back memories of her home and the people who visit the restaurant come for this same taste of nostalgia and emotion. While she is the ever dutiful wife, she has little in common with her husband and they barely know each other. She is not unhappy, yet there is a void in her life that is missing, a divide between her life in Vietnam and her life in Canada. When Mãn meets a French chef and begins a passionate love affair, she discovers the elements in her life that she was missing and begins to connect the pieces of her life and story.

This book is a slow burner that peaks with intensity brought from Mãn’s food and eventually the passion she shares with her lover. The writing is beautiful, illicit, and moving. While not as potent as Ru this short novel is a great example of Thúy’s writing style and capabilities. It mixes prose in the languages of both Vietnamese, French/English (depending on the version you read) in a masterful collaboration through the book that compliments the plot and feel of the book.

Based on some of Thúy’s own personal history it’s easy to speculate that perhaps there is some truth in Mãn’s story as the plot is so emotive. Thúy herself arrived in Montreal from Vietnam in 1979 when she was only ten years old. While I would say that I still preferred Ru this was still a welcome read and a great introduction to Thúy and her writing.

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

If watched or read the book, what are you thoughts on them? Did you enjoy one and not the other? Or did you like/dislike them both?

3/5 stars.
ebook, 416 pages.
Read from September 8, 2020 to September 10, 2020.

You know, the problem with not doing book reviews within the same week that you read them is that the ones that don’t make an impression then become hard to write about because you forget about them. Eh, my bad. Let’s see what I can pull together for this review.

Cursed is an interesting take on the story of King Arthur. Nimue is of the fey people and is an outcast in her own community due to her mysterious and uncontrollable powers. When the fanatical human religious group called the Red Paladins begin exterminating her kind, Nimue’s mother sends her off with a mysterious sword with strict instructions to bring the sword to Merlin, a fey who is considered a traitor to his kind. Merlin has been working beside the human king and seems to have lost his powers so he takes to drink (a lot) and tries to fool others into thinking he is still powerful. Yet Merlin can sense something is stirring within the magical realm and feels a deep connection to the sword. Nimue is assisted by a human mercenary named Arthur who helps her escape the Paladins in her journey to deliver the sword. Throughout the journey, Nimue becomes the voice and figure of hope for the fey people as she wields the sword and uses her magic to combat the Paladins. The Paladins call her the Wolf Witch and they want her head but Nimue is resistant to this heroic role that she has been thrown upon her as she now finds herself responsible for the fate of her own people.

Nimue is supposed to represent the average underdog but she was not the heroine I was hoping for. I was often disappointed with how she handled herself in situations and there were a few very stereotypical YA tropes that took place within her character, the plot, and Nimue’s relationship with Arthur. Conceptually I enjoyed this book, it’s a great idea, but it wasn’t as exciting as I was anticipating. For one, and sorry to Frank Miller and his fans, the artwork wasn’t what I was expecting and it felt really disjointed from the story and writing and added absolutely nothing to the plot for me. When I picked up this book I was actually expecting a graphic novel as I knew that Frank Miller was apart of it, I didn’t actually know it was a novel. The images felt like they were meant for a completely different plotline and that perhaps Frank Miller was not the best choice of artist for this story like somehow a YA novel shouldn’t be paired with one of the most violent graphic novel artists? The artwork wasn’t even all that prominent even, just a few images thrown throughout the book. It’s like the publishing company knew that by having Frank Miller put in a couple of images the book would do better.

I didn’t hate the book but I was disappointed with it. It had the potential to a really engaging and unique take on a classic story. I watched some of the TV show on Netflix and felt the same there too. It was interesting but engaging so I didn’t even bother to finish the season but at least I finished the book.

If you watched or read the book, what are your thoughts on them? Did you enjoy one and not the other? Or did you like/dislike them both?

Rise of the King by R.A. Salvatore

“We seek goals as if their achievement will grant magical happiness and unending fulfillment, but is that ever the case?”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 368 pages.
Read from June 22, 2020 to July 5, 2020.

Book 26, I never thought I’d make this far in the series. Salvatore has recently published his 33rd book in the Legend of Drizzt series, meaning that I still have a comfortable number of books for my guilty pleasure series to fall back on for at least a little while longer.

Drizzt continues on with his companions to free Pwent before continuing their journey towards Mithral Hall. The Orcs, driven by the manipulative Dark Elves, are rallying to start a major battle against, well, everyone. No one yet knows the threat that’s coming. Drizzt still wonders if the whole expedition is the right thing to do but he owes it to his friends. Jarlaxle makes another appearance again as well as he attempts to reunite with Drizzt and his friends while also trying to avoid getting to caught up in the Dark Elve’s plans.

Regis was by far the most badass character in this novel and I hope that we get to see his character continue to expand. Dragons also make another appearance in this book adding some much needed excitement to the plot. Despite that, this story felt a little muddy, as have the last few books in the series since the Companions have returned. I feel less invested in the majority of characters or the reemerging battle that is coming against the Orcs again, a plot point I never thought needed to be brought up again. I’m not convinced that Bruenor and Cattibrie are correct about the Orcs and I’m disappointed that the Many-Arrows plot is continuing this way.

Here’s hoping the last book of this particular trilogy will bring what the last two books have lacked. I’m also excited to get to some of the newer books that Salvatore has published in this series as I think they will have the vigor and passion that these last few books are missing.