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Smashwords book reviews by Cathy Keaton
- Raggedy Chan: A Chinese Heritage Tale
on July 15, 2011
I didn't know what to expect from this little short story. I was able to get it for free from this site, so I decided to take a chance on it, and it turned out to be a really wonderful read.
The story begins with a little half-American/half-Chinese girl named Emma who is being babysat by her Chinese aunt Gracie. Gracie gives her a rag doll named “Raggedy Chan” and proceeds to tell her the fairy tale behind the doll. It weaves back and forth between the story and the scenes of Emma being sat by her aunt.
The story-within-the-story is about a princess named Yao-chi who lives on an enchanted island in China, and decides to go after a mythical rain dragon that has been stolen by an evil sorceress. If she doesn't bring it back, her land will dry up and everything and everyone will die. She travels to San Francisco through the Pacific Ocean and must enter a large golden gate. But, before she can enter, she has to give up her real name. Think of Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” Disney movie when she had to give up her voice to Ursela. It's like a physical removal from her body, and it's the same thing for Yao-chi. She pulls her name out of her mouth and it's in the form of a small ball.
She is given the name Raggedy Chan, since everyone's names are “Raggedy” something-or-other. It's so interesting how she has to physically transform into what the Americans look like, and they all look like rag dolls: yarn for hair, button eyes, silk/cloth skin. She deals with discrimination while in the U.S., and, later, the difficulty of returning to her homeland after changing so drastically in order to fit in with the Americans. She ends up no longer feeling like a Chinese person any longer.
Very telling for those who have had to leave behind their home countries for a new world and shuffle off their original skin for the new skin of their foreign home. I don't have any personal experience with this, but I can only imagine how hard this is for people moving from one culture to an extremely different culture. It must make one change forever, unable to be exactly the same person ever again.
This is a great story for kids and adults alike, as it not dumbed down in anyway. Nor is it written in a complex way, but it has an incredible depth to it that more analytical readers will love to plunge into.
- Flash Gold
on July 16, 2011
This short story is awesome! I completely loved it. It's a great steampunk read, as my interests in that genre are growing more and more, lately. "Flash Gold" has such an endearing quality going for it, I couldn't help but love it. Although light on the details of the steampunk technology, it is so strong on story and character, you just don't really miss it.
The plot is perfectly paced and there is plenty of dangerous action going on. But, the best thing about this story is its amazing characters. They are so funny, unique and interesting. Kali, the main character is my favorite and she's a little spitfire. I love how stern she is at only 18-years-old. Cedar is a great contrast to her, being one to talk less and do more. They make a great team.
I couldn't help but think of True Grit as I got into this story. Kali kind of reminds me of Mattie, although Cedar is nothing like Rooster.
Yes, Lindsey, please DO write more about these great characters. I want more, since the story is left with a brand new adventure about to begin for Kali. I would like to know what's going to happen next.
- The Soulkeepers
on Sep. 11, 2011
What a great story! The Soulkeepers revolves around half-Chinese/half-Caucasian Jacob Lau, a teenager living alone with his mother on the island of Oahu. He suddenly wakes up in a hospital after having a near-death experience, and afterward, his mother goes missing. Now apparently orphaned, an uncle he has never met takes young Jacob home to a rural town in Illinois called Paris (ironically nothing at all like the famous city in France).
Across the street from his uncle's house lives Dr. Abigail Silva, a strange, but uber beautiful woman who eventually tells Jacob all about his true identity. He is a Soulkeeper, a descendant of God who has special abilities to manipulate the elements in order to protect the souls of mankind on Earth.
I love how cleverly the Judeo-Christian mythos is weaved into the story to explain what Soulkeepers are and how they came to be. Jacob doesn't even believe in God, as he is a sort of atheist, but that which the Old Testament claims just keeps coming to pass all throughout the story in unique ways. All of the supernatural gets explained by what is contained mostly in the book of Genesis and it's all very fascinating.
Jacob is realistically written and easy to sympathize with, as is Malini, his best friend. I liked Dr. Silva, and discovering her back-story and that of her super intelligent cat, Gideon, helped turn both of them into some riveting characters. We discover the mystery surrounding Jacob's mother, but there is also a mystery surrounding his deceased father and his family. I get the feeling what little was explained in this volume is not the true extent of it. I'm sure there's more to the Laudner family than meets the eye, so I'm looking forward to the next book to see what will be revealed.
Besides having a winning cover (Jacob is gorgeous!), The Soulkeepers casts well-developed characters in a plot that naturally and gradually unfolds its mysteries over the course of the story just perfectly, leaving the reader wanting to uncover more and more
- Warming Demon
on Dec. 24, 2011
This is a sci-fi short story about a little Chinese girl who has only 1/4 Caucasian DNA, yet she is discriminated against for not being all Chinese. In this tale, Earth is dying, and a new planet has been discovered for some humans, but not white ones. White people are not allowed to go and populate the new planet, and must stay and die on Earth. But, Senya wants to stay and fight the Warming Demon, that which is killing the earth, but is not allowed, and she goes to great measures to seem white in order to get kicked off the ship traveling to the new planet.
It's a very interesting twist on the usual discrimination found in the U.S., although I'm sure it's common in other parts of the world where white people are in the minority. American kids dealing with bi-racial issues would enjoy reading this.