Mini Review Monday: The Clockmaker’s Daughter and American Panda

the clockmakers daughter.jpgThe Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
Published by: 
Atria Books
Pub Date:
October 9, 2018
arc | Source: borrowed
adult, historical fiction, dual timeline
Rating: 5_star_rating_system_4_stars

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House—the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860’s until the present day.

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughteris a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

The highlight of my reading year is always a new novel from Kate Morton- she has a singularly unique style that I find is hard to replicate, even in other dual timeline novels. This book is a real departure for her in some ways- it has a supernatural element that I didn’t always love but that she was able to convincingly work into her plot. It was slower to get into than her previous novels and had a few too many POVs for me. Despite that, Kate Morton is a master at her craft- the way she weaves characters and plot strands together!! Each POV was essential and played a profound (and sometimes shocking) story role. I still need to process what I read and think a reread someday would really help. I’m sorry I didn’t love this as much as her other books but it’s still spectacularly written, crafted, plotted, and Mortonesque.

american panda.jpgAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao
Published by: 
Simon Pulse
Pub Date:
February 6, 2018
e-arc | Source: NetGalley
young adult, contemporary
Rating: 5_star_rating_system_4_stars

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

I loved this more than I expected to- I think it was good I found out beforehand that it wasn’t quite as fluffy as the cover makes it look. I really loved Mei as a main character and could empathize with her struggles. I’ve always been hard on myself and prone to guilt so even if I couldn’t relate culturally I could relate in that way. It was also really cool to read a YA book set at college! They’re so rare and add so much to the story- the struggles with independence, with making friends, etc. The medical descriptions were a little visceral at times haha, not my favorite. But the romance was definitely adorable and I got a lump in my throat towards the end when it came to Mei and her family. Loved her brother Xing and her mother reminded me so much of someone though I can’t put my finger on it. I could tell how much of herself the author poured into the story and I appreciated the glimpse into Taiwanese/Chinese culture. The cover totally fits Mei btw, I love the hot chocolate!

Are either of these books on your TBR? Do you like stories about complicated families?

2 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday: The Clockmaker’s Daughter and American Panda

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