Wednesday, February 28, 2018

CHINA: Let's Discuss CHINA DOLLS by Lisa See

At the beginning of the month, I announced that I would be reading CHINA DOLLS by Lisa See in honor of Reading the World here at Book Bloggers International.  I listened to this book all. month. long. because of the craziness of the month, but I did enjoy the story overall.  If you have read the book, this month or previously, let's chat about the story in order to wrap up our month of travels to China.  Feel free to answer any or all of the questions in the comment section below, or just leave general comments.  It's your choice!


Lisa See begins her novel with this poem . . .
“Only three things cannot be long hidden:
the sun
the moon
and the truth.”
Secrets are frequently revealed throughout the story, some very late in the tale.  Which secret surprised you the most?  Were there any that upset you?  Why?

The story begins from Grace's point of view; her leaving Plain City, Ohio, to escape the abuse of her father.  We eventually learn the truth behind her father's behavior.  Did you feel this truth was sufficient for forgiveness?  How did the abuse affect Grace's relationships with men after she left?

Ruby is a character very different from Grace, yet they became friends.  What was your initial reactions to Ruby?  Did they change as the story continued?  How were Ruby and Grace similar, despite their differences?

Helen was raised a traditional Chinese woman, and she frequently was heard to be sharing traditional Chinese sayings.  Is there one that stands out to you?  How does her friendship differ from Grace and Ruby?  How did sharing her past change the friendship, or even the reader's perspective on Helen?

Overall, what were your thoughts about the novel?  Would you recommend it to a friend?


Despite our travels to China this month, CHINA DOLLS keeps us here in the United States.  We get the perspective of China (and Japan) from those within American culture.  What novels do you recommend that take place in China, whether written by Lisa See or not?

Monday, February 12, 2018

CHINA: Karen Recommends . . .

Today, I would like to welcome Karen of BookerTalk.  She is here to share her personal recommendations of Chinese literature.


  1. Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Sheer brilliance and provides a good overview of the cultural revolution. Genre - memoir 
  2. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. This is a stunning novel which looks at the impact of the cultural revolution in musicians and the Tianneman Square protest which laid the seeds of China's emergence on the world stage. Genre - fiction 
  3. Mao’s Last Dancer is the autobiography of Li Cunxin, a boy who was plucked from a peasant family in rural China to become a trainee ballet dancer in Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. He and another student got a a chance to study abroad in America as an exchange student – there he discovered that everything he had been told about America was a lie. The book recounts his desire for freedom and determination to perfect his talent under a regime that did not value individual talent and freedom of expression. Genre - autobiography 
  4. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Saijie. The Maoist regime in the 1970s tried to ‘re-educate’ the cultural elite by sending them off to live with the peasants in the countryside. Saijie’s novel follows two young boys dispatched to a remote village where instead of being cleansed of all tainted ideas, they instead discover new ones through the novels of Balzac, Hugo and Flaubert that they have to hide from the authorities. Genre - fiction 
  5. Inspector Chen Cao Series.  For something lighter there is a good detective series written by Qiu Xiaolong. The books are set in Shanghai in the 1990s – the decade when the country began its momentous change into a world class economic powerhouse. All nine titles feature Chief Inspector Chen Cao, a poetry-quoting cop who has high levels of integrity which often bring him into conflict with the Party machinery and his bosses.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Let's Travel to CHINA!!

Welcome to February and the month we are all going to be traveling to CHINA right here at Book Bloggers International! 

In honor of our month of traveling, I will personally be reading CHINA DOLLS by Lisa See.  At the end of the month, I will share a discussion post for anyone else willing to participate.  See is one of my own personal favorite authors, and many know her for her novel, SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN.  She was one who taught me that reading can really be for more than entertainment.  I could learn about history and the world, all from the comfort of my own home.  I think I "got this" from earlier books that I read, but it was See that cemented it for me.  I look forward to reading this novel, or rather listening to it because I currently have it checked out on audio.  Here's a quick peek for CHINA DOLLS courtesy of Goodreads . . . 
In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?

I will also be sharing some guest articles from bloggers around the world, connecting books and China in some way.  Guest spots are still available.  If you are interested in contributing, email Tif at bookbloggersintl (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Let's pack our bags, grab our books, and get ready to travel to China!