Mar 4, 2011

Guest Review of Silver Phoenix

It is a pleasure to have my first guest review of Silver Phoenix come from someone who I personally pushed to read the book.  I bet Gail $5 that she couldn’t finish Silver Phoenix before the weekend was over, and she came through.  I also still owe her the $5.  Gail blogs at Ticket To Anywhere, where you can find great reviews, fragment fridays, contests and more. You can also find her on Twitter, @Irisheyz77. Thank you, Gail, for letting me repost your review on my blog.



Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: Purchased

Publication Date: 28 April 2009

Series or Standalone: Series

ISBN: 0061730211

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 338


Cindy Pon - Official Site
(be sure to check out the amazing artwork on her site!)
Cindy Pon - Blog

Cindy Pon - Twitter

Place(s) Traveled to: The Kingdom of Xia (based on ancient China)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


First Line: The eunuchs said the windows were ceiling height to allow the concubines their privacy, but Jin Lian knew it was also a way to keep them trapped.

Related Posts: Fragment Friday // Book Trailer Monday

Series Order
Book 1 - Silver Phoenix
Book 2 - Fury of the Phoenix (29 Apr 2011)

I first heard about Silver Phoenix on Twitter right before it was released but even if I hadn't I'd have instantly been drawn to the cover in stores. The cover on the hardcover is absolutely GORGEOUS and I bought it the day it was released. I had every intention of reading it shortly thereafter as well but fates conspired against me and it sat on my shelf, neglected, along with so many others. Then recently on Twitter I was struggling through a book and saying how I'd need something really good to read afterwards. I don't recall the exact way things feel out but in the end PoseySessions was betting me $5 if I could finish Silver Phoenix up by the end of the weekend. (This all happened on a Thursday I believe.) Not one to walk away from a challenge I accepted. I then despaired that I would do it as it took until Saturday to finish the book I was reading and I had a family even more of that day.


I despaired about being able to finish as the beginning of Silver Phoenix was a little slow. The prologue had me a bit confused (I'm slow sometimes) as I was immediately thrust into this foreign world. From there we jump forward 19 years (or so) and I have to readjust on what I think I know. In Chapter 1, we meet Ai Ling the heroine who is being sent off to potential betrothal meetings as all good Chinese girls in this time are destined for marriage and a life behind walls. But Ai Ling's family is tainted with a bit of scandal and she is a bit too tall and she struggles to fulfill her duty and remains unwed. When her father disappears, Ai Ling does a very brave and unusual thing and decides to set off in search of him. It helps that Ai Ling isn't your ordinary girl but she has special gifts that she's only just begun to understand.


From the moment Ai Ling leaves the sheltered walls of her home the book really pick up in pace. It becomes this action packed roller coaster and I found it hard to catch my breath. Around every corner there is peril and beasties that are trying to kill Ai Ling. Some of who might have succeeded if it wasn't for Chen Yong and his brother Li Rong. I LOVED the interaction between Chen Yong and Li Rong as well as that between Li Rong and Ai Ling. Li Rong is witty and fun and just makes a person laugh. Which is great because Chen Yong is just way to serious for his own good. Granted he has his reasons for holding himself aloof from the world but there is just this naturalness about Li Rong that makes you instantly like him. Based on characters alone Silver Phoenix was a win.


But even great characters need a good plot and Silver Phoenix has that in spades. Its a bit supernatural and a bit mystery with wonderful undertones of friendship mixed with a dash of romantic tension. I became so invested in this story that I lost track of the world around me and essentially devoured this book in just a few hours. This is such a rarity for me these days as I'm easily distracted by modern technology and the telly. Ai Ling is such a strong character and she kept facing all these creatures that I couldn't stop turning pages to learn why it all was. Throughout the book Pon leaves little breadcrumbs and hints as to what is to come but never enough to make the story predictable. Can you guess the outcome of the book, yes, or at least I could for the most part. But Silver Phoenix isn't really about the how it ends but the journey to get there.


I have to admit my readings of books based in China (even loosely as this one is) so I don't know a ton about the rituals and culture. Cindy Pon does a great job of weaving in all the histories and expectations of the time without bogging the story down in details. So you can learn without realizing that you are learning something. I loved the history and how Pon wove in the various myths and legends from the east in a really seamless way. While reading the book it all felt real and I was able to push reality aside and imagine myself in Ai Ling's world. Although one tradition I'm glad Pon didn't explore was footbinding....ouch! I read one book (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) a few years back that had long descriptions of the process and my feet STILL ache.


My one regret is that it took me so long to read Silver Phoenix. Although a small part of me is glad because now I have only a short time to wait until its sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, is available. I am DYING to get my hands on this book. I need more of Ai Ling and Chen Yong as I did not like how Pon left things at the end of Silver Phoenix. Not that it was a bad ending, because it wasn't. It was a very good ending and perfect for the story. But for me it wasn't enough. I wasn't ready to leave their story so I am glad that it will be continuing on in another book. You can be sure that as soon as I get my hands on a copy that I will be reading it! Just as I strongly suggest for all of you to run out and grab a copy of Silver Phoenix and read it. Its well worth the time especially for all of you out there who love mythological based stories. I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one. I know I wasn't.

Mar 2, 2011

Silver Phoenix Giveaway

Never in my adult life have I read a book that immediately made me want to go out and meet the person who wrote it. Never until I read Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon. Honestly there are so many things not to like about Silver Phoenix for me.  That may seem like a harsh thing to say, but I have blogged quite a bit about how much I dislike fantasy and find it unapproachable.  I also particularly dislike historical fiction.  Cindy described Silver Phoenix as faux historical and instead of hating that fact about the book I LOVED IT.  The fantasy, the history, and the mythology all weaved together into a perfect story for me.


In honor of the forthcoming sequel entitled Fury of the Phoenix, I am giving away 5 copies of the paperback edition of Silver Phoenix so you can have a chance to read this remarkable book before the next one releases on March 29, 2011.


To enter just leave a comment on this post saying you would like to win the book.  Make sure there is a way for me to contact you if you are a winner!


Throughout the month of March I will be posting guest reviews from various bloggers of Silver Phoenix and stay tuned because there may be ways to earn extra entries!! And of course I still have to struggle to put into words my own experience on reading and falling in love with this book.


Enter to win one of five paperback copies of Silver Phoenix.


P. S. In case you missed it, I did get a chance to meet Cindy and it was amazing. Thanks Cindy for being such a generous author!

Finished in Feb. 2011

Well my goal was to read a lot of dystopian books in February for Lenore’s Dystopian month.  But, as so many things that I plan, that never actually happened.  I did START a lot of dystopian books including: The Scorch Trials, Eva, Those That Wake, Rage, and The Dispossessed. I actually finished all of…two.


1. Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (audio) - young adult, dystopian
2. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton - young adult
3. The Dark Divine by Bree deSpain (audio) - young adult, paranormal
4. The Legend Of Spud Murphy (audio) - children's, humor, Ireland


That’s right. I only finished 4 books total and three of them were audiobooks.  I need to find better ways of coping with reading while traveling.  I usually can’t read in the car, but have found that I can now read at night on my phone (back lit) since I can’t see the motion outside.  For whatever reason this doesn’t make me sick to my stomach.  I started reading Dreaming Anastasia out loud to Mr. X and what I did find is that even the slightest mention of food will make you insanely hungry!


The best book of the month was Inside Out.  The best book of the year so far is STILL Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.


What was your favorite read of February? Let’s keep our fingers crossed that March is a better reading month for me.

Feb 27, 2011

The Sunday Salon–The California Edition

It is sunny this morning in the desert of California.  You would think the desert part implied the sunny part, but yesterday southern California was covered in snow!!  It was a very weird experience as we drove in and out of San Diego to be faced with a small but surprising amount of snow.  I have already had two cups of coffee; it always tastes better when someone else makes it for you!


On the spur of the moment Mr. X and I decided to escape in the dark of night! We ran away to San Diego to go to a science fiction and fantasy convention called Condor. It is a three day convention, so there are some people having an amazing time there right now, but we only had time to go for about half a day. We  left Utah and stayed overnight somewhere around the halfway point.  We made it to San Diego just in time to get to the first panel I wanted to go to. condorbanner


I am so lucky Mr. X  is willing to drive me around to all these types of author events. Especially because we decided this at the last minutes and by his own admission he isn’t very spontaneous.


Ever since I read Silver Phoenix I have really wanted to meet Cindy Pon. It has been a long time since a book has effected me so much and I really wanted the chance to meet someone face to face who had wrote such an amazing story.  Luckily through twitter I have been able to communicate with Cindy in the past and also let her know I was DSC_0164coming to this event. Priority one was to highjack Cindy and make Mr. X take a picture of us together! As you can see that went very well. I was really excited to meet Cindy and get a chance to talk with her for a few minutes before her panel.


The interesting thing about me is that for years and years I thought I hated science fiction.  It was only about 4 years ago that I realized I actually love it.  Since then I have been working on reading more fantasy, but it has been a struggle for me.  Mr. X is a big fan of fantasy novels and he has been slowly exposing me to fantasy novels I have really enjoyed.  But despite that I didn’t expect to love Silver Phoenix anywhere as much as I did.  whiteCindy really created a magical and fantastic novel.


One of the surprises of Condor was getting to meet and chat with Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy.  Especially after hearing her talk about striving to make Paranormalcy funny, her book shot right up to the top of my TBR.  Kiersten talks about books and writing in a very approachable but insightful way and I was eagerly taking notes at the panel she was on with Cindy Pon, Nancy Holder, and Kevin Gerard. But like I said, I am really eager to read her book.


I also think it has a pretty fantastic cover. I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I judge books on their covers all the time.  We have covers on books for a reason, though with ebooks that culture may change quickly.  But covers tell us a lot of information about a book and at least make up pick it up and check the summary on the back.


Condor was a really great experience.  I do have one complaint! All these author events are really cutting into my reading time.  I am going to try my best to get at least one more book finished this month, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for two!


What are you reading this weekend?

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