FREE STUFFS: Re Jane by Patricia Park

The fine folks at Viking Books have offered to host a giveaway on iamjanesheart! 

How to win: 

The first comment that tells me about their favorite classical retelling will win. Viking can only ship to the US only. 

Here is the info on the book: 

RE JANE is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean-American debut novel that takes its heroine Jane Re on a journey from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul—and back.

For Jane, a half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, she toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth-century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.

Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.

Perfect for readers of Ruth Ozeki, Chang-rae Lee, Allegra Goodman, and—of course—Charlotte Brontë, RE JANE is a bright, comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living not just out of obligation to others, but for one’s self.



“Park’s debut is a cheeky, clever homage to Jane Eyre, interwoven with touching meditations on Korean-American identity…. Park’s clever one-liners make the story memorable, and her riffs on cultural identity will resonate with any reader who’s felt out of place.”

Publishers Weekly

“A sweet and savvy bildungsroman…. Park is a fine writer with an eye for the effects of class and ethnic identity, a sense of humor, and a compassionate view of human weakness who nevertheless doesn't make the rookie error of letting her characters off easy. An enjoyable book offering a portrait of a young woman struggling to come into her own in the increasingly complicated opening years of a new century.”

Kirkus Reviews

Re Jane swerves away from the original in really interesting ways, becoming an examination of family, prejudice, immigrant culture, youth, and individualism. This is both a must-read for Jane Eyre-ites and a wholly new, original thing that stands firmly on its own story-telling legs.”

Book Riot

Re Jane is a rich and engaging novel.  Besides being a love story, it is infused with contemporary subject matter, such as longing versus belonging, the immigrant experience.  Patricia Park writes with earnestness, honesty, and exuberance, which make the novel thoroughly enjoyable.”

Ha Jin, National Book Award-winning author of War Trash and Waiting

"The Korean Americans of Queens find a daring new voice in Patricia Park’s debut novel, as she takes a story we know and makes it into a story we’ve not seen before—a novel for the country we are still becoming.”

Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night 

 “Some nerve, to take Jane Eyre, reconfigure it, make the heroine an orphaned half-white Korean girl, all the while mixing new-fangled Jello shots, hipsterisms, and spicy fish stew with old-fashioned romance. Some nerve to bring it off with such energy, color, and emotional insight! Reader, you'll love it.”

Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake

 “Patricia Park's Re Jane is packed with authenticity, poignancy and humor. I was enchanted by this modern retelling of Jane Eyre as the tough yet vulnerable narrator captured my heart.”

Jean Kwok, bestselling author of Girl In Translation and Mambo in Chinatown

 “Even with its appealing echoes of Jane Eyre, Patricia Park’s first novel is a true original—a smart, fresh, story of cultural complications that hasn’t yet been told in quite this way. The funny and shrewdly observant narrator won me over on the very first page.”

—Stephen McCauley, author of The Object of My Affection

“This is a richly imagined and engrossing novel, and also an important work that marks what it means to be American now.  Park’s writing is remarkable for its tenderness and honesty.”

—Sabina Murray, author of Tales from the New World and The Caprices

Book Review: The Wrong Man by Kate White

Kit met Matt at a resort in Florida. She was there on business but needed a fresh start after the end of a too long, too boring relationship. She ran into Matt several times on her last day of the trip, but it wasn’t until they ran into each other at a small island gift shop that she spoke to him and agreed to dinner. 

She met Matt for dinner, then later drinks in his room, then the next morning she was on her way back to New York. She went into the night, knowing it was just a bit of fun, she didn’t expect to like him as much as she did but she knew what the deal was. She received an unexpected call on the taxi ride to the airport, Matt wanted dinner with her on Thursday at his apartment in New York, she spent the rest of the ride smiling. 

Thursday night, Kit excitedly makes her way to Matt’s apartment. When the door is opened, its not Matt. She apologizes and says she was looking for Matt Healy, the man confirmed that he was Matt Healy. Kit had been duped in an incredibly embarrassing way. The real Matt Healy explained that the man she met had stolen his wallet, and he now realizes has been using his identity, he begs her to come to his firm’s security department to fill in the details of the man whom she had met in Florida, this is where her troubles begin. 

This has beach read written all over it. The plot is meh. The characters are meh. The dialogue is silly. But it keeps your attention, through the predictable ending. 

Book Review Quickie: Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes

Until You’re Mine is a crime novel whose narrative voice alternates between three main characters: Claudia, Zoe, and Lorraine.

Claudia is a heavily pregnant, step-mother of two, in desperate need for a nanny. Her husband, is a Navy captain and he will be out at sea during her expected due date. To help bring her life back together, Claudia enlists the help of Zoe, but never actually trusts her. 

Zoe is a mystery, even to the reader, we can tell that her motives are unclear but to what extent. She left her partner, or friend, or just roommate and joins Claudia’s household. We know that she is lying to Claudia, but we don’t know how far the lies go. 

Lorraine is a detective who is currently working on a murder case with her husband. She’s juggling between a marriage that is crumbling, two teenage daughters, one of which wants to run away and get married at 16, and a gruesome homicide involving an expectant mother. 

This was an enjoyable read. I kept guessing the murderer, then immediately changing my mind. The absolute best part of the book is the epilogue which contains the interrogation of the murderer, so freaking eerily good. 

Worth a trip to the library, but I'd save my money. 

Book Review: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

"When she woke…she was red." Come on, how can you not love that opening line? This novel takes place in a not-to-distant America, where peoples crimes are worn brightly on their skins. We follow the main character, Hannah, a heavy-handed mix between Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter) and Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale). Hannah wakes up in a prison, with her skin red - stop sign red - we find out shortly that she is being punished for having an abortion. Red is the color of murder. 

Hannah’s prison time is 30 days in solitary, followed by 16 years of public humiliation. Her sedate, uneventful life will never be the same. She is shunned by family members, her neighbors, her employer… 

Hannah was born in the America that we know now, but shortly after her birth the US (besides California and New York - of course) was taken hold by highly religious politicians, which the citizens voted for. There does seem to be religious freedom, some residents do still live their lives; however, the laws have changed to ultra-conservatism and though they may not believe in God, they are subject to these bible based punishments. 

We follow Hannah as she leaves prison and enters a community, or safe haven for “chromes” as they are called. She was given a place in this half-way house due to a kind word from her Pastor/Baby Daddy, Aiden Dale (see heavy-handed, right?). Hannah refused to label Aiden as the father of the child, and aborted the child without telling him to protect his reputation in society. You see, Aiden, is happily married and a powerful religious figure in the country. 

What follows in the story is exactly what I wanted to know about Offred’s journey at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, a 20-year late conclusion (of course, this is not to disrespect Margaret Atwood’s work in any way, that woman is a goddamn legend). 

This was an amazing read. Just get past the cringe-worthy references to The Scarlet Letter and you’ll be good to go. 

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Book Review Quickie: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Jodi led the perfect life, or so she told herself. She met the perfect man, and stayed with him for 20 years. They were both completely smitten with each other, except that Todd had a wandering eye. 

Jodi, ever dutiful, ever content, allowed Todd to wander. She wasn’t threatened by these nameless women. Until one is a bit too pushy and Todd is a bit too unhappy, then poof, Jodi’s little life is broken. 

She was so deep into denial of her situation, that every step pushed her to the point that she snapped. 

This was touted as the next Gone Girl, I don’t think that the right reason to read this book. The characters are completely unlikeable and unrelatable. However, the story keeps you interested. I wasn’t surprised by the ending, the author foreshadows heavily at the beginning of the book, but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the read. 

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Book Review: Second Life by S.J. Watson

Julia just received terrible news; her sister – whom she raised after the death of her mother – was murdered. Julia was incredibly close to Kate (sister), so close in fact that when Kate got pregnant at age sixteen and couldn’t care for the child, Julia and her husband, Hugh, adopted Conner.

Recently, Kate had been contacting Julia asking for Conner back, desperate to get her back, but as Conner was 14 years old and only had a short time left in school, Julia pushed that he should stay with her.

Kate’s death shook Julia to her core. Julia left London to visit Paris and collect Kate’s belongings, it was here that Julia became aware of Kate’s very active social life on the internet. The police had no leads on Kate’s murder, so Julia decides to take matters into her own hands. At first Julia just logs in as Kate, to see if she can get any leads, but then Julia starts her own personal’s profile and find herself attracted and enamored with a younger man.

Julia’s life begins to twirl out of axis, while she loses her original intention and falls into an infatuation that all partners fear.

Up to the very last page of this book, I was completely enthralled. The story is interesting, fast-paced. Difficult to put down. But then it felt like Watson just didn’t feel like finishing her book. As much as I was enthralled with the book, I was incredibly disappointed by the ending.

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Book Review Quickie: The First Bad Man by Miranda July

It is impossible to do a review on this book. I've tried you guys. There is no way to explain these piece of work that will make any sense to someone who hasn't read it. 

You know how in episodic TV, they start out one place and end up somewhere you've never expected, and you find yourself wondering, how the hell did that happen? That is this book. You start with a very strange woman named Cheryl, add a very strange woman named Clee, show a weird relationship between the two, and then it ends up in a place you wouldn't expect. 

The flow of the book is sometimes confusing, we're in Cheryl's head for the majority of the time and there are parts where its hard to detect if something is actually happening or not. Regardless of the oddness of the book, its worth the read. It doesn't have the cutting humor that I expected of Miranda July, its instead a dry slow humor, where you find yourself constantly shaking your head. 

Favorite quote:

"We would lie this way forever, always saying goodbye, never parting."

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Book Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Melanie knows little about herself. She doesn't know who her parents are, she doesn't know if Melanie was always her name ... they picked it for her. She does know that she lives in a cell. Every morning, she is strapped into a wheelchair by gunpoint and taken to a classroom. Most days are boring, except for the day that Miss Justineau teaches. Miss Justineau reads the children stories and engages them. The other teachers and staff treat them horribly, especially Sergeant Parks. 

Melanie's only concept of time is by her daily activities. She hates shower day. The staff line up the children in a row, feed them (once a week) and spray them with a chemical, they they are quickly ushered back to their cells. The children never go outside, they have no concept of the world. However, Melanie knows that we children go past the doors and up the staircase, they never come back. 

Carey has built an excellent dystopian world. We find out, along with Melanie, what has happened to society and why she's locked up. The book reminds me of Never Let Me Go, but much better. Never Let Me Go created no goodwill between the reader and the subject, The Girl with All the Gifts makes you question what you believe, and what you want for this society. 

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Book Review: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins revolves around the relationship between two women - Lucy Brennan and Lena Sorenson. Lucy is a personal trainer who found herself in a position one night that brought out some bravery. She was stopped in the middle of the road at night with two men running at her, then past her, trying to get away from a third man chasing them with a gun. Lucy takes down the armed man and holds him until the police arrive. 

Lena was present that night, as a bystander, and filmed Lucy’s heroic act. Lena provides the video to the news networks and Lucy becomes an instant local celebrity. 

The next day, while Lucy is reeling from media attention, Lena tracks her down in the guise of becoming Lucy’s client. Lucy, has a terrible resentment towards Lena. The reason seems only that Lena is overweight. As much as Lena is seduced by Lucy’s personality and strength, Lucy is repulsed by Lena’s weakness and physical appearance. 

What follows is a dramatic turn of events due to their obsession with each other. 

The book is a solid three stars. Interesting, fast-paced read. I absolutely cannot stand Lucy. At first I thought the author was unable to voice a female character, but then when we get more inside Lena’s mind, that hypothesis is squashed. I didn’t feel that the ending was true to the story, but otherwise an interesting book. 

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Book Review: Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel by Anya Ulinich

As the novel opens, we meet Lena (a 37-year-old, divorced, mother of two) as she receives an offer to go on a book tour in Russia. Lena was born in Russia, but migrated to the US as a child. She is newly divorced from her 2nd husband and, until this point, has had no real independence. 

During her trip to Russia, Lena’s high school boyfriend comes to the hotel unannounced. She hasn’t seen him in 20 years but they have kept communication intact. After spending the night together, finally consummating their decades long relationship, Lena announces to her friends that she’s in love. When her friend/mentor pushes back on Lena (specifically her lack of sexual/romantic experience), Lena decides to take some time to experiment sexually in the dark abyss of Ok Cupid.

The book is beautifully drawn and though could easily be a full length novel was excellently presented via a graphic novel. The author provides astute observations of dating in your 30’s, specifically the meat market of online dating. To say this is a book about dating would be selling it short, this is a book about a woman who until this point had always belonged to a man, and for the first time she has her independence.

Favorite Quote:

 “My sexual awakening was entirely the fault of the U.S. State Department.”

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