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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith


Please Note:  I was invited to review this book as part of Irish Banana's awesome Blog Tour for the author.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis: 
A troubled girl confronts her personal demons in this time-travel thriller alternating between present day and 19th century Japan.

No one knows how to handle Reiko. She is full of hatred; all she can think about is how to best hurt herself and those people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt at her home in Seattle, Reiko's parents send her to spend the summer with family in Japan, hoping she will learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping backward in time into the nineteenth-century life of Miyu, a young woman even more vengeful than Reiko herself. Reiko loves escaping into Miyu's life . . . until she discovers Kuramagi's dark secret and must face down Miyu's demons as well as her own.

Review:
When I was invited to review this book by Irish Banana Blog Tours, I was very happy because I got to merge two things I love (Japan and reading) into one activity.  I lived in Japan for over three years and loved it.  And I also fully enjoyed this novel.

The book's title, A Darkly Beating Heart, aptly describes the main character.  Reiko is one messed up girl.  At first, I found it very tough to connect with the character.  But, after some soul-searching of my own, I understood Reiko's story to be one of a girl who finds a way to finally take control of her own life.

What I Liked:

Setting:  While I am a pushover for anything set in Japan, I also consider myself a bit of an authority on the country (I had my first child there).  So I was checking to see if the details were correct.  They were spot on!  From the present-day culture that is obsessed with aidoru (Japanese pop stars), to the details of the quaint Onsen (hot springs) town where Reiko time-travels, the author got everything right.  I know these places and how strange it is that such a modern society also ferociously clings to an idealized version of it's feudal past.  Yes, everyone wore beautiful kimonos and yukatas, but they also brutally oppressed women and peasants.


Writing:

At first I did not like the character of Reiko.  I think this was due, in part, because author Lindsay Smith was brutally honest about Reiko's dark thoughts.  There was no attempt to garner sympathy for Reiko, and I was left to wonder why this person had such a chip on her shoulder.  All is revealed over the course of the book (and then you may, indeed feel understanding of why she is so angry).

There is a caveat when you read a first person narrative that you can't always trust everything the narrator says.  They may be leaving out important details or may, themselves, not know the full story.  This is definitely the case in this book, and led to some surprising revelations at the conclusion of this novel.  Once this happened, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place which made me appreciate the craftsmanship of the author's writing.

What I didn't like:
When something terrible happens to Reiko in America, her parents quickly push her onto her Japanese relatives in Tokyo.  While I understand that this was necessary to the story, I found it somewhat implausible that any parent would send such a troubled person, alone, to a foreign countryReiko doesn't even speak Japanese, yet they expected her to cope with total immersionI was surprised that her parents wouldn't have realized that she could not handle the sensory overload that is Tokyo. 

Overall, I did really enjoy this book.  It is not my usual type of read (I had to read a lighter rom-com afterwards to chill out).  But with imaginative writing, the author manages to turn a vengeful, violent, bitter young woman into someone who the reader wants to, if not root for, at least find some peace.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27414389-a-darkly-beating-heart?from_search=true

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1626720444/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2&linkCode=sl1&tag=theiribanrev-20&linkId=4580e936390513e38c864dc3a8c4cde6
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-darkly-beating-heart-lindsay-smith/1122889649;jsessionid=6E2DD85ABBBE2175113B82B7CC8F4AEB.prodny_store02-atgap07?ean=9781626720442&st=AFF&2sid=Goodreads,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20IncM000004
 

Rating: 




Release Date: October 25th, 2016

Genre:  YA Thriller

Source: Irish Banana Blog Tours

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:        

I found A Darkly Beating Heart to be twisty, dark, fun.  Grab some yakisoba, and a milk tea, and enjoy this book.

About The Author:

 Lindsay Smith is the author of Cold War-era espionage novels Sekret and Skandal, as well as the fantasy novel Dreamstrider. She writes on foreign affairs and lives in Washington, DC. lindsaysmith.net

And now for a giveaway...

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1 comment :

  1. Excellent review! I understand more about this book and character than before after reading your words. I have many Japanese friends so I'm very interested in Japan and their culture and have learned hiragana and hope to tackle katakana this year. I'm happy that this author researched well, though I know I'll share your parental opinion about sending a troubled child away alone.

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