October 25, 2003
A Cup of Light by Nicole Mones

A Cup of Light by Nicole Mones: a surprisingly good novel that deals with Chinese history, art fraud, and romance with a deft hand.

Lia Frank, a deaf porcelain art export, has been called to China to check the authenticity of twenty expensive, rare pots. When she arrives there, she finds out that it’s not twenty pots she’s checking, but rather 800. At this point, the mystery of where the pots came from begins since a collection of this magnitude is a rarity and valued at almost $200 million.

Lia is almost a mnemonist and is able to recall every pot that she’s ever looked and every catalog or book that she’s read dealing with porcelain. This allows her to relive Chinese history in trying to track the pots and I found these interludes some of the most interesting in the whole book.

While in China Lia also meets an American staying in the same place and they immediately click. Since she’s only in China for a short while, it leads to questions about whether she should get involved with him or not.

On a side note, while I know you should never judge a book by its cover, the cover on this novel is absolutely stunning. The colors are beyond lovely and it actually seems to glow. The subtle Chinese characters repeated throughout the background and the beautiful picture of a cup is so perfect - very hoi moon.

I enjoyed reading this book immensely. It seemed almost like poetry as opposed to prose. The flashbacks to ancient China were amazing and the rich details of the porcelian pieces made me want to immediately visit a museum to see the type of perfection that she was describing. Mones is an extremely talented writer and I look forward to reading her first novel, Lost in Translation, and any others that she writes.

October 20, 2003
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham: this is science fiction at its best, relevant and enjoyable still even though it was published almost fifty years ago.

David Strorm lives in a community where genetic mutations are an every day part of life. Whenever these mutations occur (ranging from small differences like an extra toe or finger to the extreme like a two-headed calf), they are rooted out. In the case of livestock and crops they are destroyed and for those humans unlucky enough to deviate from the Divine Image of God, they are cast out of the community and sent to live in The Fringes.

David has the ability to communicate via telepathy, something he’s been able to hide for most of his life. However, as he gets older and the risks are more serious, it becomes inevitable that his secret will be found out.

I completely devoured this book, enjoying every minute of it. Despite that it was written almost fifty years ago, the language and people of the book were as fresh as if their stories had just been conceived.

I wish that Wyndham would have written a sequel to this book so that I could see how everyone’s lives played out and if information about The Tribulation was ever discovered (my money’s on nuclear war).

Great book and at just 200 pages, a perfect, quick read. Recommended for all, especially sci-fi fans.