Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Song of the Silk Road (Plus Giveaway!)

Mingmei Yip

As a girl growing up in Hong Kong, Lily Lin was captivated by photographs of the desert - its long, lonely vistas and shifting sand dunes. Now living in New York, Lily is struggling to finish her graduate degree when she receives an astonishing offer. An aunt she never knew existed will pay Lily a huge sum to travel across China's desolate Taklamakan Desert - and carry out a series of tasks along the way. Intrigued, Lily accepts. Her assignments range from the dangerous to the bizarre. Lily must seduce a monk. She must scrape a piece of clay from the famous Terracotta Warriors, and climb the Mountains of Heaven to gather a rare herb. At Xian, her first stop, Lily meets Alex, a young American with whom she forms a powerful connection. And soon, she faces revelations that will redefine her past, her destiny, and the shocking truth behind her aunt's motivations...Powerful and eloquent, Song of the Silk Road is a captivating story of self-discovery, resonant with the mysteries of its haunting, exotic landscape.

My Take:

I honestly have no idea where to begin with this review, because I loved this book sooooooo much, I'm having trouble putting it into words.  Anyone who knows me knows that if I can't find words, it's a big deal.  I guess I'll just start with Mingmei Yip's literary voice.  It is so difficult to describe, but she has an absolutely enchanting way of writing.  I almost feel like I'm being lulled into a trance, a very rich and wonderful trance.  Even when the action happening in the book is not super interesting, you are absolutely riveted to the page.  Usually, when I am loving a book, I fly right through it, but with Song of the Silk Road, I slowed way down and savored it for about a week.  Now...on to the actual story:  Please excuse further gushing, but...the story was awesome.  The romantic thread was great.  It was well balanced with the other aspects of the story.  I've got to laugh though, in the book, it seemed like every man the MC met, fell in love with her.  I noticed this in the other book I read by the same author, Petals in the Sky.  Normally I'd be annoyed at something like this but it just works with enchanting tone of the story I talked about earlier.  You, as the reader, have also fallen in love with her a little bit yourself, so you can understand everyone else doing it too.  

Okay, so I've gushed my brains out, it's out of my system, (mostly, I'm not gunna lie, I'll probably do a tad more gushing before the review is through) and I do want to impart one thing I didn't like.  Like I said before, the author's voice kind of lulls you into this hazy enjoyment BUT THEN she jolts you out of your euphoric state with random strong language.  Now normally I don't mention the language in my review itself, but save it for the MPAA section afterward, but the language in this book affected the writing itself, in my opinion.  I'm very 1950's with my own personal language usage, with "gosh" and "darn" being the extent of it (I may throw in a "flippin" in there if I'm feeling rebellious).  I never enjoy strong language in books per se, but I've gotten pretty good at ignoring it when it doesn't contradict the tone of the book itself.  For example, James Patterson's books have the figurative mouths of sailors, but the books are so in your face anyway, you don't really notice.  It was just such a bummer in Song of the Silk Road to hear all the random F-bombs dropped in.  With that being said, I'm still going to give this book top marks because it is just amazing.  It has insane resonance (I could hardly sleep the night I finished it because I kept thinking about it) the pacing is great, there are some really great twists throughout and the imagery of the setting the book conjures in your mind is just fabulous.  Like I said, top marks: 1, Pay Full Price

I'd love to hear your opinion:  What is your feeling about strong language in books?  Do you hate it?  Love it?  Don't really care?  Have you ever felt entranced by an author's voice before?  Have you ever read anything else by this author?  Do you enjoy her work? Hit the comments!

If Song of the Silk Road was a movie, it would likely be rated R for strong language and sexual content

 A few words with the author, Mingmei Yip:
Q: Do you have any quirks that come out while you are writing?
A: I just plunge into my writing and ignore everything around me. Since I was a tiny girl I have always  preferred life inside my own head.  

Q: What is your daily routine as a writer?
A: I don’t have a chance to write every day, but when I do, I write eight or nine hours non-stop, then I eat Chinese take-out and fall asleep.  

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?
A: I wanted to bring to back to life the strong women of an earlier era in China when almost the only choices for women were being a wife (actually, one of several wifes sharing the same husband), a Buddhist nun -- or a prostitute. Despite this some women overcame the barriers to become independent and creative artists.  Some mingji, prestigious prostitutes, also called geishas, left behind poems and paintings providing windows into fascinating but often tragic lives. I decided to give these talented, powerful women -- silent for centuries -- a voice.  The result is my first novel Peach Blossom Pavilion, which I’m happy to say, is now in its fifth printing.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
A: No. I work on each until it is as good as I know how to make it. Then I move on to the next one.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A: If you mean aspiring writers, yes. Read a lot, not only to feed your imagination and creativity, but also so you know when you are writing well. When you’re sure your writing is good, pursue publication until you succeed. The Daode Jing says more things are spoiled in the end than the beginning.
   Don’t give up until you are there.


Now for the best part...the giveaway!

I am soooooo excited to give away a copy of this book (not my copy!  I'm keeping it forever lol)  below you'll find the giveaway guidelines:
  • 1 copy is up for grabs
  • the giveaway will run until 5/6
  • to enter, simply leave a comment with your email address!

***FTC Disclosure:  This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

If you are interested in purchasing Song of the Silk Road, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thank you!

      Paperback:                       Kindle:


The Book Gatherer said...

I love it when a book can leave you speechless! This one sounds incredible!

Tiff said...

I will be checking this one out! Thanks!

Shannon Young said...

This looks like an excellent book. I will definitely be reading this one. Thanks for the review!

Strong language doesn't usually bother me unless it is gratuitous. Sometimes it seems like the author is just trying to make their story sound more grown up.

AmberLaShell said...

sounds like a great read. put my name in the hat. amberlashell@gmail.com

Jaidis said...

Sounds interesting! Thanks!

JaidisShaw at yahoo dot com

Cathy said...

Sounds wonderful! I'd love to win.


Lisa R/alterlisa said...

Strong language for the most part doesn't bother me. However, if it doesn't seem in keeping with the character then it may be a bit jarring. Usually I just skip over it as long as it doesn't jar me out of my "read coma".


alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

L Russo said...

Certainly got me curious about the book! She sounds like a brilliant writer.

skkorman said...

Sounds like a great read—please enter me to win!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Laura said...

Please enter me.
laura.leahj@gmail dot com

Tommy Sean said...

Sounds like a great read! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Please enter me in the contest!
tommy.sean (at) hotmail (dot) com

Heather said...

Thanks for inviting me to take a look at your blog...this book does sound interesting! For me strong language isn't always a problem unless I feel that it is unnecessary and ruins the tone of the book...however some characters naturally have to have the foul language but I don't like to see it going too far!

Heather said...

Thanks for allowing me to check out your blog! I must say that this book does sound very interesting, and I may have to pick it up someday!

As far as strong language, I guess for me it depends on if it is a character thing or if it seems to be thrown in just because the author can. Either way if it is too much I feel it harms my enjoyment of the book.

Deborah~ said...

Oooo...what a Nasty Girl that little miss writer is! I'm so glad you clued me in on her potty mouth before I took a look at that beautiful cover and thought I would be drifting off into fantasy land with a temple goddess!
The only thing I despise worse than slinging trashy words around is smearing gratuitous sex throughout what otherwise be a good novel.
Please don't tell me there's too much of both of these to fail the test of real literature with substance!! If not, I would love to have a copy of the book to try out...
Your Friend,

PS: Your blog is looking fantastic and I love your reviewer's voice...magical!

Deborah~ said...

PS: Did I forget to give you my email?


Amanda P said...

Since I can be quite the potty mouth myself strong language does not bother me in the least. :)

I came over here from book blog and am now following you.

You can put me in for the giveaway!

Amanda P
prnovel (at) gmail

Sheila said...

I just found your blog and love it!! I really like the way you do your reviews. Nice Job!

Sheila Staley : Reviewer & Writer
Book reviews and Author Interviews at my blog at http://whynotbecauseisaidso.blogspot.com/

virtualrhino said...

Would love to win! Thank you for such a great review! virtualrhino@aol.com. - Rachel

Heidi Leanne said...

Adding this one to my goodreads list now. Sounds fascinating!


Leigh Russell said...

It's so exciting to find a book that you just have to gush about. Your enthusiasm is so infectious, I think I'm going to check this book out, even though it's not something I would usually pick up. Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful (gushing) review of this book, and I'm definitely looking forward to it, as it's now on my TBR pile. Please include me in the giveaway via mcfitzsatx@yahoo.com, and visit my blog if you have a chance at http://mcfitzsatx.blogspot.com/.

RE: Strong language, if in context (as you mentioned), doesn't bother me. However, it's an unfortunate part of our current world that so many people don't know enough of their own language that they substitute foul words for their ignorance.
Thanks again! - Jan

Deborah~ said...

Hi, again, it's me! I'm just anxiously checking in to see how things are going...Checking also to see if you have any new reviews. Come on over to see me!
I love it when you give books away! :}

Margie said...

I'd love to read this. Thanks for the giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Tony McFadden said...

re: strong language, if it suits the character and/or situation I think it's real. Some characters or situations warrant the f-bomb. In mine (which I just to you as a review submission BEFORE reading this) it's dropped in the second sentence.

Ah, well. None are gratuitous.

Melo said...

Great review. I added this book to my to-read list
Thanks for the discovery


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