I want to thank Allison from The Book Wheel for allowing Read Diverse Books to participate in #30Authors. Also, a big thanks to Adria, who kindly donated her time to write this review.
#30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit www.thebookwheelblog.com/30authors or follow along on Twitter @30Authors.
Guest Review by Adria J. Cimino
The moment I started reading The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel, I knew I was in for a treat. I’ve always loved stories set in the lush gardens of ancient China’s emperors… but this time the power struggle isn’t the usual scenario of concubines fighting for a superior position in the court. In The Moon in the Palace, we learn the story of Mei, a courageous young concubine whose fight to provide for her widowed mother leads her to the most powerful role in the land.
This work of historical fiction is based on the life of Empress Wu, one of China’s most fascinating rulers. It’s obvious that the book was extremely well-researched. I learned many interesting details about the way of life at the time, both within the palace and beyond, as well as about what motivated the concubines and the cast of characters within the palace walls.
And speaking of characters, they were so multi-dimensional that they kept my interest from start to finish. For instance, one character seemed evil, yet little by little, and certainly by the time of the character’s downfall, I felt sorry for her. The author did such an excellent job of showing the reasons for her characters’ behavior. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the character development. I immediately loved the character of Mei and admired her strength through the many difficult and devastating events in her young life.
And as with any great book, I loved it for the emotion. This wasn’t a book about cold rulers methodically going about their lives. Each character is seen at his or her strongest moments and at the weakest. And these moments are accompanied by such truth and feeling that the reader can’t help but cry or get angry right by the side of these characters.
I also enjoyed the details of the setting, how the concubines dressed, what they ate when they were in favor with the emperor or not—and that’s just to name a few. In this book, the reader is truly immersed in this time period, in this world.
Although the book is based on history, it’s perfectly crafted fiction with just the right pacing and plenty of intrigue. I also read the second book in the series, The Empress of Bright Moon, and highly recommend it as well!
ABOUT THE MOON IN THE PALACE
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Adria J. Cimino is the author of Amazon Best-Selling novel Paris, Rue des Martyrs and Close to Destiny, as well as The Creepshow and A Perfumer’s Secret. She also co-founded boutique publishing house Velvet Morning Press and Women’s Fiction ebook deals newsletter BookStar. Prior to jumping into the publishing world full time, she spent more than a decade as a journalist at news organizations including The AP and Bloomberg News. She lives in Paris with her husband, Didier, and daughter, Phèdre. When she isn’t writing, you can find Adria at her neighborhood café watching the world go by.
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