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The Island of Sea Women
The Island of Sea Women: A Novel | Lisa See
A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island. Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their villages all-female diving collective, led by Young-sooks mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger. Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sooks differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mothers position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point. This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See storyone of womens friendships and the larger forces that shape themThe Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.
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MerlinTheSlightlyAwkward
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Allylu
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Pickpick

Lisa See is brilliant! This is a terribly wonderful book. It is about two women whose love for each other is all-encompassing, then the tragedies of their lives in Korea and just in life separate them. You just have to read the book to understand. It‘s so good. #44 #BookSpin #9 #BFC22 #BOOKED2022 eco-feminist #2022AUTHORAMONTH March #Pantone2022Colour FragileSprout #Hikeathon

Cinfhen I tried reading this awhile back & couldn‘t get into it! Your review makes me want to try again 😁 1mo
Allylu @Cinfhen I listened to the audiobook which gives perspective. As I said, some of the things that happened were terrible, but I cried at the end because I was so moved. 1mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 1mo
See All 6 Comments
Clwojick I‘ve read so many good things about this author! I‘ll have to check her out! 1mo
Clwojick Thanks! 1mo
26 likes6 comments
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Blackink_WhitePaper
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Pickpick

A beautiful historical fiction set in Jeju Island. The concept of Haenyo ( sea women ) who harvest sea animals just by diving into the sea is new to me. Interesting concept & learnt a lot about colonial rule in Korea & freedom struggles. It‘s d story of struggle, loss, hardship, hope friendship, with both past & present prospectives. strong female characters, well researched & gives vivid details about different culture & customs. A solid 5⭐️

Blackink_WhitePaper Though I am late, happy that I finished this book for March #AuthorAmonth 😊 1mo
Soubhiville I thought this book was wonderful. And I haven‘t seen this cover, I like it! Congratulations on finishing it! 😁 1mo
43 likes1 stack add2 comments
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DrexEdit
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This also ticks a couple more boxes on the #Pantone2022 challenge list.
#FragileSprout
#SuperSonic
@Clwojick

Clwojick Awesome!!! 2mo
40 likes1 comment
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DrexEdit
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Pickpick

Catching up with March #AuthorAMonth. This was totally different from the only other Lisa See book I've read-Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The women portrayed were incredibly strong & resilient. This was a VERY brutal story of colonization & war set against the story that centers on these women trying to preserve their culture. The fiction is heartbreaking but I found the history to be fascinating.
#AuthorAMonth
@Soubhiville

DrexEdit Here's an excellent video on the Culture of Korean Jeju Haenyeo (women divers) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk7DQLMKBTE 2mo
Soubhiville Thank you for sharing your video find! 2mo
44 likes2 comments
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Susanita
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Pickpick

The ending was surprisingly rushed, but overall this was an interesting book. I won‘t say pleasant, because there were some truly hair raising and cringe worthy moments, but I enjoyed getting to know this group of resilient and persistent women doing the thing and caring for their families. Side by side with the sweeping history is a personal drama about friendship and betrayal. #authoramonth

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mom2bugnbee
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Mehso-so

Have to admit that there WERE places in this book that made me sigh in delight. I love sweeping, multi-generational family epics. This one just didn't grab me like, say, Pachinko did. I continue to love that #Authoramonth2022 is introducing me to unknown-to-me authors. @Soubhiville

⭐⭐✨/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Soubhiville I‘m sorry you didn‘t love it. 2mo
mom2bugnbee @Soubhiville Oh, that's okay! Not every author is for every person. I appreciate that you've introduced me to so many new authors! 2mo
33 likes2 comments
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Melismatic
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Pickpick

I‘m reading so much historical fiction this year! I enjoyed this, altho I do feel the end was a bit rushed. Tells the story of two women who were once close and grew apart over the course of 80ish years on Jeju Island in South Korea. The women were Haenyo - or female divers who were often the main income providers for their families.

#AuthorAMonth

wanderinglynn Great photo! 2mo
Soubhiville Pretty cardinal! 2mo
Melismatic @wanderinglynn thank you! ❤️ 2mo
34 likes4 comments
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Frankies.space
Mehso-so

Set in Jeju. Haenyeo divers and a matriarchal society where women are the breadwinners. Devastating scenes as Japanese colonisation came to an end for American troops. Two friends.

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Butterfinger
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Pickpick

I have enjoyed every one of Lisa See's books I have read. She takes an unknown culture and makes it alive in my imagination. I just love her writing. I understood Young-sook's anguish and anger. The moment of Mi-ja's betrayal is heartbreaking. I couldn't sleep without revisiting the images evoked. And now I know a little bit about the haenyeo life. Just wow! I look forward to more, but my heart can't take it right now. #AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

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UwannaPublishme
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Pickpick

This book has so many layers to it—the captivating tradition of these resilient women divers, the atrocities of the Korean War, the heavy themes of friendship & forgiveness. The vast amount of research Lisa does (all herself!) for these books is mind-boggling! This one is haunting and heart wrenching, yet masterfully curated and beautifully written. Not my typical read, but certainly a powerful one I won‘t soon forget.
#AuthorAMonth
@Soubhiville

Tera66 I loved this one. 2mo
UwannaPublishme @Tera66 😊👍🏻 2mo
56 likes2 comments
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staci.reads
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Pickpick

A remarkable story of tragedy, strength, friendship, and womanhood! Another "I'm so glad I stuck with it" situation! I wasn't sure how I was going to feel until I got to the last 3rd of the book. I had a hard time getting into it, but that may have been more my state of mind. Two weeks post knee surgery, I'm finally able to focus on my reading again...might be that I'm weaned off the "good" pain pills now ? ?. #AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

Soubhiville I hope your recovery continues to go well. 2mo
AmyG May your recovery go well. Knee surgery is not fun. 2mo
UwannaPublishme Keep feeling better! 🤗 2mo
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KatieDid927
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Mehso-so

I can be picky about historical fiction. I think traumatic and violent historical events should be used cautiously when writing fiction for entertainment, and I don‘t feel like the author was thoughtful enough here. The story of Jeju is fascinating and heartbreaking, but I‘m not okay with using real history to maximize the emotional manipulation of the reader. I would‘ve preferred a non-fiction book on these topics. #AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

AmyG I‘m reading this now....a bit of a struggle if I am going to be honest. 2mo
KatieDid927 @AmyG It's a fine line, but I think there are ways historical fiction can be done REALLY well (for me The Sympathizer is a great example). I just don't feel like it was here. In the middle the story lost all momentum to make way for historical exposition, and it dragged. Then there was a moment I almost bailed, but I pushed through to the end as I was over halfway through. Did not enjoy it overall. 2mo
AmyG I am about a fifth of the way in and I may just bail and call it a day. Not a fan of this author at all as I already bailed on Dreams of Joy. 2mo
KatieDid927 @AmyG Oh man, and it only gets worse haha. I actually liked the first fifth. 😬 2mo
48 likes4 comments
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Bookwormjillk
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Pickpick

This was a re-read for me, this time over audio. I really enjoyed this unique story both times I‘ve read it. #AuthorAMonth2022

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vlwelser
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Pickpick
jlhammar Really enjoyed this one! 3mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 3mo
Soubhiville Yay! Glad you liked it. 3mo
45 likes3 comments
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Teresereading
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Pickpick

Beautifully told Haenjo women divers' family story spanning generations. Set against backdrop WW2 and the Korean War.
Bookclub favourite.

LoverOfLearning What a BEAUTIFUL cover. wow 2mo
17 likes1 comment
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BarkingMadRun
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Starting book 2 of the challenge, asking friends to recommend books!

50 likes1 stack add
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coffeebooksandchaos
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Pickpick

The Island of the Sea Women was a truly unique book. It tells the story of the haenyeo of the island of Jeju. I was entirely unfamiliar with these women or this place before delving into this story. Lisa See does a tremendous job of painting the world in rich details. The story is not a happy one, spanning decades of war in which people lost so much, but the themes of enduring love, motherhood, friendship and forgiveness are deeply meaningful.

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rebbyj
Pickpick

Amazing.

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sblbooks
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#BestOf2021Swap @candority Thanks for hosting this swap! @Texreader I am beyond excited to read The Exiles, and the tagged book sounds very interesting. Thank you for all my other goodies like the bookmarks, Notepad, the Jenny Lawson book, puzzle and chocolate! The card is really cute, and I love the idea of having a postcard from your area! Happy New Year!🎉

monalyisha Oh, that fudge! I am 100% a chocolate peppermint gal! 😍 Happy New Year! 🎉✨ 5mo
sblbooks @monalyisha thanks the fudge is amazing! 5mo
candority Super jealous of the puzzle! And the fudge 🤤 5mo
45 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Susanita
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1. Sue Grafton, Tolkien, Laura Lippman
2. Zaphod Beeblebrox from H2G2
3. Tagged book for #authoramonth 2022
#wondrouswednesday

Eggs Well done-thanks for playing ❤️📚🥰 6mo
27 likes1 comment
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jenniferharenda
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This is great! My sister recommended it to me and it cracked my 8 month long reading slump in which I rarely could open a book, and couldn't finish the ones I did open. Well developed characters, and it opened my eyes to a culture and history I previously was not aware of. Likeable main character, even if she wasn't always right.

marleed I‘m so excited to reread this for my irl bookclub in 2022! Those women rock - and dive! 7mo
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Bookboss
This post contains spoilers
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Pickpick

This is a wonderful novel about friendship, family, and forgiveness. The bright cover is misleading because the author describes dark, violent scenes from the Jeju April 4 incident in which hundreds of men, women, and children were murdered. This book had me searching the internet for the history behind the fiction. I finished this book a few weeks ago, and it has stayed with me. This is historical fiction at its best.

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Dalaine
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Pickpick

Such a heartbreaking and beautiful novel. I knew so little about the history and the people put forth in this story. I read it while visiting Jeju and it made me experience this island in a much different way than I would have without having been introduced to the character of Young-sook. I know that this is a book that I will be thinking about for a very long time.

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sarahlandis
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Pickpick

This was phenomenal. A historical fiction (I don‘t normally read) about women divers, Haenyeo, on Jeju Island in Korea. Told through the perspective of Young-sook throughout her entire life starting in the early 1900s stretching all the way until the early 2000s. Her life through Japanese and American occupation is devastating and inspiring to read. The haenyeo and the war crimes on Jeju are very real things and it was so interesting to read

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Texreader
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#thoughtfulthursday Thanks @Eggs for the tag!

1) Dracula, The Historian, Rebecca—all more times than I can count

2) Absolutely

@MoonWitch94

Eggs @Texreader 🧡 10mo
Nute Yay, The Historian!🙂 10mo
46 likes2 comments
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Kangaj1
Pickpick

This was such a compelling read. I visited Cheju Island when I was a teen, and I do not remember much. #bookspin @TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 11mo
19 likes1 comment
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Kangaj1
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BookBelle84 My favourite Lisa See book! 12mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! I've been meaning to check out more of See's work, so I'll be interested to hear your thoughts!! 12mo
19 likes2 comments
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Cindyelizavaz
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Pickpick

This was such a haunting read. The brutalities of war made me sick in my gut but this is also a book about the incredible strength of women, and friendship, and forgiveness. I haven‘t read an Asian lit I loved as much as this in a long time. This book is a masterclass.

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Amoon
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Pickpick

What an epic novel! This is the story of women who live on Korea‘s Jujju Island. They dive into the sea for all sorts of sea creatures to sell or eat. The water can be frigid and can be dangerous due to currents. Young Suk and Mi-ja are close friends from early childhood. The years are 1938-2004. They suffer during the Japanese occupation . Very deeply emotional and uplifting.

Amoon Sorry, photo cut off the bottom word 12mo
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Eggs
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This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a unique and unforgettable culture, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children.
#matriarch #maycharacters @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @Eggs

Tera66 I LOVED this book! So good! 12mo
Eggs Yes!! Also Snow Flower and the Secret Fan 12mo
KarinWestbrook I love everything Lisa See has written. Need to read this one. 12mo
Eggs @KarinWestbrook Hope you enjoy! 12mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks On my shelf!! 12mo
54 likes1 stack add5 comments
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Areader2
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Pickpick

This story was about the friendship of Mi-ja and young-sook they were haenyeo divers on the South Korean Island of JeJu. So interesting to learn about the culture of these woman how they lived and made a living , how strong they were and the terrible atrocities that they lived through.
#awesomeapril

23 likes2 stack adds
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peaknit
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Reading fiction about the women divers of Jeju Island is leading me down a rabbit hole...who knew Jeju was the Hawaii of Korea?

Bookishgal71 I‘ve been there. It‘s beautiful and I‘ve actually seen the divers working. Very cool. 13mo
peaknit @Bookishgal71 Thank you! how interesting! I‘m very curious about this. 13mo
Kangaj1 I've been there too! I need to read this! 13mo
25 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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Texreader
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MySharonaK Thank you 😍😘 14mo
robinb Thanks for the tag @texreader ! Since Thursday is almost over (sorry!), I'll answer here.

1. Tagged book

2. Mostly indoors

3. Just #bookspinbingo !

14mo
Texreader @robinb Cool! Thanks for playing! 14mo
See All 9 Comments
Texreader @MySharonaK You‘re welcome! 14mo
Librarybelle 😁 14mo
MoonWitch94 Thanks for playing 💐📚🐣😊 14mo
MoonWitch94 @Texreader so I started this book earlier this year but found it so heavy I had to take a break. Does it end well? 14mo
Texreader @MoonWitch94 Yes, it has a very poignant ending. 14mo
MoonWitch94 @Texreader oh good to know! Thanks 😊 14mo
51 likes9 comments
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CBee
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Sneaky sneaky, @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 😂 I totally wasn‘t expecting this, so what a lovely surprise! Have been wanting to read this forever and LOVE the magnet of course 🐾 🐾🐾♥️♥️ Thank you, Misty!

AmyG I hear this is a good book! What a lovely surprise. 💕 14mo
ShelleyBooksie Awesome bookmark 14mo
Soubhiville I loved this book. ❤️ 14mo
See All 7 Comments
CBee @Soubhiville I‘ve heard only good things ♥️♥️ 14mo
ZoeJane620 Such a good book!! 14mo
LatrelWhite A great book read everything by Lisa See she‘s a wonderful storyteller!💕 14mo
CBee @LatrelWhite the only other book I‘ve read of hers is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I really loved it! 14mo
71 likes1 stack add7 comments
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Gogobooks
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Pickpick

My 2nd Lisa See this year. Like her blend of history and narrative. This takes place in 20th century on jeju, an island of south Korea, occupied by the Japanese when story opens. Cold water adventure/hardship is bracing. #atlasreads #vicariousadventure #sealife #wetfields #matriarchy #lisaseefangirl

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Texreader
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Pickpick

The Korean “sea women” endure frigid waters to collect sea animals to sell & survive, for they are the breadwinners & heads of family on the island of Jeju, #Korea. Men care for the children. I loved this matrifocal book about fiercely strong women thru the terrorizing Japanese & American occupations (read it & you‘ll understand) to today. Brutal, absolutely brutal—so beware. I learned so much history in a compelling & heartbreaking ⬇️

Texreader story about female friendship and forgiveness under the harshest of circumstances. This edition has an interview with Lisa See and I don‘t doubt her knowledge of the topic: her research was comprehensive. Beautifully written. Five stars in a heartbeat. #readingasia2021 1y
Librarybelle On my to read list! 1y
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Texreader
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Finished! I‘ll write a review when I‘m over the side effects of the 1st COVID vaccine shot today (headache, nausea, very sore arm). But in the meantime I just want to say what an amazing book this is. 5 stars and easily the best book I‘ve read this year. So many things to love about this book. This story about a real-life culture where women are the heads of family & men stay at home to take care of the kids is FASCINATING! #Korea #readingasia2021

BarbaraBB The book sounds great. Five stars! You don‘t often give them, do you? I envy you for your vaccination and wish you a speedy recovery! 1y
Librarybelle Yay for a five star read! And speedy recovery! 1y
Crazeedi Feel better soon Karen!!💗 1y
See All 7 Comments
Addison_Reads I hope you feel better soon. 💚 I went in unsure about this book but I ended up loving it. It's such an immersive story. 1y
Texreader @BarbaraBB You‘re right, I‘m pretty stingy with my five stars. This book was so good. 1y
Tamra Wishing you quick recovery and no symptom second dose! 1y
valeriegeary Hurray for vaccines! ❤️ 1y
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Texreader
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“Parents exist in children. Your mother will always exist in you. She will give you strength wherever you go.”

wanderinglynn So true. 💜 1y
Crazeedi 💗💗💗💗 and I needed her this weekend 1y
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Texreader
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When books collide. “Around 700 years ago, the Mongols invaded Jeju.“ I‘m reading about the Mongols spreading all the way to Korea in The Secret History of the Mongol Queens. #readingasia2021 @Librarybelle @BarbaraBB

Librarybelle I love when that happens! 1y
Crazeedi Very cool! 1y
46 likes2 comments
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Texreader
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I‘ve decided on this one as my next IRL book. Started today and it‘s addictive. #Korea #readingasia2021 @Librarybelle @BarbaraBB

Librarybelle This is on my to read list! 1y
GingerAntics Is this nonfiction or fiction? 1y
Texreader @Librarybelle It has hooked me from the beginning. Happy reading! 1y
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Texreader @GingerAntics Historical fiction 1y
GingerAntics @Texreader I think I‘m going to reserve judgement until you‘ve finished. If you like it, I‘ll give it a go. 1y
BarbaraBB That sounds very good. North or South Korea? 1y
Texreader @BarbaraBB I don‘t know yet and I‘m not googling it so I will find out from the book. It is starting with the Japanese occupation in 1938. 1y
BarbaraBB You‘re right not to Google! 1y
77 likes8 comments
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AmyK1
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Pickpick

There were times when I really didn‘t like this book. It all seemed too much. There was a lot of information about Korea‘s past and the tragic results of its different conflicts. I didn‘t know any of it and it was good to learn it but it was a lot. I loved the parts about the sea women and the friendship between Mi-ja and Young-sook.

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Texreader
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Mccall0113
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Does this one get better? #audiowalking. #shutdownreadathon

Twainy I thought it was well written but it‘s not really my genre ... it‘s steady throughout so if you don‘t like it at the beginning you probably won‘t like it at the end? 1y
Soubhiville I absolutely loved this, but as @Twainy said I don‘t think the pacing or style of writing changes throughout. 1y
Mccall0113 @Twainy and @Soubhiville thanks for the feedback. Steady is a good word to describe. I think I will finish, but may put it aside for a bit! 1y
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flybluejay
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Pickpick

I knew nothing about the history of South Korea, or how difficult it was before, during, and after Japanese occupation. As a Filipina-American, many elements of this novel spoke to my soul. See researched this book thoroughly and really immersed me in the broken friendship between the female protagonist and her best friend.

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CoveredInRust
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@Kshakal #Jolabokaflodswap @MaleficentBookDragon

Thank you so much! I've heard amazing things about Lisa See and about this book in particular! I can't wait to read it! The chocolate looks so yummy as well!

Kshakal Enjoy!!! Merry Christmas! 1y
30 likes1 comment
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HeathHof
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Well, Lisa See knows and likes that we are reading her book for #lmpbc 🤣😅😁 @moonwitch94 have you had a chance to send this one yet?
@SamAnne @katy4peas

Cortg I‘ve read a good amount of her books and this one has been my favorite so far! 1y
HeathHof @Cortg Ohhhh good to know! I think my favorite by her so far is Snowflower and the Secret fan. 1y
MoonWitch94 So cool!!! Yes, I did! Next Saturday is the delivery date, thus far 😳 lol 😂 ohhhh the mail right now is nuts. 1y
HeathHof @MoonWitch94 Awesome, I'll keep an eye out for it! I hope by the end of this month the mail situation gets better, I'm still a little scarred from the last trip tothe post office 😬 1y
51 likes4 comments
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MoonWitch94
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#LMPBC #GroupD Littens! I am liking this book (although it took some time to get started) but I might need to put it down & send it off to the next person. I‘m finding it tough to get through because of some very sad happenings that are very triggering. I‘m going to give it another 50 pages and then decide. I can always go back later once you‘ve all read it. How are you all enjoying your books? @katy4peas @SamAnne @Mynameisacolour

katy4peas I‘m liking mine a lot, but am behind in reading it. It is very interesting, but one character‘s chapters are very sad and I find myself avoiding reading the book when I leave off on her chapters. I‘m a slow reader but am hoping to read through it and get it sent out soon! When is everybody else mailing out their books? 1y
katy4peas I‘m sorry you are finding triggers in this book, Danielle. We have an interesting mix of titles, so maybe the others will be better for you, but I‘m glad you are enjoying it overall. 1y
HeathHof That sounds like a Lisa See book to me! The last one of hers that I read, The Kitchen God's wife had me so triggered that I didn't want to finish but it was for a different round of LMPBC so I pushed through and was glad I did because she really does have a way of telling stories beautifully. I hope it gets better for you! I'm done with my book, and need to mail it out tomorrow! 1y
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MoonWitch94 @katy4peas Thanks😘 Like a lot of books set in WW2, it‘s filled with hardships. I‘m giving it 50 more pages than passing it along. I can always finish it in a few months when I get it back. Besides, I‘m doing the #ReadingAsia2021 challenge & I can finish it then. I do like it, it‘s beautifully written, but maybe just not for me right now. Our group has good titles, so I‘m sure the next one will be better. 💕 1y
MoonWitch94 @Mynameisacolour So, what you‘re saying is Lisa See novels are not necessarily “feel good, spiritually uplifting”reads and require an iron heart? 😜🤣😂🤣 She is a beautiful writer who can definitely paint a landscape with words. I think I‘m going to mail my book to the next person & finish it when I get it back in the spring. I do want to finish it, but now isn‘t the right time. 💕 1y
HeathHof @moonwitch94 Yes, I think you've pretttryyyyy much summed up her books right there 😅🤣 I believe I'm the one you're sending to and I did just move this week did you get the email with my new address? 1y
MoonWitch94 @Mynameisacolour 😂😂 Ohhh yes! I did see your email 📧 Sorry, I meant to respond 🤦🏻‍♀️ 1y
HeathHof Cool, cool & it's all good! 🤙 1y
41 likes1 stack add8 comments
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Lindy
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One more example before I give it a rest:
“The main square was deserted except for women, who were being pulled to the sea by the scent of salt air and the sound of waves.”
Note: these are divers on their way to dangerous work, not beach goers on holiday.

(Internet photo of the setting, Jeju, South Korea.)

Cathythoughts Love it 1y
32 likes1 comment
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Lindy
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Mehso-so

“The wind is but a gentle breeze.” I was impatient with the cheesy writing but persevered because it was a book club pick. The other women in my group enjoyed this historical novel despite its information dumps and unbelievable characterization. Typical dialogue: “Given the dominance on Jeju of volcanic cones, which are concave at the top like a woman‘s parts, it is only natural that on our island females call and men follow.” It works for some.