Goodreads: Letters in a Jade Dragon Box

It’s January 5th and not only have I stuck to my 2012 goals (five whole days, shocking!), I have added another goal to my list (not so shocking. So much for KISSing). But really, this goal I was planning on doing anyway in 2012, I just want credit for it. Heehee. So what is this goal?

 
Read 24 books this year.
 
Hmmm, that was a little anti-climatic. Sorry. And kind of makes me look like a nerd. Which I am, but still…even sorrier. Twenty-four books isn’t even that many compared to how much others read (or how much I want to read), it’s only two a month. But I have a lot on my plate right now. And no, I won’t be counting children’s picture books, although come December 31, if I’m short, you’re all invited to my Dr. Seuss marathon. “That Sam I am, that Sam I am. I do not like that Sam I am.” Gotta love it.
 
Back to goals.
 
I’m happy to report that I’ve already I’ve read one book this year. Yay! I probably shouldn’t mention that I cheated. Oh wait, I just did. Well, I started this book in early December, but I didn’t finish it until today so I’m countin’ it. It’s a great historical novel called Letters in the Jade Dragon Box by Gale Sears.
 

Here’s the official synopsis:

From the bestselling author of The Silence of Godcomes a new LDS historical novel that reveals the harrowing true story of a former general in the Chinese army who became one of the first converts to the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in Hong Kong. This compelling drama unfolds through the eyes of a teenage girl, Wen-shan, who was taken from her family home in mainland China during the Cultural Revolution to live with her great-uncle—the former general. For ten years, Wen-shan has carried the sorrow of abandonment in her heart, with few memories of her life before. But at the death of Chairman Mao, Wen-shan receives a mysterious wooden box that reveals the fate of the family she has not heard from in more than a decade. Through the letters in the jade dragon box, Wen-shan and her great-uncle discover a bond between each other, their family, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  
I posted a review on goodreads.com, but wanted to share my thoughts here.
 
This book takes a fascinating look into mainland China during the reign of Mao Tse-tung (1970s). While I have heard of the ruthless leader before, I had no idea just how brutal and narcissistic he truly was. The Hitler of the East. It’s always chilling to read about the human capacity for cruelty. It makes me feel very blessed to live when, where, and how I do.
 
This book also shows the interesting position of Hong Kong, the Chinese city that was under British rule until 1997. While Hong Kong was becoming more westernized, Mao was sinking his claws into the Chinese people. This book also touches on the early beginnings of the LDS church in Hong Kong. If you have any interest in China, I highly recommend this book. It’s a very enjoyable, educational read.
 
As a side note, I had the privilege of doing two book signings with Gale Sears. She was so kind and nice to me, the rookie, and I was thrilled to be able to finish this new book of hers. When I have time, I’m going to read her earlier novel set in Russia next. It sounds just as intriguing.
 
So one book down. Twenty-three more to go.
 
Doesn’t sound too daunting. I think I’m reading seven different things at the moment—well, now six. And by moment, I don’t mean right at this very moment in time. I’m typing at this very moment, if you must know. And listening to an electric toy train roll pointlessly down the hallway. My four-year-old has long since moved on. I meant before that I’m partway through these six wonderful pieces of literature and at any moment, could pick up any one of them.
 
“How do you keep all those books straight?” someone has asked me. The same way people keep six TV shows straight. I don’t watch any TV, or at least very little. Troy and I were recently converted to Psych—which is awesomely funny—but before that, I rarely watched TV. I’d much rather read. And every book is SO different, it’s a joy. (Does that word make me sound 80 years old or what?)
 
Here’s a quick sampling of what I’m reading right now, not that I expect you to care, but it’s more for my own journaling purposes:
 

Jacob T. Marley by William Bennett—adult Christmas fiction (another amazingly nice author I signed with)
Fablehavenby Brandon Mull–YA fantasy

How We Got the Book of Mormon by Richard Turley and William Slaughter—non-fiction (unless you’re anti-Mormon and then you’ll probably classify it as fiction. Just kidding. Sorry. My sarcastic side has a way of surfacing when I write.)
 
I’m also reading three manuscripts that will hopefully be novels soon:
Sarah, my sister-in-law’s YA manuscript
Cassie, my friend’s MG manuscript
And my own manuscript. No link on this one–at least not yet :)
 
Whew! So much fun but so much to read. Normally I don’t read so many books at once (or manuscripts for that matter), it’s just the timing of this blog. But my list of to-reads is much longer. Have I mentioned before that I love my Kindle? I spend hours every week in the car waiting for some kid, somewhere. It’s so great to be able to read. I actually finished Letters in the Jade Dragon Box in front of my kids’ school this morning. 
Plus…my library lets me check out ebooks for free! Love the Kindle.
 

One last thought. (Sorry, this was supposed to be a quick post, but I am a novelist after all. And apparently a long-winded one.) If you aren’t on goodreads.com, but you love to read, you should join. It’s free, and no, I don’t get paid to do their advertising. I just know that as a reader who’s constantly looking for the next great read, it’s nice to be able to see what my friends have read and liked. It works like this: people rate books they’ve read on a scale of 1 to 5, and then others can see those ratings. Almost every book is listed.

For example, Twilightby Stephenie Meyer has 793, 705 ratings, with the average rating at 3.68. And you can read every single rating if you want. Don’t, though. That would be weird. I mean, I know some die-hard  Twilight fans, but seriously…find something better to do than read what 793,705 people think of it.

 
Oh man, now I’m thinking about what it would be like to have 793,705 people read my book. Wow. Sadie only has 18 ratings and I’m grateful for every one! And since I’m on an unexpected Twilight kick, it deserves a higher rating. Much higher. I love Stephenie Meyer. She’s awesome. Awesome enough that when I just clicked on the Twilight link to make sure it worked still, the number was up already up at 793,814. So cool!
Okay. Back on topic.
Goodreads.comis pretty awesome, too. I’m still waiting for them to add a function that lets you rate a book’s moral content, namely violence, profanity, and sexual content. Maybe someday. Until then, give it a try. And if you join (or are already a member) look me up and add me as a friend. I’d love to see what you love to read. My profile is here.
 
So what will you read this year? What have you read recently? Any good ideas for me?
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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

8 thoughts on “Goodreads: Letters in a Jade Dragon Box”

  1. Oh! When you read Fablehaven we have to chat about it. That book is one of my favorites! Like the ones you read over and over and over… ya, love Fablehaven!And I read Jacob T. Marley which was just amazing as well, so you've already got two awesome books on your list.I'm a big fan of James Dashner's 13th Reality series. So if you're looking for more MG, there's that one as well.And if you're looking for more YA, Become by Ali Cross is super amazing. Loving Emily is another good one if you want Contemporary. Oh! And The Next Door Boys by Jolene Perry! That one is really good!

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  2. I will see if they have Letters in the Jade Dragon Box as an eBook so I can read it. I visited Mao's Mausoleum a couple months ago in Beijing, where you can walk through and see his body preserved in a crystal coffin. It is so interesting (and frustrating) here to still see so many things that are the direct consequence of the terrible things that Mao did in China.

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  3. What a great resolution. I think my husband regrets my Kindle since I have it with me all the time now. :) Poor guy gets no attention when there's a good book. I just finished Fablehaven last week and I really liked it! Keep sharing your thoughts about books you finish, I'm always looking for new ones. Did I tell you about Jessica Day George? She's an LDS author and I've enjoyed her books.

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  4. @Kathryn, I actually kept thinking about you guys while I was reading this book, wondering your take on the whole thing. What an experience! I know they have this book available on ebook. If you end up reading it, let me know what you thought. Miss you guys!

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  5. @Tricia, Troy got his I-phone when I got my Kindle so now we're both bad. :) I have read Jessica Day George. She's one of the authors I can get in my library here. I liked her books, too. I'm also really excited because I just heard that Shannon Hale has two books coming out this year. Awesome!

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  6. @Rebecca – I already downloaded it. I am always looking for another good book to read, thanks for the suggestions! I already read your book and loved it by the way. We miss you guys too.

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