BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Pumilio Child – by Judy McInerney #randomthingstour

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the The Pumilio Child Random Things Tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. The Pumilio Child has first been published last year and has been put in the spotlight during the blog tour which started on February 25th and will continue until March 6th. Please join me while I share my thoughts on The Pumilio Child

Title: The Pumilio Child
Author: Judy McInerney
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: September 20th 2018
Publisher: Unbound Digital
Finished reading: February 23rd 2019
Pages: 405

“It is nature. And the will of the Divine. That’s how life is. Cruel and unfair. We may question the injustice, but we both know we are powerless against it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

Ya Ling’s cultured life of privilege in Beijing is cruelly cut short when she is abducted and shipped to the slave market in Venice. When Mantegna sees her chained to a post, his initial intention is to paint her exotic beauty, but he soon he desires her company for pleasures of a more private nature. Ya Ling has two ambitions, to ruin Mantegna, then to escape back to her family in China. However, Mantegna’s latest commission, two huge frescos for the ruling Gonzaga family, make him invincible.

Will Ya Ling survive? And can she succeed?

Give me the promise of a historical fiction story with a foreign setting and other cultures to explore and I’m sold without needing to know more. This is exactly what happened when I first heard about The Pumilio Child and its mix of Chinese and Italian culture. The setting on its own is fascinating, and I loved the little glimpses of 15th century Mongol/Han culture in Beijing and life in the same period in Italy. The writing is quite engaging and includes lots of descriptions of both places. I did find the timelapses in especially the part set in Italy to be quite random and without warning though; sometimes days, months or even years passed between one sentence and the other just like that. This made the story feel less coherent and disturbed the flow of the plot. The ending was a bit abrupt; especially if you consider the fact that a lot of the plot was quite slow and the story dragged in parts.

As for the characters: I’m not completely positive Ya Ling is that credible as a character. She seems overconfident and able to overcome enormous obstacles so far from home even after such a shelted childhood in a completely different country and culture… The way she acted and some of the things she did just didn’t manage to convince me. I loved the details about the healing and different plants as well as the details about the Asian culture though. On the other side we have Mantegna. I confess I don’t know anything about the real Mantegna, so I wasn’t offended by the fact that he is supposedly nothing like the character as described in The Pumilio Child. He is absolutely despicable in the story, but I guess every story needs a villain… I loved the many descriptions of the art though. Trigger warnings are in place for (child) abuse, rape, discrimination and violence among other things. Then again, the story is set back in the 15th century, so we are all aware of the fac tthat women (and especially slaves) are not treated the same way back then.

There were things I liked in this story, including the foreign culture and many references to the healing abilities of Ya Ling and her family. There is a lot to say about the plot as well, with the various surprises it has in store and twists you probably won’t see coming. The story didn’t seem to flow all that well though, mainly due to the sudden timelapses and jumping in time. When you see a characters with lots of details about daily life and a really slow pace, only for them to suddenly be days/months/years in the future in a completely different situation, this can become a bit confusing. Also, after such a slow-paced and character driven start, the final part of The Pumilio Child (starting with their final time at the court) felt a bit rushed and the ending was too abrupt for me.

That said, The Pumilio Child is by no means a bad read and historical fiction fans who like character driven stories with a foreign setting will have a great time discovering all about Ya Ling’s unfortunate life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Judy McInerney has lived and worked in London for most of her professional life. Living in the Middle East, she managed to get lost in the desert, and to live through a military coup. After teaching in Abu Dhabi and starting her own business in Turkey, she returned to London and completed a creative writing course at Goldsmiths. Writing for food and travel guides has enabled her to justify travelling and eating out far too often

As a frequent traveller to China over the last thirty years she has seen the country undergo massive seismic changes, – from the times of Mao jackets and vast shoals of bicycles meandering along every hutong, to the present day, where Beijing is bigger than Belgium and has six million cars. She still travels in China each year to keep in close touch with family there. She also has a longstanding love affair with Italy, particularly the Renaissance cities of the north. Mantua is an undiscovered gem, both magical and macabre.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pumilio-Child-Judy-McInerney/


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WWW Wednesdays #211 – February 27th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading a recent NG approval soon to be published by what is now my third auto-approve publisher… ❤ Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo. I was attracted by the cover and blurb and while I didn’t realize it was actually the second book of a series, I’m hoping I will be able to enjoy it as a stand-alone as well. I’m also reading The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson, a book I’ve been super excited about and hopefully is as good as the stunning cover.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
Wintergirls is a story that will bring those cold and chilling winter feels and is an emotionally draining read that shows us the struggle of the main character with her eating disorder and the way she sees herself and her surrounding world. It’s not an easy or happy read, but I thought the topic was well handled and represented in Lia. The prose is both beautiful, almost bordering the magical realism realm and at the same time somehow irked me at points.

2. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (4/5 stars) REVIEW 28/02
Moon Over Soho can be read as a stand-alone, although you do miss background information about the characters and magic… I suggest reading them in order anyway, since the stories are without doubt entertaining. Book two has a musical twist and includes the London jazz scene as one of the elements of the story. The focus of this story is on Grant and Nightingale again, and we have new supernatural beings to hunt. The writing style makes it easy to read the story and the sarcastic and dry humor was right up my alley.

3. The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney (3/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 01/03
Look out for my thoughts on The Pumilio Child in my blog tour review going live this Friday March 1st!

4. The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn (3/5 stars) REVIEW 28/02
I ended up having mixed feelings about this story. In a way this is quite an entertaining psychological thriller with the typical unreliable narrator you understand right away can’t be trusted to tell you the truth. I appreciate the focus on agoraphobia, as this story might help people understand better what it is like to have to live with it. The writing flows and makes it easy to keep turning those pages, although I do admit the pace was slower than I would have expected and especially in the first half of the book. The Woman In The Window is mostly focused on the main character Anna and nothing much happens until you reach the final part. Another thing that was a huge turn off for me: I was able to guess almost every plot twist from a mile away. Especially the first big one was so easy to see through that I was really disappointed.

5. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 08/03
I love my quirky characters and Frank sounded like someone I just HAD to meet. My TBR jar thought it was about time I finally read it, and although my experience wasn’t all that positive there is one thing for sure: I’m glad I finally did get to know him. The premise behind this story on its own is quite interesting, with the reclusive writer being forced to write a few book after falling for a ponzi scheme. There was just something about the writing style in Be Frank With Me that made it hard for me to stay focused and the slow pace didn’t help either. The plot is pretty basic and I really felt the story dragged in parts. Frank’s character is both quirky and unique and is definitely what makes me give this story the benefit of the doubt though.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I need to work on my upcoming NG ARCs, so I’m probably going to read Smoke And Key by Kelsey Sutton and A Place For Wolves by Kosoko Jackson next. I don’t want to neglect my backlist titles though… And next up I have A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews. I won a preorder of her new book in a giveaway (still can’t believe that happened!!!), and I really want to read her debut before it comes out in April. I also have a new TBR jar pick: Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I’ve been meaning to read this story for ages, so I’m glad my TBR jar thought it was time to finally do so.


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WWW Wednesdays #210 – February 20th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

My first blog tour of the year was getting very close, so I’m currently reading The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney so I can get my post in place before the tour starts on the 25th. I also started reading the Peter Grant sequel Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch. I’m really enjoying it so far and I would have finished it already if we wouldn’t have been out of town… I only brought my kindle as I don’t like possible damage to my physical versions. 😉

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (DNF at 51%; 0/5 stars) REVIEW 24/02
WARNING: Unpopular opinion ahead! Sadly this turned out to be my very first DNF of the year. Why? There were various reasons, but the main one is this: I absolutely could not stand the writing style. The endless metaphors, the short sentences, the wacky grammar, the 1 2 3 4 numbers… It seemed like every single word and page was destined to annoy me to the limit and I simply reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I feel sad for reacting this way to a story I know so many seem to love, but that doesn’t take away that Shatter Me and me definitely didn’t get a long.

2. Colombiano by Rusty Young (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/02
I have a special interest in the war on drugs and Latin America related stories, so when I saw Colombiano I immediatedly knew I had to read it. Colombia has a special place in my heart as it gave me three wonderful months of memories during my time in Cartagena as well as being the place where I met my hubby. Colombia has a complicated history though and Rusty Young does a fantastic job portraying the struggles between the Guerrilla, army and Autodefensas. It’s a huge book with over 800 pages, but it’s worth ever single minute of your time as facts and fiction are mixed in Pedro’s quest for justice for the death of his father.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Since I wasn’t able to read that much during the last week, the books that are up next are the same as the previous WWW… The NG ARC The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson is probably up next, a story with a gorgeous cover and one I’ve been looking forward to for months. I also want to read Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn as my next backlist titles. My new TBR jar pick is still Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.


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