Transcendent Kingdom [Book Review]

September 18, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (cover) Image: gold text over a light pink (top) and black (bottom) background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Faith and Science, Drug Addiction, Ghana-American, Immigrant

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

While Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the multi-generational big picture of a family over three hundred years, Transcendent Kingdom is a microscopic look at one Ghanaian family in Alabama. Their son, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died from a heroin overdose as a result of being addicted to pain meds after an accident. Dad returns to Ghana and Mom becomes severely depressed. The beginning of the story finds the daughter, Gifty, at Standford Medical School studying depression and addiction as she desperately hopes to find answers that will help others in similar situations. At the same time Gifty studies the hard sciences she also questions her faith and the religious experiences of her childhood. This is a story of immigration, faith, science, questions, and family devotion.

My Thoughts:

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The Music Shop [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 17, 2020

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
#throwbackthursday

The Music Shop Review

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Friendship

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Music Shop by favorite author Rachel Joyce, a story of friendship and music…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…quirky character overcomes a difficult and turbulent past and takes risks to create a better life……

My Summary:

“Set in the 1980s on a run-down street in a forgotten suburb of London, there is a small indie music shop that is jam-packed with vinyl records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with the exact piece of music they never knew they needed, he welcomes the lonely, and he goes out of his way to help others. One ordinary day, a beautiful young woman in a green coat, Ilse Brauchmann, comes into his music shop and changes his life. Frank feels an attraction to her and yet he fears developing any closeness; in spite of his reservations, he begins to teach her about music and they develop a close friendship based on their common musical interests. Frank is terrified of his feelings for Ilse, yet he’s drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. It’s complicated because Ilse has secrets and Frank has a past that haunts him. Readers find out about Frank’s life with his eccentric mother through flashbacks; however, Ilse remains mysterious. While Frank and Ilse contemplate the risks of a relationship, there are events in the community that threaten the livelihood of all the small, independent shops including Frank’s music shop. A further complication for Frank is the growing popularity of cassette tapes and CDs while Frank cherishes the world of vinyl.

In The Music Shop, Frank’s greatest gift is the ability to listen, his greatest heartache is his devotion to and preservation of vinyl, and his greatest fear is having what he most wants…the love of mysterious Ilse.”

Continue here for my review of The Music Shop

QOTD: Have you read The Music Shop or is it on your TBR?

Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter [Book Review]

September 15, 2020

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao (cover) Image: a mom holding a young girl

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Refugee, Vietnamese American, Vietnam War, Mother/Daughter

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #Netgalley #PenguinBooks @FSBassociates @AnnaSacca for a complimentary e ARC of #FamilyinSixTones for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Lan Cao escaped Viet Nam (and the Vietnam War) as a refugee when she was a child. The sacrificial love of her parents and the hopes they had for her future caused them to put her on a plane alone to travel to America to live with a distant relative. Leaving Viet Nam was traumatic and adjusting to a new family and culture added to the trauma, especially since she thought she was going on a brief vacation. Lan endures extreme culture shock (it’s especially sad that she can’t figure out how to open her milk carton at lunch), completes school, becomes a lawyer, marries, and has a child. Her daughter, Harlan, navigates two cultures and rails against her mom’s overprotectiveness. In this memoir, we hear both perspectives. As we understand that Lan’s fearfulness for her daughter is the result of her own childhood trauma, we also sympathize with Harlan and her need to fit into her American culture and be allowed some freedom. This is an “own voices” story of loss, trauma, a mother/daughter relationship, and the refugee experience.

My Thoughts:

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Books With Grandparents As Important Characters #grandparentsday

September 13, 2020

Books With Grandparents As Important Characters #grandparentsday

Books With Grandparents As Important Characters (Image: a young boy and a grandfather walk through the woods with backs to camera)

Do you have or did you have a special relationship with a grandparent?

I love family-centered stories and especially ones that include grandparents!

Several countries around the world celebrate Grandparents Day on a variety of dates….this Wikipedia post lists some of the countries and dates.

Happy Grandparents Day text with blue hearts

forget-me-not flowers

Forget-me-not flowers are associated with National Grandparents Day.

Today, September 13 is National Grandparents Day in the United States. To celebrate, I’ve collected several books which feature grandparents (or grandparent-like figures) as main characters.  Do you have a title to add to this list?

Call or write a note to your grandparent today!

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

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Anxious People [Book Review]

September 11, 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a man and woman stand with backs to the camera on a balcony looking into the distance

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Literary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Anxious People is the story of a bank robber and a group of hostages at an open house…a bunch of idiots, really (in the most endearing sense of the word). But the real story behind the circumstances is about a bridge and so much more.

My Thoughts:

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My Dear Hamilton [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 10, 2020

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
#throwbackthursday

My Dear Hamilton Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, U.S. History, Revolutionary War, Founders, Biographical

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, a story of Eliza Hamilton’s extraordinary contributions…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…strong, independent, faithful, compassionate…

My Summary:

“A general’s daughter, Elizabeth Schuyler meets and marries Alexander Hamilton amid the union’s fight for independence and the uncertainties of war. Eliza and Alexander find themselves establishing their life together at the same time as they are at the center of our nation’s founding. Authors Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to imagine Eliza’s story as a patriot, loving wife, political partner, loyal friend, supportive sister, and devoted mother of eight.”

Continue here for my review of My Dear Hamilton

QOTD: Have you read My Dear Hamilton or is it on your TBR?

Books For My Younger Middle-Grade Self #toptentuesday

September 8, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books For My Younger Middle-Grade Self

TTT: 10 Books For My Younger Self (background image: a young girl sits on a curb reading a book)

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Books For My Younger Self

Is there a book you’ve read that you know you would have enjoyed when you were younger?

As an adult, I love Middle-Grade books, and I wish that the following ten middle-grade titles had been available for my younger self! (I could list more, but these came first to mind.)

What Middle-Grade books have you read that you know your younger self would have enjoyed?

a picture of my old (antique) copy of The Bobbsey Twins at School by Laura Lee HopeOne of the book series I enjoyed when I was younger was The Bobbsey Twins. This is an old copy I acquired. While some youngsters like stories about animals, adventure, or fantasy, I remember loving stories about family. Even today, I love a wonderful multi-generational family drama like A Place For Us.

I certainly wish there was more diversity available in reading material for my younger middle-grade self!

 

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

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Promote Literacy #NationalLiteracyMonth #NationalReadaBookDay

September 6, 2020

September is Dedicated to National Literacy Month

September: National Literacy Month (Image: text above an op

What are you reading today, September 6, for National Read a Book Day?

National Read a Book Day (Image: White text over a background image of a young woman sitting cross legged on the floor reading a book)

Today, I’m reading an ARC (advanced readers copy) of A Family in 6 Tones: A Refugee Mother, An American Daughter by Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao. It’s a poignant and revealing memoir from the perspectives of a Vietnamese refugee and her American-born daughter….their cultural differences, their different life experiences, the expectations of culture, and typical mother/daughter misunderstandings.

A Family in 6 Tones by Lan Cao (Image: text on a white cover with an image of a mom holding a young girl)

This week I’m enthusiastically looking forward to reading Anxious People by Fredrik Backman! One of my most anticipated reads of the year!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a man and woman stand against a railing with backs to the camera

Dolly Parton is a Champion for Literacy!

Whenever I think of literacy promotion, I think of philanthropist and singer/song writer Dolly Parton and her Literacy Program: Imagination Library. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that gifts free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland. Her organization has mailed 143,820,914 books and counting! She is also reading books online for children during the pandemic.

What are you reading for National Read a Book Day or for National Literacy Month?

The Lions of Fifth Avenue [Book Review]

September 4, 2020

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis (cover) Image: a woman in a yellow dress stands with an open book inside a large museum type room

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, New York City

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Told in two timelines, The Lions of Fifth Avenue tells the stories of Laura Lyons (1913) and Sadie Donovan (1993) and their experiences at the New York City Public Library. In 1913, Laura’s husband is the superintendent of the library and their family actually lives in an apartment inside the library. Laura wants more from life and is bored at home with her two children, so she enrolls in journalism school and becomes involved with a radical group of  women feminists meeting in Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, valuable books are stolen from the library and her family is under suspicion. In 1993, Sadie is the Curator at the New York City Public Library and also shares a secret connection with the famous essayist, Laura Lyons. The library experiences the theft of a few valuable pieces and Sadie’s job is in jeopardy. Truths come to light regarding Sadie’s family history as the case is investigated.

My Thoughts:

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From Sand and Ash [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 3, 2020

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
#throwbackthursday

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: a young woman in profile looking reflectively over a city

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Catholic, Love Story

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon, a thoughtful story of love, survival, life, death, faith, and sacrifice…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…faith, sacrifice, and survival…

My Summary:

“In 1943, Italy’s Jewish population is in imminent danger from the forces of hatred and prejudice. Raised like brother and sister, Eva and Angelo enjoy childhood best friend closeness which later blooms into a romance. Although they are devoted to each other, Eva, an accomplished violinist, is Jewish and Angelo chooses to follow a calling to become a Catholic priest. As the Gestapo arrests Jewish residents of Florence, Angelo convinces Eva to follow him to Rome to hide in a convent under his watchful eye while he serves nearby at the Vatican. Eva discovers that the Catholic Church is hiding hundreds of Jews and facilitating their escape when possible. Angelo has made a promise to Eva’s family and feels a duty to keep her safe, which is complicated by romantic feelings. This page turning story follows Eva and Angelo as they face trials, take risks, and make agonizing choices.”

Continue here for my review of From Sand and Ash

QOTD: Have you read From Sand and Ash or is it on your TBR?