March 2021 Reading Wrap Up

March 31, 2021

March 2021 Reading Wrap Up

March 2021 Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers)

How was your March reading?

March was a great fourteen-book reading month. Because I read several Middle-Grade books for Middle-Grade March, I’m dividing my list between adult and middle grade.

My favorite fiction read of the month is Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman closely followed by The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray, and my favorite nonfiction was Open by Andre Agassi. My favorite middle-grade read was Ghost by Jason Reynolds.


Did we read any of the same books?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my available reviews are linked
.
ARC=Advanced Readers Copy


Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman (cover) Image: two girls sit on a wing of a plane

Radar Girls (ARC) by Sara Ackerman

5  Stars (ARC). Page-turning and unputdownable WW11 historical fiction.
Pub Date: 7/27/21 Review coming July 27, 2021.


The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray (cover) Image: a woman kneels down in an archway to speak with a young girl

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5). (ARC) Compelling Historical Fiction (French Revolution, WW1, and WW11). My review of Women of Chateau Lafayette here.


Open by Andre Agassi (cover) Image: a head shot of Andre Agassi

Open by Andre Agassi

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5). Nonfiction, Memoir, Sports. My review of Open here.


The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett (cover) gold text on a royal blue background

The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett

4 Stars  Light-reading Cozy Mystery featuring Queen Elizabeth. My review of Windsor Knot here.


Hana Kyan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (cover) Image: black text over an outline of a girl with a microphone on a bright blue background

Hana Kahn Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

4 Stars. (ARC) Light-reading Contemporary Fiction, Rom-Com. Muslim. Inspired by You’ve Got Mail.
Pub Date: 3/13/2021. Review coming April 13, 2021.


Love at First by Kate Clayborn (cover) Image: white text on purple background....a drawing of buildings at the bottom margin and white stars sprinkled over the purple background

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

3.5-4 Stars. Light-reading Contemporary Fiction. Women’s Fiction. Romance. Not reviewed.
Pub Date: 5/4/21 Review: 5/3/21


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The Women of Chateau Lafayette [Book Review]

 March 30, 2021

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray (cover) Image: a woman kneels down in an archway to speak to a young girl

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction (French Revolution, WW1, WW11), France, Women, Biographical

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for my complimentary e ARC of #TheWomenOfChateauLafayette for review. All opinions are my own.

A real castle in France, Chateau Lafayette, connects three women: noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette (wife of Gilbert Lafayette); New York socialite and actress Beatrice Astor Chanler; and French school teacher, aspiring artist, and orphan Marthe Simone. After having been the home of the Lafayette’s, the castle became a refuge for orphan children during two world wars.

Chateau Lafayette in France

Chateau Lafayette (Source: Wikipedia)

My Thoughts:

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Women’s History Month [Book Tag]

March 29, 2021

Women’s History Month Book Tag

Six young women standing on a bluff with itheir hands on the shoulders of the girl in front of her ... all facing sideways looking at the ocean

Image Source: Canva

Thanks Lisa @ Hopewell’s Public Library of Life Blog for the inspiration for today’s book tag!

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post. Thanks for the inspiration Hopewell’s Public Library of Life!
  • Link to the creator’s blog in your post Thank you, Margaret at Weird Zeal!
  • Answer the questions below using only books written by women
  • Feel free to use the same graphics
  • Tag 8 others to take part in the tag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Women’s history month is one of my favorite topical posts to create. I debated about using the same format I’ve used in the past, but then I came across Lisa’s tag post last week and “bingo!” I knew this was the direction for this year’s post celebrating women characters, women authors, and women’s achievement!

Book with an intelligent female character:

These are my favorite types of characters and I’ve met so many of them through the books I’ve read!

Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck

The Invisible Woman

Virginia is a complex and complicated character. She’s tough-minded, a demanding leader, cunning, and smart with her disguises, planning, and problem solving. (based on a real-life person)

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The Sunflower Sisters [Book Review]

March 26, 2021

The Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly (cover) Image: a woman in an 1890s dress and bonnet and carrying a bunch of sumflowers walks down a dirt path away from the camera

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Civil War, Slavery, Nursing

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks, #NetGalley @RandomHouse for my complimentary e ARC of #SunflowerSisters upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Third in the “Flowers Trilogy” (as I affectionately think of them), Sunflower Sisters precedes Lilac Girls and Lost Roses in a historical timeline and altogether the three books involve three wars. First, Lilac Girls is set during WW11 and features heroine Caroline Ferriday; next, Lost Roses, a prequel to Lilac Girls, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza Ferriday, and is set in the pre-WW1 era; finally, Sunflower Sisters is the prequel to Lost Roses and is set during the Civil War. All the stories in the trilogy can be read as stand alones.

In Sunflower Sisters, Georgeanna Woolsey, a great aunt of Caroline Ferriday, is a Union nurse at a time when the medical field was dominated by men. She crosses paths with Jemma, a young girl who was enslaved, sold off, ran away, and was conscripted into the army. Jemma has a sister, Patience, who remains enslaved on the plantation next door. Sunflower Sisters describes Civil War experiences and plantation life, and it includes family drama.

sunflowers

In this story, sunflowers are a symbol that slaves used to warn each other of danger.

My Thoughts:

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The Downstairs Girl [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 25, 2021

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
#throwbackthursday

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (author) Image: a teenage Asian girl wearing a fancy hat in an 1890 style

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Asian-American, Prejudice, Racism, Coming of Age

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, though, I look forward to re-sharing a recent review of an important story with thoughtful themes, The Downstairs Girl. Even though I reviewed this only a month ago, I am eager to bring this review to your attention again as the U.S is faced with hate and violent attacks toward Asians. The Downstairs Girl exposes the racism that was also prevalent in the 1890s South and is a timely read for our troubled times.

#StandUpForAAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders)

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“The Downstairs Girl is set in 1890s Atlanta where a Chinese-American girl having no voice challenges racial and gender issues. Let go from her job at a milliner’s shop because she was a “saucebox,” seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan now works as a lady’s maid for the cruel and spoiled daughter of a wealthy man. Jo and Old Gin (affectionately thought of as “grandfather”) have always lived secretly in the basement below a newspaper man’s family. Jo loves WORDS and writing and so one day, Jo has the idea to write a column for the newspaper in order to help the family living above her build their readership and compete with the other newspaper in town. At night, she writes the column and drops her submissions in their mailbox. Her column, Dear Miss Sweetie, becomes popular for its modern and controversial opinions and the talk of the town. Meanwhile in her day life, Jo struggles to survive her ordeals as a lady’s maid and also plans a dangerous investigation to find her biological father who had abandoned her as a baby.”

Jo endures poverty, racism, and prejudice…and finds her voice…

Continue here for my full review of The Downstairs Girl ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Downstairs Girl or is it on your TBR?

In Support of #StandUpForAAPI

March 24, 2021

#StandUpForAAPI #StopTheHate

Stand Up For AAPI (collage of

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

This post is in support of the Stand Up For AAIP community, authors, and stories.
Let’s stop the hate.

The following titles represent a few authors and their stories:

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (scroll down page)

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (one of several reviews)

The Front Desk by Kelly Yang



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

The 20 Questions Book Tag

March 22, 2021

The 20 Questions Book Tag

20 Questions Book Tag (text over a background of a tall stack of books)

Image Source: Canva

Do you enjoy book tag posts or do you enjoy writing them? I always enjoy reading them and appreciate the tags, but I don’t have a stellar record in responding to them! Thanks Kimberly @ My Bookish Bliss for the tag!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Questions

1. How many books are too many books in a series?

I’m easily addicted to a series, so the more the merrier for me! I love returning to a familiar world and relaxing into the read because it’s a world and an author I know and trust. It also solves the dilemma of “what to read next.” Probably my most favorite series is the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache/Three Pines series by Louise Penny. I’ve read sixteen installments in which each one is creative and fresh and compelling. Another long series I’ve read is the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I’ve read all twenty-one installments and some are stronger than others. What is your favorite series? Have you read a series with over ten installments?

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

Hummmm…..I usually don’t like cliffhangers. Even in a series, I feel that each installment should be able to be read as a “stand-alone.” For example, Louise Penny’s most recent installment, All the Devils Are Here is a great read but I doubt if readers would want to read the previous fifteen installments before reading it! I appreciate the series because although there are overarching themes that carry through, each installment has a self-contained mystery to solve and a satisfactory conclusion. I recently read Ghost by Jason Reynolds (MG) and although I knew it was part of a four-part series, I thought I could read it as a stand alone. I was surprised at the end of the book to find a minor cliffhanger…..so onto book two! Same….onto book three. Same….finally I read all four books in the series because I just had to know what happened! The cliffhangers were actually cleverly done and I admire the author’s ability to gently encourage the reader to read the next book!

3. Hardback or paperback?

For a few years now, I’ve read exclusively on my kindle. However, when I bought physical books, I preferred hardbacks because they look nicer on a bookshelf. When traveling, of course, I preferred paperbacks….most of the time I would leave them behind in airports, restaurants, or hotel lobbies for other readers!

4. Favorite book?

This is like asking me to name my favorite child! An impossible question! First, I’d ask “Which Genre?” My favorite genre is historical fiction and the book that hooked me on histfic and gave me my first book hangover was Gone With the Wind! However, in recent years, the histfic book I recommend most often is Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. My favorite complicated family drama is A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. My favorite epistolary is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. My favorite mystery is the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. A couple of old favorites are Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I’m busy creating a lifetime favorites list in my mind which I’ll publish on the blog one of these days.

5. Least favorite book?

I don’t usually like to bring attention to books that are not my favorite because I feel like no two persons read the same book, and my favorite might be your least favorite and vice versa. I also don’t relish hurting an author’s feelings. To answer this question though, I’ll mention a few books that did not provide me with great reading experiences. I generally don’t appreciate heavily character-driven books where nothing happens! I remember the first time I realized this about myself I was reading Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. The Accidental Tourist also bored me. (sorry Anne Tyler fans!) The last book I was terribly disappointed in was Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak. I highly anticipated a great read because of the author, but the story was all sadness, too much offensive profanity, and too long. I also don’t like books that are too dark. Joshilyn Jackson’s Never Have I Ever comes to mind. I was engaged with the mildly thrillerish aspect of the story until near the end when she included an icky child abuse scene that appeared to be included simply for shock value. I vowed to put her on my “authors I might want to avoid list” because her stories are a bit too dark for me. One book that I actually hated only because of the ending is Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. I was tempted to throw that book across the room because of the twist at the end where I felt “punked” by the author. The last book I’ll mention disliking is American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s fan fiction about Laura Bush (wife of President George Bush), and I thought it was crass and not reflective at all of the gracious and lovely person. I’m embarrassed for her that it was written. Yes. I do have strong opinions about books that never make it to the blog! I’m sure some of you are screaming at your screen right now because I have mentioned one or more of the books you’ve loved. All I can say is that reading is a personal experience, and no two persons ever read the same book.

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Lost, Found, and Forever [Book Review]

 March 19, 2021

Lost, Found, and Forever by Victoria Schade

Lost, Found, & Forever by Victoria Schade (cover) Image: a cute white dog with gray markings peeks around a corner

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thank you, #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads @BeritTalksBooks @ThePHDivaBooks for a commplimentary e arc of #LostFoundAndForever upon my request. All opinions are my own. Pub Date: 3.30.2021.

Finders, Keepers?

In addition to romance, we have a custody battle over a beloved rescue dog, Spencer. Justine is Spencer’s current owner, and she loves to train him and he’s also her loyal companion at her dog supply store in upstate New York. Spencer loves performing tricks and has landed a role as a dog actor. On day, Justine comes across a social media post that pleads for the return of a dog that sounds suspiciously like her beloved Spencer. Justine contacts the guy, Griffin, and agrees to meet up with him at a park in Brooklyn. Griffin has the paperwork to prove he’s the original owner but Justine refuses to let Spencer go without a fight. What would you do?

My Thoughts:

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Meet Me at the Museum [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 18, 2021

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
#throwbackthursday

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (cover) Image: text in a wood frame...2 raspberries peek into a corner; frame sits on a plain seafoam green background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I look forward to sharing my review of a reflective story, Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, in which strangers become friends.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

“Told in epistolary format, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.”

Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.”

Continue here for my full review of Meet Me at the Museum ….



QOTD:

Have you read Meet Me at the Museum or is it on your TBR?

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys [Book Review]

March 17, 2021

 The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post Spanish Civil War Spain, YA, Family, Love Story

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Family…love…silence…secrets…

Thank you, #NetGalley @PenguinUKBooks @The_WriteReads for my complimentary e arc of #FountainsOfSilence upon my request. All opinions are my own. I’ve previously published a review for the U.S. release, and this review is for the U.K. paperback edition which has a different cover.

Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: a large old black key lies over a large red X...small black images of a male and female and a building rest on the horizontal key

In 1957, Madrid, Spain is under the control of the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. While citizens endure harsh conditions of the dictatorship after the Spanish Civil War, tourists experience another version of life in Spain as they enjoy parties and wine at the Hilton Hotel. Eighteen-year-old Daniel is a hotel guest, a photographer, and the son of a Texas oil tycoon; his mother was born in Spain and Daniel is eager to visit her homeland. Ana works at the hotel as a maid. Daniel and Ana meet and fall in love. While Ana is simultaneously intrigued by American life and concerned for her family, Daniel sets his mind to capture the real Spain in photos and finds himself investigating the plight of stolen children. The circumstances surrounding their love story are difficult for them to navigate.

My Thoughts:

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