Arsenic and Adobo [Book Review]

May 6, 2021

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala (cover) Image: a young women pours an ingredient into a put of food that is cooking on the stove

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Cozy Culinary Mystery, Filipino

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks to #Netgalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for my complimentary eARC of #ArsenicAndAdobo at my request. All opinions are my own.

Lila moves home to recover from a breakup and to help save the family restaurant. In addition, to serving up some delicious food and enduring the interference of three interfering and opinionated aunties, Lila’s ex boyfriend and food critic drops dead while eating one of Lila’s dessert creations at the family restaurant. Lila becomes a prime suspect and their landlord threatens to kick the family out. Out of desperation and with great determination, Lila sets out on her own investigation with the help of her best friend. For fans of romcom, there’s also a romantic triangle brewing. This is the first book in a cozy mystery series.

My Thoughts:


Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow [Book Review]

May 5, 2021

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessical Redland (cover) Image: a farm house sits on a grassy field surrounded by flowers

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Family Drama, Romance, Rural, Animal Rescue

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

secrets…animal rescue…romance… the power of forgiveness…

Thanks #NetGalley #@BoldwoodBooks for a complimentary eARC of #FamilySecretsAtHedgehogHollow upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Number 3 in the series finds Samantha running her hedgehog rescue center and enjoying a committed relationship with handsome, wonderful, and supportive Josh. Their sprawling, charming farmhouse is full of love and laughter as Josh’s dad’s family now lives with them (for health reasons). Suddenly, their lives are complicated when Sam’s self-centered and ill-behaved cousin, Chloe, arrives at the farm with her baby and begs Sam to let her stay. Chloe is emotional and won’t speak to her husband or explain to him or anyone else what’s happening. Life-changing secrets from the past are about to be revealed.

My Thoughts:


The Woman With the Blue Star [Book Review]

May 4, 2021

The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff (cover) Image: the toes of red shoes sit on a cobblestone path, a cloth with a stitched blue star rests beside the shoes

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Krakow (Poland), Friendship

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Welcome to my stop on the Pam Jenoff Blog Tour for #TheWomanWithTheBlueStar. Thanks to #NetGalley @HarlequinBooks @HarperCollins @ParkRowBooks for my complimentary eARC upon my request. All opinions are my own.

The Woman With the Blue Star Blog Tour Banner

In 1942, eighteen-year-old Sadie and her parents are forced to flee the Krakow Ghetto to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. They seek refuge in the sewer system beneath the city. One day, Sadie looks up through the grate and makes eye contact with a young Polish woman, Ella. Putting her fears aside, Ella begins to aid Sadie by bringing her a bit of food. The story follows their friendship as Ella helps Sadie in any way that she can.

My Thoughts:


The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba [Book Review]

May 3, 2021

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (cover) Image: a young woman stands next to a railing looking out over a harbor

Genre/Categories/Settings: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Cuba

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks to #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for a complimentary eARC of #TheMostBeautifulGirlInCuba upon my request. All opinions are my own.

The real-life circumstances of Evangelina Cisneros (“the most beautiful girl in Cuba”), the Cuban fight for Independence, and a feud between two New York newspapers owned by Hearst and Pulitzer are at the center of this fascinating historical fiction story of 1896 Cuba and its revolution. The story transpires from three perspectives: Grace Harrington, a young woman breaking the glass ceiling in the cutthroat newspaper business; eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros, unjustly imprisoned in Cuba; Marina Perez, a brave courier working secretly for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana. With the help of Hearst’s newspaper and Marina, who had been forced into a Cuban reconcentration camp, Evangelina is rescued from prison and Grace travels to Cuba and writes the story of women who suffer from wrongful imprisonment.

Evangelina Cisneros

Evangelina Cisneros (photo sourse: Wikipedia)

My Thoughts:


April 2021 Reading Wrap Up

May 2, 2021

April 2021 Reading Wrap Up

April Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers listed in post)

How was your April reading?

My April was a brilliant eleven-book reading month: five 4.5-5 Star reads; three 4 Star reads; three 3-3.5 Star reads.

My favorite fiction read of the month was The Rose Code by Kate Quinn.

Did we read any of the same books?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Titles are Amazon affiliate links or my linked reviews
ARC=Advanced Readers Copy (complimentary copy for review)

a woman dressed in a rose dress stands with her back to the camera overlooking a balcony and a gold wall

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

5+  Stars. Page-turning and unputdownable WW11 historical fiction.

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer (cover) Image: a girl and a boy walk down a set of railroad tracks away from the camera

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer

5 Stars. (ARC) Compelling Historical Fiction (WW11). Review coming on June 1, 2021.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (cover) Image: a head shot of a young blond haired girl (in blue tones)

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

5 Stars. Middle-Grade Historical Fiction (WW11). Not reviewed.

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton (cover) Image: a young woman in a long white dress stands next to a railing looking out over a harbor

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5). (ARC) Interesting Historical Fiction (late 1800s Cuba). Review coming on May 3, 2021.

The Social Graces by Renee Rosen (cover) Image: four women in old fashioned dresses and large brimmed hats stand with their backs to the came looking at an arch in the distance

The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

4.5 Stars  (ARC) Entertaining Historical Fiction (Gilded Age).

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly Davis Basso (cover) Gold fancy writing on a white cover

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly Davis Basso

4 Stars. (Instagram book tour) Light-reading humorous essays on birth and parenthood.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala (cover) Image: colorful graphic of a girl seasoning a pot of ethnic ifood

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala

4 Stars. (ARC) Light-reading Contemporary Cozy Mystery. Review coming May 6, 2021.


#6Degrees of Separation: From Beezus and Ramona to The Vanishing Half

May 1, 2021

#6Degrees of Separation: From Beezus and Ramona to The Vanishing Half

A collage of book covers discussed in the post

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


#6Degrees of Separation: from Beezus and Ramona to The Vanishing Half.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and Davida’s posts at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hashtag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, and I’m thrilled because it allows me to revisit some titles that feature…


If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know how I absolutely adore a heartfelt Middle Grade read! I love Beezus and Ramona and generally love a book that features sisters, so this chain of books about sisters is going to be fun! I’m beginning the chain with two children’s reads (great literature can be enjoyed by all ages, amirite?) and ending with four adult reads.

Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary (cover) Image: an older girl stands and looks at a younger girl who is wearing rabbit earsAmazon Summary:
(In honor of the recent passing of beloved author Beverly Cleary, this chain is starting with one of her most popular books, Beezus and Ramona. Have you or your children read it?)

“Having a little sister like four-year-old Ramona isn’t always easy for Beezus Quimby. With a wild imagination, disregard for order, and an appetite for chaos, Ramona makes it hard for Beezus to be the responsible older sister she knows she ought to be…especially when Ramona threatens to ruin Beezus’s birthday party. Will Beezus find the patience to handle her little sister before Ramona turns her big day into a complete disaster?”


FIRST DEGREE. From Beezus and Ramona, my first story of sisters must be another classic, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Who can forget the time Amy burned Jo’s manuscript?!

Amazon Summary: “Little Women was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. It follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy— from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. Although Little Women was a novel for girls, it differed notably from the current writings for children, especially girls. The book was an immediate commercial and critical success and has since been adapted for cinema, TV, Broadway and even the opera.”



More to the Story by Hena Khan (cover) four girls lying on their backs forming a circle on the floor with their heads nearly touchingSECOND DEGREE: Did you know there’s a delightful (MG) Little Women retelling from the point of view of a Pakistani-American family? More to the Story by Hena Khan.

Amazon Summary: “When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…”

My Goodreads review of More to the Story


Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly (cover) Image: a young woman in a long blue dress and bonnet walks down a country road with a handful of large sunflowersTHIRD DEGREE: Moving from children’s literature, the next book in the chain is a story about two sets of sisters, Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly.

My Summary: “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.”

My review of Sunflower Sisters


The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman (cover)FOURTH DEGREE: Connecting to the strong theme of sisters (and friends as close as sisters) is The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman.

My Summary: “In the early days of WW11, two estranged sisters are reunited at the Springfield, Massachusetts Armory. Ruth is the older sister and an officer’s wife and the younger sister Millie is a single mom who, in desperation, seeks refuge in her sister’s home and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but the younger sister has no other family after the death of their parents and the disappearance of her abusive husband. The relationship between the sisters is tense and filled with resentment, jealousy, misunderstanding, competition, and secrets.”

My review of Wartime Sisters


FIFTH DEGREE: Let’s continue the theme of sisters with The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray.

My Summary: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls shares the compelling and multilayered story of the three Butler sisters: Althea, Viola, and Lillian. Althea was a teenager when her mother died and the children were faced with living with their unstable and often absent father. As the oldest, Althea shouldered the burden of caring for her younger siblings. As adults, they each deal with their traumatic childhood in different ways. To the shock of the community, Althea and her husband face some serious criminal charges and years in prison. Viola and Lillian rally to care for Althea’s children. The story is told from three perspectives as we learn more about the family secrets and childhood trauma.”

My review of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (cover)SIXTH DEGREE: The final link in the chain is one final story of sisters, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

My Summary: “The Vignes sisters are twins. They are light-skinned black girls, identical, and inseparable. They endure a childhood trauma, are forced to leave high school early and go to work, and eventually leave home (run away) together at sixteen. From that point, everything changes. The future finds them estranged. Desiree escapes an abusive marriage and returns to her small southern hometown to live with her mom and her dark child. This is difficult because the town celebrates light-skinned blacks and Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, Jude, faces racism within the black community. Stella decides to pass as white which means that she completely cuts ties with her past and her family. The Vanishing Half begins in the 1950s and concludes in the 1990s with the next generation (Desiree’s and Stella’s daughters).”

My review of The Vanishing Half

I hope you enjoyed this #6Degrees of Separation chain from Beezus and Ramona to The Vanishing Half!

The most striking thread that connects the stories in this chain is sisters. I have read all these books and can recommend them all!

I need to note that these are the first six books I thought to connect. Many stories are out there that could also fit this chain. Can you think of another title that features sisters?


January #6Degrees of Separation post here.
February #6Degrees of Separation post here.

If you have a May #6Degrees of Separation post, please leave a link in the comments!


Do you have ideas for creating your own chain?
What book would you add to this chain?
Have you read one of these stories?

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

The book cover and the author’s photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.