10 Books to Read By the Pool or Ocean

June 19, 2018

top ten tuesday books to read by pool or ocean

top ten tuesday

Lighter Reads: 10 Books to Read By the Pool or Ocean

*Linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books to Read By the Pool or Ocean. If you’ve clicked over from there, Welcome Book Buddies! Thanks for stopping in. I’d love to hear in comments what you’re reading by the pool or ocean this summer.

As an avid reader, I think that any book you take to read by the water is a pool or ocean read. It doesn’t necessarily need to be light even though that’s what many readers think of when grabbing a book for vacation. “Fluffy” or “Beach Reads” are typically not my favorite genre. Once in a while I find some light (or beach) reads that are somewhat substantial. Listed below are some lighter reads I can recommend. (in no particular order) Titles are Amazon links.

Escapist: Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

Castle of Water

Full Review Here

I often think of this story when readers ask me to recommend a vacation read. It’s purely escapist, beautifully written, with a bit of romance and a “castaways” theme. I would not recommend it while flying because the story begins with a plane crash!


Chick Lit: Love Walked In, Belong to Me, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky
all by Marisa de los Santos

 

 

I seldom read chick lit, but I was tempted by these because of many favorable reviews.

The first, Love Walked In, I rated the lowest because it was wordy  and packed with too many literary and movie references for my taste. However, it does introduce the characters for the series. Of the three, it’s my least favorite, but it has received rave reviews and it’s popular with many readers.

Belong to Me is better written in my opinion and told from three perspectives. I loved the theme of belonging, “drawing a wider circle,” and creating a welcoming home.

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky is my favorite of the three because it brings in some historical fiction elements and has a complicated and engaging story line. This could be read as a stand alone but knowing the back story of the characters always makes for a richer reading experience. My Goodreads review here.


Chick Lit: How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to find love in a bookstore

Full Review Here

I adored this story! Better than average chick lit, it was filled with complex characters and a variety of engaging story lines. In addition, the author created a delightful sense of place. Also, I’m in love with books about books!


Mystery/Detective: The Dry and Force of Nature
both by Jane Harper

 

 

Brief Review of The Dry Here

Full Review of Force of Nature Here

If you’re in the mood for some crime fiction, these are well written, solid reads without a focus on violence, profanity, or fright. Some readers refer to them as “atmospheric thrillers” because the author is skilled at developing a sense of place that helps to build tension. Although Force of Nature is a sequel, they can each be read as a stand alone. Reading The Dry first gives the reader some background information about Agent Falk which will enrich the reading experience of Force of Nature (but not necessary).


Literary Fiction and Music: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Full Review Here

Music lovers will find an extra layer of enjoyment in this read by the popular author Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie, etc). Reading it feels like a Music Appreciation Class as many famous musicians make appearances as characters in the story and well-known music compositions are referenced; as a bonus, there is a Musical Companion on iTunes. It’s well written in typical Mitch Albom style with a touch of magical realism.


Historical Fiction: The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

the way of beauty

Full Review Here

No war in this easy reading, light, histfic selection (for those who are burned out on WW11 histfic!). The backdrop in this story is New York City’s historic Penn Station in the early 1900s. The story involves a. bit of romance and intrigue and is told from a mother’s and daughter’s perspectives. Architecture as historical treasures and symbolism, the Suffragette Movement, and mother/daughter relationships are prevalent themes.


Quirky Characters: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
and Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

 

Some of my favorite characters are quirky and are usually struggling to overcome challenges as they strive to lead their best lives. For example, I’m especially fond of Eleanor (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), Ginny (Ginny Moon), Ove (A Man Called Ove), and Britt-Marie (Britt-Marie Was Here).

Full Review of The Music Shop Here.

Goodreads review of Convenience Store Woman Here (blog review coming Friday).

These two recent releases have quirky characters: Frank in The Music Shop is frightened to fall in love and finds it difficult to accept help and other gestures of love from his neighbors and friends even though he is a great friend to them; Keiko in Convenience Store Woman is most likely on the autism spectrum (undiagnosed) and strives every day to appear normal by copying the clothing, mannerisms, and speech patterns of her coworkers and finds comfort and success in her routine tasks at the convenience store. I also love that this story explains the important role that convenience stores play in Japanese culture. Convenience Store Woman is almost a novella that can be read in one day and perhaps in one sitting.



That’s all book buddies! I could go on and on and on with book recommendations, but for this post I’ll cap it at 10 + 1 novella. For more reading ideas, you might look at my Summer TBR list or look through the A-Z Index Tab to find more great reads!

Here’s a FB video that depicts my reactions when someone asks me for a book recommendation!



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Links I Love:

This might be fun for summer: SnapShop Kids: Online Photography Class For Kids (and the entire family!)

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

I’ll be writing a full review of Convenience Store Woman for Friday.

convenience store women

Amazon Information Here



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

What books are you packing in your beach or pool bag this summer? We’d all love to hear your suggestions in the comments!



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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 website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Gift Ideas for Dad

June 8, 2018

happy father's day

in memory of dad

Remembering My Dad

 

My dad was promoted to Heaven on Father’s Day, 2009. He was a great man and excelled in many areas: farming (in his early years), pastor, theologian, professor, and writer. He was an avid reader and prolific writer, writing at least 30 books (most of them for his theology classes at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California). If you’re curious, the list of his books can be found here on Goodreads.

In retrospect, I wish I had asked him to make a list of his favorite books for leisure reading. I do know that he enjoyed poetry.

In anticipation of Father’s Day, here are some books that a Dad in your life might enjoy!

Book Recs for Dads

(favorite titles from my husband’s reading list)

If you are fortunate to have your dad in your life this Father’s Day, here are some great bookish ideas for Father’s Day. Titles are Amazon links and a few of these I have reviewed on the blog.

These are all books read and recommended by my husband. Each book is on his favorites list for a reason (he was a history major, loves baseball, enjoys memoir and biography, and appreciates books that inspire personal growth and reflection). Listed by category.

Biography/History:

Grant by Ron Chernow
This is one of my husband’s favorite reads of the year.
Here’s a review of Grant by a respected reviewer.

Grant

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Washington

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

Martin Luther: the Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas

Martin Luther

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

bonhoeffer

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

Amazing Grace

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

team of rivals


Historical Fiction:

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
(My Brief Review Here)

News of the World


Sports:

Wait Till Next Year by (Red Sox Baseball Fan) Doris Kearns Goodwin (Memoir)
(My Review Here)

Wait Till Next Year

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (fiction)
(My Brief Review of Beartown Here)

Beartown


Inspirational:

The Road to Character by David Brooks

The Road to Character


Spiritual:

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

Return of the Prodigal

Jesus: A Biography From a Believer by Paul Johnson

Jesus


True Crime:

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon


Contemporary Fiction:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

man called ove


Science & Religion

The Language of God by Francis S. Collins

Language of God



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Links I Love

Peace, Love, & Raspberry Cordial: Who Played Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy Best? Comparing Old and New “Little Women” Movies

If you love the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, you might enjoy this recent interview! There is a new installment in the series releasing in November!

Beyond the Bookends: Reading Recommendations For Summer

PBS: The Great American Read
Have you voted?
How many books have you read of the hundred on the list?
Were you surprised by any on the list?
Do you plan to vote on your favorite reads?
I’m voting for Gone With the Wind!



Looking Ahead:

Us Against YouNext week, I’ll review Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about book you might buy for your dad!



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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 website.

Bookish Gifts for Mom

May 4, 2018
(“May the 4th be with you!”)

mothers-day

Bookish Gift Ideas For Mom

If you’re fortunate to have your mom physically present with you this year and are looking for a bookish gift for Mother’s Day (or as a treat for your hard-working self!), check out my book and book related recs! The following titles represent some of my favorite reads (in addition to mostly recent releases, the list includes a few older titles as well). I’ve linked to my reviews as available….otherwise, I’ve provided Amazon links. If you have questions about any of the books, please ask in the comments and I’d be delighted to give you further information or perspective. Without knowing the person for whom you’re buying, the following recs are titles that are generally popular with lots of readers and the majority are written by women authors.
(I have avoided books that require trigger warnings)

*Linking up with Words on Wednesday. If you’ve clicked over from there, Welcome!

candle for mom



Light Histfic Reads: (easy reading, engaging, minimal or no violence)

my dear hamilton 2My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
(biographical histfic, U. S. history)

America's First Daughter

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
(biographical histfic, U.S. History)

last christmas in paris

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
(epistolary format, WW1 time period)

As Bright as Heaven

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
(Spanish flu, mother/daughters)

Chilbury

Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
(WW11)

Gilded Years

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
(biographical, first African-American woman to attend Vassar passing as white)

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman
(WW11 time period, Hawaii)

The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
(for fans of Little Women)

Guernsey

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
(epistolary format, post WW11)

News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
(post civil war, southwest U.S.)



Multi-generational Family Saga:

Eden

Eden by Jeanne Blasberg



Heavier Histfic (more intense  content, survival themes)

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
(WW11)

From Sand and Ash

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
(WW11)

we were the lucky ones

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
(WW11)

Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
(slavery, abolition)

Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(WW11)

The Baker's Secret

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
(WW11)

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
(China, adoption)

Pearl That Broke its Shell

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
(Afghanistan, women’s rights)

Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
(slavery, multigenerational)



Romantic

How to find love in a bookstore

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

(“Last Christmas in Paris” also fits in this category)



Unique and Interesting Characters

Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

man called ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

one in a million boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

saving cecee honeycutt

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman



Memoir

Wait Till Next Year

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
(baseball and so much more)

talking as fast as i can

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
(humor, for fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood)



True Crime

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
(Crimes against Native American people)



Old Favorites

the hiding place

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
(WW11)

gift from the sea

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
(inspirational)



Other Gift Ideas:

Give in Honor of Mom

Book Darts  $12

Carrot Top Paper Literary Artwork

The Novel Endeavor: Gift Giving Round Up for Book Lovers

Modern Mrs Darcy: Compulsively Readable Literary Fiction

GraceLaced Inspirational Watercolor Artwork

GraceLaced Inspirational Book at Hobby Lobby $14.99

Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader



Happy Reading & Gift Giving, Bookworms!

“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



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

What are your favorite gifts for Mom?

What are you reading this week?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors in 2017

January 2, 2018

Do you have a few favorite authors?

I’m linking up today with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors in 2017.

Top Ten Tuesday

Throughout 2017, I discovered a handful of authors who are new to me and whose work I would read automatically without checking out the reviews first. While a couple of these authors are well published (but new on my radar), the majority are new authors as well as being new to me. I’m adding these authors to recently discovered new authors such as Fredrik Backman whose work I trust and admire.

I would happily accept an ARC from any of these authors and promote their work. (*shameless hint)

In alphabetical order:

Jane Harper

The DryEven though detective/mystery is not my usual genre, I thoroughly enjoyed The Dry. I’m eager to read the sequel that releases in February, and I anticipate that it will be equally well written and highly engaging.

The Dry Review and Amazon Information

 

 



Nadia Hashimi

Pearl That Broke its ShellEven though I read this at the beginning of 2017, The Pearl That Broke its Shell is a story that I have continued to think about all year. The author gives the reader thoughtful insight into Afghan culture for women and challenges us to think about women’s rights. I always want to support women writing about strong, independent, and courageous women, and I hope she continues to write about her culture.

The Pearl That Broke its Shell Review and Amazon Information

 



Gail Honeyman

Eleanor OliphantIn her amazing debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this author is definitely on my watch list! I’m certainly curious about her next work and I’m hoping for a sequel!

Eleanor Oliphant Review and Amazon Information 

 

 



Elise Hooper

The Other Alcott 2

Author of The Other Alcott, her extensive research and well written debut work depicting the lives of the Alcott sisters earned this new author a lot of credibility with me. I hope she’s working on something new for readers!

The Other Alcott Review and Amazon Information

 



Dane Hucklebridge

castle of water 2

 

Author of Castle of Water, I enjoy his beautiful, engaging, and creative writing and eagerly await his next release!

Castle of Water Review and Amazon Information

 

 



Paulette Jiles

News of the World

My husband and I both enjoyed this beautifully written western historical fiction novel. Even though she has other published works, this is the first I’ve read. I’d love to choose one of her other works to read this year. If you’ve read this author, do you have a recommendation for me?

News of the World Review and Amazon Information

 



Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again is a beautiful story told in free verse and an “authentic voice.” This author has my heart and I would enthusiastically check out her new releases. (By the way, this story is perfect for older elementary readers but thoroughly appreciated by adults).

Inside Out and Back Again review in this post as well as Amazon Information

 



Jennifer Latham

dreamland burningDreamland Burning is one of my most memorable reads and most recommended historical fiction selections of the year. This author’s engaging and thoughtful writing would definitely cause me to check out her next work.

Dreamland Burning Review and Amazon Information

 

 



Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

Between Shades of Gray

Author of a couple of my favorite hisfic selections, Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray, I admire her careful research and beautiful writing.

Salt to the Sea Review and Amazon Information

Between Shades of Gray Amazon Information

 

 

 



 

 

Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

I appreciated reading about Starr and her experiences in The Hate U Give from an “authentic voice.” I’ll look forward to more from this author because I feel it’s so important to listen well.

The Hate U Give Review and Amazon Information

 



 

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



Looking Ahead:

I read a wonderful book between Christmas and New Years
and I can’t wait to review it on Friday!

last christmas in paris

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Did you discover any new authors in 2017?

Who are your favorite authors?

What are you reading this week?

 

 

2017’s Most Memorable, Inspiring, & Unforgettable Characters

December 28, 2017

Who are the memorable, inspiring, and unforgettable characters that you still think about days, weeks, months, or years later?

Most Memorable Characters 2017

For me, one joy of reading is experiencing life through someone else’s perspective and at the same time building compassion and understanding. Similar to choosing favorite books, choosing favorite characters from the year’s reading is a daunting task! My initial list was very long, and I’ve condensed it to the most memorable of the memorable characters from my 2017 reading (in no particular order).

Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor OliphantI still think of brave, traumatized, quirky, and lonely Eleanor (and wait patiently for a sequel).

Her bravery is a beacon of hope for others. In the midst of deep personal pain, she carves out a life for herself and dares to hope for more. When confronted with the scariest prospects of all…friendship and love… she faces the fear with her same trademark courage.

In time, I think she really will be fine.

Brief Review and Amazon Information Found in This Post.



August Pullman

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

WonderAlso exemplifying the character trait of bravery is Auggie Pullman. Unlike Eleanor’s hidden internal pain, Auggie battles the discomfort of public appearances because of his facial abnormality.

Auggie’s bravery enables all children (and adults) who look different from others to face their physical challenges and live full, meaningful, and productive lives. Furthermore, his bravery teaches all of us to be accepting and KIND.

Full Review and Amazon Information Here.



Chief Inspector Armand Gamache

Glass Houses by Louise Penny
(#13 in the popular Three Pines Inspector Gamache series)

Glass HousesWhen I think of Inspector Gamache in this character driven series, I think of integrity and compassion. I’m continually impressed that in his difficult career, assignments, and pressures, he treats others with respect.

Interestingly, in a Louise Penny interview, she indicates that when she created the character of Gamache, she created a man whom she could have married. The rationale for this being she would spend years with him as a main character in the series and she wanted to create someone she would like and not tire of.  This is likely part of the cause of the series’ success is the memorable, kind, honest, thoughtful, trustworthy character of Armand Gamache.

Throughout the series, readers appreciate the exemplary character traits of a tough-minded policeman and gentleman.

Full Review and Amazon Information Here.



Emma

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Baker's SecretThe bravery, courage, and resiliency of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the most difficult, challenging circumstances always inspires readers like myself. A likable 22-year-old heroine, Emma stealthily and quietly fights back against the Germans who’ve invaded her small Normandy village during WW 11, and she courageously provides the villagers with a bit of sustenance and a taste of hope.

Amazon Information Here.

 



Count Alexander Rostov

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in MoscowA true gentleman, the Count is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life in a Moscow hotel in Russia for a crime he allegedly committed against the government. Through the elegant and exquisite telling of this story, we see an example of living with grace, purpose, meaning, and a bit of wit when life hands you lemons. When life doesn’t go according to plan, how then will you live?

Amazon Information Here.

 



Rahima and Shekiba

The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Pearl That Broke its ShellTwo Afghan women (a century apart) fight for similar women’s rights as they battle powerlessness and customs that suppress women, and fight for some freedom to control their own fates. Their stories remind me of the importance of supporting women (such as Malala in her fight for education) around the world as they fight for basic human rights.

Brief Review Found in This Post and Amazon Information Here.

 



Noa and Astrid

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Orphan's TaleNoa and Astrid are two extraordinary women in a traveling circus whose friendship drives this harrowing tale of sacrifice and survival during WW 11.

I’ll always remember them and their courage that symbolizes women throughout history who have made similar decisions and risked their lives for others.

Brief Review Found in This Post and Amazon Information Here.



(teenage memorable, inspirational, and unforgettable characters)

Lina and Joana

Between Shades of Gray (Lina) and Salt to the Sea (Joana) (by Ruta Sepetys

In these WW 11 stories that will break your heart, two teenagers face a fight for survival and are placed in positions that are difficult and/or impossible for adults to handle. Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea are both YA (high school and older) reads that are compelling for adults.

I admire the resiliency, strength, bravery, courage, and determination of these characters as they fight for survival. Stories like these always cause me to ponder what I would do in similar circumstances and to admire the human spirit.

Between Shades of Gray Amazon Information Here.

Salt to the Sea Brief Review in This Post and Amazon Information Here.



Eve

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Alice NetworkIn this page turner, Eve Gardiner joins the fight against the Germans in WW 1 when she unexpectedly is recruited to become a spy and work in the Alice Network.

Her sheer courage is breathtaking and her sacrifice is memorable.

I also enjoyed learning about the female spy system.

Full Review and Amazon Information Here.

 

 



(12-year-old memorable characters)

Rill Foss, Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud

Before We Were Yours (Rill) by Lisa Wingate and Refugee (Josef, Isabel, Mahmoud) by Alan Gratz

Several children became memorable and unforgettable characters for me this year. They each are inspirational in their fights for survival and safety and how often they are required to make adult decisions and take on adult responsibilities. Before We Were Yours is adult fiction and Refugee is Middle Grade fiction  (compelling as an adult read).

Before We Were Yours Full Review and Amazon Information Here.

Refugee Full Review and Amazon Information Here.



Honorable Mention:

There were so many memorable characters throughout 2017 that I can’t resist mentioning others (I’ve included links to my reviews and Amazon information):

Ginny in Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Starr in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Ladies of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Li-yan in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Nurse Ruth in Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult



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



Looking Ahead:

Because of Christmas activities and a touch of the flu, I have not yet read the book I committed to last week: Woman in Cabin 10 (which is a MUST read for me this week to meet the deadline for my IRL book club). In addition, I really, really want to review a special book that I did read while I was recovering from the flu (I needed an easy reading book), and I can’t wait to tell you about it next week! What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Who were your memorable, unforgettable, and inspirational characters of 2017?

2017 Really Recommendable Reads

gift stack of books

December 15, 2017

10 Categories of Really Recommendable Reads for 2017

Choosing the year’s best books is my most difficult reading task! I think that separating the books into categories might help me share with you which were the best reading experiences for me. I hope you had a great reading year, and that we share an appreciation for some of these selections. or that they will be ideas for your TBR. Most of the selections are fairly new releases (all except four were published in 2017).

*In no particular order

gift stack of books

Most Unforgettable Character

Eleanor Oliphant

 

I’m still thinking about brave, traumatized, quirky, and lonely Eleanor … and hoping for a sequel!

Brief review found here in this post.

Short listed for the COSTA Award (new authors)

Read it before seeing the movie!

More Information Here

 

 

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Poignant

 

Both of Backman’s novellas rank among my favorite reads of the year. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer deals with Alzheimer’s and a grandfather’s relationship with his young grandson. The deal of a Lifetime provides a reflection of a successful man as he faces the end of his life.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer review found here and more information found here.

The Deal of a Lifetime review found here and more information found here.



gift stack of booksMost Escapist

castle of water 2

 

Literary Fiction + Adventure!

I read this page turner in one day! Beautiful prose and a great selection for a vacation or travel read.

Full review here

More Information here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Controversial and Relevant Social Issues

 

I learned a great deal from both of these books and I consider them worthwhile and important reads, and both would be great for book club discussions. In addition to many important themes, they both involve the theme of racism. While Small Great Things is written for adult readers, The Hate U Give (often referred to as THUG) is appropriate for mature older high school and YA and all adults. (please note: both books contain possibly offensive language or situations.)

Small Great Things review included in this post here and more information here.

The Hate U Give review here and more information here.
The Hate U Give movie information here.
Do you think THUG should be banned in schools? See article involving a Texas school district here.



gift stack of booksMost Apt to Build Compassion and Understanding

 

Wonder has become a must read in many classrooms across America as it builds compassion for others who look different, and it is a great read and lesson in kindness for all ages. Full review here. Have you seen the well done movie adaptation? More information here.

Ginny Moon explores autism from a 14-year-old girl’s perspective. My full review here. More information here.



gift stack of booksMost Dramatic Themes

 

Beartown: themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, a girl’s “no,” etc.

Little Fires Everywhere: most interesting mix of characters and themes of mothers/children, secrets, privilege, teenage love, perfection, racism, friendship, suburban dysfunction, adoption vs. parental rights, etc.

Beartown: brief review included in this post here and more information here.

Little Fires Everywhere: full review here and more information here.

 



gift stack of booksMost Overlooked Genre (for me!)

News of the World

 

 

I highly recommend this beautifully written western! I don’t usually seek out westerns but the historical fiction aspect appealed to me. I highly recommend this for its beautifully written prose and sweet theme. My hubs also enjoyed this one.

There’s talk of a movie with Tom Hanks!

A brief review included in this post.

More information here. 

Movie information here.

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Personal Connection

Far From the Tree

 

If you remember last week’s post, Far From the Tree was on my TBR for 2018, but I was tempted to pick this up right away because of the themes of adoption/foster care and the meaning of family. In the past few years my hubs and I have established contact with his bio sister (he’s adopted) and they arranged to talk and meet for the first time; in addition, I searched out my bio cousin who had been placed for adoption as a baby. Both relationships have provided immeasurable joy and have enriched our family. #drawawidercircle  is how I would tag this in Instagram. Although this is a YA selection, it can be enjoyed by adults as well. If adoption has touched your life, this will wreck you in the best possible way!

My reservations are (1) the author’s use of quite a few f-bombs (I don’t understand why this language is so prevalent and almost mandatory in YA books….but I’m probably showing my age or highly sensitive nature here) and (2) the author throws too many themes in here in my opinion (divorce, alcoholism, sexual identity, racism, etc), and these themes (although important) are somewhat distracting from the adoption/unplanned pregnancy/foster care/meaning of family themes which are the focus of the book. Nevertheless, I highly enjoyed the overall read and found it exceptionally meaningful on a personal level and highly recommendable ….. Here’s a link to my full review. 

More information here.



gift stack of booksMost Courageous and Determined Fight for Women’s Rights

Pearl That Broke its Shell

 

Inspiring, with against-the-odds, bravery, and women’s rights themes, this historical fiction is a fast-paced page turner that provides great insight into the lives in which some women are born. Memorable and unforgettable. A must read on your TBR.

Brief review found in this post here.

More information here.

 

 

 

 

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Delightful Historical Fiction

I read extensively in the historical fiction genre and have many great recommendations for you (see note below) ! However, most of them are extremely heavy reading. Therefore, for this category, I’d like to focus on the lightest histfic I’ve read this year. (and then I’ll list the others as runners up).

Chilbury

 

Enjoyable read about a remarkable group of women working to serve their community during WW 11.

Full review here.

More information here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runners Up in Historical fiction:

The following is a list of the other equally great historical fiction selections I’ve read this year:

Salt to the Sea; Between Shades of Gray; (not reviewed on the blog but it’s as well written as Salt to the Sea and its main character is connected with a character in Salt to the Sea); The Orphan’s Tale; The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane; Dreamland Burning (YA); The Alice Network; Before We Were Yours; America’s First Daughter; Refugee (YA); Gentleman in Moscow (not reviewed…and not a book I loved at first, but I grew to love and appreciate the beautiful prose and its intriguing premise! It’s been well reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads)



*Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday: Our favorite books of 2017 ,  Modern Mrs Darcy: Quick Lit: 9 Excellent Books for Gifting This Season and Traveling With T: #AMonthofFaves: Top Ten Books That Blew Your Mind This Year



Happy Reading Bookworms!

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

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

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



Extras:

Check out these other popular and favorite bloggers and their “best of” the year lists:

Modern Mrs. Darcy: Favorite Books 2017

Loud Library Lady: Most Memorable Reads of 2017

Loud Library Lady: My Friends’ Most Memorable 2017 Reads

Broke and the Bookish: Top Ten Tuesday:
(bloggers link up to share their top ten reads of the year posts…my post this week is linked there…check out the others)

The Caffeinated Bibliophile: Christmas Book Guide: Christian Fiction Books

Making Here Home: Brilliant books for kids…recommended by kids

Top Shelf Text: A Very Bookish Holiday (follow the link in the post for bookish gift ideas)

Modern Mrs Darcy: Quick Lit: 9 Excellent Books for Gifting This Season

…and, last, something to consider as you set your own reading goals for 2018…

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge

 



Looking Ahead!

Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree full review next week.



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Which books did you read that were best of the year for you? Do your best reads overlap at all with mine?
Are there any that you’ve read that you would highly recommend to me?



 

journey of a lifetime reading meme

Top Ten Books I Want My Grandchildren to Read

November 14, 2017

Do you have “books” written on your Christmas shopping list? If you’re looking for books as gifts for middle grade through YA readers this season, this post might give you some ideas.

Top Ten Tuesday

We’re linking up today for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish (above meme belongs to Broke and Bookish). Their prompt for this week is “Top Ten Books I want my Future Children to Read”…. that boat has already sailed, so I’m adjusting that to grandchildren….but this is a great top 10 list for any child in your life! Also linking up today with Modern Mrs Darcy for Quick Lit November 2017.

These 10 books are separated by age range but are in no particular order, and links to my reviews are included. These are books I recommend that parents/teachers/grandparents read alongside their children because of the rich discussion and teaching opportunities, and great literature can be enjoyed by all ages. Although specific themes are listed for each selection, the larger overarching themes for all selections include “diversity, building compassion, and understanding.” Follow links for full reviews.




“Top Ten Books I Want My Grandchildren to Read”




Middle Grades (grades 4-8, ages 9-13)

Wonder by R.J Palacio

Wonder

Join hundred of thousands of other middle grade readers across the nation in reading this best seller!

Themes: kindness, compassion, friendship, acceptance, bullying, fitting in

My Full Review Here

Purchase Information Here

Movie Releases November 17! (trailer here)


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again

Read about the refugee/immigrant experience from a Vietnamese perspective. Beautifully written in free verse.

Themes: new culture, leaving your homeland, friendship, bullying, fitting in,
family loyalty, traditions, finding your voice

My Full Review Here (scroll down to second review on page)

Purchase Information Here


Stella By Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Stella by Starlight

If you’re looking for an appropriate diverse and historical fiction selection for a middle grade reader (ages 9-12), I recommend this poignant story of Stella’s experiences with racism and finding her own voice as an African-American girl living in the segregated South (1932, Bumblebee, North Carolina to be exact).

Themes: prejudice, racism, finding your voice, writing, family loyalty,
community support

(I did not do a full review of this book but you can check out the Amazon summary using the link below)

Book summary and purchase information here.




Mature High School through Young Adult

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

dreamland burning

Historical Fiction selection for mature high school through YA which culminates in the Tulsa, Oklahoma race riots of 1921.

Themes: racism, prejudice, finding your own voice, determination, bravery

My Full Review Here  (Scroll down page to find review)

Purchase Information Here


Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee

In this mature middle grade through high school historical fiction selection, we live the refugee experience from three perspectives. (a note of caution: even though this is shelved as middle school, I suggest this selection for mature middle grades because of its difficult themes of war and survival)

Themes: refugee experience, survival, leaving your homeland, kindness of strangers, family support, children forced to make adult choices

My Full Review Here

Purchase Information Here




Young Adult (YA)

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Glass Castle

Young adults might find this poignant memoir of homelessness and neglect engaging.  This book first came to my attention when my high school grandson shared with me that his class was reading it and that it was meaningful to him, and of course I wanted to share that reading experience with him. The movie was released in August and is now available on DVD.

Themes:  homelessness, family dynamics, sibling support, overcoming difficult circumstances, survival

My Full Review of Book and Movie Here

Purchase Information Here


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book Thief

World War 11 historical fiction from a young German girl’s perspective.  This is appropriate for older high school students through YA. An excellent movie was released in 2013. I have not written a full review of this book because I read it years ago, but you can find an Amazon summary by following the link below.

Themes: Holocaust, survival, kindness of strangers, sacrifice, friendship  

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate You Give

This very current and relevant read deals with difficult racial themes, and also allows us a glimpse into Starr’s life as an African-American teenager living between her mostly white private school and her poor black inner city neighborhood. (***caution: language) I recommend this book for YA or especially mature older high school students who might be interested in a story they could see on the nightly news involving a confrontation between a police officer and an African-American male.  This book is currently in movie production.

Themes: racism, prejudice, friendship, family support, finding your voice,
code switching

See the Movie Promotion Here

My Full Review Here

Purchase Information Here


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

For YA or mature older high school readers, an intense World War 11 historical fiction story from four different perspectives.
(note: serious survival themes)

Themes: World War 11, intolerance, survival, friendship, loyalty, 

My Full Review Here (scroll down page to find review)

Purchase Information Here



Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig


Ginny Moon

For YA or mature high school readers, a highly engaging and page turning story of a 14 year old girl who is on the Autism spectrum. Ginny Moon was recently listed on Amazon’s list of 20 top editor picks for 2017.

Themes: Autism, adoption, persistence, determination, differing abilities,
finding your voice

My Full Review Here

Purchase Information Here





Happy Reading Bookworms!

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

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

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

Looking Ahead!

I’m on track to review The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper on Friday’s blog.

The Other Alcott

Information and Buy Here

Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. We reached 2,000 views this week. Thanks! Every share helps us grow.

Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear if you’ve read any books from the Top Ten list? Do these look like reading selections your children or young adult would appreciate? Do you search out diverse reads when buying books for your children?

The Hate U Give

September 29, 2017

A multiple recommendations post for diverse reads!

Today I’m offering a challenge for some of us to read outside our comfort zone. Does reading from a different point of view appeal to you? Do you wish you could include more diversity in your reading life? Would reading fiction that mirrors what you sometimes see on the nightly news interest you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I urge you to consider reading The Hate U Give. All books  reviewed and recommended in this post focus on the theme of diversity, especially from the African-American perspective.

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

Genre/categories: YA fiction, racism, prejudice, social and family issues

Summary:

Our sixteen-year-old main character, Starr, lives in a poor inner city neighborhood and her mother drives her to an upper middle class private school miles across town for her education. Starr’s parents can afford to move out of the poorer neighborhood, but her dad, a former gang member and convict, believes it’s important to stay in the neighborhood to help solve the problems there and to be a role model and support for the young African-American males who desire to leave the gang life and pursue better options. Starr’s mother would like to move across town to the middle class more diverse neighborhood where Starr and her siblings attend a (predominately white) private school and where the family attends a “diverse” church “(she nicknames it “the diverse church). Starr manages to live between her two worlds of the Williamson private school crowd and her neighborhood friends. This causes her some stress because she feels she can’t totally be herself in either place. One night Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend by a police officer. The officer involved shooting and her friend’s death make national headlines. Starr is faced with opinions and actions from both sides. Some reporters and private school friends say that the victim was a thug and perhaps a gang member and drug dealer and deserved to die. Friends in the neighborhood, including Starr, who really knew the victim defend him. As Starr faces her role as a witness, interrogation by the DA, involvement in protests, and publicity, she and her family also endure intimidation by the local drug lord (because if she testifies, she might incriminate him). Starr summons up all her courage so that her testimony and answers are honest and truthful to the best of her ability. What she says could endanger her life and cause further protests in the community. How will she use her voice? Amazon rating (September): 4.8

My Thoughts:

This is a difficult review to write as this book is full of controversial and complex issues which require lots of thought and that combined with the circumstances (and profanity) make it a difficult read. Also, even though I enjoyed the book and was challenged by it, I had to think seriously about recommending it.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely YES!

In bullet format, you will discover the reasons I’m recommending this book (in no particular order):

  • The story contains likeable, memorable, and multidimensional characters. Starr’s parents’ relationship is especially encouraging and inspiring.
  • This is an unforgettable, fast paced, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, inspiring, tragic, and unputdownable story told from authentic voices.
  • I think it’s important to challenge ourselves to read diverse literature and to listen well.
  • The issues in this book occasionally appear in our nightly news.
  • Experiencing a situation from the perspective of others that are different from us and hearing their voices informs our opinions and deepens our understanding.
  • It gave me a new perspective on the allure of gangs.
  • The story presented an interesting dilemma (as presented by Starr’s father and mother): should African Americans leave their inner city neighborhood if they have that option or should they stay (and risk the consequences) to help their communities?
  • I thought the author did an exceptional job of helping the reader understand code-switching. I was challenged with accepting Starr just as she was and wondered if I would have tried to change her if she were a part of my community. Particularly, I wondered as a teacher how accepting I was of African Americans (or my other students from other cultures) who brought their unique cultural expressions into my classroom. How much code-switching did my students feel was necessary? Did I try to change them to fit my (white middle class) idea of an ideal student? Or did I promote acceptance in my classroom and among their peers for them to be their authentic selves (hairstyle, clothing, expressions, etc.) ? In Starr’s own words, code-switching is exhausting and she was an expert.
    “I should be used to my two worlds colliding, but I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang. Some attitude but not too much attitude, so I’m not a sassy black girl. I have to watch what I say and how I say it. But I can’t sound “white.” Sh*@# is exhausting.”  ~Starr
  • The story contains important and hard-hitting themes such as responsibility to our neighborhood, bravery, finding our voice, loyalty, racism, violence, poverty, helplessness, privilege, family values, anger, and hate.
  • I think from news reports of similar situations we often are not getting the true stories from both sides. Although this story was told from Starr’s first person point of view, I thought both sides were represented. In particular, Starr has a white boyfriend and it was interesting to have his interactions and perceptions as an integral part of the story.
  • I thought religion was presented sincerely and authentically in this story and included as ordinary, natural, and meaningful in the life of the family and community. This was refreshing because often an author’s bias against religion is apparent.
  • In the story, there is an incident of a mild and offhand racist comment made to a Chinese girl, Maya. As a result, she was more sympathetic to Starr’s situation because she had been a victim of a thoughtless racist comment. This illustrated to me that if we’ve never experienced racist comments personally maybe reading about it happening to a beloved character can build empathy, understanding, and awareness. Starr’s reflection that came from that experience caused me to think about all the times I’ve heard something and said nothing:
    “We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” ~ Starr
  • This book is categorized as YA and I think it’s an important read for mature young adults, and adults of any age. It opens the door to many important discussions and hard thinking about relevant topics. I think diverse literature is a great way to build compassion, understanding, and empathy for others.
  • There will be ideas you disagree with in this book and content that’s uncomfortable and that’s ok! I still think they are ideas with which we need to wrestle. If the language doesn’t offend you, I think this would be an excellent selection for your book club. Perhaps the intent of the book is to start discussions.
  • No matter how you feel about the Black Lives Matter movement, this book remains a worthwhile read. It’s important for us to hear from the African-American community in their own voices. #dontletthestrugglersbecomeahashtag
  • Finally, it’s going to be a movie….and don’t most of us want to read the book first?!
    The Hate U Give has started production.

*Alert: language (profanity), racial tension

Although I don’t consider this great literature in a literary fiction sense, I can highly recommend this for mature young adults and for all adult readers as a discussion starter, a diverse literature pick (for many of us), and a contemporary and relevant topics/themes selection.

My Rating: 5 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

The Hate You Give

Buy Here

***This post is linked up with Puppies and Pretties.

Meet the Author, Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

Flight Picks:

Following is a sampling of other diverse literature with a focus on racism. I’ve read most of them recently and highly recommend them. If I have reviewed it here on the blog, I’ve included the link. I’ve also included the Amazon link for additional information.  To see my ratings for each book, you can visit my Goodreads page (historical fiction and/or favorite reads shelves).

Dreamland Burning by
Jennifer Latham

dreamland burning

Genre: YA historical fiction

My Review Here.

More Information Here.


Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

small great things

Genre: adult fiction

My Review Here.

More Information Here.


The Gilded Years
by Karin Tanabe

The Gilded Years

Genre: Women’s Historical Fiction

This important and compelling story is about the first African-American woman to attend Vassar (passing as white), and it’s written in a biographical style. It causes one to think seriously about options for African American women in the late 1890s and inspires you to consider what you might have done to follow your dream and achieve your goals.

More Information Here.


Homegoing
by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction

An ambitious multi generational story tracing the impact of slavery for 2 sisters and their families from generation to generation from Ghana to America over a period of 300+ years.

More Information Here.


Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
(author of Secret Life of Bees)

Invention of Wings

Genre: adult historical fiction

An unputdownable story of the Grimké sisters (Sarah and Angelina) and their slave, Hetty, as the sisters wrestle with the ideas of slavery and join the early abolitionist and women’s rights movements in the North. One of my favorite reads of recent years and a great book club selection.

More Information Here.


The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House

Glory Over Everything

Genre: adult historical fiction

In The Kitchen House, a 7-year-old orphan from Ireland is placed with the slaves on a southern plantation. They become her family and she is raised in the slave culture. This gives her a unique perspective and voice. Glory Over Everything is a sequel of sorts (but it can be read as a stand alone) and it follows the life of her nephew (from her black adopted sister) as he leaves the South and passes for white.

More Information Here and Here.


Stella by Starlight
by Sharon M. Draper

Stella by Starlight

Genre: Middle School historical fiction

If you’re looking for an appropriate diverse and historical fiction selection for a middle grade readers (ages 9-12), I recommend this poignant story of Stella’s experiences with racism and finding her own voice.

More Information Here.


The Warmth of Other Suns
by Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns

Genre: Adult Narrative Non Fiction

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson shares the stories of three individuals representing the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South from 1917 to 1970 for northern and western cities in search of a better life. This is known as the Great Migration. My husband was a history major and thoroughly enjoyed this story.

More Information Here.

Extras:

Refugee

I’d like to quickly draw your attention to one more diversity read that’s getting a lot of buzz right now for Middle Grade readers….if you have a 9-12 year old, this might interest them. Keeping with our theme of diversity and hearing from authentic voices, I’d like to recommend Refugee by Alan Gratz. This is a story from the perspectives of three young people as they leave their countries of origin (Nazi Germany, Cuba, and Syria) as refugees to seek safety. Recommended for mature middle grade readers and above. Good literature can be enjoyed by all ages!

Buy Here.

 



Those of you who have read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, might enjoy this excellent review I stumbled upon this week!

Read Review Here.

Do you like polls? Book Nerd Poll just for fun!

One Last Recommendation!

Untangled

I thought Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood by Lisa Damour sounded really good for parents or guardians or mentors/teachers of teenage girls!

 

More Information Here.



Happy Reading Everyone!

“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

Looking Forward:

If you’d like to “buddy read,” next week I’m thrilled to review Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray). In two weeks, I’ll review Little Fires Everywhere, the new release by Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You). **Schedule subject to change if my Little Fires Everywhere hold becomes available from the library sooner than expected.

Out of the Easy

 

More Information Here.

 

Little Fires Everywhere

 

More Information Here.

 

Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Let’s Discuss!

In the comments I’d love to hear your thoughtful and respectful reflections on The Hate U Give or any of the other selections. I’m always eager to hear about what you’re reading and your thoughts about diversity in your reading life! Did you add a new book to your TBR list?

Summer’s Best List

August 29, 2017

Looking for a Great Read For the Weekend?

This is special! One of my favorite reading blogs, Top Shelf Text, queried her blogging friends (including yours truly at readingladies) and asked if we’d like to participate in a special post where she would compile all of our favorite reads of the summer. We each submitted our choice for best book of the summer along with a brief review. Below you will find the link to the special blog post she put together with all of our favorite reads! These selections will provide a wealth of great recommendations, expand your TBR (to be read list), and keep you busy all winter! Check it out!

Best Books of the Summer

Diverse Books Club

While you are visiting Top Shelf Text, check out her unique and recently launched Diverse Books Club project. If you want to expand the diversity of your reads for yourself or your children, there will be amazing ideas here… ….  the discussions will happen on goodreads. She’s also on Instagram as diversebooksclub.

 

Happy Reading Everyone!

Favorite Reads: January-June 2017

July 21,2017

Dear Reading Friends,

In the height of the summer reading season, I’m excited to share eleven (I tried for ten!) of my favorite reads with you in case your TBR (to be read) list is depleted or you’re in a reading slump and need some inspiration!

I include only 3, 4, and 5 star reviews on the blog. As always, you can find all the books I’ve read and rated here on Goodreads.

Following is a collection of the eleven books that I’ve enjoyed the most (in alphabetical order) at this point in the year.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
(a novella) by Fredrik Backman

And Every Morning

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Family Life, Alzheimer’s

Amazon Summary:
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime. Amazon Rating (July): 4.5 stars

My Thoughts:
An amazing, creative, beautifully written short story with a huge impact and filled with love and tenderness. In Backman’s own words: “It’s a love letter and a slow farewell between a man and his grandson, and between a dad and his boy.” Highly recommended for older teens, men, women, anyone touched by Alzheimer’s, and can be devoured in one sitting. Rating: 5 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Frederick Backman

Fredrik Backman, blogger, columnist, and New York Times bestselling author, lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.

 

Beartown
by Fredrik Backman (same author as “And Every Morning…”)

Beartown

Genre/category: Fiction, Small Town and Rural, Sports

Amazon Summary:
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world. Amazon Rating (July): 4.6 stars

My Thoughts:
As the author develops characters and establishes the setting in his unique style, tension builds like the distant rumbling of an approaching severe thunderstorm.
The action is a bit slow in the beginning but once it picks up the tension is sustained as the story plays out. Hockey fans will find this story particularly enjoyable! Filled with fascinating characters and infused with complex and important themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, and a girl’s “no,” I’m predicting that this powerful story will be one of the year’s best reads for me. Thoughtful and challenging on multiple levels, this will make a terrific book club selection. Highly recommended for hockey enthusiasts, men (my husband enjoyed it) and women. Rating: 5 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:
(see previous review)

 

Dreamland Burning
by Jennifer Latham

dreamland burning

Genre/category: YA Historical Fiction, Prejudice and Racism

Amazon Summary:
When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past… and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations. Amazon Rating (July): 4.7 stars

My Thoughts:
Few books give me a book “hangover,” and readers who’ve experienced this will know what I mean!  Dreamland Burning has everything I love about a good story: captivating characters, unputdownable, important and timely themes, substantial content, and beautiful writing. In particular, I loved the seamless transitions between alternating time periods. It flowed like one story with no jarring reentry or mental adjustment into the next point of view. I appreciate the author’s hard work and her craft at making this happen. Dreamland Burning would pair well with Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult for its similar themes. Highly recommended for men and women, for older teens, and especially for thoughtful book club discussions. Rating: 5 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Jennifer Latham

Jennifer Latham is an army brat with a soft spot for kids, books, and poorly behaved dogs. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband and two daughters. Read more at http://www.jenniferlatham.com/

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant

Genre/category: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Amazon Summary:
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . The only way to survive is to open your heartAmazon Rating (July): 4.6 stars

My Thoughts:
If you enjoy stories about quirky characters like Frederick Backman’s Ove or Britt-Marie, you will likely enjoy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Throughout this amazing, witty, poignant, and unique read, we learn her story. Eleanor isn’t fine, and I was completely captivated by her bravery and themes of loneliness, honesty, survival, unconditional love, healing, acceptance, and restoration. I wanted to crawl into the story and give her a hug. Highly recommended as a story that builds empathy for others. Rating: 5 stars.

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About the Author:

gail honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress and is Honeyman’s debut novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Find more information at http://www.foyles.co.uk/Public/Biblio/AuthorDetails.aspx?authorId=85835 and follow her on Twitter:  @GailHoneyman

 

News of the World
by Paulette Jiles

News of the World

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Westerns

Amazon Summary:
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Amazon Rating (July): 4.6 stars

My Thoughts:
Do you often read outside of your preferred genres? I never would’ve chosen a western, but I loved this heartwarming and beautifully written story of the rescue of a ten year old girl. In the end, the tension between doing something right (the return) and doing the right thing (the ultimate rescue) earned this story a place among my favorites. Throughout the story, the author creates an amazing sense of place. Not often do I find historical fiction combined with literary fiction combined with westerns! Those readers who enjoy westerns will love this even more. Recommended for men and women, for its themes, and for beautiful writing. Rating: 5 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles was born in Salem, Missouri, in the Missouri Ozarks. Raised in small towns in both south and central Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri (KC) in Romance Languages. After graduation she worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto and in the far north of Ontario and in the Quebec Arctic, helping to set up village one-watt FM radio stations in the native language, Anishinabe and Inuktitut. She became reasonably conversant in Anishinabe but Inuktitut was just too much. Very hard. Besides she was only in the eastern Arctic for a year. Work in the north lasted about ten years all told.

She taught at David Thompson University in Nelson B.C. and grew to love the British Columbian ecosystems and general zaniness. She spent one year as a writer-in-residence at Philips Andover in Massachusetts and then returned to the United States permanently when she married Jim Johnson, a Texan. She has lived in Texas since 1995.

She and her husband renovated an old stone house in the San Antonio historic district and amidst the rubble and stonemasons and ripped-out electrical systems she completed Enemy Women. She now lives on a small ranch near a very small town in the Texas Hill Country with a horse and a donkey. If you want a free donkey, please let her know. She plays Irish tin whistle with a bluegrass group, sings alto in choir, rides remote trails in Texas with friends. Her horse is named Buck. News of the World (William Morrow) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Read more at paulettejiles.com.

 

Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

Genre/category: YA Historical Fiction, Survival Stories

Amazon Summary:
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept. Amazon Rating (July): 4.7 stars.

My Thoughts:
While reading this page turner, I discovered my new favorite author, Ruta Sepetys, and I’m on a quest to read all of her work. Salt to the Sea is an intense, engaging, and gripping historical fiction read featuring a quartet of complex characters each with their own story to tell and a hope of escape.  It is a timely story as we hear in current events about refugees escaping war. On a cautionary note: I wondered if it was too heavy to be categorized YA (young adult). Recommended for its beautiful writing and for WWll fans. Rating: 5 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to stories of strength through struggle. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over fifty countries. “Between Shades of Gray” was inspired by her family’s history in Lithuania. Her second novel, “Out of the Easy” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950, and her third novel, “Salt to the Sea, exposes one of the greatest hidden disasters of World War II. Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee. For more information:
http://www.rutasepetys.com
http://www.facebook.com/rutasepetys
http://www.twitter.com/rutasepetys

 

Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

small great things

Genre/catetory: Literary Fiction, Prejudice, Race, Justice, Family

Amazon Summary:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game. Amazon Rating (July): 4.7 stars

My Thoughts:
This is an important read and one that I often recommend; however, it was difficult for me to rate. First, I would award it 4 stars for being a page turner and for the focus on an important issue. At the same time, I would rate it 3 stars for the author’s overly pedantic tone (for my preference) and the too convenient plot twists at the end. Overall, that would average out to a 3.5 star rating. On Goodreads, I rounded that up to 4 stars. This rating comes with a word of caution that the author was heavy handed in her message….it seemed to me that the story was an excuse to share her personal views. I’m conflicted as I write this because it’s an important issue and message, but at times it felt like a lecture. In the end, I admire her bravery at tackling this important and sensitive issue. Without hesitation, though, I recommend this book for readers who enjoy controversial and current topics, nurses, and legal professionals, and to those readers who want to form their own opinions on trending new releases. It would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, if you’re a huge Jodi Picoult fan you would want to read this prolific author’s latest. Rating: 4 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Read more at http://www.jodipicoult.com/

 

The Dry
by Jane Harper

The Dry

Genre/category: Crime Fiction, Mystery

Amazon Summary:
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets. Amazon Rating (July): 4.4 stars

My Thoughts:
This is another book that’s outside of my preferred reading genres. I always love it when I take a chance to expand my reading and stumble upon something I enjoy. Even though this book didn’t end up on my virtual favorite reads bookshelf in Goodreads, I’m including it here for all of you who do love crime fiction and because it was a 4 star read. I appreciated the beautiful writing, excellent character development, and amazing sense of place the author created. In addition, the mystery kept me guessing until the very end (maybe that’s because I don’t read that much crime fiction and not an expert at picking up clues!). Another reason to read this book is that it’s been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon. Some of us are die hard “must read the book before I see the movie” types. Recommended for men and women who love a good mystery but who also enjoy beautiful writing. Rating: 4 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Jane Harper

Jane Harper was born in Manchester in the UK, and moved to Australia with her family at age eight and gained Australian citizenship.

Returning to the UK with her family as a teenager, she lived in Hampshire before studying English and History at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

On graduating, she completed a journalism entry qualification and got her first reporting job as a trainee on the Darlington & Stockton Times in County Durham.

Jane worked for several years as a senior news journalist for the Hull Daily Mail, before moving back to Australia in 2008 working with the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

In 2014, Jane submitted a short story which was one of 12 chosen for the Big Issue‘s annual Fiction Edition.

That inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously, and that year she applied for the Curtis Brown Creative online 12-week novel writing course.

She was accepted with a submission for the book that would become The Dry and wrote the first full draft during the three-month course.

Jane lives in St Kilda with her husband and daughter. To read more visit http://janeharper.com.au/

 

The Orphan’s Tale
by Pam Jenoff

Orphan's Tale

Genre/category: Historical Fiction, Jewish

Amazon Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything. Amazon Rating (July): 4.4 stars

My Thoughts:
The circus meets WWll…..an interesting perspective and engaging, page turning, memorable historical fiction read! I was inspired by these phenomenal and courageous characters and by the themes of survival, friendship, taking risk, loyalty, and caring for one another. Recommended for all historical fictions fans. Rating:  4 stars

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Meet the Author:

Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including her most recent, The Orphan’s Tale, an instant New York Times bestseller, and The Kommandant’s Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for the Quill Awards and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing atto her masters degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelors degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school. Pam would love to skype with your book club or library group! Read more at http://www.pamjenoff.com/

 

The Pearl That Broke its Shell
by Nadia Hashimi

Pearl That Broke its Shell

Genre/category: Women’s Fiction, Domestic Life

Amazon Summary:
Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi’s literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive? Amazon Rating (July): 4.5 stars

My Thoughts:
If you enjoyed the Kite Runner, you might appreciate this gripping, page turning story of child brides, violence against women, and gender inequality in Afghan culture. Even though parts of the story are heartbreaking and disturbing, I think it’s an important cultural read and I was profoundly affected by the themes of  oppression, plight of women, women fighting for voice and representation, injustice, perseverance, endurance, and hope for a better future. Highly recommended for those who love stories about strong women. Rating: 4 stars

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About the Author:

Nadia Hashimi

Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician of Afghan descent and an internationally bestselling author. She attended Brandeis University, obtained a medical degree from SUNY Downstate and trained in pediatrics at New York University. She has hometowns in both New York and New Jersey but now calls Maryland home. She is an advocate for women’s rights and a public speaker. Nadia loves a good story and strong female characters.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or via her website (www.nadiahashimi.com) to learn more or request a virtual book club visit. She’s quite social.

 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
by Lisa See

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Family Saga, Asian American

Amazon Summary:
A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters. Amazon Rating (July): 4.5 stars

My Thoughts:
Fans of Lisa See will not be disappointed! This is an amazing read with themes of family, adoption, redemption, courage, determination, culture, mothers/daughters, sacrifice, and coincidence. Recommended for readers who appreciate Lisa See and who love learning about other customs and cultures. Rating: 4 stars

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About the Author:

Lisa See

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. Her most recent novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, will be released by Scribner in March 2017. Booklist has said of the new novel, “See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love.” Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her books have been published in 39 languages. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001, was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003, and is slated to receive the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2017. Read more at www.lisasee.com

Happy Reading!

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Currently Reading:
Next week I’ll be reviewing The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan if you’d like to “buddy read” with me.

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Did any of these books pique your interest? Do you have your own reflections on any of the above selections? What do you look for when choosing your next read? What are you currently reading? Please leave a comment!