With the Fire on High: A Review

September 17, 2019

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High Review.png

Genre/Categories: Contemporary YA Fiction, Cooking, Multi-Generational Family, Coming of Age

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Emoni Santiago is a responsible, creative, and determined teenage mother. In addition to caring for her young daughter, living with and helping to support her grandmother, and navigating her classes as a high school senior, Emoni is well known for her extraordinary cooking skills. For her, cooking is an artistic adventure. A new culinary arts class is offered at her school along with a class trip to Spain. Given all her responsibilities and financial situation, can she possibly risk everything to follow her dreams?

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

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If You Want To Make God Laugh: A Review

September 13, 2019

If You Want To Make God Laugh
by Bianca Marais

If You Want to Make God Laugh Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, South Africa, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

If You Want to Make God Laugh is the story of three unforgettable women living in post-Apartheid South Africa at the time of a growing AIDS epidemic and threats of civil war. Zodwa is seventeen, pregnant, poor, and lives in a squatter’s camp. Ruth and Delilah are middle-aged sisters who live on an inherited, rural farm. While Ruth is an unhappy, disillusioned, and newly divorced socialite, Delilah is a former nun and social worker who is hiding a big secret. A newborn baby will bring these characters together, and this is a story of their precarious relationships, of sibling jealousy, rivalry, and healing, and of found family.

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: If You Want To Make God Laugh

 September 3, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share a passage from a book that’s one of my highly anticipated fall reads: If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. Have you read her previous book, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words?

 

From Amazon:

From the author of the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.

Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it’s what she can’t have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to heal, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.

As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?

 

If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

If You Want to Make God Laugh

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Family Life, Coming of Age, Post-Apartheid

1st Line/1st Paragraph From Chapter One:

Sterkfontein, Transvaal, South Africa 

“A thread of smoke snakes up into the cloudless sky and serves as Zodwa’s compass needle. She trails it until the sandy path dips suddenly, revealing a squat hut nestled in the grassland below. A woman sits waiting at the threshold. She’s hunched over like a question mark, her headdress of white beads partially obscuring her face. A leopard skin is draped over her shoulders and the sight of it reassures Zodwa; the gold-and-black-spotted pelt ibhayi signifies the nyanga is a healer of great power.

 

I’m eager to dive into this after enjoying Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by the same author. Here is my review of Hum.



QOTD:

Do you enjoy diverse reads?

Is If You Want To Make God Laugh on your TBR?



 Looking Ahead:

Return on Friday for my full review of Meet Me in Monaco
by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.

Meet Me in Monaco



It’s Not Too Late To Read ONE More Great Book This Summer!

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Check Out This List If You Are Choosing Books For A Book Club This Fall

Book Club Recommendations



Sharing is Caring

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



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

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

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

Searching For Sylvie Lee: A Review

August 9, 2019

Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

searching for sylvie lee review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Asian-American Fiction, Family Life, Mystery, Sisters

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

What happened to the eldest daughter, Sylvie Lee?

That is the mystery that drives the plot of this complicated family drama.

A Chinese immigrant family, the Lees were too poor to keep their firstborn, Sylvie, and the parents sent her to the Netherlands where she was raised by her grandmother until she was nine. When Sylvie rejoined the Lee family in New York City, Amy was four years old. Sylvie helped raise Amy while their parents worked long hours to support their family.

Sylvie marries and during a recent solo trip she takes to the Netherlands to visit her dying grandmother, she disappears. Amy adores her beautiful and confident older sister and feels obligated to do everything in her power to find her. Filled with determination, she bravely sets out on her own journey to the Netherlands. While there, she discovers the truth about her family and their secrets.

Amazon Rating (August): 4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

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Hum If You Don’t Know the Words: A Review

August 2, 2019

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Hum if You Don't Know the Words Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Apartheid, South Africa

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Soweto Uprising of 1976 in South Africa brings together our two protagonists: nine-year-old Robin Conrad living in Johannesburg and Beauty Mbali living in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei. In Apartheid South Africa, these characters should never have met. Robin is living a comfortable life with her parents while Beauty struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. After the Soweto Uprising, Robin’s parents are dead and Beauty’s daughter is missing. Extraordinary circumstances bring them together and as they grieve their losses, they form a bond. This complex and heartfelt story is told through alternating perspectives.

Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

 July 23, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share the first line and first few paragraphs of a book that’s been on my TBR for some time: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. I’m actually eager to read the new release by Bianca Marais If You Want to Make God Laugh, but I’m on a long library wait list so I’m reading Hum while I wait.

From Amazon: “Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a ten-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred…until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing. 

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.”

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Hum if You Don't Know the Words

Genre/Categories: South Africa, Apartheid, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age

1st Line/1st Few Paragraphs:

“I joined up the last two lines of the hopscotch grid and wrote a big “10” in the top square. It gave me a thrill writing the age I’d be on my next birthday because everyone knew that once you hit double digits, you weren’t a child anymore. The green chalk, borrowed from the scoreboard of my father’s dartboard without his knowledge, was so stubby that my fingers scraped against the concrete of the driveway as I put the final touches on my creation.

“There, it’s done.” I stood back and studied my handiwork. As usual, I was disappointed that something I’d made hadn’t turned out quite as good as I’d imagined.

“It’s perfect,” Cat declared, reading my mind as she always did, and trying to reassure me before I washed the grid off in a fit of self-doubt. I smiled even though her opinion shouldn’t have counted for much; my identical twin sister was easily impressed by everything I did. “You go first” Cat said.

“Okay.”

I pulled the bronze half-cent coin from my pocket and rubbed it for luck before flipping it into the air from my thumbnail. It arced and spun, glinting in the sunlight, and when it finally landed in the first square, I launched myself forward, eager to finish the grid in record time.

I finished three circuits before the coin skittered out of the square marked”4.” It should have ended my turn, but I shot a quick look at Cat who was distracted by a hadeda bird making a racket on the neighbor’s roof. Before she could notice my mistake, I nudged the choin back in place with the tip of my canvas shoe and carried on jumping.

“You’re doing so well,” Cat called a few seconds later once she’s turned back and noticed my progress.

Spurred on by her clapping and encouragement, I hopped even faster, not noticing until it was too late that a lace on one of my takkies had come loose. It tripped me up just as I cleared the last square and brought me crashing down knee-first, my skin scraped raw on the rough concrete. I cried out, first in alarm and then in pain, and it was this noise that brought my mother’s flip-flops clacking into my line of vision. Her shadow fell over me.

“Oh for goodness’ sake, not again.” my mother reached down and yanked me up. “you’re so clumsy. I don’t know where you get it from.” She tsked as I raised my bleeding knee so she could see.

Cat was crouched next to me, wincing at the sight of the gravel embedded in the wound. Tears started to prickle, but I knew I had to stop their relentless progression quickly or suffer my mother’s displeasure.

“I’m fine. It’s fine.” I forced a watery smile and gingerly stood up.

“Oh, Robin,” my mother sighed. “You’re not going to cry are you? You know how ugly you are when you cry.” She crossed her eyes and screwed up her face comically to illustrate her point and I forced the giggle she was looking for.

The first chapter engaged me immediately, so I’m anticipating a great read!



QOTD:

Have you read Hum If You Don’t Know the Words or Masais’s new release If You Want to Make God Laugh?



 Looking Ahead:

Return on Friday for my review of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce and next week for my end of July Wrap Up and a 2-year Bblogiversary Giveaway!

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy



Posts You Might Have Missed

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Summer 2019 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best Reads of the Year So Far



Sharing is Caring

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



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

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

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

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters: A Review

June 19, 2019

Can three very different sisters living three vastly different lives come together to honor their mother’s last dying wish of traveling to India and scattering her ashes?

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Unlikely Adventures of Shergill Sisters Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, India

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

To honor their mother’s dying wish, three Punjabi sisters travel to India on a pilgrimage to visit sacred places that are special to Mom and to scatter her ashes. Told from the three perspectives of three very different sisters, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters explores sibling relationships, modern vs traditional roles of women, secrets, and the importance of family.

My Thoughts:

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Miracle Creek: A Review

July 12, 2019

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Murder Mystery, Crime Fiction, Courtroom Drama, Korean American

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Miracle Creek takes place in a small town in Virginia of the same name. In this town, there is a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions. As the story begins, the chamber explodes and two people die. Is this an accident or sabotage or insurance fraud? Through multiple perspectives, we become acquainted with the owners and surviving patients and learn about their secrets, their anguish, their frustrations, their best intentions, their misconceptions, and their rivalries. The story is rich in vivid details about the trial, parenting a special needs child, and the immigrant experience.

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

 June 25, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share the first line and first paragraph of Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok. If you appreciate family dynamics, diverse reads, and mystery, this may be a good read for you.

From Amazon:  A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears. A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Searching For Sylvie Lee

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Asian American, Family Life, Mystery

1st Line/1st (2) Paragraphs:

I am standing by the window of our small apartment in Queens, watching as Ma and Pa leave for their jobs. Half-hidden by the worn curtains Ma sewed herself, I see them walk side by side to the subway station down the street. At the entrance, they pause and look at each other for a moment. Here, I always hold my breath, waiting for Pa to touch Ma’s cheek, or for Ma to burst into tears, or for either of them to give some small sign of the truth of their relationship. Instead, Ma raises her hand in an awkward wave, the drape of her black shawl exposing her slender forearm, and Pa shuffles into the open mouth of the station as the morning traffic roars down our busy street. Then Ma ducks her head and continues her walk to the local dry cleaners where she works.

I sigh and step away from the window. I should be doing something more productive. Why am I still spying on my parents? Because I’m an adult living at home and have nothing better to do. If I don’t watch out, I’m going to turn into Ma. Timid, dutiful, toiling at a job that pays nothing. And yet, I’ve caught glimpses of another Ma and Pa over the years. The passion that flickers over her face as she reads Chinese romane novels in the night, the ones Pa scorns. The way Pa reaches for her elbow when he walks behind her, catches himself, and pulls back his hand. I pass by my closet of a bedroom, and the poster that hangs on the wall catches my eye–barely visible behind the teetering piles of papers and laundry. It’s a quote I’ve always loved from Willa Cather: “The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.” I’m not sure I believe the sentiment but her words never fail to unsettle me.

Searching For Sylvie Lee finally reached the top of my library hold list. Not only is it on my 2019 Summer TBR, but Jenna (from The Today Show Book Club) selected it for the June read. Here’s a clip of Jenna and author Jean Kwok.

So far I’ve read five chapters and can report that it’s easy reading and quietly engaging as everyone begins to realize that Sylvie is missing. Have you read Searching For Sylvie Lee?



QOTD:

Do you enjoy reading hyped books or do you avoid them until the buzz dies down?

Most of the time I want to read them (so I can offer you reviews of recent releases), but there have been times when I ignore the buzz and later find out that the buzz was short lived and I decide to pass on it…..or as time passes, more honest reviews are published and I decide it’s not for me after all.



 Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’m publishing my list of favorite books so far this year.

Coming soon! A special collaboration post with twelve other bloggers as we each give our recommendation for ONE great summer book!

One Great Summer Read



Sharing is Caring

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



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

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

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

 

 

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

June 25, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share the first line and first paragraph of Miracle Creek by Angie Kim. If you appreciate family dynamics and courtroom drama, this may be a good read for you.

From Amazon:  How far will we go to protect our families―and our deepest secrets? Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. Both a compelling page-turner and an excavation of identity and the desire for connection, Miracle Creek is a brilliant, empathetic debut from an exciting new voice.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Miracle Creek

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Courtroom Drama, Family Dynamics

1st Line/1st Paragraph:

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first. It was such a small thing, what he wanted. The police had just released the protesters, and while he stepped out to make sure they weren’t coming back, I was to sit in his chair. Cover for him, the way coworkers do as a matter of course, the way we ourselved used to at the gracery store, while I ate or he smoked. But as I took his seat, I bumped against the desk, and the certificate above it went slightly crooked as if to remind me that this wasn’t a regular business, that there was a reason he’d never left me in charge before.

My library hold on Miracle Creek just came in, and it’s timely because it’s on my 2019 Summer TBR.  Although this is not my usual genre, I’m looking forward to the read because I see it frequently promoted and reviewed and FOMO is real. So far, I’ve read the first chapter and the story is engaging from page one. Have you read it?



QOTD:

Do you enjoy reading hyped books or do you avoid them until the buzz dies down?

Most of the time I want to read them (so I can offer you reviews of recent releases), but there have been times when I ignore the buzz and later find out that the buzz was short lived and I decide to pass on it…..or as time passes, more honest reviews are published and I decide it’s not for me after all.



 Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’m publishing my review for Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini.

Resistance Women

Sunday, I’ll publish my June Wrap Up and I’m also working on a post which will highlight my favorite reads for the first half of 2019.

Coming soon! A special collaboration post with twelve other bloggers as we each give our recommendation for ONE great summer book!

One Great Summer Read



Sharing is Caring

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



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

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

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