Hamnet [Book Review]

September 25, 2020

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: portrait of a young boy in a felt hat....a quill lies horizontally over his eyes

Genre/Categories: Historical and Biographical Literary Fiction, Family Life, Magical Realism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

TW: Review mentions the death of a child.

Summary:

Hamnet is set in 1580s Warwickshire, England and is the highly imagined story of William Shakespeare’s family, especially his son, Hamnet, and his wife, Agnes (Anne). It’s the story of a marriage and family. Shakespeare and Agnes had three children. It’s also a story of grief as we know from history that Hamnet dies. O’Farrell imagines that he might have died as a result of the 1550s plague. William Shakespeare is “off-stage” for the majority of the story and is never mentioned by name (referred to as husband, father, etc.). This centers Agnes (and the children) as the main character of the story and grief as the main theme. Agnes is a beautiful woman who has some supernatural gifts of healing with herbs, is entirely devoted to family, and frequently experiences glimpses into the future.

My Thoughts:

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 24, 2020

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
#throwbackthursday

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (cover) Image: silhouette of two kids sitting in a tree...one is strumming a guitar

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Magical Realism, Fable

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by popular author Mitch Albom, a story about the power of music to change our lives…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…in this life, everyone joins a band……

My Summary:

“Music is the narrator telling the story of Frankie Presto, a gifted guitar player and singer, who changes six lives with his six magical blue strings. Born under tragic circumstances, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, Frankie is sent to America alone at nine years old with his prized guitar (and six magic strings). His life touches many famous musicians on his journey to become a pop star himself. Because Frankie is troubled by his childhood experiences and tortured by his biggest mistake, he drops out of sight to reconcile with his past. He reappears just before his death to change one last life.”

Continue here for my review of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

“I am Music. And Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words.”

QOTD: Have you read The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto or is it on your TBR?

Transcendent Kingdom [Book Review]

September 18, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

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

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

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

My Thoughts:

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The Music Shop [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 17, 2020

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
#throwbackthursday

The Music Shop Review

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Music, Friendship

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

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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

My Summary:

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

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

Continue here for my review of The Music Shop

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

My Dear Hamilton [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 10, 2020

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
#throwbackthursday

My Dear Hamilton Review

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

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

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…strong, independent, faithful, compassionate…

My Summary:

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

Continue here for my review of My Dear Hamilton

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

From Sand and Ash [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 3, 2020

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
#throwbackthursday

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

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

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

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…faith, sacrifice, and survival…

My Summary:

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

Continue here for my review of From Sand and Ash

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

Ordinary Grace [Book Review]

August 28, 2020

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (cover) Image: a wooden railroad trellis over a river underneath a partially cloudy sky

Genre/Categories: Adult Literary Fiction, Coming of Age, Faith

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The summer of 1961 should have been another ordinary summer for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, but it was a summer of hardships, tragedy, grief, adult problems, and questions of faith. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, Ordinary Grace is a poignant coming-of-age story with elements of mystery and suspense.

My Thoughts:

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We Were the Lucky Ones [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

August 20, 2020

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, an engaging and heartfelt story about family and faith

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (cover) Image: a black and white photo of a man and woman sitting in metal garden chairs with backs to the camera

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…family and faith…

My Summary:

“In the spring of 1939, the extended Kurc family is living a modest and happy life in Radom, Poland. In the midst of joyful family celebrations, however, there is increased talk of the mistreatment of Jews. Soon the entire close-knit Kurc family faces separation, makes attempts to flee, and desperately focuses on safety and survival. Family members share a will to survive and seeing one another again is their greatest goal. Through cleverness, determination, faith, hope, and hardship they endure.”

Continue here for my review of We Were the Lucky Ones

QOTD: Have you read We Were the Lucky Ones or is it on your TBR?

Last Christmas in Paris [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 2, 2020

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb….an endearing love story with a WW1 backdrop. I must note before starting that these Throw Back Thursday posts are like visiting old, dear friends and today’s story is on my lifetime favorites list…so, it’s a special joy to introduce you to this lovely story!

War changes everything…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb cover (image: a packet of old letters tied with a red ribbon in the foreground and a partical view of the Eifel Tower in the background)

Genre/Categories: historical fiction (WW 1), epistolary, war, romantic

My Summary:

At the beginning of WW 1 as Evie watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas, leave for the front, she (and nearly everyone) naively believes the war will be over by Christmas. To keep their spirits up, the three make plans for celebrating Christmas in Paris. The Great War, as we know from history, turned out much differently. While Thomas and Will struggle with the horrific realities of war, Evie does her part by writing to each of them. Through letters, Evie and Thomas grow fond of each other and find it easy to share their deepest hopes and fears through letters. Evie is a high-spirited, determined, and independent young woman who wants to more fully participate in the war effort. Through her interests in writing, she writes columns for a newspaper on the topic of war from a woman’s point of view. These columns become more controversial as she finds it difficult to write anything but the truth. Eventually, she travels to France to be closer to the front as she wants to contribute to the war effort in a more significant way. Will Evie and Thomas and their love survive the war? Will they ever make it to Paris to celebrate Christmas?”

Continue here for my full review of Last Christmas in Paris

QOTD: Have you read Last Christmas in Paris or is it on your TBR?

#throwbackthursday Wonder by R.J. Palacio [Book Review]

May 14, 2020

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite MG/YA read, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s on my lifetime favorites list and I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a “must-read.”

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (cover) Image: graphic of a mostly blank boy's head (one eye and a head of hair and ears are the only features) against a blue background

Genre/Categories: Middle grade through adult contemporary fiction,  growing up, difficult discussions, family life, friendship, compassion, character traits

My Summary:

“On the inside, ten-year-old August Pullman feels very ordinary. But as he says, ordinary kids don’t make other kids run away screaming and they don’t get stared at wherever they go. Auggie was born with a rare genetic abnormality that affected the formation of his face. Because of extensive surgeries and an attempt to protect him from cruelties of the outside world, Auggie’s parents have homeschooled him. The reader meets 5th grade Auggie as he’s being enrolled in a traditional school for the first time. Will he be accepted? Will he find friends? Will he find a hostile or friendly environment? How will adults in his life support him? The story is told from six perspectives (August, Via–his older sister, Summer–a friendly caring peer, Jack–a student leader who struggles in his role as a friend, Miranda–his sister’s best friend and a close family friend, and Justin–Miranda’s boyfriend) plus a bonus chapter from Julian’s point of view (Auggie’s nemesis).”

“Heart…Heroes…and Humor”

Continue reading my review of Wonder to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Wonder or is it on your TBR?