No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 4, 2021

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
#throwbackthursday

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Angency (Image: boxed sets of books)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Botswana, Gentle Mysteries, Amateur Sleuths, “UpLit”

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m eager to share two reviews of a series on my lifetime favorites list, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith….gentle, character-driven stories, Botswana culture.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of the Series:

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective (21 installment) series is a gentle, character-driven, charming, easy reading series filled with likable characters reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana, Africa. Mma Ramotswe, founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices. Important common themes appear throughout all the stories in the series, and they include compassion, kindness, graciousness, reflection, good manners, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. Readers also hear the author’s voice as he provides gentle commentary on universal issues. Alexander McCall Smith, born in Zimbabwe, does really well in what he sets out to do in these stories.

cup of tea

“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe–no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break–that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.”

There are 21 installments in the series! Are you looking for a gentle, cozy read?

I’d love to introduce you to gracious, wise, and wonderful Mma Ramotswe! How to Raise an Elephant is the most recent (#21) installment (not reviewed). Here are reviews of two of my recent favorites (If you haven’t read any of the series and want to try one, I’d suggest beginning with House of Unexpected Sisters):

Continue here for my full review of The House of Unexpected Sisters (my fav or the series)….

Continue here for my full review of The Colors of All the Cattle ….



QOTD:

Have you read No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series or is it on your TBR?

10 Awesome and Diverse Reads For #MiddleGradeMarch

March 2, 2021

10 Awesome and Diverse Reads For #MiddleGradeMarch

(top view) picture of a middle grade child reading on a recliner covered with a reddiish knitted afghan

Image Source: Canva

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

To participate in #middlegrademarch, I’ve compiled a list of ten diverse Middle-Grade reads! There are many wonderful middle-grade books from which to choose and even though I haven’t read extensively in middle grade, these titles are stories that I’ve recently read and thought were exceptional because of their themes and diversity. Reading builds understanding and compassion.

Often, children fall in love with reading in Middle Grade. Was this your experience? Children in Middle Grade have “learned to read” and they can fully immerse themselves in the world of words as they “read to learn” and “read for enjoyment.” They have more autonomy to choose their own reading material and can pursue individual interests. Many stories promote great family read-aloud experiences (or buddy reads). As a bonus, most Middle-Grade stories have heartfelt themes without the angst and/or profanity of YA.

What theme do you think Middle Grade books have in common?

For adults, Middle-Grade books make the perfect palate cleanser or fit the description of books that can be read in a day. If I’m feeling myself sliding into a reading “slump,” I often seek out a recommended Middle-Grade read to stimulate my reading life once again. I love that Middle-Grade books almost always end on a hopeful note. This theme of hopefulness is one of the main reasons I love reading in the Middle-Grade genre. I strongly believe that great Middle-Grade literature can be enjoyed by adults! Here’s an entire post devoted to why I love MG.

In addition to the above reasons to read Middle-Grade literature, I appreciate the authors who write diversely for Middle-Grade readers and write on difficult themes or topics in an easy-to-read and understandable manner. If we buy and read more Middle-Grade diverse literature, it will encourage publishers and writers to produce more. I think it’s important for children to see themselves in literature.

Middle-Grade Literature

(in no particular order)

(more…)

#BlackHistoryMonth: 10 Reading Ideas

February 26, 2021

10 Reading Ideas for Black History Month

black history month

Image Source: Canva

I support reading Black authors all year, especially in February.

I hope you are inspired by reading ideas for Black History Month! Have you read any of these titles? Please add your recommendations in the comments.

Books are listed in no particular order: 5 of my most recent reads and 5 older must reads.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.



5 Recommended Recent Reads



Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist (cover) Image: the back view of a middle grade boy wearing a blue superhero cape and holding a pencil

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist (Middle Grade) My review of Isaiah Dunn here.


Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson (cover) Image: a picture of a plus size Black girl surrounded by four smaller images of the same girl and her boyfriend

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson (YA) My review of Love Is a Revolution here.


Piecing Me Together

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (MG) Not yet reviewed, but this is a lovely Middle Grade read!


Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West (cover) Image: a young woman stands in profile against a pink, orange, and yellow background

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West  Emotionally difficult and well written.


Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (cover) Image: white text with a maroon top and bottom border and branches with white blooms

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston An emotional and intense classic.



5 Highly Recommended Must Reads



These are books that I’ve read in the past years that are on my must read and highly recommended list.

just mercy

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Memoir, Non Fiction, Racial Tension and Injustice). 4 Stars. My review of Just Mercy here.


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

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (family drama, addiction, faith and science, mental health)
5 Stars. My review of Transcendent Kingdom here.


Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Guasi (historical fiction, family multi generational saga)
This book is ambitious in its structure and memorable in its story telling….it hasn’t received enough attention! 5 Stars.


The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson  (historical narrative nonfiction). Ambitious history of black migration across the U.S. from post Civil War to the 1970s. 4 Stars (heavy on history….the three personal stories are memorable and heartfelt). A must read.


The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (contemporary fiction, racial tensions, YA)
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement. 5 Stars. My review of THUG Here.



QOTD:

Did you find a book to add to your TBR?

Share your own recommendations in comments!



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

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

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

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

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



Let’s Get Social!

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 covers are credited to Amazon.

© ReadingLadies.com



The Downstairs Girl [Book Review]

February 19, 2021

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

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

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

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

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Love Is a Revolution [Book Review]

veFebruary 16, 2021

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson (cover) Image: a plus size Black girl is centered....4 smaller images of the same girl and her boyfriend sound her

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction, African-American, Coming of Age

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Nala Robertson meets a cute boy, Tye Brown, at open mic night. They experience an instant attraction but Nala is worried because they have very different interests….Tye is an activist, a vegetarian, and a community organizer while Nala would rather stay home and watch movies and enjoy a juicy, fully-loaded hamburger. Nala finds herself lying to Tye to foster a foundation of common interests and to encourage him to keep asking her out. As much as this is a cute romance on the surface, the story is more substantially about loving others as well as yourself, discovering the things that are truly important to you, and embracing your authentic self.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Map of Salt and Stars [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 31, 2020

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
#throwbackthursday

The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar (cover)

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Mythology, Folk Tale, Magical Realism, Coming of Age, Syrian, Story Within a Story

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 eager to share my review of the compelling The Map of Salt and Stars.a page-turning story with two inspirational female protagonists.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Map of Salt and Stars is really two stories. One story is contemporary and the other is a mythological folk tale that takes place 800 years earlier. In the contemporary story, Nour’s mother, a Syrian-American, a cartographer and painter of beautiful maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria after the death of Nour’s father. The mother feels a strong desire to live closer to her family. After they arrive in Syria, they experience effects of the civil war evidenced by protests and shelling in their quiet neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s home and neighborhood, she and her family and a close family friend of her father’s are forced to flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety.

The story within the story is a favorite folk tale that Nour’s father told her over and over again as a young girl. Nour loves the main character in the folk tale, Rawiya, who becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the region. Rawiya follows al-Idrisi on a journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where they encounter a mythical beast and fight epic battles.

There are strong connections between the two stories as Nour and her family are forced from their home to travel the identical route that Rawiya traveled eight hundred years earlier. Throughout the journey, Nour remembers and is inspired by the heroine of her favorite folktale as she faces similar challenges and fears.

“I am a woman and a warrior,” Rawiya said, her blade cutting into his club.
If you think I can’t be both, you’ve been lied to.

Continue here for my full review of The Map of Salt and Stars ….



QOTD:

Have you read The Map of Salt and Stars or is it on your TBR?

The Widows of Malabar Hill [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

November 12, 2020

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
#throwbackthursday

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (cover) Image: a young woman in Indian dress and holding a brief case stands in front of a gated archway

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Bombay, Women’s Rights

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 thrilled to share my review of The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey…a mystery inspired by the first female lawyer in India.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

My Summary:

Perveen Mistry and a challenging case…

“In this culturally rich, mystery set in 1920s Bombay, India, Preveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected family, joins her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Educated at Oxford, Perveen has a tragic personal history that causes her to be extra vigilant on her new case so that the widows of Malabar Hill are treated fairly after the death of their husband.  As she examines the paperwork, she discovers that the widows who are living in purdah (strict seclusion) have signed over their inheritance to a charity, raising suspicions that they’re being taken advantage of by their guardian. Tensions build and a murder occurs. Because the widows feel uncomfortable speaking with male investigators, Perveen takes responsibility and great personal risk to determine what really happened on Malabar Hill. Throughout the story, readers are also filled in on Perveen’s back story as readers are introduced to her family and friends and learn about her education.”

Continue here for my full review of The Widows of Malabar Hill ….



QOTD:

Have you read TheWidows of Malabar Hill or is it on your TBR?

A Place For Us [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

November 4, 2020

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
#throwbackthursday

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (cover) Image: black text over a white moon behind a house in silhouette

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 thrilled to share my review of A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza…a thoughtful and complicated family drama.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

My Summary:

A Place For Us shares the story of an Indian-American Muslim family whom we meet as they gather to celebrate a family wedding. Through flashbacks, readers are filled in on the family dynamics, family history, and become acquainted with the parents, Rafiq and Layla, and their three children, Hadia, Huda, and Amar. Told mostly from the perspectives of Layla, Hadia, and Amar, readers begin to appreciate the complexity of family relationships, understand the bonds that draw the family together, and become acquainted with the personalities along with the insecurities and rivalries that cause conflict. In light of the parents’ conservative Muslim faith and living in California, the children must find their way in reconciling the faith of their parents and their traditional ways with the reality of day-to-day lives, and individual hopes and dreams. At the wedding of the oldest daughter, which breaks with tradition and is a union of love and not arranged by parents, Amar, the prodigal son, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. The last part of the story is told from the father’s heartfelt perspective. This is a story of love, identity, parenting, coming of age, faith, and belonging.”

“Of all my mistakes the greatest, the most dangerous, was not emphasizing the mercy of God.”  ~Rafiq

A Place For Us is my favorite read of 2018, and you can find my full review here….



QOTD:

Have you read A Place For Us or is it on your TBR?

Killers of the Flower Moon [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 23, 2020

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
#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 Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, a story of true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (cover) Image: White text over a burnt orange and goldish moonlit sky .... a tall oil derrick is silouetted by the moon

Genre/Categories: Narrative Nonfiction, Osage, Native Americans, True Crime, U.S. History, Racial Injustice

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

My Summary:

Killers of the Flower Moon is a true-crime murder mystery involving the wealthy Osage Indian Nation of Oklahoma in the 1920s. After oil was discovered beneath the wasteland that they had been forced to live on, the Osage became extremely rich. However, one by one, members of the Osage began to die under suspicious circumstances, or as some believed to be killed off. To introduce readers to this community and the crime, the author closely follows the story of Mollie Burkhart and her family.  It was dangerous to investigate the murders because investigators could also die under mysterious circumstances. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly formed F.B.I. took up the case.  The F.B.I also experienced difficulty in the investigation until J. Edgar Hoover enlisted Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, to form an undercover team to unravel the mystery. White’s team (which included a Native American) infiltrated the region and employed the latest modern techniques of investigation. This story tells whether or not they were able to expose one of the most monstrous and heinous crimes in American history.”

Continue here for my full review of Killers of the Flower Moon

QOTD: Have you read Killers of the Flower Moon or is it on your TBR?

The Vanishing Half: [Book Review]

June 3, 2020

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Sisters, Complicated Family Drama, Own Voices

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

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

My Thoughts:

(more…)