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.


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:



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.


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:


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.


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

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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.


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:


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.


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:


The Cactus: A Review

June 14, 2019

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The Cactus Review

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Friendship

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Susan Green has a perfectly controlled life until she doesn’t. Her life is carefully structured for one person: her flat is orderly and just the right size for one, her job is ideal for her analytical abilities, her cactus plants are dutifully tended, and her “relationship” is carefully defined and scheduled. Suddenly, life presents a couple of unexpected turn of events. Susan’s mother dies suddenly at the same time she finds out that she’s pregnant. Facing the added complication of an already strained relationship with her brother, Susan needs to take immediate action to bring order to her world once again. Can she adapt to these unexpected circumstances and could they bring her unexpected joy?

My Thoughts:


The Lost For Words Bookshop: A Review

June 12, 2019

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

The Lost For Words Bookshop Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Booksellers and Bookshops, Books About Books, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Young Loveday Cardew works in a bookshop and prefers books to people. Her discrete tattoos feature a few of her favorite first lines. Even though the bookshop is her sanctuary and a place where she can hide from her secrets, some mysterious packages with links to her past arrive and shatter her sense of safety. With support from a caring boss and the kindness of a young poet, can she find the courage to face her past and find hope for a bright future?

Amazon Rating:  4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:


On The Come Up: A Review

June 6, 2019

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up Review

Genre/Categories: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Homelessness, Poverty, Family Life, YA Music, Racism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


The daughter of a Garden Heights rap legend, sixteen-year-old Bri’s greatest desires include making it as a rapper, making enough money to take care of her mom and siblings, and moving out of the neighborhood. Bri is distracted at school by her rapping goals and neighborhood performances. At home, her mom has lost her job and the family is facing unpaid bills, shut off notices, an empty refrigerator, and the threat of homelessness. Suddenly, Bri not only wants to make it as a rapper, now she has to make it. Bri makes some impulsive decisions as she fights to make her dreams a reality. This is a story about fighting for your dreams against the odds as it portrays the realities of poor and working-class black families. Author Angie Thomas has experience in the art of rapping and her authentic voice fills all the spaces in this realistic story with vivid details of the Garden Heights community and its memorable characters. Although the story takes place in the same community and makes a reference to the shooting at the center of The Hate You Give, this is not a sequel to THUG and can be read as a stand-alone. Each book is a unique reading experience.

My Thoughts:


The Island of Sea Women: A Review

May 27, 2019

Have you experienced a patriarchal or matriarchal culture?

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Island of Sea Women Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, South Korea, Women’s Roles

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


You may have read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, or Shanghai Girls by popular author Lisa See. In The Island of Sea Women, See imagines the story of Mi-ja and Young-sook. As the story begins, we are introduced to these two young girls living on the Korean Island of Jeju. Although the girls are best friends, they come from very different backgrounds. As the girls mature, they begin working in the sea with other women in the village as part of the diving collective (the haenyo). Even though diving is dangerous, the girls are eager to be allowed to join the women of the sea as they learn the trade and follow in the tradition of the other women in the village who are the sole providers for their families. In this matriarchal culture, the men stay home, cook, and assume primary care for the children. Women take on the responsibility for providing an income from selling the bounty of their diving expeditions. It’s women who worry about the livelihood of their families and village, assume great physical risks, and take responsibility for knowing the best locations and times/conditions to dive. The  sea women dive when they are pregnant and sometimes give birth on the boat as part of their workday if necessary. The story begins in the 1930s and continues through WW11, the Korean War, and the modern technology boom. Over the decades, circumstances put the girls’ friendship under great strain and the story encompasses their entire lives. It’s a story of a unique culture, friendship, understanding, community, and a dangerous and demanding profession.

My Thoughts:


The Scent Keeper: A Review

May 24, 2019

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

Welcome to my stop on The Scent Keeper Blog Tour sponsored by St Martins Press. Thanks to Clare Maurer at St Martins for the invitation! Thanks to #NetGalley #StMartinsPress for a free digital copy of #TheScentKeeper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Scent Keeper Review

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Coming of Age, Family Life, Magical Realism


Emmeline lives on a small isolated and remote island with her father. They function as survivalists by foraging and growing their own food. Even though Emmeline and her father are isolated, the father has a contact who arrives by boat and occasionally delivers items that can’t be acquired on the island. Emmeline’s father teaches her about the natural world through her senses. Emmeline’s world is filled with love and security and it’s all she knows. Her father also has a mysterious machine that creates or captures scents (similar to a Polaroid camera), and he has scents stored in drawers that line the walls of their cabin. Although she’s curious about the scents, her father doesn’t offer a great deal of explanation. One day, Emmeline is forced out into the real world beyond the sanctuary of her island. She sets out on a quest to understand the life her father created for them, her father’s reasons, and the secrets he safeguarded.

My Thoughts: