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:



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 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:


Ask Again, Yes: A Review

May 17, 2019

How do you know when you’ve read a five star read?

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again Yes Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Family Drama

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Beautifully written, Ask Again, Yes introduces us to two families who live next door to each other. Behind closed doors, the families deal with complicated issues. Meanwhile, two of their children, born six months apart, grow up as each other’s constant and best playmate and develop a deep friendship as they hang out after school. Just as Kate and Peter grow old enough to discover they might be attracted to each other, a tragic event happens that changes everything for the two families. One family moves away and the children’s friendship is torn apart.

The remainder of the story involves the children, who are now grown, coming to terms with what happened and figuring out what this means for their relationship, their families, and their future.

My Thoughts:


The Library of Lost and Found: A Review

April 5, 2019

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

The Library of Lost and Found Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Books About Books, Family Life, Sisters

Thanks to #NetGalley #HarlequinBooks for a free e copy of #TheLibraryofLostandFound by #phaedrapatrick in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Martha Storm volunteers at the library, and she spends much of her free time selflessly helping others. In fact, she keeps meticulous lists of her projects in a Wonder Woman themed notebook (which we might call a bullet journal). Even though many people depend on her to help them out with small projects, Martha doesn’t have many friends and feels “invisible.” Her routine at the library and hours of service to others take a dramatic turn when a mysterious book arrives for her and Martha is determined to solve a family mystery that surrounds the book.


The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls: A Review

March 25, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, African-American Literature, Mothers/Daughters, Sisters, Family Life


The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls shares the compelling and multilayered story of the three Butler sisters: Althea, Viola, and Lillian. Althea was a teenager when her mother died and the children were faced with living with their unstable and often absent father. As the oldest, Althea shouldered the burden of caring for her younger siblings. As adults, they each deal with their traumatic childhood in different ways. To the shock of the community, Althea and her husband face some serious criminal charges and years in prison. Viola and Lillian rally to care for Althea’s children. The story is told from three perspectives as we learn more about the family secrets and childhood trauma.


The Wartime Sisters: A Review

January 22, 2019


The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

wartime sisters

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Siblings, Friendship, Family Dynamics

Thank you to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the advanced free copy of #TheWartimeSisters in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


In the early days of WW11, two estranged sisters are reunited at the Springfield, Massachusetts Armory. Ruth is the older sister and an officer’s wife and the younger sister Millie is a single mom who, in desperation, seeks refuge in her sister’s home and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” This living arrangement isn’t ideal, but the younger sister has no other family after the death of their parents and the disappearance of her abusive husband. The relationship between the sisters is tense and filled with resentment, jealousy, misunderstanding, competition, and secrets.

My Thoughts:

Sisters and Friends Who Are Like Sisters. Although the story is set during WW11 and interesting details are given about the time period, the armory, and wartime efforts, I think this story of the “war between sisters” could have taken place in any time period and any setting. I appreciate the effort the author gives in this mostly character driven story in creating a complex and believable relationship between two sisters. Their rivalry is completely understandable, believable, and tragic. The support they receive from two other women in the story makes for a dynamic and well-developed cast of characters. It would be easy to see this as a movie.

Plot. Although mostly character driven, a plot twist towards the end provides compelling tension and action. Overall, this poignant, well written story told from the alternating perspectives of four strong women (two sisters and two friends) and from dual timelines is a solid read. It could be categorized as women’s fiction set in war time as well as the historical fiction designation.

Themes. Thoughtful themes addressed include parental favoritism and expectations, family dynamics, sibling loyalty and rivalry, complex relationships, reconciliation, roles of women in the 30s and 40s, and strong and brave women supporting each other.

Recommended for readers who appreciate well drawn and realistic characterizations of resilient, determined women and compelling stories that explore complicated family dynamics.

My Rating: 4 Poignant Stars


the wartime sisters

The Wartime Sisters

Meet the Author, Lynda Cohen Loigman

lynda cohen loigmanLynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. Lynda practiced trusts and estates law in New York City for eight years before moving out of the city to raise her two children with her husband. She wrote The Two-Family House while she was a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The Two-Family House was chosen by Goodreads as a best book of the month for March, 2016, and was a nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction. Her second novel, The Wartime Sisters, will be published on January 22, 2019.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Loigman’s first novel, The Two-Family House?

 Can you relate to a story of sibling rivalry?

Happy Reading Book Worms

“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


This is important information! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.

In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie!

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might consider adding these four books to your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)

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.

***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.


April 6, 2018

by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

Eden 2

Genre/categories: Fiction, Family Life, Family Saga

*linking up with Words on Wednesday



Generations of Becca Meister’s family have traditionally spent memorable summers at the family’s estate affectionately known as “Eden” in Long Harbor, Rhode Island (fictionalized setting). This year as the family gathers for the 4th of July holiday, Becca (the family’s 70 year old matriarch) plans to admit to the family that she can no longer afford the upkeep on the estate because her late husband mismanaged their retirement funds. Suddenly, the family is faced with the reality that this might be their last summer at Eden. Because of other personal events happening in Becca’s life, she also concludes that this is the time she must reveal a family secret. In addition to the present day timeline, the story introduces readers to Becca’s childhood and family, we learn the history of Eden (including the hurricane of ’38), and readers come to appreciate what Eden means to the family.

Amazon Rating (April): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

Historical fiction: Although this book isn’t categorized as historical fiction, there are historical elements that some readers may find fascinating.  For instance, life in the 1920s (particularly for women), the stock market crash, the hurricane along the east coast in 1938, lifestyle of the east coast elite and their summer resorts, and the experiences of women in one family over eight decades.

Family saga: I love a multigenerational family saga! Readers follow this family for eight decades and experience their joys, sorrows, challenges, achievements, trials, hopes, dreams, relationships, values, and connectedness (or disconnects)…..in other words, this is a normal family much like our own. Readers will find a myriad of opportunities to relate. In particular, I liked how getting to know the grandparents helped explain Becca’s actions and decisions. I found the focus on mother/daughter relationships throughout the story especially interesting.

Child birth and adoption:  The story’s most fascinating and interesting themes for me were the unwed girls and their unplanned pregnancies story lines. Over the course of eighty years, the author includes stories of three unwed girls: one in the early 1900s, one in the mid 1900s, and one in present day. It was fascinating to trace how each of their pregnancies were handled in the time periods. Early in the century, an unwed girl’s unplanned pregnancy was generally hidden (even from the baby’s father), and the girl was whisked away to deliver the baby and place him/her for adoption. Upon returning home to resume her normal life, no mention was made of the baby and the girl was expected to live with the secret for her entire life. To disclose the situation would have caused the family and the girl a great deal of shame. In the middle of the century, an unwed girl experiencing an unplanned pregnancy was strongly encouraged to marry the father quickly even if  the couple hadn’t planned on a marriage. This attempt to “legitimatize” the baby often resulted in making two mistakes as the marriage arrangements were often made out of necessity and coercion and not out of thoughtful commitments and promises. Finally, unwed girls facing unplanned pregnancies at the end of the century experience having many options and not hiding their pregnancies. While some girls opt to place the baby for adoption, others choose to marry and keep the baby, or choose not to marry and raise the child as a single parent with the help of the extended family. There is no shame and the child is welcomed with love and celebrated. This theme touched me as our family has been blessed by adoption. My aunt who was born in the ’20s was a girl that was whisked away until her baby was born and placed for adoption. My husband was placed for adoption as a baby (at a time when adoptions were not as openly discussed as they are now), and although his adoptive parents weren’t forthcoming with him about the adoption during his early childhood, he was able to meet his birth mother and his biological sister as an older adult a few years ago. When my husband was eventually told about his adoption, his parents cautioned him not to tell anyone that he was adopted…that it was their secret. This caused him to believe that there was something wrong with the process that brought him into the family. In more current times, my nephew was adopted through an open adoption process and had the opportunity to meet his birth mother as soon as he became an adult. Open adoption is probably the scariest for the adoptive mom but I think it’s probably healthiest for the first mom and for the child. I know mothers and adopted children from all three perspectives and these personal connections greatly enrich the story for me.

The title: The first concept that comes to my mind with the title Eden is a paradise….and Eden in this story is a type of paradise, but it’s also a symbol for traditions (locations or experiences) that hold families together for generations. Perhaps we all have that place in mind that evokes warm childhood memories of families gathered, feelings of being loved, and of belonging. For me, it’s visiting the family farms of my childhood in South Dakota.

Themes: If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, you know that I love stories with substantial themes. A few themes that I feel would merit some discussion are themes of mother/daughter relationships and expectations, unwed girls facing pregnancies, adoption, privilege, women’s voice and power (or lack of), and family traditions.

The cover: I passed over this book time and time again on my TBR shelf because the gray toned, muted cover wasn’t calling out to me. This is obviously a subjective statement with which others may completely disagree. After reading the story, I can make guesses about why the author chose the cover; however, it wasn’t one that appealed to me. Look beyond the cover!

Lots of characters and jumping between timelines: Thankfully, the author provides a family tree at the beginning of the story because I really needed it! Readers listening on audible might want to jot down names and relationships along the reading journey. Many stories today have alternating timelines and it’s more challenging in some books than others. I felt like I worked hard throughout the story to be fully present in the timeline hops. Frequently, I found that I needed to stop and think about the characters and the situations when jumping to the alternate timeline.

Recommended? Yes! The more I reflect on this story, the richer it becomes. Recommended for readers who enjoy well told family sagas, thought provoking themes, or who might have some familiarity with Rhode Island (or summer beach resort living!).

My Rating: 4 Stars



Buy Here

Meet the Author,
Jeanne Blasberg

jeanne blasbergAlways hunting for writerly detail, I’ve been known to stare or eavesdrop on the table next to me.  Call it research or maybe an over-developed sense of empathy; I’m fascinated by human nature.  At heart, I’m really still that only child who played for hours with imaginary friends.  Now my imaginary friends are characters on the page, flawed but honest, people worth spending time with.  My stories may echo timeless struggles, but they are spun with my own peculiar slant.

Jeanne Blasberg is a voracious observer of human nature and has kept a journal since childhood. She has been known to stare at strangers on more than one occasion to the embarrassment of her three children. (Mom, stop staring!)  After graduating from Smith College, she surprised everyone who knew her by embarking on a career in finance, making stops on Wall Street, Macy’s and Harvard Business School, where she worked alongside the preeminent professor of retail and wrote case studies and business articles on all sorts of topics on everything that has to do with…shopping.

A firm believer that you are never too old to change course or topics (in truth, she’s not a big shopper), Jeanne enrolled at Grub Street, one of the country’s great creative writing centers, where she turned her attention to memoir and later fiction, inspired by her childhood journal. Eden is her debut novel.

Now deep into her second novel, Jeanne and her husband split their time between Boston and Westerly, RI. When not writing, Jeanne can be found playing squash, skiing, or taking in the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay, and sometimes simply staring at interesting characters doing uninteresting things.

Jeanne’s writing has appeared in The Sun Literary Magazine’s Reader’s Write, Squash Magazine, Interfaith Family.comDead Darlings.comBreakingMatzo.comThe Huffington Post,  Women Writers Women’s Books, and Adoptimist.com.


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

Looking Ahead

I’m on very long library wait lists for The Force of Nature and The Music Shop….meanwhile I’m waiting for kindle prices to fall and reading other selections. Consequently, next Friday I’ll read and review From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (a  histfic title from my Goodreads TBR shelf with an average Goodreads rating of 4.41 stars and Amazon rating of 4.7 stars).

From Sand and Ash

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?

Reading Recommendation For Middle Grade Readers!

(And for all readers looking for a thought provoking story!)


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate is a beautifully and creatively written middle grade story exploring poverty, homelessness, and imaginary friends. Because the content of this book builds compassion and the topic of homelessness might worry some readers, I’m recommending it as an excellent “read together” book.

The first reason I loved this story is because of the personal connections I made as a teacher at a Title 1 school where the student population often experienced poverty and homelessness. I could share many stories of how their personal experiences impacted my life and our classroom.

I believe this is a thoughtful story for students who are not in this situation to build empathy, but I wonder how children who are experiencing poverty and homelessness would react to the story without having someone with which to process.

In the story, the main character, Jackson, has an imaginary friend (Crenshaw, as seen on the cover) and I appreciate the author’s subtle message that the imaginary friend appears to help Jackson deal with his stress. In fact, when Jackson questions why Crenshaw is larger than he was when Jackson was little, Crenshaw explains that Jackson needs a bigger imaginary friend now that his problems are different.

I thought a great deal while reading the story about how children process stress. It is interesting that Jackson appears fine to his parents (mom thanks him for being positive and helpful), yet he experiences stress because of not knowing what is going to happen. In addition, he also feels tremendous responsibility for his sister (even giving up his plan to run away in order to take care of her).

“What bothered me most, though, is that I couldn’t fix anything. I couldn’t control anything. It was like driving a bumper car without a steering wheel. I kept getting slammed, and I just had to sit there and hold on tight. Bam! Were we going to have enough to eat tomorrow? Bam! Were we going to have enough to pay the rent? Bam! Would I go to the same school in the fall? Bam!”

This thought impacted me while reading: Children can adapt easily because they desire/need stability, togetherness, love, predictability, family….but adults sometimes don’t realize the stress the child is feeling because they “appear” to be adapting.

Crenshaw is an interesting, creative, thought provoking, and worthwhile read. I’ve heard it described that books can be a door or a mirror. This book is both: a door through which children can build compassion and a mirror for children facing similar situations.

My Rating: 4 Stars


Amazon Summary and Purchase 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!

I’d love to hear all about what you’re reading!

How has adoption touched your life?

Do you enjoy hearing about middle grade recommendations? Do you think great literature and wonderful stories can be enjoyed by all ages?