The Last Train to London: A Review

March 13, 2020

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Nazi-Occupied Europe

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Rescuing children, her life’s work…

The Last Train to London shares the story of real-life hero Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance who risked her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. (She was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. )

The mission known as Kindertransport carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe. In addition to hearing about Tante Truus as she was known, the author imagines the lives of children such as Stephan (budding playwright), his younger brother. and Zofie-Helene (mathematics protegee).

Auntie Truus (headshot)

Tante Truus: Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Auntie Truus statue in Amsterdam

Tante Truus statue in Amsterdam: Image Source: Wikipedia

My Thoughts:

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The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover

February 18, 2020

10 Recent Reads That Gave Me a Book Hang Over

The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover

Have you ever experienced a book hangover?

Have you ever had difficulty getting up in the morning because you stayed up too late reading an unputdownable book?

Have you had difficulty starting a new book after finishing an especially great book?

Have you wanted to tell everyone you know about a certain book?

I think my very first real book hangover occurred when I read Gone With the Wind in high school! That was when I fell in love with histfic, compelling and unputdownable stories, and independent and strong female characters.

Book Hangovers are wonderful! They occur after I’ve read an engaging, compelling, unputdownable book with likable characters and substantial content and themes that I can’t stop thinking about for days and weeks. These books leave an emotional impact and years later I can remember how I felt reading them. They are the 4.5-5 star range and appear on my “best of the year” and “lifetime favorites” lists.

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover.

Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my reviews are linked.
(listed in no particular order although all are recent reads)

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (cover)

A love letter of hope and encouragement to girls worldwide who are dreaming and striving to use their own Louding Voices. 5+ Stars

Full Review Here


The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (cover)

A compelling refugee story of love, loss, hope, and compassion. 5 stars

Full Review Here


The Girl With Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (cover)

A compelling memoir of escape, determination, survival, family, and kindness. 4.5 Stars (4 Stars for the writing; 5 Stars for compelling content)

Full Review Here


Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom (cover)

“Families are like pieces of art. You can make them from almost anything. The only ingredient you need to make a family is unconditional love.” 5 Stars

Full Review Here


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (cover)

An inspirational and unforgettable character. 5 Stars

Full Review Here

(more…)

Most Memorable Reads of 2019

December 31, 2019

Most Memorable Reads of 2019

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Read in 2020 and Girlxoxo and Traveling With T for Month of Faves: Favorite Books Read This Year.

Top Ten Memorable Reads:
The List and The Categories

I mostly love the angst of creating top ten lists! It can be a daunting task! First, let me remind you that this list is subjective. It’s compiled of books I’ve read this year (there are always so many more great ones that I didn’t get to), and each one has made it onto this list because reading it was a memorable, emotional experience and gave me a “book hangover.” I’m presenting my list this year in two formats: in list form and in categories. the categories part is a bit more comprehensive because I provided some runners up. Titles are links to my reviews. Although most titles in this post were published this year, a couple were not.

Thanks for sharing great reads with me this year!

Top Ten Memorable Fiction Reads of 2019: The List

(see categories below for runners up and additional selections)

  1. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

2. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

3. Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quin et al.

4. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

5. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

6. The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

7. If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

8. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

9. The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

10. The River by Peter Heller

Most Memorable Nonfiction

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



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Ten Favorite Historical Fiction Reads of the Decade

December 27, 2019

Can you name your top ten favorite books in your favorite genre?

favorite histfic reads of the decade

Ten Favorite Historical Fiction Reads of the Decade

How many of these titles have you read and loved? Are you a histfic fan?

I have a lengthy list of hisfic favorites….these are especially memorable and ALL received a solid 5 Stars from me!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

(in no particular order)

my dear hamilton

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I love the (less public) story of the determined, smart, influential, and driven woman who was Alexander Hamilton’s wife, partner, and best friend. America’s First Daughter by the same authors is also excellent.
My review here.


From Sand and Ash

we were the lucky ones

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

(I read these almost back to back and because of the themes I always think of them together….so this is my sneaky trick to include one more!)
Themes make these stories memorable: I love the theme of faith in Sand and Ash; in We Were the Lucky Ones, I love the themes of family and faith….especially the beautiful ending). Sand and Ash review here. We Were the Lucky Ones review here.


invention of wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I love this imagined story of two brave women who were early pioneers in the abolitionist movement. Review here.


News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I love the theme of found family and the moral dilemma at the story’s end of doing the right thing versus doing things right. I also love the beautiful prose. Brief review in this post.


Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love the compelling themes of determination and survival. Brief review in this post.


(more…)

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books in My Favorite Genre: Historical Fiction

June 4, 2019

Do you love making lists?

Top Ten Tuesday:
10 Favorite Historical Fiction Reads

 

 

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books In My Favorite Genre. Last week, I made a list of my favorite historical fiction books for each of the last ten years. This week’s list is comprised of my absolute favorites in historical fiction! I actually didn’t think I could make this list! My initial list had several more titles and it was difficult to cut, so I’ve cheated a bit. How do I choose my favorites when I’ve read so many titles? The following titles are the stories that I connect with emotionally, the stories I still remember weeks and months and years later, and the stories I recommend over and over again! All are five-star reads and all have great themes. I recommend them without hesitation.

How many of these titles have you read and loved? Are you a histfic fan?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

(in no particular order)

my dear hamilton

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I love the (less public) story of the determined, smart, influential, and driven woman who was Alexander Hamilton’s wife, partner, and best friend. America’s First Daughter by the same authors is also excellent.
My review here.


From Sand and Ash

we were the lucky ones

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

(I read these almost back to back and because of the themes I always think of them together….so this is my sneaky trick to include one more!)
Themes make these stories memorable: I love the theme of faith in Sand and Ash; in We Were the Lucky Ones, I love the themes of family and faith….especially the beautiful ending). Sand and Ash review here. We Were the Lucky Ones review here.


invention of wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I love this imagined story of two brave women who were actual pioneers in the abolitionist movement. Review here.


News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I love the theme of found family and the moral dilemma at the story’s end of doing the right thing versus doing things right. I also love the beautiful prose. Brief review in this post.


Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love the compelling themes of determination and survival. Brief review in this post.


(more…)

Most Memorable Reads of 2018

December 31, 2018

Top Ten Memorable Reads: The List and The Categories

I love top ten lists! Making them, however, is a daunting task! First, let me remind you that this list is subjective. It’s compiled of books I’ve read this year (there are always so many more great ones that I didn’t get to), and each one has made it onto this list because reading it was a memorable, emotional experience and gave me a “book hangover.” I’m presenting my list this year in two formats: in list form and in categories. the categories part is a bit more comprehensive because I provided some runners up. Titles are links to my reviews.

Memorable Reads of 2018

Top Ten Memorable Reads of 2018: The List

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

From Sand and Ash by Any Harmon

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Educated by Tara Westover

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens



Top Ten List: The Categories

It’s difficult to rank books in order from 1-10 because they are each special in their own way, so I’ve sorted them into categories (similar to last year) and included some runners up (because who can choose just ten?). Even though not all of them are 5 star reads, these are the books that were the most memorable for me….the ones that I still think about….the ones I recommend the most often.

Most Memorable Overall (and my BEST read of the year)

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
5 Emotional Stars
Genre: Family Drama


Most Memorable WW11 Historical Fiction

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
5 Stars
Genre: HistFic (WW11)
We Were the Lucky Ones author interview podcast link

Runner Up: From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon


Most Memorable Non WW Historical Fiction

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
4.5 Stars
Genre: HistFic

Runner Up: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor


Most Memorable Light Historical Fiction

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
5 Stars
Genre: HistFic (WW1)


Most Memorable Biographical Historical Fiction

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
5 Stars
Genre: Histfic (biographical)


Most Memorable Middle Grade

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
4.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction

Runners Up: Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (2nd review on page) and The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker


Most Memorable Dysfunctional Family

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
5 Stars
Genre: Women’s Fiction (also coming of age), Southern, Nature

Runner Up: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


Most Memorable Quirky Character

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
4.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Fiction (Allegorical)

Runners Up: Harold from The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, Virgil from Virgil Wander by Leif Enger, and Keiko from Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata


Most Memorable Light Reading for Women

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
4..5 Stars
Genre: Light Women’s Fiction


Most Memorable in Contemporary Issues (Nonfiction and Fiction)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
4 Stars
Genre: NON FICTION (memoir, true crime, social justice)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
4.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary FICTION


Most Memorable Memoir

Educated by Tara Westover
4 Stars
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir


Most Memorable True Crime

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
4 Stars
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime


Most Memorable Young Adult

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
4.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction (contains Myth), Coming of Age
Although not marketed specifically for YA, this could fit the genre nicely and is the closest to YA I read this year.



***This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info.



Link to last year’s post…most recommended reads of 2017



journey of a lifetime reading meme



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



Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’ll be back with a review of The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner (author of As Bright as Heaven). This is an ARC and won’t be available until March.

Last Year of the War



Links

A treat for you in 2019: If you’re looking for an inspiring lifestyle blog, check out my new (in 2018) blogging friend Kendra Nicole for honest, inspirational, and reflective posts about motherhood, reading, self care, and living intentionally.

kendra nicole

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Read in 2018.

top ten tuesday

I’m also linking up today with Traveling With T, Estella’s Revenge and Girlxoxo for A Month of Favorites:  Fave Books of 2018.

If you’re stopping in from these links, welcome! I hope you enjoy looking around!

A Month of Favorites TwithT



In Movie News….

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 want to put these three books on your winter 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.



 Let’s Discuss

Please share your best read of the year in comments! Please?! I’d love to hear!



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

December 11, 2018

For this post, I’m linking up with two great memes. One is That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

…and the second is with Traveling With T: A Month of Faves: The Blogger Love Edition. I have a huge list of favorite bloggers, but for this post I couldn’t possibly mention everyone. I’ve decided to divide the list into bloggers and podcasters.

If you’ve popped over from Traveling With T or That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome!

A Month of Favorites TwithT

 

My Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

Blogs-Podcasts

Blogs

The Thankful Heart

Visiting The Thankful Heart is always a lovely treat that’s filled with reflection, love of family, books, and recipes. Rhonda at The Thankful Heart embraces a spirit of thankfulness all year long. ***EDIT to add that Rhonda is no longer publishing new content.

Modern Mrs. Darcy

Always high quality and consistent bookish recommendation, this is one of my major resources for my best reads. MMD AKA Anne Bogel has also created an online Book Club ($10/month) and it’s a wonderful bookish community.

The Ardent Biblio

A lovely literary lifestyle blog filled with great book recommendations, links, and inspiring ideas for literary dinner parties. Michaela and Rikki offer excellence in content, blog design, and photography. I love to stop in and “look.”

The Lexington Bookie and Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Amanda and Jennifer always writes quality and comprehensive book reviews and we share many of the same favorites.  I’ve listed them together here because they are both also super encouraging and supportive which has been important in my journey as a fairly new blogger.

Traveling With T and That Artsy Reader Girl

Of course, I am pleased to include the hosts of  today’s memes where you will find an abundance of book reviews. Also, I greatly appreciate their support of the blogging community in providing opportunities like this for link ups.

Podcasts

I find that I need to limit my podcast intake or it seriously cuts into my reading time! Out of the many great podcasts, these are the ones that I’ve recently been listening to the most often (the first two are my “must listens”):

Fron the Front Porch Logo

From the Front Porch

I never miss an episode of From the Front Porch which features southern charm and the delightful bookish and lifestyle chatter of Annie and Chris. In fact, sometimes if I want to relax and not read, I will listen to a back episode. It’s a must listen every Thursday.

What Should I Read Next Logo

What Should I Read Next

This is a podcast from Modern Mrs. Darcy in which the guests tell her three books they love and one book they hate and she suggests three new reads for them. I always gain great reading ideas from this podcast and it’s a must listen every Tuesday.

Reading Women Logo

Reading Women

This podcast focuses on literary fiction and stretches my horizon as I hear about books that are not always making the best seller lists but might be winning other literary awards. I listen often and enjoy the hosts.

Popcast Logo

The Popcast

OK….. this podcast isn’t often literary but it’s my attempt to keep up with pop culture as explained by Jamie and Knox. It’s always entertaining! I listen to selected episodes based on the episode descriptions that sound appealing.

Sorta Awesome Logo

Sorta Awesome

This is another podcast that helps me keep up to date with pop culture, especially related to women’s issues. Some episodes are more interesting to me than others, so I pick and choose. The hosts also include occasional book reviews.



What are your favorite blogs and podcasts?


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



Looking Ahead:

This weekend, I’ll post my regular weekly review. I’ve read two books this week: Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce and  The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (releasing in January). Both are interesting and very different from my usual reads. Dear Mrs. Bird will be reviewed on Friday 12/7, then The Dreamers on Friday 12/14.

 



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



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.



 Let’s Discuss

Please share some of your favorite blogs and podcasts in comments.



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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 Glass Castle

August 11, 2017

As Reading Ladies continues to focus on women authors writing about strong women, we’re using the occasion of the newly released movie to revisit/review an old favorite…

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (cover)

Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Glass Castle is a tender, tragic, and unique story of a girl’s remarkable resilience as she survives a childhood in a dysfunctional family who lived like nomads. The father is brilliant and charismatic and taught his children about imagination and living fearlessly as well as some physics and geology. A dreamer, he often worked on elaborate plans for their future home nicknamed “the glass castle.” However, he was also dishonest and destructive when he drank. On the other hand, Mother was a free-spirited artist who didn’t (or couldn’t) take responsibility for the care of her children. For the most part, the Walls children took care of themselves, demonstrating ingenuity, determination, bravery, and fierce loyalty. As the children became adults, found the will and resources to leave the parents, and enjoyed some success, the parents followed them to New York City and chose to remain homeless. The adventures are remarkable, harrowing, memorable, and quirky, all the while demonstrating themes of fierce loyalty, triumph against the odds, the power of hope, unconditional love, determination, and protectiveness.

Amazon rating (August): 4.6 stars

Read the first chapter free here.

My Thoughts:

For me, an indication of a remarkable book is one that I remember years later, one in which I learn something new, and/or one that allows me to make a personal connection. All three criteria are true for The Glass Castle. First, it has lingered for years on my list of recommended reads. In addition, this story allows me to gain new insights into the often unstable personal lives of my students at a Title l school and also allows me to reflect on the homelessness situation in that some choose this lifestyle. Finally, Jeanette reminds me in particular of one former student of mine as she and her mom often sought out different places to sleep for the night and often relied upon school resources for personal supplies, food, housing, etc. Like Jeanette, this student was determined to achieve despite her circumstances, a hard worker, and kept a positive (even cheerful) attitude–but unlike Jeanette, she had my support as a teacher and the support of the school (all of the staff were aware of her circumstances).  This student came back to visit me after she graduated from college (she was actually rescued in high school by an aunt). While reading the book, I wondered why a teacher or community members were not more aware of or alarmed by the family situation or why no one notices her hunger. Of course, Rex did keep the family on the move.

Even years later, I remember enjoying this well written, engaging, and inspiring memoir, and its reflection on homelessness. One thing that struck me during the reading is that it was written with an attitude of forgiveness and surprising affection for her parents.  Some critics would argue that she seemed to condone or excuse her parents’ behavior; on the contrary, I remember thinking that it was written remarkably free from anger and self-pity. When asked in an interview with the New York Times Magazine if she forgives her mother, she states, “It’s really not about forgiveness in my opinion. It’s acceptance. She’s never going to be the sort of mother who wants to take care of me.”

From reading an interview with Jeanette (on Amazon) we discover that her mom is now living with her. After she initially refused, Jeanette said she needed help with the horses, an offer Mom couldn’t refuse. Jeanette states, “I get along great with Mom now. She’s a hoot. She’s always upbeat and has a different take on life than most people. She’s a lot of fun to be around–as long you’re not looking for her to take care of you. She doesn’t live in the house with us–I haven’t that level of understanding and compassion–but in an out building about a hundred yards away. Mom is great with animals, loves to sing and dance and ride horses, and is still painting like a fiend.”

The Glass Castle is highly recommended for readers who love memoirs and stories about individuals overcoming difficult circumstances.

My rating 4.5 stars.

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

The Glass Castle (cover)
The Glass Castle Information

The Movie:

I was at the first showing today (release day!). Movie-goers who’ve read the book are often difficult to please! To me, the movie adaptations seem to be the “Flat Stanley” version of the book, much of the depth and details of the story are sacrificed. This image sums it up!

a picture of an iceberg comparing the smaller part above the water to a film and the larger part below the water to a book

First, allow me to focus on what I liked. I thought the casting was good….especially Woody Harrelson as Rex Walls. In addition, I appreciated the portrayal of Jeannette’s unfailing hope that her dad would come through for them. Finally, I noticed the love that both parents had for their children even though they couldn’t provide the care they needed and deserved.

The weaknesses include the feeling that this was the Disney or fairy tale version of the real story. Although the real version would’ve been a difficult movie to watch! However, I thought they could’ve shown a few more examples for the audience to gain a true appreciation of the neglect. Otherwise, the audience wholeheartedly buys into the glorification of Rex at the end of the movie.  Yes, he loved them and shared some endearing moments with the family and those facts can certainly be acknowledged; however, the overall neglect cannot be overlooked or swept under the carpet. A glaring omission in the movie included the part about the children making their way to New York City one by one and establishing a life together there apart from their parents. This venture took a lot of determination, planning, and courage on their part (of course Rex taught them to be fearless and to be dreamers!). In addition, nothing was mentioned about the youngest child, Maureen, who seemed to suffer the most from the neglect, especially after the older ones leave home.

One striking connection that I made during the movie is the similarity to Hillbilly Elegy. In fact, reading Hillbilly Elegy before reading The Glass Castle would certainly add depth to the reading experience. They would make great companion reads (more on this next week). Both stories involve Hillbilly culture and the understanding gained in Hillbilly Elegy helps me better understand the Walls family. Another important similarity is the theme of love. J. D. Vance in Hillbilly Elegy wouldn’t have made it without the love, support, and stability of his grandparents, even though the grandparents had many flaws and were less than perfect guardians. In The Glass Castle, the children felt Rose Mary’s and Rex’s love for them despite not being able to care for them. The deep love that parents or grandparents have for their children despite their flaws can make a significant difference in the ability of children to cope, survive, and perhaps overcome their childhood circumstances.

Would I recommend the movie?

Generally, yes. I think you’ll find the portrayal interesting and the chaos and the neglect are not as evident as in the book. I thought it was a simplistic portrayal of a very difficult story. I have the biggest issue with celebrating Rex at the movie’s end when he neglected to care for his family 90% of the time. I felt the ending sanitized the story. I encourage you to see the movie and then let’s engage here in the comments!

The Glass Castle Official Movie Trailer

The Glass Castle DVD

Meet the Author, Jeannette Walls

Author, Jeannette Walls

Jeanette Walls lives in Virginia and is married to the writer John Taylor. She is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has worked at several publications, including Esquire, USA Today, and New York.  I think it’s interesting that the impetus for writing The Glass Castle occurred when she was a gossip columnist and her lack of transparency and honesty about her own life caused her to feel guilty as she was exposing other people’s lives in her gossip column.

http://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Jeannette-Walls/19723841



QOTD:

Is The Glass Castle on your TBR?

Please share your reflections on The Glass Castle (movie and/or book) in the comments section. I’d love to hear about what you’re reading, too!



Happy Reading Everyone!

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



Looking Forward:

Next week, Reading Ladies will review the memoir Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance if you’d like to “buddy read.” I think it’s a fascinating companion read with The Glass Castle!

Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy Information



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

 

 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir: A Review

July 28, 2017

Thank you for reading, sharing, and following along! I think you’ll find this week’s featured selection fascinating. I love historical fiction and supporting women authors who write about strong women. You can also find me on Goodreads.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
by Jennifer Ryan

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links

 The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan (cover)

Genre/category: WW11 historical fiction, women’s fiction

Summary:

A notice pinned to the Chilbury Village Hall notice board, Sunday, 24th March, 1940 reads: “As all our male voices have gone to war, the village choir is to close.” (Signed The Vicar)

Facing an impending Nazi invasion, the ladies of Chilbury, England pull together under the strong leadership and persistent encouragement of new choirmaster, Prim, to resurrect the choir as a ladies choir. This heartfelt historical fiction story is told from multiple perspectives and voices in diary and journal form. As author Jennifer Ryan states: “At the beginning of the war, an organization known as Mass Observation began, encouraging ordinary individuals to keep diaries and journals and send them into headquarters, where some would be published in a newsletter.” The ladies were serious in supporting the war effort in every way and their earnest writings combine to tell an inspirational story of what it was like to be a woman in the wartime 1940s, working outside the home to support the war effort, finding their voice, and their exploration of independence without their men. Some readers might be concerned that this is simply a collection of these writings: however, I can assure readers that this reads as one complete work and the individual perspectives flow seamlessly from viewpoint to viewpoint and add to the complexity and richness of this heartfelt, charming, and inspirational story. Throughout the narrative, a cast of charismatic and memorable characters emerges as the women face the uncertainties and hardships of war, resolve village problems as they arise, and a few enjoy a bit of romance.

Amazon rating: (July) 4.4  Stars

My Thoughts:

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Favorite Reads: January-June 2017

July 21, 2017

Favorite Reads: Jan-June 2017

Favorite Reads So Far in 2017: January-June

Dear Reading Friends,

In the height of the summer reading season, I’m excited to share eleven (I tried for ten!) of my favorite reads with you in case your TBR (to be read) list is depleted or you’re in a reading slump and need some inspiration!

I include only 3, 4, and 5-star reviews on the blog. As always, you can find all the books I’ve read and rated here on Goodreads.

Following is a collection of the eleven books that I’ve enjoyed the most (in alphabetical order) at this point in the year.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
(a novella) by Fredrik Backman

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Family Life, Alzheimer’s

Amazon Summary:
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime. Amazon Rating (July): 4.5 stars

My Thoughts:
An amazing, creative, beautifully written short story with a huge impact and filled with love and tenderness. In Backman’s own words: “It’s a love letter and a slow farewell between a man and his grandson, and between a dad and his boy.” Highly recommended for older teens, men, women, anyone touched by Alzheimer’s, and can be devoured in one sitting.
My Star Rating: 5 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman, blogger, columnist, and New York Times bestselling author, lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on Instagram @backmansk.


Beartown
by Fredrik Backman (same author as “And Every Morning…”)

Beartown

Genre/category: Fiction, Small Town and Rural, Sports

Amazon Summary:
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world. Amazon Rating (July): 4.6 stars

My Thoughts:
As the author develops characters and establishes the setting in his unique style, tension builds like the distant rumbling of an approaching severe thunderstorm.
The action is a bit slow in the beginning but once it picks up the tension is sustained as the story plays out. Hockey fans will find this story particularly enjoyable! Filled with fascinating characters and infused with complex and important themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, and a girl’s “no,” I’m predicting that this powerful story will be one of the year’s best reads for me. Thoughtful and challenging on multiple levels, this will make a terrific book club selection. Highly recommended for hockey enthusiasts, men (my husband enjoyed it) and women.
My Star Rating: 5 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:
(see the previous review)


Dreamland Burning
by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning

Genre/category: YA Historical Fiction, Prejudice and Racism

Amazon Summary:
When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past… and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations. Amazon Rating (July): 4.7 stars

My Thoughts:
Few books give me a book “hangover,” and readers who’ve experienced this will know what I mean!  Dreamland Burning has everything I love about a good story: captivating characters, unputdownable, important and timely themes, substantial content, and beautiful writing. In particular, I loved the seamless transitions between alternating time periods. It flowed like one story with no jarring reentry or mental adjustment into the next point of view. I appreciate the author’s hard work and her craft at making this happen. Dreamland Burning would pair well with Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult for its similar themes. Highly recommended for men and women, for older teens, and especially for thoughtful book club discussions.
My Star Rating: 5 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Jennifer Latham

Jennifer Latham is an army brat with a soft spot for kids, books, and poorly behaved dogs. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband and two daughters. Read more at http://www.jenniferlatham.com/


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Genre/category: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Amazon Summary:
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . The only way to survive is to open your heartAmazon Rating (July): 4.6 stars

My Thoughts:
If you enjoy stories about quirky characters like Frederick Backman’s Ove or Britt-Marie, you will likely enjoy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Throughout this amazing, witty, poignant, and unique read, we learn her story. Eleanor isn’t fine, and I was completely captivated by her bravery and themes of loneliness, honesty, survival, unconditional love, healing, acceptance, and restoration. I wanted to crawl into the story and give her a hug. Highly recommended as a story that builds empathy for others.
My Star Rating: 5 stars.

Buy here

About the Author:

Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress and is Honeyman’s debut novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Find more information at http://www.foyles.co.uk/Public/Biblio/AuthorDetails.aspx?authorId=85835 and follow her on Twitter:  @GailHoneyman


News of the World
by Paulette Jiles

News of the World

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Westerns

Amazon Summary:
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. Army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain prove difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Amazon Rating (July): 4.6 stars

My Thoughts:
Do you often read outside of your preferred genres? I never would’ve chosen a western, but I loved this heartwarming and beautifully written story of the rescue of a ten-year-old girl. In the end, the tension between doing something right (the return) and doing the right thing (the ultimate rescue) earned this story a place among my favorites. Throughout the story, the author creates an amazing sense of place. Not often do I find historical fiction combined with literary fiction combined with westerns! Those readers who enjoy westerns will love this even more. Recommended for men and women, for its themes, and for beautiful writing.
My Star Rating: 5 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles was born in Salem, Missouri, in the Missouri Ozarks. Raised in small towns in both south and central Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri (KC) in Romance Languages. After graduation she worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto and in the far north of Ontario and in the Quebec Arctic, helping to set up village one-watt FM radio stations in the native language, Anishinabe and Inuktitut. She became reasonably conversant in Anishinabe but Inuktitut was just too much. Very hard. Besides she was only in the eastern Arctic for a year. Work in the north lasted about ten years all told.

She taught at David Thompson University in Nelson B.C. and grew to love the British Columbian ecosystems and general zaniness. She spent one year as a writer-in-residence at Philips Andover in Massachusetts and then returned to the United States permanently when she married Jim Johnson, a Texan. She has lived in Texas since 1995.

She and her husband renovated an old stone house in the San Antonio historic district and amidst the rubble and stonemasons and ripped-out electrical systems she completed Enemy Women. She now lives on a small ranch near a very small town in the Texas Hill Country with a horse and a donkey. If you want a free donkey, please let her know. She plays Irish tin whistle with a bluegrass group, sings alto in the choir, rides remote trails in Texas with friends. Her horse is named Buck. News of the World (William Morrow) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Read more at paulettejiles.com.


Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

Genre/category: YA Historical Fiction, Survival Stories

Amazon Summary:
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept. Amazon Rating (July): 4.7 stars.

My Thoughts:
While reading this page-turner, I discovered my new favorite author, Ruta Sepetys, and I’m on a quest to read all of her work. Salt to the Sea is an intense, engaging, and gripping historical fiction read featuring a quartet of complex characters each with their own story to tell and a hope of escape.  It is a timely story as we hear in current events about refugees escaping war. On a cautionary note: I wondered if it was too heavy to be categorized YA (young adult). Recommended for its beautiful writing and for WWll fans.
My Star Rating: 5 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to stories of strength through struggle. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over fifty countries. “Between Shades of Gray” was inspired by her family’s history in Lithuania. Her second novel, “Out of the Easy” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950, and her third novel, “Salt to the Sea, exposes one of the greatest hidden disasters of World War II. Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee. For more information:
http://www.rutasepetys.com
http://www.facebook.com/rutasepetys
http://www.twitter.com/rutasepetys


Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Prejudice, Race, Justice, Family

Amazon Summary:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game. Amazon Rating (July): 4.7 stars

My Thoughts:
This is an important read and one that I often recommend; however, it was difficult for me to rate. First, I would award it 4 stars for being a page-turner and for the focus on an important issue. At the same time, I would rate it 3 stars for the author’s overly pedantic tone (for my preference) and the too-convenient plot twists at the end. Overall, that would average out to a 3.5-star rating. On Goodreads, I rounded that up to 4 stars. This rating comes with a word of caution that the author was heavy-handed in her message….it seemed to me that the story was an excuse to share her personal views. I’m conflicted as I write this because it’s an important issue and message, but at times it felt like a lecture. In the end, I admire her bravery at tackling this important and sensitive issue. Without hesitation, though, I recommend this book for readers who enjoy controversial and current topics, nurses, and legal professionals, and to those readers who want to form their own opinions on trending new releases. It would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, if you’re a huge Jodi Picoult fan you would want to read this prolific author’s latest.
My Star Rating: 4 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Read more at http://www.jodipicoult.com/


The Dry
by Jane Harper

The Dry

Genre/category: Crime Fiction, Mystery

Amazon Summary:
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets. Amazon Rating (July): 4.4 stars

My Thoughts:
This is another book that’s outside of my preferred reading genres. I always love it when I take a chance to expand my reading and stumble upon something I enjoy. Even though this book didn’t end up on my virtual favorite reads bookshelf in Goodreads, I’m including it here for all of you who do love crime fiction and because it was a 4 star read. I appreciated the beautiful writing, excellent character development, and amazing sense of place the author created. Also, the mystery kept me guessing until the very end (maybe that’s because I’m not a frequent reader of crime fiction and not an expert at picking up clues!). Another reason to read this book is that it’s been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon. Some of us are die-hard “must read the book before I see the movie” types. Recommended for men and women who love a good mystery but who also enjoy beautiful writing.
My Star Rating: 4 stars.

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Jane Harper

Jane Harper was born in Manchester in the UK, and moved to Australia with her family at age eight and gained Australian citizenship.

Returning to the UK with her family as a teenager, she lived in Hampshire before studying English and History at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

On graduating, she completed a journalism entry qualification and got her first reporting job as a trainee on the Darlington & Stockton Times in County Durham.

Jane worked for several years as a senior news journalist for the Hull Daily Mail, before moving back to Australia in 2008 working with the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

In 2014, Jane submitted a short story which was one of 12 chosen for the Big Issue‘s annual Fiction Edition.

That inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously, and that year she applied for the Curtis Brown Creative online 12-week novel writing course.

She was accepted with a submission for the book that would become The Dry and wrote the first full draft during the three-month course.

Jane lives in St Kilda with her husband and daughter. To read more visit http://janeharper.com.au/


The Orphan’s Tale
by Pam Jenoff

The Orphan's Tale

Genre/category: Historical Fiction, Jewish

Amazon Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything. Amazon Rating (July): 4.4 stars

My Thoughts:
The circus meets WWll…..an interesting perspective and engaging, page-turning, memorable historical fiction read! I was inspired by these phenomenal and courageous characters and by the themes of survival, friendship, taking risk, loyalty, and caring for one another. Recommended for all historical fiction fans.
My Star Rating: 4 stars

Buy Here

Meet the Author:

Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including her most recent, The Orphan’s Tale, an instant New York Times bestseller, and The Kommandant’s Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for the Quill Awards and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing atto her masters degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelors degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school. Pam would love to skype with your book club or library group! Read more at http://www.pamjenoff.com/


The Pearl That Broke its Shell
by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Genre/Category: Women’s Fiction, Domestic Life

Amazon Summary:
Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi’s literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great-grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive? Amazon Rating (July): 4.5 stars

My Thoughts:
If you enjoyed the Kite Runner, you might appreciate this gripping, page-turning story of child brides, violence against women, and gender inequality in Afghan culture. Even though parts of the story are heartbreaking and disturbing, I think it’s an important cultural read and I was profoundly affected by the themes of oppression, the plight of women, women fighting for voice and representation, injustice, perseverance, endurance, and hope for a better future. Highly recommended for those who love stories about strong women.
My Star Rating: 4 stars

Buy Here

About the Author:

Nadia Hashimi

Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician of Afghan descent and an internationally bestselling author. She attended Brandeis University, obtained a medical degree from SUNY Downstate and trained in pediatrics at New York University. She has hometowns in both New York and New Jersey but now calls Maryland home. She is an advocate for women’s rights and a public speaker. Nadia loves a good story and strong female characters.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or via her website (www.nadiahashimi.com) to learn more or request a virtual book club visit. She’s quite social.


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
by Lisa See

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Genre/category: Literary Fiction, Family Saga, Asian American

Amazon Summary:
A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters. Amazon Rating (July): 4.5 stars

My Thoughts:
Fans of Lisa See will not be disappointed! This is an amazing read with themes of family, adoption, redemption, courage, determination, culture, mothers/daughters, sacrifice, and coincidence. Recommended for readers who appreciate Lisa See and who love learning about other customs and cultures.
My Star Rating: 4 stars

Buy Here

About the Author:

Lisa Lee

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. Her most recent novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, will be released by Scribner in March 2017. Booklist has said of the new novel, “See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love.” Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her books have been published in 39 languages. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001, was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003, and is slated to receive the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2017. Read more at www.lisasee.com



Happy Reading Book Friends!

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

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~Denise J Hughes

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~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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Next week I’ll be reviewing The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan if you’d like to “buddy read” with me.

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