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.

Summary:

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:

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The Vanished Bride: A Review

September 10, 2019

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

The Vanished Bride Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thank you #netgalley #berkleypublishinggroup for the free e-copy of #thevanishedbride by @brontemysteries (Bella Ellis) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary:

The Vanished Bride is the highly imagined story of the famous Bronte Sisters before they were authors. In 1845, when all four Bronte siblings return home to live with their father (for various reasons), Charlotte, Emily, and Anne hear about the disappearance and suspected murder of a young neighbor woman, they decide to become lady detectors and embark on an ambitious endeavor to solve the mystery. Relying on their resourcefulness, determination, energy, wits, cleverness, and creativity, they investigate, interrogate, analyze clues, and follow leads. The sisters need to pursue these activities without drawing attention to themselves because of the expectations for women and their roles at that time. Since they are already intrigued by the idea of becoming authors in a male-dominated field, they are already thinking outside the box and challenging boundaries. Although at times they need to involve their brother, most of the investigation is accomplished without the knowledge of their protective father. Will they solve the mystery of the vanished bride?

My Thoughts:

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Meet Me in Monaco: A Review

September 6, 2019

Meet Me in Monaco
by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Meet Me in Monaco Review

Genre/Categories: Romantic Historical Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Grace Kelly, Hollywood actress, and Prince Rainier of Monaco meet in the 1950s at the Cannes Film Festival, and their story is the backdrop of this imagined love story of a perfumer, Sophie Duval, and a British press photographer, James Henderson. As Sophie develops an exclusive perfume for Grace Kelly and James is an assigned photographer, the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer is the setting for the bittersweet and sometimes star-crossed romance of Sophie and James.

The subtitle needs some explanation in that this is a story INSPIRED by the Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier wedding; the wedding is simply a backdrop and not the primary story.

Early Amazon Rating (September): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

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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.



QOTD:

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



Sharing is Caring

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
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***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 Huntress: A Review

August 23, 2019

Historical fiction with a generous serving of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and romance!

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The Huntress Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction (post WW11), mystery, suspense, thriller, romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

An ex WW11 war correspondent, a former American soldier, and an extraordinary Russian woman pilot team up to hunt down a Nazi war criminal known as The Huntress. The duel timeline fills in the past and follows the present-day intrigue. The two timelines merge in a thrilling and suspenseful conclusion.

Early Amazon Rating (August): 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Review

August 16, 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction, Book About Books, Racism, Prejudice, Poverty

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In the 1930s, nineteen-year-old Cussy Carter and her father live in the isolated woods of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. They are the last of the “blue people” of Kentucky and endure racism and prejudice because of the blue hue of their skin. They are considered “colored.” Dad risks his life and health working long hours in the coal mines and Cussy takes a government job with the historical Pack Horse Library Project. As a “librarian,” she travels across treacherous mountains and dangerous creeks on her mule, Junia, to deliver books and other reading materials to the mountain folk who have few resources. She does what she can to meet their most dire needs. Incidentally, she doesn’t cuss! (She’s named after a town in France.)

Early Amazon Rating (August): 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

 August 6, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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 the first line and first few paragraphs of a book that’s been a priority on my TBR: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I’ve read some great reviews….are you curious about how it begins?

From Amazon: “The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything―everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble.

If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere―even back home.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction, Small Town/Rural Fiction, Kentucky, Book About Books

1st Line/1st Paragraphs:

“The new year was barely fifteen hours old in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, when my pa adjusted the courting candle, setting it to burn for an alarming length of time.

Satisfied, Pa carried it out of our one-room log house and onto the hand-hewn porch. He was hopeful. Hoping 1936 was the year his only daughter, nineteen-year-old Cussy Mary Carter, would get herself hitched and quit her job with the Pack Horse Library Project. Hoping for her latest suitor’s proposal.

‘Cussy,’ he called over his shoulder, ‘before your mama passed, I promised her I’d see to it you got yourself respectability,  but I’ve nearly gone busted buying candles to get you some.’ …… “

What do you feel about the old-fashioned idea that a young girl needs to be married in order to gain respectability? Do you think Cussy will marry or remain independent? The first two paragraphs engaged me immediately, so I’m anticipating a great read!



QOTD:

Have you read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek or is it on your TBR?



 Looking Ahead:

Return on Friday for my review of Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok.

Searching For Sylvie Lee



Recent Posts You Might Have Missed

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Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Summer 2019 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

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Favorite Literary Characters



Sharing is Caring

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.

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words: A Review

August 2, 2019

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Hum if You Don't Know the Words Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Apartheid, South Africa

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Soweto Uprising of 1976 in South Africa brings together our two protagonists: nine-year-old Robin Conrad living in Johannesburg and Beauty Mbali living in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei. In Apartheid South Africa, these characters should never have met. Robin is living a comfortable life with her parents while Beauty struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. After the Soweto Uprising, Robin’s parents are dead and Beauty’s daughter is missing. Extraordinary circumstances bring them together and as they grieve their losses, they form a bond. This complex and heartfelt story is told through alternating perspectives.

Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

 July 23, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words 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 the first line and first few paragraphs of a book that’s been on my TBR for some time: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. I’m actually eager to read the new release by Bianca Marais If You Want to Make God Laugh, but I’m on a long library wait list so I’m reading Hum while I wait.

From Amazon: “Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a ten-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred…until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing. 

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.”

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Hum if You Don't Know the Words

Genre/Categories: South Africa, Apartheid, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age

1st Line/1st Few Paragraphs:

“I joined up the last two lines of the hopscotch grid and wrote a big “10” in the top square. It gave me a thrill writing the age I’d be on my next birthday because everyone knew that once you hit double digits, you weren’t a child anymore. The green chalk, borrowed from the scoreboard of my father’s dartboard without his knowledge, was so stubby that my fingers scraped against the concrete of the driveway as I put the final touches on my creation.

“There, it’s done.” I stood back and studied my handiwork. As usual, I was disappointed that something I’d made hadn’t turned out quite as good as I’d imagined.

“It’s perfect,” Cat declared, reading my mind as she always did, and trying to reassure me before I washed the grid off in a fit of self-doubt. I smiled even though her opinion shouldn’t have counted for much; my identical twin sister was easily impressed by everything I did. “You go first” Cat said.

“Okay.”

I pulled the bronze half-cent coin from my pocket and rubbed it for luck before flipping it into the air from my thumbnail. It arced and spun, glinting in the sunlight, and when it finally landed in the first square, I launched myself forward, eager to finish the grid in record time.

I finished three circuits before the coin skittered out of the square marked”4.” It should have ended my turn, but I shot a quick look at Cat who was distracted by a hadeda bird making a racket on the neighbor’s roof. Before she could notice my mistake, I nudged the choin back in place with the tip of my canvas shoe and carried on jumping.

“You’re doing so well,” Cat called a few seconds later once she’s turned back and noticed my progress.

Spurred on by her clapping and encouragement, I hopped even faster, not noticing until it was too late that a lace on one of my takkies had come loose. It tripped me up just as I cleared the last square and brought me crashing down knee-first, my skin scraped raw on the rough concrete. I cried out, first in alarm and then in pain, and it was this noise that brought my mother’s flip-flops clacking into my line of vision. Her shadow fell over me.

“Oh for goodness’ sake, not again.” my mother reached down and yanked me up. “you’re so clumsy. I don’t know where you get it from.” She tsked as I raised my bleeding knee so she could see.

Cat was crouched next to me, wincing at the sight of the gravel embedded in the wound. Tears started to prickle, but I knew I had to stop their relentless progression quickly or suffer my mother’s displeasure.

“I’m fine. It’s fine.” I forced a watery smile and gingerly stood up.

“Oh, Robin,” my mother sighed. “You’re not going to cry are you? You know how ugly you are when you cry.” She crossed her eyes and screwed up her face comically to illustrate her point and I forced the giggle she was looking for.

The first chapter engaged me immediately, so I’m anticipating a great read!



QOTD:

Have you read Hum If You Don’t Know the Words or Masais’s new release If You Want to Make God Laugh?



 Looking Ahead:

Return on Friday for my review of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce and next week for my end of July Wrap Up and a 2-year Bblogiversary Giveaway!

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy



Posts You Might Have Missed

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Summer 2019 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best Reads of the Year So Far



Sharing is Caring

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.

1st Line/1st Paragraph: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

 June 25, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

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 the first line and first paragraph of What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. If you love historical fiction, a love story, and time travel, this may be a good read for you.

From Amazon:  Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

What The Wind Knows

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Love Story, Time Travel

1st Line/1st Few Paragraphs:

“Grandfather, tell me about your mother.” He was silent as he smoothed my hair, and for a long moment, I thought he hadn’t heard me.

“She was beautiful. Her hair was dark, her eyes green, just like yours are.”

“Do you miss her?” Tears leaked out the sides of my eyes and made his shoulder wet beneath my cheek. I missed my mother desperately.

“Not anymore,” my grandfather soothed.

“Why?” I was suddenly angry with him. How could he betray her that way? It was his duty to miss her.

“Because she is still with me.”

This made me cry harder.

“Hush now, Annie. Be still. Be still. If you are crying, you won’t be able to hear.”

“Hear what?” I gulped, slightly distracted from my anguish.

“The wind. It’s singing.”

I perked up, lifting my head slightly, listening for what my grandfather could hear. “I don’t hear a song,” I contended.

“Listen closer. Maybe it’s singing for you.” It howled and hurried, pressing against my bedroom window.

“I hear the wind,” I confessed, allowing the sound to lull me. “But it isn’t singing a very pretty song. It sounds more like it’s shouting.”

“Maybe the wind is trying to get your attention. Maybe it has something very important to say,” he murmured. 

After reading From Sand and Ash last year, I declared Amy Harmon a favorite author. I’m eager to dive into her new title after reading a few glowing reviews. I’m not that enamored with time travel but I do love a good love story, so we’ll see how this goes!



QOTD:

Have you read From Sand and Ash?

Do you love time travel stories?



 Looking Ahead:

Coming next week! A special collaboration post with twelve other bloggers as we each give our recommendation for ONE great summer book!

One Great Summer Read



Sharing is Caring

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.