Little Fires Everywhere [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 31, 2022

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
#throwbackthursday

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (cover) I/mage: birdseye view of a pristine upper class neighborhood

Genre/Categories: contemporary fiction, family life, mothers and children, complicated family drama, transracial adoption

Welcome to Throwback Thursday where I highlight an older review or post a current review of an old read. Today, I’m re-sharing a complicated family drama, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, strives to be a perfect planned community. In the words of the author, there is a “propensity to overachieve and a deep intolerance for flaws…a utopia.” Every winding road is thoughtfully laid out, the list of house colors is a strict guideline, trash pickup is conducted in the alleys and all trash cans are out of sight, and tradition is revered and informs the future. Generations of Elena Richardson’s family have lived in Shaker Heights, and she ensures that her family follows the rules and lives up to expectations. All through her life, she has followed the rules and this is wholeheartedly embraced as her highest value. Part of her personal code of following the rules is giving back to those that are less fortunate whenever she can, and she’s the type who keeps a mental list of her good deeds. Elena especially wants to use her inherited rental property near her home to benefit others. She earnestly seeks out renters that could gain from the advantage of living in her perfect neighborhood in Shaker Heights. Mia Warren, a free-spirited artistic non-rule follower, and her teenage daughter, Pearl, are the most recent beneficiaries of Mrs. Richardson’s benevolence. Although when Mia is less than grateful for Mrs. Richardson’s offer to buy one of Mia’s photographs, Elena Richardson makes a mental note and this slight continues to bother her and becomes a motivation for her future relationship with Mia. As the story unfolds, the two families become more involved with each other rather than simply remaining tenant and landlord. It becomes complicated.

A rule follower and a free spirit…

Continue here for my full review of Little Fires Everywhere..



QOTD:

Have you read Little Fires Everywhere or is it on your TBR?
Have you seen the mini series adaptation?

 

The Last Train to London [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

February 24, 2022

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton
#throwbackthursday

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

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

Welcome to Throwback Thursday where I highlight an older review or post a current review of an old read. Today, I’m re-sharing one of my favorite inspirational historical fiction reads, The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My 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-occupied Europe. (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

Courage isn’t the absence of fear, rather the going forward in the face of it…

Continue here for my full review of The Last Train to London…



QOTD:

Have you read The Last Train to London or is it on your TBR?

 

The Island of Sea Women #ThrowBackThursday

June 24, 2021

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
#throwbackthursday

Island of Sea Women Review

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

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of compelling and informative women’s historical fiction, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

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

 A story of a unique culture, friendship, understanding, community, and a dangerous and demanding profession…

Continue here for my full review of The Island of Sea Women …



QOTD:

Have you read The Island of Sea Women or is it on your TBR?

Haven Point [Book Review]

June 3, 2021

Haven Point by Virginia Hume

Haven Point by Virginia Hume (cover) Image: a large home sits on a point of land overlooking the ocean

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction (1944 to present day), Multi-generational Family Drama, Family Life, Maine

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks to #NetGalley @StMartinsPress for a complimentary eARC and @Macmillanaudio for a listening copy of #HavenPoint upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Originally from Minnesota, Maren works as a cadet nurse at Walter Reed Medical Center. The story begins in 1944 as she meets a handsome doctor who sweeps her off her feet. Oliver is from a prominent family who has a summer residence in a small, exclusive community on the coast of Maine. As a newlywed, Maren feels insecure as she tries to fit in with the tight-knit crowd of Haven Point residents. But Haven Point becomes part of their summer life and their children grow up for part of the year in Haven Point. In 1970, their oldest daughter Anne falls for a young man who doesn’t meet with the approval of Maren and Oliver. A tragedy occurs. In the present day (2008), Anne’s daughter Skye has a close relationship with her grandmother, Maren. In the end, Maren shares the whole truth with Skye about what happened in the summer of 1970.

My Thoughts:

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Eden [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

August 27, 2020

Eden by Jeanne Blasberg
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Eden by Jeanne Blasberg, an engaging and heartfelt multi-generational family story

Eden Review

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…multi-generational family…

My Summary:

“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.”

Continue here for my review of Eden

QOTD: Have you read Eden or is it on your TBR?

The Mountains Sing [Book Review]

July 10, 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family Life, Vietnamese

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Mountains Sing is a multi-generational story of the Tran family told in dual timelines and points of view. We learn about the 20th Century history of Viet Nam as events are integrated into the personal family story. Present-day events are told by the granddaughter and the family’s backstory is told by the grandmother. The story is filled with rich historical details, vivid descriptions, and lyrical writing. We experience the history of Viet Nam from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese people and specifically from the viewpoint of the Tran family. A compelling story of ordinary, beautiful people and a country torn apart by war.

My Thoughts:

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#throwbackthursday Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng [Book Review]

April 30, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
#throwbackthursday

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

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Little Fires Everywhere is now a movie adaptation on Hulu. Have you seen it?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (cover) I/mage: birdseye view of a pristine upper class neighborhood

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

My Summary:

Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio (yes, it’s a real place), strives to be a perfect planned community. In the words of the author there is a “propensity to over achieve and a deep intolerance for flaws…a utopia.” Every winding road is thoughtfully laid out, the list of house colors is a strict, guideline, trash pickup is conducted in the alleys and all trash cans are out of sight, and tradition is revered and informs the future. Generations of Elena Richardson’s family have lived in Shaker Heights, and she ensures that her family follows the rules and lives up to expectations. All through her life she has followed the rules and this is wholeheartedly embraced as her highest value. Part of her personal code of following the rules is giving back to those that are less fortunate whenever she can, and she’s the type who keeps a mental list of her good deeds. Elena especially wants to use her inherited rental property near her home to benefit others. She earnestly seeks out renters that could gain from the advantage of living in her perfect neighborhood in Shaker Heights. Mia Warren, a free-spirited artistic non-rule follower, and her teenage daughter, Pearl, are the most recent beneficiaries of Mrs. Richardson’s benevolence. Although when Mia is less than grateful for Mrs. Richardson’s offer to buy one of Mia’s photographs, Elena Richardson makes a mental note and this slight continues to bother her and becomes motivation for her future relationship with Mia:

“That’s very generous of you,” Mia’s eyes slid toward the window briefly and Mrs. Richardson felt a twinge of irritation at this lukewarm response to her philanthropy.

As the story unfolds, the two families become more involved with each other rather than simply remaining tenant and landlord. Soon the children become friends, Pearl spends her afternoons at the Richardson home, and Mia accepts a part-time position as a light house keeper and cook for the Richardson family.  Izzy Richardson, a teenage child who shares Mia’s artistic interests and temperament, and Mia develop a close relationship while Izzy learns photography skills in Mia’s darkroom. When one of Mrs. Richardson’s best friends is in the process of adopting a Chinese-American child,  the community is divided on the ethical issues and Elena Richardson and Mia Warren find themselves on opposite sides of the custody battle between the birth mother and adoptive mother. This conflict triggers Mrs. Richardson to find out about Mia’s motivations, her secrets, and her mysterious past. All of this has devastating consequences for the two families.

Are you a rule follower or a free spirit? Do you believe that following all the rules will lead to a happy and successful life?

Continue reading my review of Little Fires Everywhere….

QOTD: Have you read Little Fires Everywhere or is it on your TBR?

American Dirt [Book Review]

April 10, 2020

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (cover)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense, Family Drama, Migrant, Mother/Child, Hispanic

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Lydia, her journalist husband, and their young son live a comfortable, middle-class life in Acapulco, Mexico. Lydia and her husband are following their dreams: Lydia owns a bookshop while her husband writes investigative pieces that expose gang crime in the area. One day Lydia unknowingly befriends a charming bookshop customer who turns out to be the head of the newest drug cartel that has taken over the city. Her friendship with Javier sets in motion a tragic sequence of events that force Lydia and her eight-year-old son to flee for their lives.

My Thoughts:

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The Last Train to London [Book 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.

My 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:

(more…)

In Pieces: A Review

February 18, 2019  

In Pieces by Sally Field

In Pieces coverGenre/Categories: Non Fiction, Memoir, Biography, Family Relationships, Motherhood

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Summary:

Beloved actor Sally Field tells her story for the first time. Her earliest years were lived as a shy, vulnerable, insecure, and anxious little girl in social situations, and she reveals that she did not feel safe at home. In middle school she discovered acting and it became a refuge for her. As she reached her later teens and landed her first professional acting job, she felt responsible to help her mom and younger sister in financial and practical ways. Even when she married for the first time, she felt the burden of providing financially for her young family. From her early years as Gidget and The Flying Nun, Sally Field went on to captivate movie lovers with riveting and emotional performances in her portrayal of characters such as Sybil, Norma Rae, and Mary Todd Lincoln. Of course, we also loved her in Forest Gump and Mrs. Doubtfire. Most recently, she played a leading role in the TV drama series, Brothers & Sisters. Through Sally Field’s personal story, readers see her behind-the-scenes reality and also follow her unstable and codependent relationship with her mother in which she ultimately finds healing and reconciliation.

Amazon Ratings (February): 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

Content. Although Sally Field’s story, In Pieces, is a bit sadder and more tragic than I expected, she writes in the same authentic, transparent, upbeat, and vulnerable style we’ve come to expect from her. Sally Fields shares her behind-the-scenes experiences and her complicated family relationships. Especially poignant is the relationship with her mother and eventual reconciliation. I appreciate Sally’s struggle to understand her choices and those of others. She is determined to chase her dream and demonstrates grit in dealing with life’s disappointments and circumstances. Through her life experiences, we learn what it was like for her to follow her heart and pursue her ambition in a male dominated world. She shares the good and bad, her ups and downs, her fears and her success, her doubts and passion. Her memorable story is honest and authentic, powerful and inspiring. The story doesn’t come across as written by a celebrity (except for mentions of the movie industry)….it’s a story from someone we might sit across the table from working though difficult life issues.

Personal Connection. Stories in which readers can make personal connections become the best reading experiences! I grew up in around the same area of Southern California as Sally Field; in fact, as it turns out we lived in the same city during our childhoods. I grew up fangirling Sally, watching her first in Gidget and then The Flying Nun. I’ve admired her work in later years and cheered for her on award shows, so it was incredibly interesting to hear the behind-the-scenes stories for movies that I’ve seen (not on DVD or TV but as they were released).

Cover. I don’t often mention covers in my reviews, but I love the cover of In Pieces. Her picture reflects the vulnerable and transparent person we read about in the story.

Recommended. Sally Field’s accomplishments despite the obstacles she faced are remarkable. I love hearing how the profession of acting and the portrayal of certain characters helped her work out the emotions and desperate circumstances in her own life. She is a survivor, and it’s an engaging and well written story. I’m awarding this five stars because of the emotions I felt while reading her story and because it was engaging (read it in two days). In Pieces is recommended for readers who love memoir, for fans of Sally Field the actor, and for those who desire to read about the movie industry. ***Trigger warnings for child abuse and for attention given to women without their consent.

My Rating: 5 Stars

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In Pieces

In Pieces

Meet the Author, Sally Field

Sally Field

Sally Field is a two-time Academy Award and three-time Emmy Award winning actor who has portrayed dozens of iconic roles on both the large and small screens. In 2012, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2015 she was honored by President Obama with the National Medal of Arts. She has served on the Board of Directors of Vital Voices since 2002 and also served on the Board of The Sundance Institute from 1994 to 2010. She has three sons and five grandchildren.



Let’s Discuss!

Are you a Sally Field fan?! Which of her roles is your favorite?



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:

Come back Friday for a review of Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly.



Links

Check out The Secret Library Book Blog and her great weekly links!

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



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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.