Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter [Book Review]

September 15, 2020

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Family in Six Tones by Lan Cao (cover) Image: a mom holding a young girl

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Refugee, Vietnamese American, Vietnam War, Mother/Daughter

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks, #Netgalley #PenguinBooks @FSBassociates @AnnaSacca for a complimentary e ARC of #FamilyinSixTones for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Lan Cao escaped Viet Nam (and the Vietnam War) as a refugee when she was a child. The sacrificial love of her parents and the hopes they had for her future caused them to put her on a plane alone to travel to America to live with a distant relative. Leaving Viet Nam was traumatic and adjusting to a new family and culture added to the trauma, especially since she thought she was going on a brief vacation. Lan endures extreme culture shock (it’s especially sad that she can’t figure out how to open her milk carton at lunch), completes school, becomes a lawyer, marries, and has a child. Her daughter, Harlan, navigates two cultures and rails against her mom’s overprotectiveness. In this memoir, we hear both perspectives. As we understand that Lan’s fearfulness for her daughter is the result of her own childhood trauma, we also sympathize with Harlan and her need to fit into her American culture and be allowed some freedom. This is an “own voices” story of loss, trauma, a mother/daughter relationship, and the refugee experience.

My Thoughts:


Eden [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

August 27, 2020

Eden by Jeanne Blasberg

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?

Secret Daughter [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 23, 2020

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda #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 Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, a story of loving sacrifice.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (cover) Image: a young mom and daughter stand on a beach with backs to camera overlooking a body of water one arm around the other

Genre/Categories: contemporary fiction, adoption, cultural heritage, family life, mothers/daughters, Asian, Asian American

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What would you do to ensure that your newborn daughter has the right to live?

My Summary:

Secret Daughter is a compelling story of adoption from three perspectives: Kavita, the mother who gives up her newborn daughter to an orphanage in Mumbai in hopes of saving her daughter’s life; Somer, a heartbroken, newly married physician in San Francisco who, upon hearing the news she cannot have children, decides to adopt; and Asha, Somer’s adopted daughter from Mumbai, India.

Continue here for my full review of Secret Daughter

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

Of Literature and Lattes [Book Review]

May 12, 2020

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay (cover) Image: a large red coffee cup sits on a stack of books against a blue background....whimsical flowers as an accent

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks #netgalley @thomasnelson for providing a complimentary e copy of #ofliteratureandlattes … all opinions in this review are completely my own.

Thirty-something Alyssa never planned to return home. Suddenly, the company she works for implodes, and she is broke, under FBI investigation, and returns to her home in Winsome, Illinois to regroup. Once in her quaint and charming hometown, Alyssa faces the challenges of reconciling with her mother, earning money to fix her car, and dealing with a health crisis. She meets Jeremy who is struggling to establish a coffee shop, working toward a functional relationship with his ex, and fighting for consistent, quality time with his daughter.

My Thoughts:


The Printed Letter Bookshop: A Review

February 6, 2020

 The Printed Letter Bookshop: by Katherine Reay

The Printed Letter Bookshop (cover) by Katherine Reay

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Books About Books, Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


friendship…forgiveness…second chances…new beginnings

Madeleine’s happiest childhood memory is spending time at her Aunt Maddie’s house and her beloved bookshop. Suddenly, the families become estranged and Madeleine hasn’t seen her aunt in twenty years. After her aunt dies, Madeleine discovers she has inherited everything: the bookshop, the house, the car, and all the debt. At the same time, Madeleine’s career plans are in jeopardy and she begins to seriously investigate what saving the bookshop, moving, and a new plan for her life might involve.

My Thoughts:


Meg & Jo: A Review

December 3, 2019

 Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

Meg and Jo Review

Genre/Categories: Retelling, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Romance, Family

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


In this retelling of Little Women,  the March family home is in North Carolina, U.S.A. The girls are young adults and living on their own. Meg is married to John and they have young twins; Jo is working as a sous chef in New York and writing an anonymous food blog; Beth is taking a break from school and trying out for a musical; and Amy is working in the fashion industry and traveling abroad. Mr. March is an absentee husband and father who cares more about his ministry and charity work than caring for his family. As the holidays approach, Mrs. March is suddenly hospitalized and the sisters rally around to help and support each other, their mom, and her business.

My Thoughts:


The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae: A Review

October 29, 2019

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Mother/Daughter, Medical (transplants), Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks, #netgalley #stmartinspress for a free egalley (ARC) of #thecuriousheartofailsarae by @stephaniebutlandauthor in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

We meet Ailsa Rae and her new heart, Apple, while Ailsa is recovering from heart transplant surgery. As she gives her new heart a name, gains her strength, contemplates the relationship with her mother, and the loss of her best friend/boyfriend, her thoughts turn to her future. She’s always lived as a sick girl with the reality of early death, and making plans for a career and living on her own is suddenly daunting. Through flashbacks, we learn about Ailsa’s life while she was waiting for a transplant, her relationship with Lennox, and her complicated relationship with her mother. Ailsa is a blogger. and she often runs polls on her blog asking advice from her followers.

My Thoughts:


The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls: A Review

March 25, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls Review

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


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


Glory Road: A Review

March 19, 2019

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Glory Road Review

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Romance, Small Town Life, Mothers/Daughters

Thanks to #NetGalley #ThomasNelsonPublishers for my free copy of #GloryRoad by @LaurenKDentonBooks @laurenkdenton in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Glory Road shares the story of three generations of women from the same family during one summer of their lives on Glory Road as they work toward building trusting and loving relationships with each other and also forging the path of their individual lives and future. While some characters are stereotypical, the main characters are well drawn and seem like friends. We are able to empathize with the grandmother’s fear and feelings of distress as she experiences episodes of dementia; we understand the pressure Jessie feels as a single, working, entrepreneurial mom; and we remember how it felt to be a teenager through the experiences of fourteen-year-old Evan.


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


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


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.


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!

Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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