Tag Archive: contemporary



The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would gladly give this book 5 stars. But making poor people (the Kindle version is $12.99!) and/or those with vision problems to buy the audio-book ($19.99) is just plain greedy! Sure the Audible version helps the reader know how certain words are pronounced. And the narrators are very good. And (although I had to wait until I had a credit over there) it was ‘free’ on Audible. I could have had that Kindle version back to the library earlier had I been able to listen to a Text-to-Speech as I read. All that inconvenience and not being able to save my credit for something else I was planning on, should actually lower my rating. But, doggone it! This was a fantastic book! Please, dear author (Lisa See), since the book is about poor people and their struggles, consider the struggles of those who can’t afford to buy your book and or have vision problems!

Gripe ended. The book was so good that I didn’t want to stop reading it for anything! I loved the amount of research the author put into the whole story. And yet I didn’t feel inundated with information. It all felt quite naturally a part of the tale.

It is told mostly from Li-yan’s point of view in a minority village of China. Later her daughter, Haley’s, point of view as an orphan in Orange County, California. What is genetic, instinct, or just natural curiosity? In a culture discouraging more than one child and girls the least desirable, what are the results on those poor girls sent away? What happens to the country that makes that happen? What are the results for the family or parents that are forced into this kind of situation?

These questions are answered. AND you will learn more about tea than you may ever want to know but find yourself longing to know more!

It has been over a week since I finished reading/listening to this gem. I still miss the characters and wish I knew what happened next. I doubt there is a second book in the making. The book leaves you just wishing for more. If you can get the book or audio recording, I think you will like it! Thank you, Leslie, for recommending it!

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Imagine Me GoneImagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A few days ago I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t finish this book. I just couldn’t like the characters or the story. What parts I related to were triggers of my own upbringing and depressions. I figured this wasn’t a good book for me.

After looking at the reviews and realizing a friend had recommended to me, I decided to stick it out. I must admit that the book got a little better but still was not one I will remember in the future. I would normally give this book a single star, but I do think the subject matter needs to be shared with others that may not have had the opportunity to learn about it first hand. And explore why the treatment of depression and other mental health issues don’t get looked at is because many think the patients are needy, attention-getters or otherwise diminish the pain the person is going through. The author gives us a couple glimpses into the minds of severe depression. So I raised the star rating by one.

Since I review and rate for my own future reference I have to leave it at 2 stars. Others love this book and say it is their favorite of the year. So don’t take my word for it. Pick it up and see what you think. Oh, I should mention this was a library Kindle version.

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An Unnecessary WomanAn Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend recommended this book to me. She and I are fascinated by languages. I think that was why she thought I would love this book. She was right.

I went looking for the book on Amazon and found the Kindle version a bit too pricey for my book budget. So I went to Audible and found I had a credit sitting there waiting for me to use. I was so glad I did! Suzanne Toren is a great voice for Aaliya Saleh, the woman living alone in Beirut, Lebanon.

Look, this book wasn’t nail-biting excitement or in anyway stress inducing. But I loved hanging out with Saleh. This is the reason I love books. It is a chance to travel to other places and get inside other people’s heads. This book is a perfect example of both of those. And it left me wanting to start doing my own translations for my own edification. I have plenty of books in other languages. I plan to pull out a notebook and just get busy.

I want to read this again and have the Kindle version to read along with the Audio. It helps me internalize the story better. Even so, the narrator kept the story very interesting and age appropriate. By the way, the fun of this book was it was about an aging woman. Stories of this type are rare! I don’t think it would matter what gender or age you are this story has something for everyone to relate to and learn from. Enjoy.

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Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just Wow! An author friend recommended this book stating that it was the best book she’d read in a long time. She was right. It was the best read for me in a long, long time.

There was a drowning. The family responds. That’s the extent of it. BUT we are allowed in all the characters’ heads. What led to the present moment? Who can take the fault? Who might be innocent?

This bit of mystery only leads to the inside of your own head, your own family history. It is amazing how the author does that. How she keeps the story so interesting that I had a hard time putting it down, even when it was 4 AM I couldn’t let it go until the next day.

The most interesting questions the story brought to mind is how many of our goals and passions are leftovers from the previous generation? I made me look at my grandmother and my mother and my own daughter. And even now, I wonder how much of my mother’s pushing of piano practice, for instance, brought about my son’s participation in a band? How do our personal goals affect others around us, from family outward to the occasional associates. This book brought about a strong link between us all that I think we often overlook.

And then let’s add to the story the things that make us unique, our nationality, ethics, religion or politics and we see how we think the other person is wrong. How the tearing down of others is tearing us all down. In this case, the family is half Chinese, half American. They live in a place where they are the only ones of color. Racist slurs are slung at them. When that happens, when we are bullies in any fashion, one has a hard time separating true hate from imagined hate.

As usual, the fictional family reach their own conclusions and don’t communicate with each other. That speaks to me. We often forget to say what we should. We think the other person already knows, or doesn’t need to hear it again, or doesn’t feel taken seriously. Relationships are hard, even the best of them. That’s how our fears and hurts hit as bullets on those we should give our best to.

All of these ideas came to me as I read this book. I bought the Audible version (I had a credit lying around). I know now that I want to read this again. I will have to buy the Kindle version when I get the chance. Oh, and a word about Cassandra Campbell (Narrator). She did a great job acting out the different characters. It was due to her skills that this book came to life for me.

Thank you, Patty B. for the recommendation. I loved it!

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Girl in SnowGirl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I want to thank NetGalley for letting me read this book. It did keep my interest.

That said, when you read like I do, using text-to-speech almost exclusively, books like this leave me feeling lost. I feel I may have missed the important sentences as to who-done-it and why. There were a lot of characters and they all sound the same, the writing style of the narrative is the same in the dialogue. That may not mean too much when visually engaged with the story, but I often didn’t know which characters thoughts/memories I was in.

This was an ARC or early read copy so by the time others will read it these other problems may be fixed: Between sections, there is a line ___. Often that stops the TTS. And often the name of the person who is starring in the next section is totally left out with TTS. I assume these are formatting issues that will be solved and others who get to read this with their eyes will be able to stay with the story and find it all pulls together.

Using the thoughts of one who seems autistic or in other ways a little different than the norm, was a nice tool. I found the character Cameron to be very interesting. Others I found harder to understand. Maybe that says more about me than the characters being portrayed?

At any rate, I think others may find this book to be very good. I loved to see your comments. I may have to come back to this book and read again to see if I can find where I turned left when the writer turned right. ???

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Perennials: A NovelPerennials: A Novel by Mandy Berman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I thought it would be a good book about going away to camp. Well, that is there a bit, but mostly it is people coming of age and lots of drama. It was Far more drama and back and forth in time with lots of characters. Maybe that is my own problem with how I have to read using text-to-speech and not so much reading the words. Maybe you won’t have that problem at all but will enjoy a wonderful book full of family and going away to camp.

There was swimming and boating. And that’s as close to the water that I am getting for now. I must find a pool to go swim in!

Please try this to see if it is for you.

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Gods in AlabamaGods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend recommended this a while back. Our library finally had it on Kindle so I could read it. It was a fast read as the author kept me engaged.

On the tags, I have murder-mystery but it really isn’t a mystery. As you read, you may think you know what all happened but so much gets revealed at the end, keep reading!

I love that I got a little road trip from the main characters. But knowing that judgmental possibly bigoted family members wait at the end of the trip. And as we all know, you can never go back home. What you get is a new family with old themes and mysteries of the past that have never resolved.

This is a good read. It would be great for book clubs as there are many topics to be explored here. If you get the chance, read it!

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Lichgates (The Grimoire Saga, #1)Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When a young distraught young woman finds herself in another dimension her life is forever changed. As long as she becomes what this new reality wants from her.

It was an interesting read but the minute it became like epic fantasy I became bored with it and nearly stopped reading. For those who love those ancient stories, this will be quite pleasing. But I only liked it when the modern woman who has now lost her parents finds herself back and forth in time. I thought it interesting to watch a modern woman adjust to old ways but when the story veers off to the inhabitant of that world, YAWN! Thank goodness it went back to the main character it became more interesting again.

Maybe others will like it better.

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The Last Chance Matinee (The Hudson Sisters #1)The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the things I noticed as I wished this story hadn’t ended was that it has a series name: The Hudson Sisters #1. Yay! I don’t have to leave my new friends forever! And while I am talking about the ending, relax, it isn’t a cliff-hanger. Everyone is safe. I just miss them.

You can look up the blurb to see what the book is about. I try to concentrate on my feelings about the story. What I noticed most of all, was the lack of conflict and yet I kept wanting to read more. I suppose the conflict is the undertone of how the characters ended up owning a theater. They had to spend the time getting to know each other and see how they fit into the scheme of things. But there was no great adventure, no one is in grave danger. Yet through each of their perspectives, you see their birth order and history.

It was because of the description of the story on the blurb on NetGalley dot com that I picked this up to review. I am so glad I did. It is quite an interesting story. I look forward to book two so I can see these women and watch them remake a theater together.

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Outsider: The Flawed Series Book TwoOutsider: The Flawed Series Book Two by Becca J. Campbell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was given the ARC by the author for an honest review. Because of it being an ARC, I will not count into this review any of the editing errors that I did pick up. In fact, the story caught me up so firmly that I hardly noticed these oopsies.

About that story! Wow! Told from the viewpoints of the main character, Josh, and his female interest, Alex, and their nemesis, Nic who is out to kill Alex. I like that you can get into the heads of each of these people. Sure, one could guess at the insecurities young people have about starting a new relationship, but Ms. Becca Campbell (author) gives us deeper insights than those surface issues. Put into that mix suddenly awakening abilities and one can understand the deep confusion. And seeing what was motivating the bad guy was ingenious!

This series is so much fun! It keeps one on the edge of one’s seat wondering what is going to happen? How will they get out of this one? Try to read this one so that the last half is long before bedtime. I was lucky that I was able to finish long before sleep. There are nightmare elements that I didn’t want to have entering my subconscious. (Course the next book I picked up then was by Neil Gaiman, gulp!)

It had been a long time since I read the first of the Flawed series, Flawed. Even so I found a reread wasn’t necessary. Enough review is set up in this book two that one wouldn’t feel lost. In fact, one could read this without having read the first book. But the depth you would have from reading the series in order is unbeatable. I highly recommend reading this series if you are inclined to read fantasy books about new or young adults. This one was more contemporary than other fantasies. In that way, it is fun to visit Colorado and California as they are.

I can’t wait to read the next in the series!

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