Tag Archive: Fiction



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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Help Me, Mr. Mutt!: Expert Answers for Dogs with People ProblemsHelp Me, Mr. Mutt!: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems by Janet Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve fallen behind in my reading goal for this year so I decided to include a few picture books or other short books to catch up. Most of the books I’m reading lately are quite long. So these are a bit of a relief for my eyes and energies.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt! Jumped out at me when I visited the library last. I loved the cute dog on the cover and decided that would be a good one to try.

The idea of a dog answering letters for other dogs with people problems was delightful. I loved the sneaky letters after Mr. Mutt’s reply from Queen the cat were hilarious. I loved that Mr. Mutt was able to give charts to prove his answers (though I wonder at his fact finding abilities–seems rather fake news to me). Still, the dogs reading said letters would be grateful to see their desires as proven fact. A great introduction to charts and how they work!

And while I think this was all fun and games, I think a good pet owner would insert proper care for said pets when reading this book aloud to a child. After all, if a child were to read this to his or herself, he might think it okay to give pets people food or sugary foods, or follow other advice not so good for a dog or cat. Still, read with a sense of humor it could be a fun book for parent and child or teacher and students to share.

And did I mention the illustrations? They were awesome! Fun read!

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The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was fun. I usually love Alice Hoffman books. And though I liked this one and was kind of sad finishing it, it was slow. It was so wordy while not getting anything done or convincing me that anything got fixed.

As the movie, Practical Magic deals with the curse of the family that should never fall in love, that is the theme here, too. And since romance novels bore me I found myself doing other things than reading, so it took longer to finish than it should.

Don’t get me wrong, it is worth picking up and reading. Would be a great vacation read. But if you are like me, the book, the characters, don’t seem to gel until near the end. I must admit to misting up near the end so I must have finally gotten into it.

I wish I knew how to improve this read. Maybe I needed the audio rather than text-to-speech? A real voice or bunch of actors playing the story for me? I do remember pulling out of the book thinking ‘show don’t tell’ but then as I looked at it I couldn’t figure out how that could be done.

Don’t take my word for it. You may love this book. Like is as far as I can reach.

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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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A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2)A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I give this book 20 stars? This is MY kind of sci-fi! No wars and shooting and one-up-manship. We get to know another social order, the good and bad of it. We watch someone growing up within and without that order. We get to know other beings. We get to travel in space. There just happens to be males and females. In this case, a female lead but it could as easily have been a male. Good choice to have a female to have the adventure. YAY! Male in the story, not necessarily a romantic counter point. A friend. Believe it or not!!!!

Though this is book two in the series it could stand alone. But if you get the chance to read the first book, do so. It was fun, too! You can find my review of the first book in GoodReads under The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

What I think I liked best about this book is how the author took us into a young girl’s thoughts without making us feel childish or talking down to us. And how well she matured said girl through the years helping the reader feel that maturity and sense of growth. How a sense of time alone doesn’t become boring as it might if we lived it, but a chance to learn and explore ideas and abilities.

Oh, and one of my favorite reasons for reading sci-fi is to learn new philosophies or enjoy those we might have left behind for a revisit now. I think Becky Chambers may be my new favorite sci-fi author!

This book is now on my gotta buy the Kindle and Audible versions so I can reread it soon!

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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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Hold Back the StarsHold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t like romance, well, maybe the occasional You Got Mail or Nottinghill, but mostly I find them boring. I DO love me some space, dystopia, futuristic sci-fi. This book has all four elements. Within the science fiction setting there just happens to be a love story. It was fun!

Spoilers are threatening to spill out of me as I write this and seem to be overwhelming my brain. I seem not to be able to give more of my opinion without them and I refuse to put them here.

I might like to read this again. I can think, if the author would like the suggestion, of a way to make a book two, or at least an alternative ending. As it is I think she did put in two different endings.

If any of my friends read this, and I hope they do, I hope we can have a bit of a discussion about the endings.

This story will stay with me for a while. Think of Gravity the movie mixed with a strange dystopic earth threatened by meteors. SO GOOD!

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When the Future Comes Too Soon (Malayan #2)When the Future Comes Too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds the first book in the series, I jumped at the opportunity to read this second book. It continues the history of Malaya from the next generation dealing with WWII. It gave me a perspective I hadn’t had before of what happened to that part of the world. My education seems rather USA restrictive. It seems if you are teaching history that it should be more global. They are called World Wars.

Though I miss the main character of the first book, we are introduced to a new generation dealing with new governments and loyalties. I found the new main character equally engaging.

The author uses some words or phrases to help the reader feel the ambiance of the time and place without it causing a distraction. And to get to hear about the female point of view on both of these books is so rewarding. I love Herstory! There is not enough of it out there!

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