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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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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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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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The Witchfinder's SisterThe Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank NetGalley for letting me read this book. It was one of those books I think everyone should read.

We know what happened, Salem Witch Trials and all. As a human being, this topic should make you sick. As a woman, you should see all the warnings of letting anyone think they know better for you than you know for yourself. As a religious person, you should be wary of folks that don’t read the whole book and think they are hand in hand with the deities. This whole subject screams that scripture that should most be used “Judge not lest Ye be judged.” And in the case of most of these thumpers of parts and not other parts of the Holy book, my dad quoted better than anyone. ‘The Bible is God’s Word. SO “Judas hung himself.” “Go Ye and do likewise.”‘ Too bad he wasn’t around to speak his mind to people like the brother in this book.

As much as I think this is a good book for everyone to read, it is so HARD to read. It wasn’t the fault of the author. She did a fine job with her research on the subject and kept the story moving. I loved her ability to give the old English feel to the story without making it boring. You knew what was going to happen virtually hiding your eyes because you don’t want to see, but still wanted to see how the author was going to pull it off. She didn’t disappoint.

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The Mother's PromiseThe Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maybe if I don’t write a review, I can hang onto the charms and lessons of this book. No. That’s not right. Others need to read it and the only way to hang on to the knowledge in this book is to read it again.

I finished this book four days ago. That’s how long I had the above conversation with myself.

There is a nice blurb about this book on GoodReads. And the one on NetGalley had me seeking it out. I’m glad they let me read it. But here’s my blurb: A young teen with severe social anxiety only child of a single mother dying of cancer, a social worker who is a victim of abuse, a nurse who is finished with IVF unsuccessfully.

Sally Hepworth pulls these four females into a book that is hard to put down and hard to leave behind. And not only is it a great story, it is full of real life answers to some of the problems these fems deal with.

I want to thank NetGalley for letting me read this, again. I do plan on a second read. Please read it, especially if you have social anxiety, there are some good ideas in here and the author shows she knows how we feel who have it. There are triggers for cancer patients and abuse victims but they are handled well and give each of the other characters more depth.

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Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Okay. I get it. A ‘person’ with no previous experience in running the farm takes over. The gullible listen because it is a strong voice. Rather charismatic. Lazy farm animals rather than using their brains or researching what it takes to run the farm vote this person in. The person sets up rules and keeps them as long as they apply to his own comfort and then changes them while no one pays attention, deflecting that attention by making folks think they had seen it wrong to begin with.

Yes, I see the appeal. But I am no more impressed with this book that when it was assigned to my Humanities class in High School. Sad that all the things we fought so hard for back then are being taken away by the pigs. Living the story doesn’t increase its appeal. It’s still a male heavy story with nothing but fighting and hatred.

But maybe everyone should read it. Who knows what might wake up the rest of the animals on this farm. By the way, this was the audio version that I picked up from the OverDrive library. I had hoped that the E-library would have the Kindle version but it was still out. I will take it off HOLD so that it can go to someone else.

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Review:


All Our Wrong TodaysAll Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has taken me a long time to read this book. That mostly has to do with the formatting for Kindle/text-to-speech. On almost every page there is a S32 or N33 or words not connected. L ike th at n eeds t o b e f ix ed! By the way, things like f ix get read by text-to-speech as ‘f’ 9.

But I got used to the crazy formatting problems. Most ly. I did have to keep an eye on the text to make sure I understood what was being said. THEN there are several pages of F*ck and Sh*t. I understand that Julie Andrews is a fairly competent cusser along with being a fantastic actress and singer. Since I have my TTS set to be British female who sounds like Julie Andrews, I had to read all those pages to make sure my TTS was really working and not a reincarnation of a bad Mary Poppins. Honestly, that wasn’t needed in the story. Sure the character was angry and in shock but a good writer could have shown it with more class.

This was a good science fiction story. That is why there are three stars and not just one. It was a time travel adventure. And I love the concepts presented, though very slow in the lecture not showing. Still, I forgave that and kept with it. I didn’t like the main character most of the time. I’d give you his name but it changes a lot. Only toward the very end did I feel the character had something redeemable.

Gee, the more I write this the more I feel it should be a two star or less. But I want to encourage the author to clean this up. I am absolutely surprised that this book had as many editors and readers as is indicated in the author’s notes. This coming from a person who cannot edit worth beans. But this story has promise. It could be a fun adventure. But make the main character more real and worthy of the reader’s care. But the subject matter brings the story to–2.5 stars round up.

I picked this copy up from NetGalley. I’m thankful for the opportunity. And I hope others get a chance to read a better copy.

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Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To my English teachers and friends who have raved that I should read this. Check. Done! My grade for this book is a C- and that was with the help of Carolyn Seymour, the narrator. Glad I read it so I could say I did, but I was not wowed like others.

I couldn’t have gotten into it as a tree book, even on Kindle with text-to-speech I couldn’t get there. Though the reader did add a lot to the experience, in the beginning, I’m afraid there was no help.

The first half of the book seemed centered around bickering, gossip, and how women of the time could climb the status ladder. Ms. Seymour’s varied voices just made that part even more irritating. I felt sorry for the reader as there was no way to vary the voices enough within that family of females. Lizzy and Jane’s father was probably easy to do. And the voice of Darcy felt unique. But other than those voices, I couldn’t tell whose voice belonged to whom.

As for the book itself, I felt that the real book started about 3/4 in. That’s where it all started to get exciting. I suddenly cared for a few people. It may be that the passive voice that seems to live in most so-called classics that made this less than wonderful. I plan to watch a couple versions of the movie next. Then there are possible book two by more recent authors. And… I’m not done with Jane Austen. I do plan to read them all, somehow. After all, these follow my main goal of reading books by females with strong female leads.

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Other WomenOther Women by Lisa Alther

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Original Sin by Lisa Alther and having a hard time liking it in any way, I had a decision to make. You see I got both of these books through Kindle Unlimited which means they were free to borrow. I thought about returning this one, Other Women, and not reading it at all. Thank goodness I didn’t. I loved this book!

If you have had a good experience with a counselor, dealing with problems of the past or current ones, this will feel familiar. I think everyone should have a good counselor once in a while to air the mental stuff that you might not want to weigh down your friends and family with. And here in Other Women there were plots and characters that felt so real that I was sorry the book ended. I think I might read it again, sometime.

Though this book ended quite well, all threads neatly sewn up, I still wish there was more. I want to see what happens next. We are left with ideas as to how life might continue, but I knew I would miss all these people as much as the real people in my life. I like when an author can do that. She created a reality that felt real.

Just saying that made me smile. Wasn’t it because Original Sins felt so real that I hated it? I think I could relate more with the characters in Other Women much more deeply than I could with the characters in Original Sins. So maybe that is why the reviews on both books had such a variety of ranks. I guess it has to do with your own viewpoint of the world.

This is one book I will have to buy someday. I think many will love it as much as I did.

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