A powerful memoir of a life surrounded by and later saved by food. Her childhood was tough working under the thumb of her oppressive father in the family diner. He didn't dish out praise and was often verbally abusive but working with the family did give her an appreciation for hard work and good food. She became a single mom, then found herself in a bad marriage, failed at a business and slid further down the rabbit hole of addiction before getting clean and starting a very successful restaurant. Her story is tough to read at times but the writing is totally honest and hopeful. This will appeal to anyone who has dreamed of owning a restaurant or readers of gritty memoirs like THE GLASS CASTLE. 4 stars
Hettie is in love- not with what her mother would consider a qualified suitor. Hettie has been in love with a 3 year old elephant named Violet since the first day they acquired her for the zoo. Now she works there and has a very special relationship with Violet. War and zoo animals don't mix so when bombings begin in Belfast hard choices must be made and Hettie makes her choice. She will do whatever it takes to protect Violet in ways that she feels she is unable to protect her family. Sweet story that once again show the capacity for goodness and evil in people trapped in catastrophic conditions. This clever debut will appeal to animal lovers as well as WWII history readers. 4 stars
Welcome to the high stakes, sleepless nights, chemical enhanced world of these children of immigrant parents of Asia. The number one goal is to give your child every opportunity and infuse them with whatever it takes to be the best in school so they can get into the next level of best schools so they can be the best job and make their family proud. Neil is pushing himself as hard as he can trying to live up to his parents expectations but he is not in the 99% which makes him open to a miracle. The miracle is found in his friend's mom and her interesting sideline of blending stolen gold into a magic elixir that promises to sharpen mental focus. Years go by and Neil is now a history grad student but he gets pulled back into the old business to help Anita's mom. This clever debut is a sarcastic look at the American Dream and the ambition and drive of these new Americans to have their children succeed. Funny in a bittersweet way, this book is solid gold for readers of the immigrant experience with a bit of magic added for good measure. 4 stars
Ada is the daughter of a dirt poor trapper living on the edge of Mississippi swamp. Her father is abusive and cruel and even more so when she comes back home pregnant and alone. Matilda is a sharecropper's daughter living in a shack with nothing they can call their own. A violent act brings these two young women together and they form a close friendship despite the different color of their skin and racial tension of the 1920's South. They help each other despite the danger and violence all around them. Ada has dreams of being a seamstress and Matilda just wants to head North where she can be free of the secrets. Historical fiction once again featuring tough women in tough times putting up with the men who have total control over their lives.
Rose wants to pursue her academic career and has never wanted children. When Rose and Luke fall in love and marry it is with the understanding that neither wants a family bigger than the two of them. Sadly, for Luke he later changes his mind and tries to convince Rose that a child would be the icing on the cake. Chapters offer different versions or" what ifs" of Rose and Luke's future but always begin with the confrontation over prenatal vitamins. This is an in-depth look at relationships , marriage, parenting and the struggle to pick the path that is right for you. 4 stars
A single mom of an infant balancing little sleep, hormones and a job with the BBC is stunned when she sees her sister on a security camera in a robbery and working with the IRA. Tessa and Marion are close and Tessa cannot believe that her sister would be a part of this but she will not turn her sister in.
Soon Tessa is pulled into a very dangerous game of helping Marion pass information to MI5. If either of them is caught there will be no second chance or time to say goodbye to Finn. This tight political thriller shows us both the violent and very human side of these activists. This tie to motherhood and family loyalty shows us a very different side to what you see on the news. 4 stars
I listened to the audiobook and was pulled deep into the disbelief and shock of London during the Blitz. A young woman and her friend arrive from the country to London hoping to work in a shop only to find herself working in a book shop for a man that clearly doesn't want her help. She begins reading from the recommendations of shop patrons and soon she is steering the shop into success as well as adjusting to how she can help in the war effort and the grief that comes with war. Part romance, part historical this is a story with a bit for everyone and it is wonderful in audio. The fear, the resilience and the spirit of London is inspiring not to mention seeing the birth of marketing techniques that are still used today. 4 stars
His 15 year old daughter shows up pregnant as his mom is diagnosed with terminal cancer and he is out of a job - Amadeo has a lot on his plate. He rises to the challenge as does Angel who gets enrolled in a school program that lets her finish school while caring for her baby. For Angel it is a year of discovering who she is and what she wants from life. This family centric story about the realities of life for many Latino families. Loss and birth go hand in hand as does making good choices and bad and moving from childhood to adulthood overnight. This will appeal to readers of family dramas and characters with real problems. 4 stars
An atmospheric and unique look at the Reconstruction era in New York and Haiti. Libertie grows up with one of the first black female doctors in New York in a time where freedom from slavery adds a responsibility to achieve. Libertie's mother assumes her daughter will follow in her footsteps so that is the path that Libertie starts on but when she falls in love with a quiet man from Haiti she chooses to follow his path instead. Once in Haiti Libertie must deal with a world very different from the one she left behind as well as the pain and grief of leaving her mother and her mother's dream behind.
This will appeal to readers of Black history as well as those interested in rich cultural historical fiction. 4 stars
A sweeping saga based on the author's ancestor Georgianne who leaves her comfortable life in the North to become a battlefield nurse under the famous Dr. Blackwell. It is also the story of life on a plantation in the South told from Jemma, a slave and Anne-May her mistress. The book parallels the classic GONE WITH THE WIND with the horrors of slavery along with the realities of running a plantation once the men have gone to war and the division of families. I was very interested in Georgianne's story and the experiences of a war nurse. As with her other books in the Lilac Girls series, this is a solid choice for riveting historical fiction that can be easily read as a standalone. 4 stars
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