Friday, August 31, 2018

Diverse Reads on my Blog #20

Diverse Reads on my Blog #20

I often feel unmotivated lately to be doing the diverse reads. I often wonder why do them in the first place? Does anyone read them or care about them? I'd like to think that yes, there are readers who will find them important, but somehow its hard to motivate myself to devote two or so hours to do one page...I am not giving up or anything, just that its difficult for me to do them.

Blast from the Past

Jacob the liar by Jurek Becker

In a feat of sheer storytelling reminiscent of Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jurek Becker writes of a Jewish community's tragic fate gently and humorously. Set in a Polish ghetto near the close of World War II, the novel centers on the artless and unheroic figure of Jacob Heym, former proprietor of a modest cafe, who accidentally overhears a German news report of Soviet army advances. When Jacob relays the news,word spread throughout the ghetto with the added rumor that Jacob possesses a contraband radio. To his dismay, he finds himself a hero. Challenged to authenticate the real news, Jacob extemporizes: son, he who heretofore has invented ntohing more daring than a potato pancake is driven to produce battle plans and bulletins, all encouraging. Despite his own temptation to despair, Jacob continues to provide his fellow Jews with cause for hope- and the will to survive- almost to the final moment.

Through irony and understatement, Becker succeeds splendidly in giving to a bitter theme an aura of cheerfulness and wit. The novel is neither aggressive nor angry; in showing Jacob's "lie" as the courage of a mensch whose sole weapon against the powers of anti-life is ingenuity, Becker hints at a quiet human victory even over the holocaust.

Why its diverse: It was written by a Jew, and although there are a number of disagreements on whether or not Jews should be considered minorities, I know that they should be because Jews are not WASPS, and it wasn't too long ago when being a Jew was being equaled to a race rather than faith as in America.

Blast from the Past: Allies of Diversity

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkelles

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Why its diverse: This is a young adult/New adult novel that features a relationship between a Caucasian girl and a guy from Central America. In my opinion, from my memories, while there are some stereotypes, there are also good portrayals in the book.

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkelles

When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for the past year, he doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Colorado. When he meets Kiara Westford, a good girl totally unlike any of the girls he's usually drawn to, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she's too good for him. But will he put his pride aside when he realizes that being with Kiara might finally allow him to be his true self?

Why its diverse: Another young adult/New adult novel that features a relationship between a Caucasian girl and a Central American guy. (The characters are different.) As I remember, I didn't like this one a lot.

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkelles

Like his brothers, Luis Fuentes is a risk taker; whether he's scaling the Rocky Mountains or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis is always looking for the next thrill. Nikki Cruz lives her life by certain rules -, don't trust a boy who says "I love you", boys lie to get their own way and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Then she meets Luis at his brother Alex's wedding and suddenly she's tempted to break all her rules. Getting Nikki to give him a chance is Luis's biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by the head of the gang that nearly destroyed his brothers' lives. Will Luis's feelings for Nikki be enough to stop him from entering a dark and violent world that could prove to be the ultimate risk?

Why its diverse: A young adult/New adult novel that features a romance between a man and a woman from Central America.

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

As any reader of The Mosquito Coast knows, men who drag their families to far-off climes in pursuit of an Idea seldom come to any good, while those familiar with At Play in the Fields of the Lord or Kalimantaan understand that the minute a missionary sets foot on the fictional stage, all hell is about to break loose. So when Barbara Kingsolver sends missionary Nathan Price along with his wife and four daughters off to Africa in The Poisonwood Bible, you can be sure that salvation is the one thing they're not likely to find. The year is 1959 and the place is the Belgian Congo. Nathan, a Baptist preacher, has come to spread the Word in a remote village reachable only by airplane. To say that he and his family are woefully unprepared would be an understatement: "We came from Bethlehem, Georgia, bearing Betty Crocker cake mixes into the jungle," says Leah, one of Nathan's daughters. But of course it isn't long before they discover that the tremendous humidity has rendered the mixes unusable, their clothes are unsuitable, and they've arrived in the middle of political upheaval as the Congolese seek to wrest independence from Belgium. In addition to poisonous snakes, dangerous animals, and the hostility of the villagers to Nathan's fiery take-no-prisoners brand of Christianity, there are also rebels in the jungle and the threat of war in the air. Could things get any worse?

In fact they can and they do. The first part of The Poisonwood Bible revolves around Nathan's intransigent, bullying personality and his effect on both his family and the village they have come to. As political instability grows in the Congo, so does the local witch doctor's animus toward the Prices, and both seem to converge with tragic consequences about halfway through the novel. From that point on, the family is dispersed and the novel follows each member's fortune across a span of more than 30 years.

Why its diverse: A religious family attempting to cope living in Africa in 1960s. It also was an Oprah's Book Club Pick (I really enjoyed the novel) and I loved learning and seeing Africa as vast in scope.

What I am Reading Now:

The Hidden Light of Northern Fires by Daren Wang

A novel rooted in the remarkable, but little-known, true history of the only secessionist town north of the Mason Dixon Line.

When escaped slave, Joe Bell, collapses in her father’s barn, Mary Willis must ward off Confederate guerillas and spies, Joe’s vengeful owner, and even her own brother to help the handsome fugitive cross to freedom.

Mary has always been an outcast, an outspoken abolitionist woman in a town of bounty hunters and anti-Union farmers. Helping runaways is the only thing that makes her life in Town Line bearable. As the countryside is riled by the drumbeat of civil war and the promise of an extravagant bounty for the wounded fugitive, Mary finds herself drawn to the stranger in forbidden ways. When rebels cross from nearby Canada intent on killing him, they bring the devastation of the brutal war to the town and the farm, and threaten to destroy all that Mary loves.

Pages: 32 out of 312

Future Reviews

Held Together by Jenny Q

In January of 2014, Joshua Tree's beloved village herbalist, Jenny Q. suddenly became seriously ill and rapidly descended into a coma with slender chance of survival. The shock of this news initiated an overwhelming outpouring of love, wit, service, practical magic and sharing of spiritual wisdom between those in her intimate desert community. Indeed it seemed that the entire group became one in their desperate effort and race against the clock to save her life.

While the words of others in the community tell the story in this book, it is Jenny's own insightful writings that provide a fascinating window into a range of rare experiences. She gives us a unique glimpse into the mysterious worlds encountered while in a coma, the absolute alteration of losing one's legs, the subtle venom of PTSD, the nightmare of withdrawal from prescription opiates, and the maddening frustration of having to re-learn basic skills previously taken for granted such as the ability to walk.

This is a story of love and tenacity which speaks to the power of a mother's connection to her child and of the fierce determination and dedication of a lover who, faced with unthinkable tragedy during the tender stages of a new and beautiful relationship, managed to create a sacred moment amidst the ravages of sepsis and the wounds of surgery to propose to her best friend.

Though Held Together ruthlessly explores dark and often fear-filled places, it is ultimately a celebration of human will, the value of community and the power of love. This book will inspire and light a path for every person caught in a struggle against all odds.

The Kabbalah Master by Perle Besserman

Sharon Berg, a middle-aged divorcee with two children has gainful employment working overtime for the mysterious Rabbi Joachim, spiritual director of the Center for Mystical Judaism. Set in Coney Island, Sharon’s efforts at making a life for herself and her children take readers on a journey though Hasidism as it exists today including its schools for children and the fundamentalist characters that run them. When the Rabbi travels to Israel on a mission, and fails to return, Sharon must confront difficult choices and herself.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches you and you fall down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-fiction, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be

Dawn by Elie Wisel

Elisha is a young Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine; John Dawson is the captured English officer he will murder at dawn in retribution for the British execution of a fellow freedom fighter. The night-long wait for morning and death provides Dawn, Elie Wiesel's ever more timely novel, with its harrowingly taut, hour-by-hour narrative. Caught between the manifold horrors of the past and the troubling dilemmas of the present, Elisha wrestles with guilt, ghosts, and ultimately God as he waits for the appointed hour and his act of assassination. Dawn is an eloquent meditation on the compromises, justifications, and sacrifices that human beings make when they murder other human beings.

Day (The Accident) by Elie Wiesel

"Not since Albert Camus has there been such an eloquent spokesman for man." --The New York Times Book Review

The publication of Day restores Elie Wiesel's original title to the novel initially published in English as The Accident and clearly establishes it as the powerful conclusion to the author's classic trilogy of Holocaust literature, which includes his memoir Night and novel Dawn. "In Night it is the ‘I' who speaks," writes Wiesel. "In the other two, it is the ‘I' who listens and questions."

In its opening paragraphs, a successful journalist and Holocaust survivor steps off a New York City curb and into the path of an oncoming taxi. Consequently, most of Wiesel's masterful portrayal of one man's exploration of the historical tragedy that befell him, his family, and his people transpires in the thoughts, daydreams, and memories of the novel's narrator. Torn between choosing life or death, Day again and again returns to the guiding questions that inform Wiesel's trilogy: the meaning and worth of surviving the annihilation of a race, the effects of the Holocaust upon the modern character of the Jewish people, and the loss of one's religious faith in the face of mass murder and human extermination.

One half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet by Jamie Ford

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history - the internment of American-Japanese families during World War II - Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us about forgiveness and the power of the human heart.

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

Set in a small town in the Southwest, a soulful work of literary noir rife with violence, vengeance, and contrition from a fresh voice in fiction-the author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living

Life hasn't worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower and father who has made some tragic mistakes, he's got one good thing going for him: he's calm, cool, and efficient under pressure, usually with a gun in his hand. A useful skill to have when you're paid to hurt people who stand in your boss's way.

But Ray isn't sure he wants to be that man anymore. He wants to go home to Coronado, New Mexico, to see the twelve-year-old son he hopes will recognize him. He wants to make a new life far from the violence of the last ten years. One last job will take him there. All he has to do is steal a rival's stash. Simple, easy, clean.

Ray knows there's no such thing as easy, and sure enough, the first day ends in a catastrophic mess. Now, the runners who have always moved quietly through this idyllic desert town on the Mexican border want answers. And revenge. Short on time, with no one to trust but himself, Ray must come up with a clever plan or Coronado's newly appointed lady sheriff will have a vicious bloodbath on her hands.

Relentlessly paced and beautifully orchestrated, with refreshingly real, vulnerable, and very human characters and a vivid sense of place, The Carrion Birds is an unsettling and indelible work of literary noir in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane.

Queen for a Day by Maxine Rosaler

The reader knows by page one of Queen for a Day that Mimi Slavitt’s three-year-old son is autistic, but if anyone told her, she wouldn’t listen, because she doesn’t want to know—until at last
Danny's behavior becomes so strange even she can’t ignore it. After her son’s diagnosis Mimi finds herself in a world nearly as isolating as her son’s. It is a world she shares only with mothers like herself, women chosen against their will for lives of sacrifice and martyrdom. Searching for miracles, begging for the help of heartless bureaucracies while arranging every minute of every day for children who can never be left alone, they exist in a state of perpetual crisis, normal life always just out of reach. In chapters told from Mimi’s point of view and theirs, we meet these women, each a conflicted, complex character totally unsuited for sainthood and dreaming of the day she can just walk away. Taking its title from the 1950s reality TV show in which the contestants, housewives living lives filled with pain and suffering, competed with each other for deluxe refrigerators and sets of stainless steel silverware, Queen for a Day portrays a group of imperfect women living under enormous pressure. Rosaler tells their story in ironic, precise and vivid prose, with dark humor and insight born of first-hand experience.

5 Books I am planning on tackling this year

Love, and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

A powerful novel about an orphan boy who is raffled off at Seattle’s 1909 World Fair, and the friends who teach him what it really means to have a family, from the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Inspired by a true story, this is the unforgettable story of a young boy named Ernest, set during the 1909 Seattle world’s fair called the Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. It is a time when the magical wonders of technology on display at the expo future seems limitless. But for Ernest, a half-Chinese orphan who found his way to America through a last desperate act of his beloved mother, every door is closed. A charity student at a boarding school, he has never really had a place to call home. Then one day, his wealthy sponsor announces that if a home is what he wants, then that is what he will have: Ernest will be offered as a prize in the daily raffle at the fair, advertised as “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” The woman who “wins” him is the madam of a notorious brothel who was famous for educating her girls. He becomes a houseboy in her brothel and is befriended by the daughter of the madam, as well as a Japanese girl who works in the kitchen. The friendship and love between these three form the first real family Ernest has ever known.

Pages: 304

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima's father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao's debut novel is a literary tour de force.

Pages: 307

Israela by Batya Casper

In my heart, I call to their mothers, 'Take your sons to your houses. Bind them to your chairs; gag them, blindfold them if necessary until they grow calm. Then teach them, for they have forgotten, about peace, about the blessed life, about a future-a present-without pain.' Beneath their prayers, in their morning cups of coffee, beneath their love-making and their child-rearing, and in their sorrow, especially in their sorrow when burying their dead, I hear the simmering of heating souls; I smell the charge of armies, of lives exploding uselessly into smithereens. I sit in mourning over a disaster still to come. In Israel, the lives of three women interweave with the story of their country. Ratiba, an Israeli journalist, turns her back on her heritage to marry an Israeli Arab. Her sister Orit, an actor, lives alone and longs for her lost sister. Elisheva is a nurse who dedicates her life to the wounded and the dying. As their lives unfold, the three women find themselves facing choices they would never have envisioned. This is a story of secrets and alienation, yet also of hope and heroism. It is about Arabs who save Jews from disaster and Jews who heal Arabs. It is the story of everyday people torn and desperately searching for the right path. Here, the ancient pulsates in present time and the biblical holds prominence with the secular. Beneath this modern-day drama unfolds the story of a land and its people, revealing the historical trajectory of two peoples, victims and perpetrators of a biblical curse 'This perceptive, poignant novel offers a fresh and essential outlook on Israel. With memorable characters and an abundance of drama, Israela is gripping reading.' - Lou Aronica, New York Times bestselling author

Pages: 365

A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

"A Different Mirror" is a dramatic new retelling of our nation's history, a powerful larger narrative of the many different peoples who together compose the United States of America. In a lively account filled with the stories and voices of people previously left out of the historical canon, Ronald Takaki offers a fresh perspective - a "re-visioning" - of our nation's past.

Pages: 428

Forgotten Reflections by Young-Im Lee

In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.


1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul the villagers have been starving for as long as they can remember. Their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them as they are finally forced out of the Peninsula. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul and Jung-Soo dream of what their future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and Iseul has fallen for an alleged North Korean communist spy.

Men are conscripted and rice is taken to feed the growing army as the Peninsula is thrust into an international war that would determine if the strategic region will become communist or democratic. With nothing but the news of death and hunger awaiting the village of women, children and the aged, Iseul musters up whatever hope she has left to bring the village together to make paper. Soon, the village once known for its rice, becomes famous for its paper, becoming a beacon of hope for their battle-worn soldiers awaiting letters from their loved ones.

Yet spies and communists continue to roam South Korea, turning neighbors and families against one another. For years, Jung-Soo has been suspicious of his father’s allegiances. With a series of mysterious revelations about his father, Jung-Soo is forced to choose between his tainted communist past, and the future he hopes to have with Iseul after the war.

Pages: 476

Thursday, August 23, 2018

G1007 Book Review of Eagle and crane bySuzanne Rindell

Name of Book: Eagle and Crane

Author: Suzanne Rindell

ISBN: 978-0-399-18429-1

Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons

Type of book: Internment camps, Japanese male/American female, 1860s?- 1940s, history, feud, love triangle, California, aviation, barnstorming act, friendship, epic, family, loyalty

Year it was published: 2018


Two young daredevil flyers confront ugly truths and family secrets during the U.S. internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, from the author of The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch.

Louis Thorn and Haruto "Harry" Yamada -- Eagle and Crane -- are the star attractions of Earl Shaw's Flying Circus, a daredevil (and not exactly legal) flying act that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family's belief that the Yamadas -- Japanese immigrants -- stole land that should have stayed in the Thorn family.

When Louis and Harry become aerial stuntmen, performing death-defying tricks high above audiences, they're both drawn to Shaw's smart and appealing stepdaughter, Ava Brooks. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and one of Shaw's planes mysteriously crashes and two charred bodies are discovered in it, authorities conclude that the victims were Harry and his father, Kenichi, who had escaped from a Japanese internment camp they had been sent to by the federal government. To the local sheriff, the situation is open and shut. But to the lone FBI agent assigned to the case, the details don't add up.

Thus begins an investigation into what really happened to cause the plane crash, who was in the plane when it fell from the sky, and why no one involved seems willing to tell the truth. By turns an absorbing mystery and a fascinating exploration of race, family and loyalty, Eagle and Crane is that rare novel that tells a gripping story as it explores a terrible era of American history.


Main characters include Ava Brooks, Louis Thorn and Haruto "Harry" Yamada. Ava Brooks is a complex woman who doesn't seem to trust her instincts in beginning of the story but at the same time she is very aware of her surroundings. She is very loyal to her mother and to friends and can often sniff out a rat or a con. She is described as red-haired and has had a difficult childhood. Louis Thorn is best described as a sensitive young man who wants to stay close to his family members and help them get out of poverty. He tends to be methodical in thinking and doing and is often afraid of taking risks, unless Harry encourages/pushes him into taking them. Harry is far more American than Japanese and is a true daredevil when it comes to barnstorming acts. Despite his cocky bravado, I get an impression that Harry often feels cursed and he is unsure whether or not good things will await him. He doesn't like stirring up trouble although there are many times he wants to, I bet and is also loyal to his family. Unlike Louis who had a hardscrabble childhood, Harry's childhood seemed to be stable and comfortable.


Things are not what they seem


The story is in third person narrative from what seems to be almost everyone's point of view, although the primary narrators would have been Ava and Louis. It begins with the visit from FBI looking into the disappearance of Haruto "Harry" Yamada as well as his father Keinichi Yamada who were detained at the internment camp for the Japanese, but then without a warning, a biplane flies and explodes leaving two bodies behind: that of Keinichi and of Harry. Then the narrative starts to jump into the characters' childhoods as well as some of the family history of Harry's and Louis's families and how the feud over the land began. A lot of love and research went into creating the tale and very little gets ignored, which gives the story an old fashioned Hollywood movie feeling. As I imagine, the reader will not feel lost upon entering the tale even if they know next to nothing about history. One thing that did disappoint me is that I wanted there to be more scenes with Harry and Ava which felt a bit lacking for me. The characters were very well-drawn and were consistent within the story. I also appreciated that Harry was drawn as a complex human being rather than being one dimensional, and he also was someone to admire and swoon over.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Suzanne Rindell is the author of two previous noels, The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch. She grew up in the Sacramento area and divides her time between New York and California.


A long time ago, I was excited about Kristina McMorris's sophomore debut; THE BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES. While that book was a good read, I felt that a lot of things were lacking in that novel, and inside I despaired of finding an epic tale that would be my ideal "Pearl Harbor" movie. 2018 rolls around, and I feel blessed, lucky as well as excited to present to my readers EAGLE AND CRANE, which is what I was craving for all those years. A delightful and cinematic blend that just begs to be a movie and epic in power and scope, its a treasure to read and to enjoy and hope that the story actually did happen in the past. For readers who want to see a positive and realistic Asian male presentation in a love triangle as well as for readers who want to experience the fascinating history of aviation and reading about something not well documented, EAGLE AND CRANE is the right novel to curl up and to enjoy. I loved spending time with this book and going deeper and deeper into the story and mystery and how the history of the characters has tied up.

This was given for a honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Book Spotlight for The Love Fool by Lorenzo Petruzziello

Book Details:

Book Title: The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy by Lorenzo Petruzziello

Category: Adult Fiction, 314 pages

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Publisher: Quill (Inkshares)

Release date: March 13, 2018

Tour dates: Aug 6 to 24, 2018

Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

Set in Rome. Follow the whirlwind antics of a publicist as he struggles to manage his first TV chef client, his new life, and an unexpected visit from his ex-girlfriend.

Alex recently moved to Italy for an opportunity at a PR firm in Rome. His first client is the beautiful Danish chef Pernille Bjørn, a popular model, TV personality, and cookbook author just entering the booming televised cooking show market in Italy.

Alex's single-minded career focus is soon thwarted by Emily, an ex-girlfriend he hasn't heard from in almost a decade.

Italy's modern culture and enchanting sights set the backdrop to this Rome-antic comedy.

To follow the tour, please visit Lorenzo Petruzziello's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Watch the book trailer:

Meet the Author:

Lorenzo Petruzziello holds an MBA in global marketing from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. His background includes publicity and marketing for many of public television’s popular cooking and travel shows. He lives in Massachusetts focusing on his writing. THE LOVE FOOL is his first novel.

Connect with Lorenzo: Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway:

Ends Sept 1, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

FF41 Book Review of the War bride's scrapbook by Caroline Preston

Name of Book: the War bride's scrapbook

Author: Caroline Preston

ISBN:   9780061966927

Publisher: Ecco

Year it was published: 2017


A World War II love story, narrated through a new bride’s dazzling array of vintage postcards, newspaper clippings, photographs, and more

Lila Jerome has never been very lucky in love, and has always been more interested in studying architecture and, more recently, supporting the war bond effort on the home front. But in the fall of 1943, a chance spark with a boarder in her apartment sets Lila on a course that shakes up all of her ideas about romance.

Lila is intoxicated by Perry Weld, the charismatic army engineer who’s about to ship out to the European front, and it isn’t long before she discovers that the feeling is mutual. After just a few weeks together, caught up in the dramatic spirit of the times and with Perry’s departure date fast approaching, the two decide to elope. In a stunning kaleidoscope of vibrant ephemera, Lila boldly attempts to redefine her life in America as she navigates the heartache and longing of a marriage separated by ocean and war.

In her second scrapbook novel after the lauded Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, Caroline Preston has once again pulled from her own extraordinary collection of vintage memorabilia, transporting us back to the lively, tumultuous 1940s and introducing us to an unforgettable, ambitious heroine who must learn to reconcile a wartime marriage with a newfound self-confidence.

Link for Review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G1021 How Hitler was made; Germany and the Rise of the Perfect Nazi

Title of the book: How Hitler was made; Germany and the Rise of the Perfect Nazi

Author: Cory Taylor

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Publishing Date: 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63388-435-9


Focusing on German society immediately following the First World War, this vivid historical narrative explains how fake news and political uproar influenced Hitler and put him on the path toward dictatorial power.

How did an obscure agitator on the political fringes of early-20th-century Germany rise to become the supreme leader of the "Third Reich"? Unlike many other books that track Adolf Hitler's career after 1933, this book focuses on his formative period--immediately following World War I (1918-1924). The author, a veteran producer of historical documentaries, brings to life this era of political unrest and violent conflict, when forces on both the left and right were engaged in a desperate power struggle. Among the competing groups was a highly sophisticated network of ethnic chauvinists that discovered Hitler and groomed him into the leader he became.

The book also underscores the importance of a post-war socialist revolution in Bavaria, led by earnest reformers, some of whom were Jewish. Right wing extremists skewed this brief experiment in democracy followed by Soviet-style communism as evidence of a Jewish-Bolshevik plot. Along with the pernicious "stab-in-the-back" myth, which misdirected blame for Germany's defeat onto civilian politicians, public opinion was primed for Hitler to use his political cunning and oratorical powers to effectively blame Jews and Communists for all of Germany's problems.

Based on archival research in Germany, England, and the US, and interviews with experts, this striking narrative reveals how the manipulation of facts and the use of propaganda helped an obscure, embittered malcontent to gain political legitimacy, which led to dictatorial power over a nation.

Author Info:
(From the book)

Cory Taylor is a primetime Emmy Award-winning filmaker with twenty-five years of experience in documentaries, who began his career with National Geographic Televsion. His most recent film, JFK: A President Betrayed (2013) was narrated by Morgan Freeman and uncovered startling information about President Kennedy's back-channel efforts for peace. Praised for its "cinematic scholarship," the film was lauded as "the best screen depiction of Kennedy's foreign policy" Taylor also wrote and directed the award-winning feature-length documentary The Power of the Powerless (2009) whcih tells th storty of the Velvet Revolution. Narrated by Jeremy Irons and featuring Baclac Havel, Powerless details the dissident movement in Czechoslovakia that overturned the the country's forty-yearold Communist regime in 1989. Powerless was distributed by human rights organizations to encourage dissidents seeking nonviolent democratic change in numerous countries. Taylor's award-winning documentary A Quiet Revoltuion, narrated by Meryl Streep, introduced viewers to Nobel Prize Winner Wangari Maathai and was aired in 50 countries. He is currently a partner and executive producer at Storylight Media and president of Agora Productions.

Personal Opinion:

I am a great believer in origins, in figuring out from the start of how we ended up where we ended up. When it comes to someone like Hitler, that idea becomes far more vital because it may answer the ultimate question: how did he end up the way he did? this book attempts to answer that question, and as one senses, there are no easy answers. Taking place from 1918 to 1924, Cory Taylor introduces the American audience to a Germany that wasn't much studied in school nor analyzed, thereby missing out on vital details that could do more to help than hinder as is traditionally taught about Germany (My school lesson went something like this: Germany was poor, therefore Hitler took control and it became a fascist state.) A lot of fine details were neglected or not mentioned that this book tackles such as the numerous nationalist parties, or why Hitler blamed the Jews and hated them so much, and so forth. For a sobering and eye opening read, I would recommend this book.

This was given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, August 13, 2018

G1025 Book Review of boy on the beach by R.D. Maddux

Name of Book: Boy on the Beach

Author:R.D. Maddux

ISBN: 9781978448162

Publisher: Self-published

Type of book: Revenge, karma, free-love, relationships, past and present, California, architecture, mysterious companies

Year it was published: 2017


Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week, has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago.

To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships.

Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle? A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined.


Main character includes Andrew who is best described as a former hippy and "free-lover" and who believes in hexes and curses and feels that due to his past, he is being cursed. He is also best described as self-centered, selfish and someone who mistreats people and continues to mistreat people. Other characters include Landon and the company where he works at, but besides the job there is honestly not much to tell without spoiling the story.


Karma will come back to pay you back


The story is told in first person narrative, first from Andrew's point of view, and once in a while Landon's as well. Landon and the people he knows are far more intriguing than Andrew, to be honest, and I often wished that the author would have explored their angle instead of Andrew's. Perhaps 99 percent of the story is from Andrew's point of view, and I had to be honest in saying that this is a book where its difficult to care or like a character because of his actions. I tend to go for characters that would best be described as misunderstood, and I often understand them even when I disagree with them, but for me, Andrew is a special case where I couldn't understand him and don't even like him.

Author Information:
(From the website)

Amazon ~ Autographed copy
Add to Goodreads

R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.

Living in California for over 60 years he couldn't help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it's inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it's finally coming to the page.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

I'm sorry but no. I'm sad to say that I didn't like anything about the story; not the characters, nor the plot, or the writing style. There are a number of things that I had issue with when it came to the story: first of all the characters that I either should have liked or felt sorry for, which I didn't because the main character has done a lot of reprehensible actions that will make the reader very upset, and the justifications for his actions are not well written or explained. The writing style is a lot of told not show, and it makes it difficult for me to believe in characters, especially a certain psychic character that the main character always worries about, and a lot of it is also repetitious over and over, which annoyed me. While the plot was intriguing, because a character I didn't like told the story, it made it less intriguing. (I think I would have preferred more of the secondary characters instead of the main character to be honest.)

This is for iRead Book Tours


July 9 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
July 9 - Writers N Authors - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 10 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
July 12 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
July 13 - Hall Ways Blog - review / giveaway
July 16 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
July 17 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
July 17 - Olio By Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
July 18 - The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight / giveaway
July 20 - Books for Books - review
July 23 - Rocksprings Crafts - review / author interview / giveaway
July 24 - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
July 25 - Life as Leels - book spotlight
July 26 - A Page Before Bedtime - review / giveaway
July 27 - Readers Muse - review / guest post
July 30 - Literary Flits - book spotlight / giveaway
July 31 - Bri's Book Nook - review / author interview / giveaway
July 31 - 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News - bk spotlight / guest post / gw
Aug 1 - Two Points of Interest - review
Aug 6 - StoreyBook Reviews - review / giveaway
Aug 7 - Bookworm for Kids - review / giveaway
Aug 8 - Sefina Hawke's Books - review
Aug 9 - Maiden of the Pages - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Aug 10 - FLY HIGH! - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Aug 10 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Aug 13 - Rainy Day Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Aug 13 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 14 - Locks, Hooks and Books - review / giveaway
Aug 15 - Mystery Suspense Reviews - review / guest post
Aug 16 - Writers and Authors - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Aug 16 - fundinmental - review / giveaway
Aug 17 - One Frugal Girl - review / giveaway
Aug 17 - The Book Girl - review / author interview / giveaway
Aug 17 - Jessica Cassidy - review / giveaway
Aug 17 - TFaulc Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
TBD - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review

0 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

G1030 Book Review of Dune drive by Mariah Stewart

Name of Book: Dune Drive

Author: Mariah Stewart

ISBN: 9781501154416

Publisher: Pocket Books

Part of a Series: Chesapeake Diaries

Type of book: St. Dennis Maryland, contemporary, sweet slow romance, domestic violence, protection, healing, family, community, secrets, wedding, friendship

Year it was published: 2018


Always believing she was an ugly duckling, Chrissy Jenkins thought she had finally turned into a swan when her real-life Prince Charming swept her off her feet. But as his true character began to crack his perfect facade, Chrissy realized that not only was she better off without him, but that she was the only one who had the power to transform her life.

Returning to her ancestral home on Cannonball Island for a family wedding, Chrissy is reintroduced to a legacy she’d all but forgotten. In choosing to stay on the island, she reboots her life, successfully reinventing herself as a sous chef at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point just over the bridge in St. Dennis. But despite her newfound self-confidence, she still doesn’t trust her taste in men. So when she meets Jared Chandler, a handsome ship salvager staying at the inn while he conducts a nearby recovery operation, Chrissy’s certain she can keep him as a friend—even though he’s everything any woman would want in a man. As fellow newcomers, together they discover the charm of the historic bayside town and explore the idyllic island.

But when Chrissy agrees to be Jared’s date for his father’s wedding, they embark on a weekend that will find them each seeing the other in a completely different light, one that will change their lives forever.


Main characters would be Chrissie Jenkins, a young woman who ran away from an abusive relationship to St. Dennis to heal her wounds so to speak. Chrissie is sweet, talented but at the same time a bit reticent and is only starting to get her life back, so to speak. She is also an extremely talented chef and is loyal to her family, although she does tend to be lonely. Jared Chandler is a friend of Owen, who happens to be Chrissie's cousin. Jared is a playboy and is devoted to deep diving, but at the same time he begins to open up and tries to be Chrissie's friend. I really liked him in this story and often wished that more men like him would exist in real life. Other characters would be Ruby, a feisty 101 year old great-grandmother to Chrissie, Owen and his sister Liz. Ruby has a touch of supernatural but isn't afraid and often protects her own. Cass, Owen's love interest as well as Liz also play a big role in the story in helping Chrissie feel good about herself and I loved learning new facts about them, such as the fact that Cass is a makeup junkie.


Its possible to heal


The story is written in third person narrative, mainly from Chrissie's point of view, although Jared also told things from his point of view once in a while. While I wouldn't call most of the stories as lighthearted, they didn't deal with serious topics as this one does: that of domestic violence and its impact. As in previous novels, I imagine that DUNE DRIVE might be a healing novel, a novel of hope for those who have lost hope. The story begins when Chrissie finally starts healing from her wounds and as far as I recall, DUNE DRIVE also heavily focuses a lot on female friendships and how important they are to a woman. The romantic aspect of the story is not the main attraction,but instead the main attraction would be Chrissie's journey to healing thanks to her family and the community of St. Dennis and Cannonball Island.

Author Information:
(From a letter)

Mariah Stewart is the award winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid teh rolling hills fo Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on hefr next novel. Visit her website at, like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


I don't have words to express on how special DUNE DRIVE became to me; my very first Mariah Stewart book was titled AT THE RIVER'S EDGE, which is about Sophie and her determination to go against her family's wishes in becoming a chef and starting a restaurant titled Blossoms, which is named after the three women with flower names. Revisiting Sophie and Blossoms as well as hearing the familiar tales of gardenia scent and of ghosts haunting a house is such a joy to experience within this wonderful story. Besides the reminiscing aspect, the current story of Chrissie and Jared is indescribable as well; like in previous novels, I loved the slowness of relationship that the two had, loved how Jared took things slowly with Chrissie and never forced her to do what she didn't want to do. Just so the readers know, this book has no shrinking violets that depend on a man to save them. I did feel a bit disappointed that certain plot elements weren't resolved, namely one of the characters' pregnancies, and I felt disappointed that I didn't visit the exclusive illegal restaurant in Cannonball Island. Once I got a little past the first chapter (I felt that there were some mistakes and some repetition,) I fell in love with the quaint and memorable St. Dennis all over again. Just like in previous novels, DUNE DRIVE has amazing women in terms of Chrissie and her great-grandmother Ruby as well as men you'd love to meet. Now some bad news: I have to wait for 2019 to hopefully read her third novel in The Hudson Sisters and even longer to hopefully read the 13th Chesapeake Diary entry.

This is for a book tour arranged by the publicist

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Coming Attractions for August 2018

It seems that I have accomplished quite a lot in previous month: I got a lot of awesome reading; now comes the difficult part: writing reviews. While a lot of my reading the previous month included contemporary fiction, (with some historical fiction thrown in,) this month will be what I will call ancient history; yes history prior to 1800s, and a lot of the reads will be indie books as well as a number of contemporary reads. I also will start creating videos, mostly about what I am reading and perhaps in a month or two will begin my USA MANA project. (USA Make America New Again aka MANA) Enjoy the month of August!

Spotlight and Book Tour

Dune Drive by Mariah Stewart (August 4th, 2018)

Boy on the Beach by R.D. Maddux (August 9th, 2018)

Book spotlight The Love Fool: A Rome-antic Comedy by Lorenzo Petruzziello (August 20th, 2018)

Hopeful Reads:

Things we Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Living Treasures by Yang Huang

Rough Passage to London: A sea captain's tale by Robin Lloyd

The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel

A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

The Hope Fault by Tracy Farr

On the edge of sunrise by Cynthia Ripley Miller

Cometh the hour by Annie Whitehead

Alvar the Kingmaker by Annie Whitehead

For Fresh Fiction:

Vox by Christina Dalcher

The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden

After Nightfall by A.J Banner

The Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyker

The Kabbalah Master by Perle Besserman

Queen for a day by Maxine Rosaler

Black Sugar by Miguel Bonnefoy 
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