Pachinko- 5 Stars – July 2018
This book follows the story of Sunja, a young Korean girl who finds herself pregnant by a married yakuza man and in order for her family name to not be ruined she agrees to marry a young Christian minister and moves with him to Japan. Once in Japan life does not become any easier, the story takes us the the war years of Japan and Korea and how hard it was for all to just survive; life as a Korean in Japan is not easy and you see that as you read this book and move with them through decades of their lives.
What I throughly enjoyed was that every character is touched upon and you are not left wondering what happened to them. I was left speechless and almost brought to tears in a few chapters. This book is so well written and flows nicely, I was not wanting the chapters to end. While reading this book details were vividly clear, that is important to me as a reader. I want to get lost in a book and see what I am reading and this book did that for me.
Pachinko holds true to traditional values that seem long lost, some traditions should never become lost because times are changing; they keep a family strong and rooted together. My take away from the book was that women have always been strong and will always be the backbone of the family; they make sacrifices that many do not know or will ever understand because that is what needs to be done for your family. I enjoyed this book immensely and am putting on my list of books I gift to people.
A Place For Us – 4 Stars – July 2018
The story is about a Muslim family and their traditions and beliefs and how it effects their lives but mostly the life of their son Amar. Amar falls from the graces of his family by rebelling against everything they believe and everything he was taught. It highlights the strength of the relationship between brother and sister and the disconnect between father and son. Amar and Hadia’s relationship is strong, she is the keeper of secrets and the one he trust the most. His father struggles to not just understand his son but actually know who his son is and why he feels such a disconnect from the family. The book started off great and then I felt as though the pace slowed down with the flashbacks, which is where stepped away.
I picked it back up a few days later and was surprised to see that the book did pick up pace again. Part 4 of the book was beautifuly written, it brought a softer side to Rafiq the father, which I had been hoping for. There is a part in this section of the book that actually brought my to tears. I gave the book 4 stars because the flashbacks were a bit much for my liking, with that said I do recommend it should be put on your reading list.
If You Leave Me- 5 Stars -August 2018
This is Crystal Hana Kim’s debut novel and she in no way disappointed me. This story is brilliantly written, each chapter guides you through the lives of the three main characters- Haemi, Kyunghwan and Jisoo. The story line is set in the time of the Korean War when they all had to flee to safety in a refugee camp. Haemi and Kyunghwan were childhood friends and their friendship continues to grow as they sneak out and spend time with each other past curfew. Haemi does not hide her affection for Kyunghwan but he does not give in to her, his focus is on school. Kyunghwan’s cousin Jisoo takes notice of Haemi and before he goes off to war he wants to be married and have a family to come home to, Haemi decides to marry Jisoo for a better life for her family and their lives are never the same after that. The story guides us through their lives throughout the years after the war, we follow Haemi and Jisoo and their growing family; Kyunghwan and his inability to settle down and Haemi’s never-ending love and desire to be with her true love Kyunghwan.
This story was beautifully written, having just read Pachinko this felt like it could tie in with that story line. I enjoyed how each chapter was about each character, there was no crazy flashbacks or flash forwards that distracted me. I highly recommend add this book to your reading list, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did..
The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo – 5 Stars – August 2018
The title of the book does state the obvious of what the book is about, but it is the back story that makes this book so good that I could not put it down. The story of Evelyn Hugo starts when she is a young girl wanting to flee the life she was living in Hell’s Kitchen New York; it is also about the young not very famous reporter Monique, that Evelyn has hand picked to write her tell all autobiography. We follow the life of Evelyn from the start of her career in the 50’s; Evelyn marries husband number one to get out of her terrible life in New York to make her way to bright lights of Hollywood to make a name for herself; and boy does she ever. Every husband after that had a purpose for Evelyn so she was able to make a name for herself and be with the love of her life. But the question I kept asking myself throughout the book, Why Monique? The question does not go unanswered without a heartbreaking cost to Monique. Taylor Jenkins Reid writing is brilliant, I wanted more with every page I turned. I could actually see this as a movie and kept trying to think who would play Evelyn. This story gave a vivid glimpse of what a determined woman will do for fame and love.
I do recommend this book to be added to your TBR pile, you will love every second of the glamorous life that is Evelyn Hugo..
Family Trust – 3 Stars – August 2018
The story starts off by introducing us to the patriarch of the family Stanley Huang, divorced father of two and remarried to Mary who is twenty-eight years his junior. Stanley has recently been diagnosed with cancer and his family must now deal with the reality that his time is limited. The story is told in point of view from each character in the book; Fred the son who is a Harvard Business School graduate who comes across whiney and unfulfilled with his life. Kate who works for a successful company in Silicon Valley manages to balance work and her family life, that includes supporting her husband as he tries to get his so called start up company off the ground. Mary who married Stanley because he had a home and money to take care of her, she in turns dotes on his every need. Then my favorite character Linda, Stanley’s first wife who finds herself trying to find love in the online dating world. Stanley always alluded he was a wealthy man and now the family is all wondering what is going to be left to them when Stanley’s time comes.
I felt the book lacked some luster, reading through chapters I felt I could not connect with the characters, except for Linda. It also bother that the word ostentatious was used more than I care for within the first 50-60 pages. The story line is good, I just was hoping for more energy and excitement, after reading the Crazy Rich Asian series, Pachinko and If You Leave Me, I think I set my hopes high for this one.
Nell and Lady – 4 Stars – September 2018
This is a heart felt story that starts in 1970’s and takes us to present day. The story touches on emotional topics such as cancer, sexual abuse, racism and alcoholism. Set in Charleston, SC, Willa Bellemore befriends her new maid Mavis, they become more than friends they become family. Mavis finds her self pregnant and is afraid she may be let go. That does not happen, Willa and Mavis raise their girls to be just as close as they are; when Mavis passes away Willa adopts Nell.
Nell and Lady were the best of friends until Lady’s 16th birthday party, when a terrible thing happens to Nell; Nell instead of turning to her “family” shuts them out; for years Lady is left wondering what caused Nell to leave and finally gives up trying. Decades pass and Nell and Lady each endure their own struggles in life until Willa is facing her final days and her only wish is that her girls find their way back to each other.
Ashely Farley’s characters are very relatable, the story line is based on so many every day issues that so many families deal with. This was a beautiful, easy read that touch my heart and shows that anything ca be overcome.
The Air You Breathe – 5 stars – September 2018
The story is told to us by Dores~ we are on a journey that starts at the sugar plantation in Brazil, where two young girls, The Little Miss and Jega build their friendship. Graca, the Little Miss, born into a privileged family that owns the plantation and Dores (Jega) the orphaned kitchen help. When the girls are young, Graca’s mother takes them on a trip to Recife to see a Fado singer, this concert sets in motion the dream life the girls want to live.
After the sudden death of Graca’s mother she is sent to a boarding school, where Dores is to accompany her as her maid. The girls are not their long before then runaway to live their dream. Graca is the better singer of the two; Dores becomes the songwriter who creates the songs to turn Graca into Sofia Salvador.
Over the span of the story we see the love Dores has for Graca, not just as a friend and what Dores will do to help Graca live her dream. Even though there is beauty in Graca, we see that she has a selfish side and she wants what she wants and everyone around her caters to her, especially Dores.
The book takes us on a breathtaking journey of Brazil, through the streets of Lapa where we learn of the Roda and Samba; from there to the bright lights and fame of Hollywood. The story is powerful, tragic and beautiful. The characters are strong and captivating each in their own way. You will love them and hate them and love them again.
This is by far in my top 3 of the year of must reads, I could go on forever about the book, but this is a review not a book report. I hope you as you read you can hear Samba being sung,I hope you see and feel how friendship and love become “The Air You Breath” the way I did.
Mother Winter – Release Date February 2019
This is Sophia’s debut book; a memoir of her life and I feel memoirs cannot be given ratings like a fictional book, because this is her story, she lived it and she is gifting it to us and I am grateful she did.
Sophia elegantly and lyrically takes us on the journey of her life, what it was like for her to live without her mother. A mother she was taken from; because her mother was an alcoholic. A father she was forced to live with, a father who was abusive and took her from Russia without her every seeing her mother again. The longing of a child and the questions of why constantly being there. All of the adversity did not break her, it made her strong and it gave her an amazing outlook on not just life but being a woman and a mother.
I loved everything about Sophia’s book, it is raw and honest and very relatable. I felt all her pain and her highs and lows. When she was hungry, I felt her hunger, when she was describing what it was like to be unkept, I wept for her. What I loved the most is the use of vignettes; I have not read a memoir that has used them and tied them in so beautifully that I got lost in reading them. I found comfort and strength in her words, being a woman and reading another woman’s life story is empowering.