THE FOREST CITY KILLER by Vanessa Brown a tale of murder and mayhem that gripped the city of London, Ontario in the late 1960s – A MUST READ for all true-crime buffs

Title: THE FOREST CITY KILLER
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Subtitle: A SERIAL MURDERER, A COLD-CASE SLEUTH, AND A SEARCH FOR JUSTICE
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Author: VANESSA BROWN
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Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

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Length: 360 PAGES

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Publisher: ECW PRESS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: OCTOBER 4, 2019

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ISBN: 9781770415034

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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Dig deep into the unsolved murder of Jackie English and join the hunt for a serial killer

Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster — or monsters — stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn’t stop searching until his death 40 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims’ families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person, or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own?

Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations. And through her investigation, Vanessa posits the unthinkable: is it possible that the Forest City Killer is still alive and, like the notorious Golden State Killer, a simple DNA test could bring him to justice?
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MY REVIEW:

Researcher Vanessa Brown grew up in London, Ontario, Canada and resides there to this day. It is in her beloved city where she owns and operates a used book store and as an avid local historian, she has authored and/or edited several local history books. London, Ontario is also known as “The Forest City” hence the title of this book.

I have a keen interest in True Crime, biographies and historical non-fiction. It is because of this that I was drawn to THE FOREST CITY KILLER.

Also, since I live in Ontario, Canada and have visited all the locations mentioned in this story, and in fact, I attended the same high school (Sir Frederick Banting High School in Alliston Ontario) as convicted murderer, David Bodemer, I knew I just had to find out the details of the murders which took place only a few years before I was born.

Author VANESSA BROWN has taken the story of murder most foul and crafted a true tale of intrigue with so many twists and turns that it is almost unbelievable. It is said that “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction,” and in the case of the FOREST CITY KILLER this statement proves to be true.

Untangling the web of murders as well as entertaining multiple theories, the writing of this book must have been a monumental task and yet Vanessa Brown proves herself as adept in not only untangling the many strands of the web, but also in providing readers with a chohesive and coherent timeline and a theory that comes across as convincing. In fact, maybe Vanessa Brown has missed her calling – she would make a phenomenal cold-case investigator.

My only negative feedback about THE FOREST CITY KILLER is the overabundance of footnotes. In my opinion, if the note is worthy of being included in the book, then it can easily be added to the main narrative. I found the footnotes interesting and was glad the information they contained was included, however I found them overly distracting. Hopefully, since the copy I received was an ARC (Advance Review Copy) that these footnotes will be worked into the body of the book.

Included in the book are many photographs including pictures of the eleven victims and photos taken at the time the bodies were found. This allows readers to feel an extra connection to the cases.

I rate THE FOREST CITY KILLER as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A freelance writer, editor and local historian, Vanessa Brown is the author of The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London and London: 150 Cultural Moments which was published by Biblioasis in 2017.

Vanessa Brown is an antiquarian bookseller who consults on early and rare editions and ephemera for the L. M. Montgomery Research Group. She is the author of The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London.

Vanessa is also a murderino, and wants to remind you to stay sexy and don’t get murdered! (Don’t know what this means? Check out the amazing True Crime podcast MY FAVORITE MURDER)

Her latest book, The Forest City Killer, will be published with ECW in 2019.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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GOODREADS – ECW PRESS

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TO PURCHASE A SIGNED COPY OF THE FOREST CITY KILLER Click HERE

#TheForestCityKiller #NetGalley #SSDGM #murderino #TrueCrime #london #ontario #murders #coldcase

FACE OF THE DEVIL by WILLIAM WELLS was released last week and is available NOW – 4 STARS

Title: FACE OF THE DEVIL

Author: WILLIAM WELLS

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 217 PAGES

Publisher: RIVERDALE BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 1, 2019

ISBN: 9781626015159

Price: $6.99 USD (EBOOK)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

“Wells has a brisk, breezy style that… blurs the line between fiction and (fictive) reality. Prime entertainment.”Booklist

In this fast-paced psychological thriller, someone is brutally murdering female college students on Midwestern campuses.

When a police sketch of the killer shows a remarkable resemblance to Ethan Hamilton, a prominent professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin who specializes in psychopathic personality disorders, Ethan is at first a suspect.

Initially cleared, he agrees to help the FBI hunt down the killer. The killings continue and Ethan begins having troubling dreams about the crimes, and other signs of severe stress, he quits his work with the FBI but gets drawn back in. A shocking development puts Ethan and his family in jeopardy.

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MY REVIEW:

“I am Ethan Hamilton: 48 years old; B.S.; M.S.; Ph.D.; professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin. My academic speciality is abnormal psychology, with a sub-specialty in the sociopathic and psychopathic personality. My books and papers on the subject have gained national and international attention for me and for my university.”

Ethan Hamilton knows more about psychopaths than almost anyone in law enforcement, including those who work in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

So, when someone starts killing young female college students and when a sketch of the murderer looks much like him, it is inevitable that he get involved in the case. He is cleared quickly as a suspect and instead offers his professional expertise to help catch the real killer.

Author William Wells is also an expert, an expert of twists and turns. He digs deep into the psyche of both the killer and the purported expert on psychopathic personalities. What he discovers is that the line between the hunter and the hunted is sometimes very thin.

If you enjoy thrillers with a horror bent, you will want to read this book. I particularly enjoyed the discussions surrounding the age-old question of what most influences a person’s development – nature or nurture.

There are several other themes that are interspersed throughout this book, but I do not want to give out any spoilers in this book review, so I will refrain from discussing them here. However, once you read this book, I am willing to discuss it anytime on my blog, or on my Instagram account. Be sure to follow both by going to my blog at http://Amiesbookreviews.wordpress.com and follow @Amiesbookreviews on Instagram.

There were a few typos in the file that was sent to me, but I believe these will be fixed in the final version of this book. It is due to these typos that I have rated this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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QUOTES:

“You would never go broke catering to the public’s appetite for the macabre. It was cathartic to confront pure evil and survive.”

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“Horror was titillating – as long as it was someone else’s horror.”

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“Why was Wisconsin known as the serial-murder capital of the U.S.? I’ve studied the subject and found that no one really knows why our state produces psychopaths in the way that Silicon Valley incubates high-tech companies. Maybe it’s something in the gene pool, or the water.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Detroit, William Wells is a graduate of Hamilton College with a B.A. in English literature.

He served aboard a Navy destroyer and as a Navy journalist, and was a radio disc jockey, newspaper staff writer, author of an internationally syndicated comic strip, speechwriter for the Governor of Michigan, marketing agency executive, and custom publishing company owner.

His previously published novels include Hope’s Road, Ride Away Home, Detective Fiction and The Dollar-A-Year Detective.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Riverdale Avenue Books is an award winning, innovative hybrid publisher at the leading edge of the changes in the publishing industry. We publish e-books, print, and audio books under 12 imprints: Desire, an erotica/erotic romance imprint; Riverdale/Magnus the award-winning imprint of LGBT titles; Pop featuring pop culture titles; Afraid, a horror line; SFF, a science fiction fantasy line; Truth, an erotic memoir line; Dagger, a mystery thriller imprint; Sports and Gaming featuring sports and gaming titles; Verve featuring lifestyle titles; Hera featuring both the true and fictional lives and loves of women aged 35 and up; and 120 Days, an LGBT pulp fiction line.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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DIAGNOSIS by LISA SANDERS is a 5 Star Read and will soon be a series on Netflix

Title: DIAGNOSIS

Subtitle: SOLVING THE MOST BAFFLING MEDICAL MYSTERIES

Author: LISA SANDERS, M.D.

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIRS, MEDICAL, HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Length: 320 PAGES

Publisher: CROWN PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 13, 2019

ISBN: 9780593136638

Price: $17.00 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis—and treatment—is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel—and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.

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MY REVIEW:

Author Dr. Lisa Sanders is the doctor whom the television show HOUSE was based on. She is well-known for her diagnostic prowess as well as for her column in the New York Times. Now, Netflix is filming a series based on her case files. I am very much looking forward to watching this new series. I LOVED watching HOUSE and was sad when the television series ended.

DIAGNOSIS is a fascinating and informative read, as well as being chock-full of information that most doctors (and patients) are unaware of. In my opinion, everyone, especially doctors need to own a copy of this book.

I am well aware of the theory known as “Occam’s Razor” which is a principle from philosophy that states that the simplest explanation is usually correct. However, sometimes that theory does not apply. In medicine sometimes a zebra masquerades as a horse and because the disease is so rare, it is unknown to the doctor and/or because of it’s rarity, it is dismissed as a possibility.

If you have any interest in medical mysteries this book should be at the top of your ‘TBR (TO BE READ)’ List. Once I started reading, I was unable to put it down.

Not only does the author do an exceptional job of describing the symptoms each patient is experiencing, she also gives a brief description of the person’s home and work life which provides a perfect balance between the technical and the personal aspects of each case.

Dr. Lisa Sanders also provides the reader with an update as to how each patient is faring at the present time. This is something that I find many medical books leave out. It is as if many doctors see only the medical mystery and view the patient as callously as they would view a lab rat; ignoring them once the mystery is solved and leaving the follow-up to others. Lisa Sanders does NOT do this. In fact, several of the cases were diagnosed years earlier and yet she has taken the time to call each patient and ask after their current help.

This book is worthy of more than just 5 Stars, however, since five stars is the highest rating I can bestow upon a book, 5 STARS will have to suffice. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The world is lucky to have diagnosticians such as Dr. Lisa Sanders and she has saved multiple lives and livelihoods. She is an inspiration to women everywhere.

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Lisa Sanders is a clinician educator in the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program. In addition to her work as a physician and teacher, she writes the popular Diagnosis column for the New York Times Magazine and the Think Like a Doctor column featured in the New York Times blog, The Well. Her column was the inspiration for the Fox program House MD (2004-2012) and she served as a consultant to the show. In 2010 published a book titled Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis. Currently she is collaborating with the New York Times on an 8 hour documentary series on the process of diagnosis. It will air on Netflix in the summer of 2019.

Sanders’ path to medicine was anything but traditional. As an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, she majored in English, wrote for The Flat Hat, the college paper, and served pints of ale at Chownings Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. After graduation she took a job with ABC at Good Morning America. Less than 10 years later, while working for CBS News, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story for coverage of Hurricane Hugo as it slammed into her hometown of Charleston, S.C. But by then, Sanders said, she was ready to move on professionally and decided that of all the subjects she covered as a journalist, medicine intrigued her most. After two years at Columbia University’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program, Sanders was accepted to the Yale School of Medicine “as part of the 10 percent of the class they reserve for weirdos,” she said. In addition to her time in the hospital, Sanders is currently researching clinical decision making and the way diagnostic decisions and errors are made. She has published two books previously — “The Perfect Fit Diet: Combine What Science Knows About Weight Loss With What You Know About Yourself” in 2004 and “The Perfect Fit Diet: How to Lose Weight, Keep it Off and Still Eat the Foods You Love” in 2005.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

GOODREADS

NEW YORK TIMES – DIAGNOSIS COLUMN

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

#Diagnosis #NetGalley #Review #Reviewathon #bookreview #medical #medicalmysteries #rarediseases #doctor #Doctors #health #healthandwellness #bookblog #book #2019 #2019release #2019booklovers #2019bookrelease #lisasanders #reallifedrhouse #realhealthmysteries #raredisease #whattolookfor #patient

THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER is the first book in the worldwide phenomenon that is The Shamer Chronicles and it is being released soon – this is a series that YOU CANNOT MISS.

Title: THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER

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Series: THE SHAMER CHRONICLES – BOOK ONE

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Author: LEME KAABERBØL

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Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

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Length: 240 PAGES

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Publisher: PUSHKIN CHILDREN’S PRESS

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Received From: NETGALLEY

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Release Date: SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

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ISBN: 978-1-78269-225-6

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Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

The first step into the thrilling middlegrade fantasy world of The Shamer Chronicles

Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother’s gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone’s eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by fear and hostility, she longs for simple friendship.

But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her power – or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark.

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MY REVIEW:

“Birches is not a big Town, but we do have a smithy, an inn, and the mill … not to mention eleven different houses and farms of varying sizes… In almost all the houses were families, and almost all of the families had children, some as many as eight or ten. You would think, with so many to choose from, that it would be possible for me to find a friend or two, or at least some playmates. But no. Not me. Not the Shamer’s daughter. Two years ago I could still sometimes play with Sasia from the inn. But then it became more and more difficult for her to look me in the eyes, and after that, things became kind of difficult. Now she avoided me completely, just like everyone else.”

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Dina wants to be like everyone else. However, try as she might, it is impossible for people to treat her normally. She has Shamer’s Eyes.

Dina’s mother is a Shamer and Dina is already showing traits of the Shamer she will become.

” I knew that it would be so much easier for them if I simply stayed away. But I hadn’t asked for the damned Shamer’s eyes; I couldn’t help being my mother’s daughter… Didn’t I have a right to be here? Someone to talk to, someone to be with…”

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Author Lene Kaaberbøl has created a brand new world peopled with both good and evil characters and has brought to life the idea of a Shamer – a person who can read your mind and detect any and all actions you are ashamed of. That power brings people face to face with the shame they feel and can (and often does) bring grown men to their knees. A Shamer can also tell truth from lies and her services are often called upon to determine a person’s guilt or innocence in criminal matters.

That talent and the repercussions of seeing inside someone’s heart and mind are what gets Dina and her mother involved in matters of which they would rather have stayed out of.

The concept of a Shamer is unique and after reading THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER, I completely understand why this book series has garnered Lene Kaaberbøl fans around the world, of which I now count myself among their number.

The target audience for this book series is middle grade to young adults, but I am forty six years old and I enjoyed reading this tale immensely, and as such, I am labelling THE SHAMER’S DAUGHTER as good for all ages.

With characters readers will be invested in and a fast paced plot full of continuous action and the entire tale being essentially a story of good versus evil, I rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

* Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

An award-winning and highly acclaimed writer of Fantasy, Lene Kaaberbøl was born in 1960, grew up in the Danish countryside and had her first book published at the age of 15. Since then she has written more than 30 books for children and young adults.

Lene’s huge Internationally breakthrough came with ‘The Shamer Chronicles,’ which have been published in more than 25 countries selling over a million copies worldwide.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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SIMON AND SCHUSTER

RIVER PEOPLE by Margaret Lukas – Historical fiction – A fascinating tale of struggle and survival in the 1890s

Title: RIVER PEOPLE

Author: MARGARET LUKAS

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 375 PAGES

Publisher: BQB PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1945448225

Price: $18.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Set in Nebraska in the late 1890s, seventeen-year-old Effie and eleven-year-old Bridget must struggle to endure at a time when women and children have few rights and society looks upon domestic abuse as a private, family matter.

The story is told through the eyes of the girls as they learn to survive under grueling circumstances.

MY REVIEW:

What first drew my attention to RIVER PEOPLE by Margaret Lukas was the wonderful cover. Seeing the shack near the water, it evokes a feeling of isolation and even somehow emits a sense of desperation – all that just from the front cover.

Once I started reading this book, I was introduced to Bridget (who is an eleven year-old half-orphan), and to Effie, who is the unwanted seventeen year-old daughter of a settler family.

The lives of girls and women in the 1890s were not their own. Females began life as property of their father, which only changed when she was married. At that point she became the property of her husband. Women could not vote since they were considered “non-persons.” Of course, in modern North American society, this seems ridiculous, but it was reality and very few people questioned it. In fact, if a man were to beat up his wife, the law would ignore it as being “none of their business.” Ridiculous I know, but that was reality and few people questioned it.

I do not think I would have done well living in such a society. In fact, I would probably end up like so many other women of that time who were labelled as “incorrigible” or as having “hysteria.” If a woman was so designated, her husband or family would have her admitted to an insane asylum to live out her days being considered crazy. Although this does not happen in this book, both Effie and Bridget must have known that it was a possibility, and that their fate rested in the hands of a man – one that neither of them liked very much.

Sixty four year-old Reverend Jackdaw has his heart set on building a church in Omaha, Nebraska and in having numerous sons to ensure his vision comes to fruition. To do this, he needs a wife, one young enough to bear multiple children. He sees his chance to begin fulfilling what he thinks of as his destiny when he stops at the farm belonging to Effie’s family. He convinces her father to allow them to wed by telling him that the Reverend and his new bride would be leaving for Omaha shortly after the ceremony and the consummation of the marriage.

When procuring supplies for their trek to Nebraska, Reverend Jackdaw comes across a sign offering “Free Orphans.” This is how Bridget becomes his adopted daughter. He sees her not as a person, but as a way to keep watch on his youthful bride. She tries to introduce herself, but he doesn’t care what her name is and tells her that from that day forward, her name would be “Rooster” due to her red hair.

The story then follows the unlikely trip as they trek through the wilderness and arrive at the “house” on the river that Reverend Jackdaw is being loaned the use of for free.

Author Margaret Lukas does a phenomenal job at world building and I felt as if I had been transported back in time. I loved the way she built up each character and they became real to me and I was invested in their survival. I just couldn’t put this book down and read the entire 375 in a single weekend.

Anyone who is curious as to how “real” people lived in the pioneer era should read this book. Unfortunately, many historical fiction authors take the easy route and choose to make their characters wealthy, but this just does not reflect the lives of average or poor people. To make a modern day analogy, it would be like writing about the Kardashians rather than a regular, every day person of middle class.

I enjoyed this book tremendously and as such, I am rating it as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Margaret Lukas is an instructor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She teaches creative writing in the Writer’s Workshop Program. She received her BFA from UNO’s Writer’s Workshop in 2004. In 2007 Margaret received her MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington.

She is a recipient of a 2009 Nebraska Art Council Individual Artist Fellowship.

She is a contributor to NEBRASKAland magazine and an editor for the quarterly literary journal, Fine Lines. Her writing also appears online and in the 2012 anthology, On Becoming, published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Her award-winning short story, “The Yellow Bird,” was made into The Yellow Bird, a short filmand premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Farthest House was her first novel.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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New Release – TRUE PLACES by Sonja Yoerg is Now Available – This is the perfect book for your first Book Club choice for 2019.

Title: TRUE PLACES

Author: SONJA YOERG

Genre: FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 347 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 1, 2019

ISBN: 9781503904781

Price: $24.95 USD

Rating: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A girl emerges from the woods, starved, ill, and alone…and collapses.

Suzanne Blakemore hurtles along the Blue Ridge Parkway, away from her overscheduled and completely normal life, and encounters the girl. As Suzanne rushes her to the hospital, she never imagines how the encounter will change her—a change she both fears and desperately needs.

Suzanne has the perfect house, a successful husband, and a thriving family. But beneath the veneer of an ideal life, her daughter is rebelling, her son is withdrawing, her husband is oblivious to it all, and Suzanne is increasingly unsure of her place in the world. After her discovery of the ethereal sixteen-year-old who has never experienced civilization, Suzanne is compelled to invite Iris into her family’s life and all its apparent privileges.

But Iris has an independence, a love of solitude, and a discomfort with materialism that contrasts with everything the Blakemores stand for—qualities that awaken in Suzanne first a fascination, then a longing. Now Suzanne can’t help but wonder: Is she destined to save Iris, or is Iris the one who will save her?

MY REVIEW:

Forty-two-year-old Suzanne Blakemore has the perfect life. She lives in a stunning house that could easily be featured in a magazine. She has a husband named Whit whose career is thriving, and she has both a son and a daughter; the perfect nuclear family.

One day she is driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stops to take in the scenery. She notices something out of place and is shocked to discover a girl burning with fever and all alone.

Suzanne rushes her to the hospital and discovers that the girl, despite her diminutive stature, is sixteen years old. Her name is Iris, and like a modern day version of Mowgli from the Jungle Book, she has never experienced civilization.

Unable to find any living family members, Suzanne welcomes Iris into the home and lives of her family members. She believes that she is saving Iris, but as the story evolves, it seems likely that it just might be the other way around.

As a mother who has experienced both the joys and the challenges of raising teenagers, I was able to relate to Suzanne. Her whole life is, and has always been, about taking care of the children and ensuring that their busy lives run as smoothly as possible. It is easy to lose sight of yourself and your own wants and needs when you are too busy to even notice that you are not feeling fulfilled.

Author Sonja Yoerg has immense talent for description, and as a mother I found the following quote one that I understood completely.

“… That morning Brynn had leveled her with a look so contemptuous Suzanne had been certain her daughter was possessed.”

What parent of a teenager has not had the exact same thought? The answer is: none that I know of.

Set in and around the gorgeous the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, the author paints a beautiful picture of the area where this story takes place. Readers find themselves immersed in not only the sights, but also in the sounds and even the smells of the region. The author’s love of the area is obvious and shines through in every description.

Released only four days ago on January first, this book is a terrific choice for one to begin the New Year with and is especially perfect for Book Clubs.

I rate TRUE PLACES as 4.5 Stars out 5, but will round up so the rating is 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

In the back of the book the author has included a discussion guide which is perfect for those who choose TRUE PLACES as a selection for their book club.

***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SONJA YOERG grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge.

She earned a PhD in biological psychology from the University of California, Berkeley; and wrote a nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox, before deciding it was more fun to make things up.

Her previous novels are House Broken, The Middle of Somewhere, and All the Best People.

Sonja lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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The Blue Ridge Mountains

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QUOTES:

“Reality offered unvarnished truths…”

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“Her stomach churned a slurry of acid and grief, her soul limp… Mama was gone.”

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“That was, in fact, what time was: a narrow container for a relentless succession of tasks.”

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“Time was a squeezing bitch. It never expanded, never gave up any slack…”

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“How could an expression that hateful, and directed at Suzanne, appear on the face of the child who had once – no, hundreds of times – looked upon her mother with love so pure it made her life … almost too beautiful to bear?”

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“No one gives in without giving something up, and nothing is given up without cost.”

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QUICK NOTE:

The author mentions a “Tulip Tree” in the book and I had never heard of this type of tree before. I live in Ontario, Canada and as far as I know, we do not have those trees where I live.

Anyway, I was intrigued, so I searched online and found some pictures and information about this tree on Wikipedia.

For those who are interested, here are some photographs of the Tulip Tree (obtained from Wikipedia):

#2019AtoZChallenge

#GingerMoms

https://gingermomreads.com/2019-challenges/2019-atoz-challenge/

THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON by Debut Middle-Grade Author Quinn Sosna-Spear is FANTABULOUS AND IS GOING TO BE A BEST-SELLER 5+ Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON

Author: Quinn Sosna-Spear

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Ages: 8 to 12

Length: 336 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 2, 2019

ISBN: 9781534420809 (Hardcover)

Price: $17.99 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.

Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to meet his destiny.

Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.

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MY REVIEW:

Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

With an imagination equalling that of iconic children’s author Roald Dahl, and emotional intelligence commensurate to that of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA author, Katherine Paterson, this exceptional middle-grade book is destined to be at the top of multiple BestSeller lists.

Firstly, I have to mention the awe-inspiring cover art. There is no way that any reader will be able to walk past that cover in a bookstore without pausing to pick it up to read the back. And, as most of us know, if you can get people to hold a book in their hands, they are much more likely to purchase it.

However, a great cover can only do so much. The story inside must be equally fascinating, and debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has mastered the art of storytelling to make this happen.

Kids will quickly be able to relate to one of the main characters, either Walter or Cordelia.

Walter Mortinson is a young tween who invents all kinds of fabulous contraptions and who lives with his mother in the most boring town on the planet – Moormouth. The problem is that Walter’s inventions often get him into trouble, but he can’t stop inventing, he loves it too much.

Walter does not have many friends, in fact, he doesn’t have any friends at all. He hates going to school because of being bullied.

Walter used to play with the girl who lives next door, but Cordelia doesn’t come around anymore. She only has one eye and is very self-conscious, but Walter doesn’t care about her “disability,” he just wants her friendship.

Nothing ever seemed to happen in the small town of Moormouth – until the day that one of Walter’s inventions go awry and causes big problems.

Because of what happened, his mother tells him that he is no longer allowed to invent things, and that it is time for him to become a mortician, just like her.

At the same time, he receives an invitation to apprentice with the most famous, and the richest, inventor alive. His name is Horace Flasterborn and he lives far, far away in a place called Flaster Isle. Walter decides that he isn’t cut out to be a mortician and runs away with Cordelia to accept Horace Flasterborn’s offer of apprenticeship.

Walter may be a few years too young to have a driver’s license, but he doesn’t let that stop him, he drives away in the only vehicle available to him – the family hearse.

The two runaways experience a road trip they will never forget, and neither will the readers of this book.

There are sinister forces that want to exploit Walter’s gift for inventing and the people and creatures they meet along the way will either help them, or possibly harm them and what fantastical creatures they are.

To find out what and who the bad guys are, and to explore the fantastic world of Walter and Cordelia, you need to buy a copy of this book.

Fans of Eoin Colfer and Madeline L’Engle will adore this marvelous story filled with amazing adventures and interesting ‘people.’

As fun and interesting as their adventures are, there are also some serious issues that are explored in this book, such as the fact that Walter’s father is dead, and someone else in the story might just be seriously ill. Kids struggling with grief will find that they are not alone and will gravitate towards Walter’s character.

It is hard to believe that this is author Quinn Sosna-Spear’s debut novel. She writes with depth and an immense talent. If this is her first book, I cannot wait to read the next one.

If I could rate this book higher than 5 out of 5 Stars I would, as it is I am giving it my highest rating of 5+ Stars.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you to #NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book.***

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QUOTE:

“But Walter, as many boys and girls are, was much cleverer than a man.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Quinn Sosna-Spear was named a California Young Playwright at seventeen and went on to study at the University of Southern California.

She has since written books, films, and virtual reality projects.

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson, her debut novel, was inspired by the untimely death of her own mother.

Quinn hopes to share with all readers—particularly those struggling with loss—the humor, poignancy, and adventure in such things…as dreary and impossible as they may seem.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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COMING IN 2020I can’t wait…

This post is my first entry into the A to Z Reading Challenge

PLUS+ by Fashion Blogger and Podcaster BETHANY RUTTER is being released soon. A coffee table book to inspire women of every size. 5 STARS

Title: PLUS +

Subtitle: STYLE INSPIRATION FOR EVERYONE

Author: BETHANY RUTTER

Genre: NON-FICTION, PHOTOGRAPHY, STYLE, LIFESTYLE, PLUS SIZED WOMEN, PLUS SIZED STYLE, DIVERSITY, DISCRIMINATION

Length: 224 PAGES

Publisher: ANDREWS MCMEEL PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 5, 2019

ISBN: 9781449493578

Price: $14.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Be inspired by 100 of the very best plus-size street style images from fashion influencers and tastemakers from around the world.

Plus-size fashion is daring, experimental, and deeply personal. There’s no longer any shame in not fitting the traditional ideals of beauty, as proven by Gabi Gregg, Tess Holliday, Beth Ditto, and thousands of bloggers and models around the world.

The online plus-size fashion community is loud, international, and confident. Millions of #ootd photos are shared every day, showing off amazing style and beautiful people. Plus+ gathers together the very best, and celebrates all shapes, sizes, and aesthetics—a beautiful, sharply designed, glossy collection to inspire everyone, plus-size or otherwise.

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MY REVIEW:

“My style is practical, stylish, feminine (at times) but most of all, true to me.”
– Quote by Chloe Pierre

PLUS + is a must buy coffee table book.

Are you a plus size woman?

Have you ever been told that you couldn’t wear a specific outfit due to your size?

If so, PLUS + is the book for you. With photographs of plenty of plus-sized women wearing whatever they want, this book will easily become your go-to when you need some inspiration in your day.

Each professional photograph is accompanied by a quote from the model.

These quotes range from:

“I dress for the celebration I want my life to be”

all the way to:

“Fuck flattering! No rules. Just Style.”

The included quotes run the gamut from sassy to demure, and from angry to inspirational.

Finally there is a book that celebrates fashion for regular sized women, rather than for stick people with no curves. Body positivity is the message.

As an added bonus, each photo layout includes the @ tag for each model which allows readers to go online and follow their favorite model even after finishing reading this book.

If, after reading, you do not come away feeling better about your body, and your personal style, then you are missing the point and I suggest you read it again.

I rate PLUS+ as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I hope to see this book become the go-to present for all your female friends regardless of their dress size.

***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

QUOTES THAT REALLY SPOKE TO ME:

“I’m probably one of the worst people to talk about trends. I wear what I want, how I want, whenever I want. Dressing for myself is the only rule I understand.”
Fluvia Lacerda

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“I dress according to my mood, and I love it.”
Aileen Melendez Salinas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

To learn about this author, blogger, and Podcaster visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

PODCAST – WHAT PAGE ARE YOU ON

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

INFO ABOUT BETHANY’S PODCASTS:

Prolific readers Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter take a literary theme, from ghost stories to crime to fat women, and chat about it for the next 40 minutes.

Visit their Podcast site.

Follow them on Twitter @WhatPagePod

GRIM LOVELIES by Young Adult Bestselling Author Megan Shepherd is sure to enchant teens and adults alike. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: GRIM LOVELIES

Author: MEGAN SHEPHERD

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION

Length: 384 PAGES

Publisher: HMH TEEN – HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

Received From: HMH TEEN INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Release Date: OCTOBER 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-80918-6 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-328-80962-9 (eBook)

Price: $17.99 USD HARDCOVER

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love.

But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human.

Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittoria, the evil witch who spelled her into existence.

That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood – and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known… but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

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MY REVIEW:

Inventive and dazzling, with a host of characters readers will be unable and unwilling to forget.

With a diverse cast, this book has everything required to become an instant Young Adult Best-Seller. Having just been released a little over two months ago, it is already trending on social media, and, if I have my way, it will trend even more after I post this review.

I love that the Author chose animals turned into humans as her main characters. I love that she chose the city of Paris as the headquarters of the Royals who reign over all magical beings. There has always been something alluring and mysterious about the historic city of Paris, especially to those of us in North America. With the millions of bones in the city’s catacombs, Paris also has a barely hidden sinister air.

Best-Selling Author Megan Shepherd has created a magical world that secretly exists alongside our own. Of course, we humans, or “Pretties” as the witches call us, are completely oblivious to the magic surrounding us.

Within this world there are “Beasties;” animals and birds who have had spells cast on them to change them into humans (sort of like the mice in the tale of Cinderella, except the change is permanent.) Anouk is one such Beastie. She is a year and a half old which is the equivalent of being a seventeen year old girl. For the entirety of her human existence, she has not been allowed to leave the house she was “born” in. It is the home of Mada Vittoria, the witch who changed Anouk from animal to human.

This imaginative tale, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem is perfect for today’s Young Adult audience. Readers of all types, and of all ages will be able to find a character to relate to.

There is a theme of good vs. evil in this book, but what, or who is deemed evil is often in the eye of the beholder.

GRIM LOVELIES is also a unique Coming-Of-Age tale in which Anouk realizes that her captivity at the hands of Mada (Witch) Vittoria, has resulted in her knowing very little about either the Pretties world, or the magical world of the Haute.

GRIM LOVELIES and the world of the Haute would make for a terrific and visually stunning movie. I very much hope to see this series become optioned for film.

I rate GRIM LOVELIES as a 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Young Adult novel and am excited to read more about Anouk and her other “Beastie” friends in the next installment of this wonderous tale.

***Thank you to HMH Teen for hosting the Instagram contest in which I won a Grim Lovelies prize pack. ***

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:

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“Everything had a darker side, magic most of all.”

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“He was a twat and she’d sooner kiss a frog, but even frogs deserved little moments of joy.”

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“Even if we can find someone to recast our spell, I’m afraid that a spell alone can’t make us human. TRULY human. Only actions make a person human, not magic.”

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“I’m not a bird with broken wings… I don’t need to be sheltered.”

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“Through all this darkness, you’ve held on to love and hope, and that’s true strength.”

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THE CHARACTERS:

A

BOUT THE AUTHOR:

MEGAN SHEPHERD – New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

She is the author of several young adult and middle grade novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

MORE BOOKS BY MEGAN:

*** Leave a comment and let me know if you have read any of Megan’s books?

And if so, which was/is your favorite? Why?

4 Stars for PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim – A timely tale of what it was like to move to a new country, where you knew noone and didn’t speak the language. NEW RELEASE!!!

Title: PAPER WIFE

Author: LAILA IBRAHIM

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781503904576

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

MY REVIEW:

With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the matchmaker arrived at the door of her parent’s home. A suitable match had been found for Mei Ling’s older sister and the wedding date was set. But, as fate would have it, her sister fell ill and her parents told Mei Ling that she would have to take her sister’s place.

This deception early in the story is only one of many deceptions and ‘white lies’ that occur throughout the book.

It is obvious that author Laila Ibrahim did her research for this book as the facts and traditions written about in this tale match perfectly with historic accounts from those who actually did leave China in hopes of a better life in the United States.

Laila Ibrahim’s writing style and subject matter reminds me of author Lisa See.

I enjoyed the story even though I found one event to be completely implausible. Despite that, the author has written a book that anyone who wonders what life might have been like for the huge wave of Asian immigrants who arrived en masse in the years following World War I will want to read.

I believe that by reading books such as PAPER WIFE, people will gain, at the very least, a small measure of empathy for people whose cultures and/or backgrounds are different from their own.

Reading stories like this one, prove to readers that people are more similar than they are different. We all want the same thing. We want a safe and comfortable place to sleep, a good education for our children, and a job that allows us to provide for our families.

In PAPER WIFE, Mei Ling was detained on Angel Island and interrogated by officials who used intimidation and threats to try to force her to change her story or to catch her in a lie. This is a true reflection of what immigrants were subjected to in 1925.

Chinese immigrants on Angel Island

Poetry carved into the walls at Angel Island

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We need to learn from the past. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

I rate PAPER WIFE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School.

Her education and experiences as an educator and parent provide ample for her writing – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.

She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of two wonderful young adult daughters and the not-so-proud mother of a rambunctious mini-Aussies.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel, is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference. It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation.

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923.

To read an interview with the author click HERE.

Laila loves calling or Skyping into bookclubs and public speaking. She can be contacted at ldibrahim@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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OME OF THE POEMS LEFT BEHIND:

(Source: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)

A Few Selected Poems


獨坐稅關中,
心內起不痛。
亦因家道貧,
遠遊不近親。
兄弟來到叫,
只得上埠行。
黑鬼無道理,
唐人要掃地。
每日食兩餐,
何時轉回返。

– 辛亥年七月十二日李字題寧邑
Poem 3

Hear Poem 3 Read In Toishanese.

Translation
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil* here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?

– Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911

*A pejorative to refer to those of African descent-here, presumably, an African Canadian working at the immigration station directed the detainees to sweep the floors.


妻囑情
出門求財為家窮,
把正心頭在路中。
路上野花君莫取,
為家自有係妻奴。
臨行知囑情千萬,
莫作奴言耳過風。
家中妻兒係莫掛,
勤儉二年掃祖宗。
妻兒衣裳無一件,
米盒掃來無半筒。
家中屋舍無間好,
爛溶爛揸穿爛帘。
夫係昔日都尋賭,
不念奴奴淚飄飄。
多得親兄來打稅,
莫學忘叔大恩公。

– 辛亥七月十二日到李字題寧邑
Poem 4

Hear Poem 4 Read in Toishanese.

Translation
My Wife’s Admonishment
We are poor, so you’re leaving home to seek wealth;
Keep hold of propriety while on this journey.
Never pick wildflowers along the road,*
For you have your own wife at home!
Before you depart, I admonish you a thousand times;
Don’t let my words just whistle past your ears.
Don’t worry about us, be diligent and frugal,
And two years hence return to sweep the ancestors’ tombs.
Your wife and children haven’t a thing to wear;
Not half a cup of rice can be scooped from the pot.
Our house and rooms are dilapidated;
Our housewares are worn, and the curtains torn.
In the past, you did nothing but gamble;
You never thought of me and my flowing tears.
You are fortunate your elder brother has paid the taxes-
Always remember your great debt to him!

– Lee from Toishan District, Arrived July 12, 1911

Footnotes: To engage in romantic/sexual affairs while away from home.