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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

LINKEDIN

AMAZON

BOOKBUB

CHAPTERS

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/

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

S

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.

WHISPER ME THIS by Kerry Anne King which is now available is a brilliantly written thriller that is Unputdownable – Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ are not enough

Title: WHISPER ME THIS

Author: KERRY ANNE KING

Genre: FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 349 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 1, 2018

ISBN: 9781503901957

Price: $24.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Single mother Maisey Addington has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.

Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a heartrending life-or-death decision. Her confused father has destroyed family records, including her mother’s final wishes. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.

Maisey’s obsession with solving the mystery of her sister forces her to examine her darkest memories and triggers a custody battle with Elle’s father. Will Maisey’s love for her daughter be strong enough to break a cycle of abuse and create a new beginning for them all?

MY REVIEW:

**** WARNING ****
This book contains instances of domestic violence. If that is a trigger for you, I suggest that you skip this novel.
*******************

This book “… stirs the emotions in your belly like a spoon stirring cream into a coffee cup…”

Maisey grew up in a home that was ruled by her iron-willed mother. It is no wonder she moved away, placing several States between herself and her childhood home. She loves her parents, she just knows that raising her daughter in Kansas City has been the best decision she has ever made.

Maisey and her daughter, Elle get along famously. In fact, despite what her mother sees as wasted potential, Maisey knows she has done something right – she has raised Elle with all the love anyone could ever wish for.

A single, life-altering phone call brings back all Maisey’s feelings of inadequacy. She has to fly home. Her mother is gravely ill and her father is confused and evasive. The police mention the possibility of domestic abuse or at the very least, neglect.

Back in her childhood home, Maisey unearths a life-changing secret; she has a sister. One that neither her mother or father ever spoke of.

Just as she is coming to terms with the fact that her mother had lied to her for her entire life, Maisey discovers more secrets and lies.

This book is one of the most realistic descriptions of spousal abuse I have ever come across. Author Kerry Anne King has a background in Mental Health Counseling and also as a nurse. She has obviously come into close contact with survivors of abusive relationships, because she does a brilliant job of describing the insidious way that abusers can get inside the head of their victims.

This book is an emotional roller coaster and readers will be taken along for the ride of their lives.

Maisey may initially come across as a weak character, but as readers learn more about her, perceptions change. Whether those perceptions are hers or the readers remains to be seen.

I could not help but be swept up in the drama of Maisey’s story. The plot moves along at the perfect pace and there is rarely a dull moment. The characters are so realistic that they could easily be your neighbors in reality.

With topics such as single parenthood, divorce, custody issues, alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, elder care, domestic violence, secrets, lies and more, there is barely a person on the planet that will not be able to find something or someone to relate to within the pages of “Whisper Me This.”

Written with some of the best character building I have read in a very long time, this book is an absolute MUST READ.

I will be thinking about this book for a long, long time and I rate it as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

QUOTES I LOVED:

“My thoughts and feelings are so jumbled and bruised, I can’t begin to know what I think or feel.”

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“How … can [someone] sing so beautifully while packing around so much venomous hate?”

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“What I should do and what I will do are two different chickens…”

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“A frisson of fear. And a big old bucket of nausea.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kerry Anne King is the author of the international bestselling novel Closer Home.

Licensed both as an RN and a Mental Health Counselor, she draws on her experience working in the medical and mental health fields to explore themes of loss, grief, and transformation, always with a dose of hope and humor.

Kerry lives in a little house in the big woods of the inland northwest with her Viking, three cats, a dog, and a yard full of wild turkey and deer.

She also writes fantasy and mystery novels as Kerry Schafer.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

AMAZON

GOOGLE +

CHAPTERS

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