Reviews by Louise J

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A Hundred Flowers: A Novel
by Gail Tsukiyama
Powerfully Written! (8/17/2012)
Gail Tsukiyama has done it once again. This was a powerfully written story. I’ve read every novel she has written and have never been disappointed and this one was no different. I seriously hope there will be a sequel to this story so we can find out conclusively what happens to all the characters in the novel. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Thank you Ms. Tsukiyama for another most enjoyable read!!
The Good Dream: A Novel
by Donna VanLiere
The Good Dream (8/16/2012)
I would highly recommend this book to everyone!! I won’t forget Ivorie and Peter for a while.
The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai: A Novel
by Ruiyan Xu
Good But a Tad Too Long (8/11/2012)
This was an interesting read however I found it to be a bit too long. The author could have shortened this story and still got her point across. I felt she went into too much detail and almost kept repeating the same things over and over only in different ways. I am glad I read the book, it just seemed a bit too long and I was thinking when is the end coming, let’s cut the on and on and get this finished up.
The Secrets of Mary Bowser
by Lois Leveen
A Novel You Won't Soon Forget!! (8/3/2012)
This is the true story of Mary Bowser, a freed slave who spied for the Union during the Civil War.

This was a well-researched book filled with familiar and imagined historical events. Lois Leveen has written a novel that will grab you in at the beginning and not let you go until the very end. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical novels.
Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West
by Helen Tse
Beautiful Memoir (7/30/2012)
This family suffered tragedy after tragedy but managed to pick themselves up and keep moving forward in spite of the most horrible conditions and abject poverty. The strength of these Chinese women is astounding and a tribute to the culture they were born in to.

This story was so enjoyable and so interesting that I read it one sitting. Helen Tse’s writing flowed well and made for a very pleasant experience. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work. Sweet Mandarin is her debut novel.
In the Sea There are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari
by Fabio Geda
Intense (7/28/2012)
The true story of Enaiatollah Akbari is one wrought with immense courage. It took a great deal of courage, fortitude, determination, and resilience to accomplish what Enaiatollah did at such a young age. It boggles my mind that a very young 10-year-old child could accomplish such a feat. All he wanted was somewhere to live and somewhere to belong.

I’ll definitely be passing word of this book along to other people.
Baking Cakes in Kigali
by Gaile Parkin
Totally Charming! (7/23/2012)
This was a funny, sad, heartwarming read. Angel Tungaraza bakes and decorates the most beautiful cakes. As each of her customers come to see her to ask her to bake one, she hands them her portfolio to look at while she makes them tea. Her best client is Ken Akimoto who regularly holds parties and loves karaoke and the people of the apartment building are usually invited, but those that aren’t never complain about the noise because at one time or another they have been invited.

Each person that comes to see Angel has some sort of problem that she helps them solve. She seems to have an air about her that makes her easily approachable and easy to talk to, however, at the same time, she comes to accept, in her own way, the deaths of both her own daughter and son.

Even amongst all these problems, terrible illnesses and death, it shows us that life does go on and people still find reasons to celebrate regardless of the hardships they’ve faced.

I would recommend this book to others.
A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel
by Wiley Cash
Couldn't Put It Down! (7/19/2012)
The author did an excellent job at conveying to the reader the emotions that people show when they’re riled up and in the spirit of the moment and how things can be over-looked when caught up in the emotion packed moment of loud music, hand clapping and rattlesnakes. A family is shattered, a town has hung its head in shame, and a lot of healing needs to take place in this small town of Marshall, North Carolina.

For a debut novel, Wiley Cash has written a book that grabs you, pulls you and doesn’t release its grip until the very unexpected end. I’ll be looking for more of this authors work and recommending this novel to my friends.
Night Road
by Kristin Hannah
Amazing & Emotionally Charged! (7/8/2012)
Night Road was a page-turner! I felt warm and fuzzy at the friendship that Mia, Lexi, and Zach held onto so dearly. They were thick as thieves and loved and respected each other in ways that a lot of us wish we had with our friends. They knew how to love and respect each other and they knew how to have fun.

I cried, I sympathized and I empathized throughout this novel. The emotions the story provoked were amazing and I’ve never felt more sorry for a family than I did this one. Kristin Hannah has done an awesome job in evoking all kinds of emotion and teaching us some good lessons about life along the way. I would highly recommend this book!
The Lifeboat: A Novel
by Charlotte Rogan
Captivating! (7/7/2012)
As a debut novel, this was well-written, well thought out and left you feeling hopeful that you yourself are never put in the same position as these people found themselves. Charlotte Rogan has written a compelling, page-turner that should not be missed.
The Chaperone
by Laura Moriarty
Fantastic Read! (6/21/2012)
The Chaperone is a wonderful novel of self-courage that is filled with insight yet gracefully poignant. I loved this book and might just read it again!
The Song of Achilles: A Novel
by Madeline Miller
Storytelling at it's Best! (6/17/2012)
I looked at this book many, many times on the shelf at Chapters trying to decide whether I really wanted to read this book or not and if it would be something that would interest me. I’m happy to report it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! The novel is packed with a story like no other. The deep friendship that develops between Achilles and Patroclus, who eventually become secret lovers, is a testament to the bonds of attachment and companionship that often happened during this era. Protecting each other at all costs was a high priority on their list.

But when a crossroads has come and something needs to be done it is Patroclus was steps up to the plate on behalf of Achilles and what happens is truly heartbreaking bringing tears to my eyes.

The Song of Achilles is timeless, rich with historical detail and full of promised destinies that don’t ever quite come to fruition. I would highly, highly, recommend this book to everyone.
All Woman and Springtime: A Novel
by Brandon W. Jones
Don't Miss This One!! (6/7/2012)
This was a fascinating, fast-paced story without a minute to put the book down! Being caught up in the lives of Jasmine, Gi, II-sun and Cho was undeniably real. I felt like I was being tugged along with these four women as they struggled through their daily lives, trying to make sense of who and what they are. Being sold into prostitution was a huge blow to their ego’s and their inexperience was shamelessly embarrassing to watch. My heart bled for these young women as they were forced into things they never even dreamed about. Stripped bare of their innocence and purity was hard to swallow.

Brandon W. Jones hit the mark with this one, showcasing the realities of human trafficking and what that type of life does to a person. The ending was so sad and one I never saw coming and cried over. All that angelic innocence lost forever. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, don’t miss it!!
The Headmaster's Wager: A Novel
by Vincent Lam
Disappointing! (6/4/2012)
Vincent Lam’s novel The Headmaster’s Wager seemed to be a bit slow and I had a hard time keeping my mind from wondering off and thinking of other things, then would have to come back and re-read the paragraph. However, the story did seem to pick-up somewhat after he meets Jacqueline and has a son with her and a surprise I never expected. All in all, I could easily have given this book a pass.
When The Emperor was Divine
by Julie Otsuka
When the Emperor Was Divine (5/20/2012)
Overnight signs appeared on trees, billboards, bus stop benches, and store windows in Berkeley, California, in 1942 ordering Japanese Americans to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert. They had been “reclassified” as enemy aliens. This novel follows one family’s story; Mom, Dad, and two young children, a girl and a boy.

At 144 pages this was an interesting and quick read and gives a very good picture of a rather embarrassing part of American history.
The Queen of Water: A novel based on a true story
by Laura Resau, Maria Virginia Farinango
Amazing True Story! (5/9/2012)
The story was extremely well-written and I was hooked from the first page and believe a great deal of adults and teenagers will get a lot out of this story. Very well done!
Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
by Lisa Napoli
Interesting Story! (5/6/2012)
I found the book to be extremely interesting as very, very little is known about this closed and secluded country. However, I felt there was something lacking, perhaps more information would have been helpful. I would still definitely recommend this book to others who have penchant to learn about new places that are literally unheard of or where very little is known about the country and its people.
The Buddha in the Attic: A Novel
by Julie Otsuka
Stunning Novel (5/1/2012)
This wonderful, captivating novel reads almost like a documentary and would, in fact, make for great t.v. viewing...An excellent novel!!
The Dovekeepers: A Novel
by Alice Hoffman
Hoffman At Her Very Best!! (5/1/2012)
I have read a lot of novels about ancient Jerusalem during this era but I must begin this particular review with one word – WOW!! I was completely entranced with Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers which took place during the Roman siege during the first century CE.

The story is told through the voices of four different women: Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah. Each of these women had secrets about where they came from, who they are, who their fathers were, and who they love. Each of the women’s stories bound them together throughout the novel emotionally and symbolically. The change in each woman’s story flowed effortlessly and leant to the dynamic retelling of this sad and tragic period in history.

The dramatic end to this story will rip your heart out and leave tear-stains on your pages as you turn them. The title The Dovekeepers has a symbolic meaning throughout the story.

I’ve read a lot of Hoffman’s work and I believe this to be her very best. I believe this will become a classic in the future and a novel that will be talked about in book groups, people’s living rooms, in the news and will be a bestseller. I for sure will be touting the merits of this book to anyone and everyone who will listen. Kudos to you Ms. Hoffman!
Cane River
by Lalita Tademy
Riveting Family Saga (4/18/2012)
CANE RIVER covers 137 years of Lalita Tademy’s family’s history, written as fiction, but deeply rooted in years of research historical fact, and family lore. It is a family saga that covers four generations of women born into slavery and searching for freedom. Every time I read a story like this I am utterly outraged at the treatment that these people endured. CANE RIVER was a riveting read and one I will surely tell friends about.

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