The Newcomers: Helen Thorpe

the newcomersspolier alertTitle: The Newcomers- Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

Author: Helen Thorpe

Pages: 416

Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date?  11-14-17

Summary:

In Denver Colorado there is a special group of classes, ELA classes, given to the kids of new refugees.   Teens from all over the world, newly resettled into America from across the globe, come together to learn English, and get caught up in school- some of which have been out for some time.  Thorpe joined the class for a year, getting to know the teachers and students while also researching what each of these families went through before coming to America, and what they dealt with after.  This book takes place in 2015, around the time that Trump started his campaigning in earnest.  While families from Vietnam, Somalia, the DRC, El Salvador and many other areas were trying to acclimate to a very different life and learning how to move through a new society, racism is beginning to run rampant.  Students are worried- both the refugees and regular students.  It brings to light what each family went through, and how hard they work to become self reliant.

It also begs the question- what are we going to do?  Are we, as a country going to accept refugees- truly accept these people and work to help them?  Or do we close our boarders and our hearts?  Can we even make such a decision without knowing what they are going through- not just what they had to go through in their lives, but the trouble they have once here- learning English, getting jobs, racism and misunderstandings?

My thoughts:

I loved this book, but it broke me.  These are teens- children really- who have had their lives threatened.  Some had to hide from soldiers- or witnessed car bombs in their own neighborhood.  Some were born in refugee camps- one family went through the process of trying to get accepted for ten years.  We are talking about a 22 step vetting process in some instances.  So many of us, myself included, feel like we are knowledgeable about these issues- but I knew nothing about what these families went through- and very little about what help is available to refugees when they get here.  While the families stories were painful, and hard to handle; I found myself taking my time and pushing through.  I loved this book.  For me, this is a definite five star.  Five Stars

The adult content scale is hard to be objective about here.  There is so much violence, so much pain, talk of (the threat of ) rape and death…. I would not feel comfortable giving this book to a teen.  Also, you have to think about the fact that in 2015, many of the refugees written about were teens- would I be ready for Juliet to read about someone her own age going through all this?  I don’t think I could, unless there was a lot of discussion time afterward.  I have to give this one an eight.  mature audience.

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Scribner Publishing for the price of an honest review.  Many thanks- I loved it so much that I preordered a hard-copy from Amazon and will receive it Tuesday.

The book comes out 11-14-17…. I cannot stress the importance of this book at this time, when refugees are so numerous, and their acceptance into new countries so uncertain.

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Secret Mother, Shalini Boland

The secret motherspolier alertTitle:  The Secret Mother

Author: Shalini Boland

Pages:  241

Genre: mystery, thriller

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date:  November 9th, 2017

Summary:

“Are you my Mummy?”

Tessa Markham hears these words from the little boy in her kitchen.  Thing is, she isn’t anyone’s mom…. not anymore.  Her family life detonated long ago and she has been trying to pull the pieces together.  So who is this little boy?  How did he get there?  And why does he think she’s his new mummy?  Under suspicion of abduction, Tessa must prove her innocence when even her ex husband doesn’t believe her?

My thoughts:

I loved this story.  It pulls you in from the start with Tessa and her fears, pains and insecurities.  The characters are fantastic, though I had some issues with Ben, the boss/love interest.  I understand that he likes her and wants to believe her…. but to just swallow everything whole?  I think she could tell him she killed people and he’d drive a company van to help her move bodies.  It just seemed a tad unbelievable to me.

There were times where I thought I knew where this was going, but I was never quite sure and the story kept me guessing.  It’s definitely an interesting premise, and one that was well done.  For me, this is a four star book (and another Christmas gift idea for a friend).  Four Stars

On the adult content scale, there is some language, light violence and light sexual content, though nothing over the top.  I give it a five.  Parental Guidance

I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.   I was given no other form of incentive to review this book, and received no incentive to give a biased review.  My thanks.

The book comes out Thursday 11-09-17.

Link to book:

Amazon

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Lies Jane Austen Told Me, Julie Wright

lies jane austen told mespolier alertTitle: Lies Jane Austen Told Me

Author: Julie Wright

Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary romance

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date: November 7th, 2017

Summary:

Since she was little Emma has loved Pride and Prejudice and has regarded  Austen as the romantic expert.  The issue?  With this admiration comes huge expectations- such that are never met.  Could her guru be leading her astray?  Was it possibly time for the hardest breakup of her life- with Jane?  When boyfriend Blake invites her to the family home she expects meeting the parents, an engagement and all the trappings of happy ever after.  Instead she shows up late, having told him she had to work, only to find not family but one woman, Trish, enjoying a fish dinner with Emma’s guy.  While Blake swears it is innocent, Emma’s having none of it.

Caught leaving the home on foot, Emma is stopped and offered a ride by Blake’s brother Lucas.  A ride to her destination is derailed and she sees more of Lucas’ personal life than is normal for a first meeting, but whatever.  It isn’t like they will ever meet again.  Except, they do, when Lucas is hired to consult for her company’s expansion.  Forced to work side by side with this man, she finds more and more to admire in him.  He on the other hand, is determined to get her and Blake back together because he loves his brother.  When sparks fly between these two, it’s complicated.  When a misunderstanding gets between the two, it could be the death of their connection.  Do these two really stand a chance? Could this be Emma’s happy ever after?

My thoughts:

I loved these characters with their loyalties and idiosyncrasies.  Emma, still traumatized a bit from her mother leaving them long ago, finds it hard to be in relationships.  She gives too much to work a lot of the times even though she wants the committed, forever relationship.  Meeting Lucas is eye opening as he blows down every idea she ever had about him and his family, laying her prejudices bare and setting them aside.  I loved him as a character, but there were times where I was also angry with these two. So often things were overwrought- they assumed and never discussed forcing misconceptions like we were…. well, like we were in an Austen romantic drama.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and found it perfectly written for the style of book that it is.  I give it four stars.  Four Stars

My thanks to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain publishing for allowing me an eARC of this book.  I have not been given any form of monetary compensation and the views in this review are wholly my own.

On the adult content scale, there was some mild language and talk of drug addiction, but that is it.  It was more about their emotional relationship than anything physical making it my favorite type of sweet romance.  At worst I would give it a three.  General.svg

The book comes out tomorrow!  Be ready!

Link to book:

Amazon

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City Of Lies, Victoria Thompson

 

city of lies.jpgspolier alertTitle:  City of Lies

Author: Victoria Thompson

Pages:  304

Genre:  Historical fiction, YA

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book one of the Counterfeit Lady series.

Publish date: November 7th, 2017

 

Summary:

After a con goes very badly, grifter Elizabeth watches her brother Jake beaten, then has to escape the same fate if not worse.  Running for her life, she slips into the picket line of women’s suffragists in order to evade the men chasing her and shares their fate- jail.  Pulled into the women’s stories and lives, she finds the one thing she never knew she wanted- friendship, admiration and trust.  One girl especially, Anna, brings out warm and protective feelings she never knew she had.

Upon release, Elizabeth wants to get away in order to find her brother and evade her last mark…. but how can she leave Anna?  Then there’s Gideon Bates, the far too honest lawyer that makes her crazy and intrigues her like no other.  Can she protect herself from her past and create a new future?  Or is she just conning herself?

My thoughts:

    Shout out to First to Read for allowing me an advanced copy of this book- it’s one I would have been on the fence on for far too long and I fear I would have missed out on a fantastic read.  I adored the story, and seeing Elizabeth transform and grow.  Each of the characters were interesting and well developed, easy to love.  The plot was fairly believable, and I like that the author took tiny bits of real history and wove them into the dilemma.   The only pet peeve I really have is the cover.  Who is the girl?  Elizabeth is described as having black hair and light blue eyes and Anna as being blonde.  I know it’s odd, but I hate when covers don’t match characters.  Still, this was a great, fast paced read that I loved and I can’t wait to see where this goes from here.   Five stars!  Five Stars

On the adult content scale, there’s violence and coarse language, but not much else.  I already have  a list of teens that need this in their stockings.  I give this one a three.

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The book comes out 11/07/17.  Who’s ready?

Link to book:

Amazon

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In The Midst of Winter, Isabel Allende

in the midst of winte3rspolier alertTitle: In The Midst of Winter

Author: Isabel Allende

Pages: 304

Genre: historical fiction, contemporary fiction

Is this part of a series?  No

Publish date: October 31st, 2017

Summary:

        A severe snow storm in Brooklyn makes for unlikely friendships and love when three people- two women, both immigrants, and a dour professor are thrown together by chance.  They tell their stories as time and situation keep them together.  A story filled with pain, but also compassion; guilt and forgiveness.  Two people, in the winter of their lives, will find a love that could complete them.

My Thoughts:

I have loved Allende ever since I first read Eva Luna when I was fifteen.  This is still what I consider to be the gold star for magical realism.  With her way with descriptions and her beautiful characters, she can get me out of myself better than any other author.   I now own the book in paper (my eighth copy) and eBook…. and I eagerly await an audible edition (in English please).  When I saw that Netgally and Atria books was offering her newest novel…. well, I had to have it.  Many thanks guys, please know that  I will be buying the audible edition for myself and at least one hard back for Christmas presents.

Now, this book was spectacular to me because of the time she spent introducing each character- fanning them out and breathing life and pain into them.  Their stories broke my heart- Allende has a gift for making things real and terrifying with just a few words.  I feel that this is important, especially now when so many (POTUS) try to use immigrants- both legal and illegal- as scapegoats for issues that they don’t want to take a deeper look at.  Seeing the stories of where these women came from humanized the issues faced by so many- though hopefully not to this extent.  This is not a quick read for me- I had to take my time, breathe it in and take breaks; but it was worth it.  I loved this book so much!  Five stars!!! Five Stars   

On the adult scale, there’s a lot.  Violence, language, alcoholism, light sexual content, rape….. this is one that while I would let my niece read, there would be a discussion later- there are, after all, some very heavy hitting content.  I give it a seven.  Parental GuidanceI end this with a plea to Allende and publishers- make eBooks of the older books, please!  Your fans would buy them!!!

The book is out on Halloween- go get it!!!!!

Link to book:

Amazon

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DNF shame: The Best Kind of People, Zoe Whittall

the best kind of peopletitle: The Best Kind of People

Author: Zoe Whittall

pages: 449

Genre: general fiction with mystery aspects

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date: September 19, 2017

Blurb from Amazon’s website:

A local schoolteacher is arrested, leaving his family to wrestle with the possibility of his guilt, in this exquisite novel about loyalty, truth, and happiness.

The Woodburys cherish life in the affluent, bucolic suburb of Avalon Hills, Connecticut. George is a beloved science teacher at the local prep school, a hero who once thwarted a gunman, and his wife, Joan, is a hardworking ER nurse. They have brought up their children in this thriving town of wooded yards and sprawling lakes.

Then one night a police car pulls up to the Woodbury home and George is charged with sexual misconduct with students from his daughter’s school. As he sits in prison awaiting trial and claiming innocence, Joan vaults between denial and rage as friends and neighbors turn cold. Their daughter, seventeen-year-old Sadie, is a popular high school senior who becomes a social outcast—and finds refuge in an unexpected place. Her brother, Andrew, a lawyer in New York, returns home to support the family, only to confront unhappy memories from his past. A writer tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist group attempts to recruit Sadie for their cause.

Provocative and unforgettable, The Best Kind of People reveals the cracks along the seams of even the most perfect lives and the unraveling of an American family.

Thank you to Netgalley and Ballentine Books for the chance to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I fear it just wasn’t for me.  I try to never do this, but after struggling through half the book I am throwing in the towel.  The premise caught my attention immediately- I love books like this where you get a deep look into a family.  The drama, the intrigue… it’s my catnip.  I can’t decide where this one fell flat, all I know is that it never caught hold of me.  I was bored and forcing myself from page to page waiting for a character to make me feel.  Even the opening, which should have been very exciting, seemed dull to me.  I guess I simply didn’t care for the execution.

On the adult content- there’s a lot.  Language, drug use, sexual content…. while none are very graphic, it is there.  Since this is a book I can see appealing to teens, I feel like I should put that warning out.  Again, it isn’t graphic, though, so I give it a five.

The book comes out tomorrow (9-19-2017).  I would be interested to know your thoughts.

Link to book:

Amazon

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Love and Other Consolation Prizes, Jamie Ford

love and other consolation prizesspolier alertTitle: Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Author: Jamie Ford

Pages: 320

Genre: historical fiction, romance

Is this Part of a series?  No

Publish Date: September 12th, 2017

Summary From Goodreads:

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

My thanks to Netgalley and Ballentine Books for allowing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I have to admit that it took me a few days to process and come to terms not just with the content, but the layout of the book.  We first meet an older Ernest standing in front of the World Fair in the 60’s and thinking about a jumble of things from his wife, Gracie, to the poor record keeping of Chine, and then to radio waves bouncing off Cassiopeia.  Honestly it was a mess, and if I were someone that just reads the first page to decide if I want to read a book this one would have been tossed. That would have been tragic.  As the book progressed, moving from Ernest’s earliest childhood memory- the last time he saw his mother in China- to 1960’s America, it quickly found it’s pace and I was riveted.  There were moments of such haunting sadness, but also sweetness and childlike innocence in the oddest places.  I adored the characters and found them touching and well developed.  The fact that the general ideas behind who is “in the right” and “good” was often blurred and even in question here.  Mostly I was left broken yet charmed by a world  I can’t even imagine.  Due to the issues I had with the start of the book I thought I would give this one a lower rating, but I can’t.  It’s still a five star book for me and I will be searching for a hard copy of this one for my shelves.  (And as a possible gift for one of my aunties- this is right up her alley).  Five Stars  If you loved the lyrical beauty and poignant sadness of Memiors of a Geisha, then you will like this one I think.

On the adult content scale…. well there’s a lot.  Sexual content, though done with care and respect, language and violence.  It hits a lot of hard subjects, but I would still let my niece read it.  I give it a five.  Parental Guidance

The book comes out Tuesday- go get it!!!!!

Link to book:

Amazon

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