Mar 12, 2021

Book Beginning: How Much of these Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang


How Much of these Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang, April 7, 2020, Riverhead Books
Genre: re-imagined history, adventure, fantasy
Setting: ending of the American Gold Rush

Two young siblings, orphaned and alone after the death of their Chinese parents in the California of the Gold Rush, set out to give their father a burial that they feel is appropriate. They embark on various adventures, discover a strange landscape, and glimpse "a different kind of future." 

Book beginning: 

Ba dies in the night, prompting them to seek two silver dollars. 
Sam's tapping an angry beat come morning, but Lucy, before they go, feels the need to speak. Silence weighs harder on her, pushes till she gives way. 
"Sorry," she says to Ba in his bed. The sheet that tucks him in is the only clean stretch in this dim and dusty shack, every surface black with coal. Ba didn't heed the mess while living and in death his mean squint goes right past it. Past Lucy. Straight to Sam. Sam, the favorite, round bundle of impatience circling the doorway in too-big boots.... 

Page 56: 

"Then of course you know what's in these mountains," the man says, a smile playing on his face. 

Would you read on?

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Mar 7, 2021

Sunday Salon: Edge Case by YZ Chin

 Edge Case by YZ Chin, August 10, 2021, Ecco

Genre: immigration fiction, contemporary fiction

After another taxing day as the sole female employee at her New York City tech startup, Edwina comes home to find that her husband, Marlin, has packed up a suitcase and left. The only question now is why. (publisher)

Edwina and Marlin are both from Malaysia, living and working in NYC and hoping to get that elusive and much desired green card that will mean a  bona fide status as resident immigrants. But when Edwina finds Marlin gone, she must decide how to proceed alone. The book is described as a novel of "immigration, identity, and marriage."

I've been able to read this ebook before publication date, thanks to an advance copy available from Netgalley.  

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Mar 5, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation: Nature, Relationships, Food


Books Are My Favourite and Best hosts Six Degrees of Separation, and this month starts with Phosphorescence.  Add six books that link together in some way, and see where you end up.

 Julia Baird’s part-memoir-part-essay-collection, Phosphorescence, focuses partly on the awe of nature, of water and the ocean, and of long-term relationships.  

This book led me to The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. It celebrates long term relationships and love of nature, the ocean, and of all creatures, in particular, cats.

The next link is 

In Cygnet by Season Butler, June 25, 2018, Harper, a book set on a beautiful island off the coast of New Hampshire, nature and the ocean are prominent, and relationships are paramount to survival.

The next link is to 

We Two Alone by Jack Wang, September 1, 2020, stories where a relationship thrives or falters in the midst of harsher realities. 

This links to a memoir on family relationships and their importance

Savage Feast, February 26th 2019, Harper

Thinking of food leads me to a book of short stories, 

Bread and Salt: Stories by Valerie Miner, September 5, 2020

Short stories lead to another collection, this one dealing with nature:

Sandlands by Rosie Thornton, October 28, 2016. Book description:
This beautifully written short story collection is inspired by coastal England.

What books are you linking to this month's Six Degrees of Separation prompt? 

Book Beginning: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

 I went to one of our newest libraries with the most viewing shelves, and borrowed enough books to last two or three months, if I decide to read them all. Here's the one I started:

The Travelling Cat Chronicles 
by Hiro Arikawa

Published October 2018, Berkley Books

Travels with a cat, through Japan, in changing seasons and with changing scenery. Nana the cat is found as a stray and taken in by Satoru. Both take a long trip together in a silver van, supposedly to visit Satoru's friends. 

The novel reminds me of other travels with animals books, Travels with a Donkey by Robert Louis Stevenson and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, both of which I loved and have reread at least once. They are, however, nonfiction.

Book beginning:

I am a cat. As yet, I have no name. There's a famous cat in our country who once made this very statement. 

I have no clue how great that cat was, but at least when it comes to having a name I got there first. Whether I like my name is another matter, since it glaringly doesn't fit my gender, me being male and all. I was given it about five years ago - around the time I came of age. 

Page 56:

"I'm so sorry," Kosuke said, still crying, his head on his chest. "My dad said I can't have him." 


Would you read on?

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Mar 2, 2021

First Chapter: Cygnet by Season Butler


 First Chapter/First paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Yvonne@ Socrates Book ReviewsPost the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.


Cygnet by Season Butler, June 25, 2018, Harper

A 17-year-old young woman comes of age in a community of the elderly, rejecting the promise of youth, on an isolated island off New Hampshire

First paragraph:
I open my eyes to the churning of the waves outside. It doesn't rest, so I don't sleep well either. I really should be used to it by now. At least it's sunny. I try to use the thought to power my move out of bed and into my clothes and off to Mrs. Tyburn's house for work. To be honest, I preferred it last week when it rained every day. Rain in big wet slaps, the kind of rain you only get on islands, out to sea. On dark mornings there's a reason why it's hard to get up, an actual weight in the air to to fight, something real to run from, to hide your face from.... 

 Would you read on?

Feb 28, 2021

It's Monday: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

 As part of my "new beginnings" in staying away from mysteries for a while, I'm rereading this book as I have forgotten what it's all about and I do like the title. It makes me think of spring!

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman, May 2, 2017, Berkley

Here are my comments on the book, dated May 5, 2017, but I've decided to reread it.

Summary and comments: Lil, widowed for three years with two young children, is a school text illustrator in Southern California. Her boss signs her up for a vegetable growing class at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden, to prep for the next project - illustrating a series of vegetable guides the company is planning.

Lil attends the six-week class, held on Saturdays and led by gardening professor Ed Bloem. She not only benefits from gardening and meeting new people, but sees the benefits to her sister and Lil's two young children who also participate in the class. 

Lil's sister-in-law Maggie arrives broken hearted by a cheating hubby and somehow the setting and the new arrangement in Lil's life help everyone around her. In the end, Lil finds a new occupation and new love, and a new acceptance of her widowhood.

I liked the story, as I love gardening, and found the vegetable growing tips in the book interesting and useful. Though parts of the plot are predictable, the reading is easy and pleasant, not only for readers who garden but anyone who likes a good romance.

 Meme: It's Monday: What Are You Reading is hosted by The Book Date

Feb 27, 2021

Sunday Salon: Reading Books Other than Mysteries, Thrillers

 Since last week, when I decided to skip thrillers and mysteries for a month or more, I've read the following books in other genres, realizing that I might not have picked them up or even finished them so soon before that decision! 

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, June 2019, Gallery Books

Genre: historical novel, romance

Setting: Tehran and USA

I cried a lot reading this one, especially towards the ending, and loved how the main characters expressed their sentiments, in sometimes poetic fashion. Set in Iran during the country's 1953 revolution, this romance breaks hearts, more than just the lovers', who are constrained by family as well as by the country's politics.  Roya and Brahman meet and fall in love in the stationery shop owned by Mr. Fakhri, who has a hand in the ultimate fate of these two lovers. 

I gave this an enthusiastic five but won't reveal more of the plot so as not to be a spoiler!

We Two Alone by Jack Wang, September 1, 2020

Genre; short stories, Chinese diaspora

I read this book at different times - the wonder of reading short stories I've found is being able to read them as you wish, over time or all at once. The collection is described as covering the Chinese diaspora across the globe over the past hundred years, and yet there are only seven stories, a few heartbreaking. Cultural and racial prejudice,  the demands of society and family, and the intrusion of real life impact the relationship between people in each of these stories. This explains the title of the short story collection, We Two Alone. 

Another five stars.

A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, April 2019, Purnell

Genre: biography, history 

Setting: London, France, Spain, Italy, USA

A great book for WWII history buffs who want to follow the resistance in France that was aided by England and the Allies. It details numerous underground and subversive activities in Europe, many led by a young American woman, who was recruited by the British into Churchill's spy organization. One of the greatest spies in American history, she is called, although this book is the first to detail all Virginia Hall did to help win the war.

 I had to read this book slowly, as it's so packed with information and people and events during the resistance, told chronologically, that it's hard to digest all at once. Kudos to the author for putting these events all together and to show us the woman, the spy, and the heroine.  war. 

I'm currently reading Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter, April 6, 2021, a novel based on the life of Surrealist artist, Leonora Carrington, and set in France, England.

Next on my list will be The Anglophile's Notebook by Sunday Taylor, a book about Charlotte Bronte. 

Also Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang, March 2020, HarperCollins

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...