For My Ears: Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A READ WITH JENNA • TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK 

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY New York Times • Time • Marie Claire • Elle • Buzzfeed • Huffington Post • Good Housekeeping • The Week • Goodreads • New York Post • Publishers Weekly and many more

“This is a true beach read! You can’t put it down!” – Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick

“Powerful  . . . A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets.”  — Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation

It begins with a mystery. Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother—and then vanishes.

Amy, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Seven years older, Sylvie was raised by a distant relative in a faraway, foreign place, and didn’t rejoin her family in America until age nine. Timid and shy, Amy has always looked up to her sister, the fierce and fearless protector who showered her with unconditional love.

But what happened to Sylvie? Amy and her parents are distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister’s movements, flying to the last place Sylvie was seen. But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets . . . secrets that will reveal more about Amy’s complicated family—and herself—than she ever could have imagined.

A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

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School is in session, which means I’m spending over two hours a day in the car, commuting and listening to audiobooks. I had heard through the blogosphere that this was a good novel, so I purchased it with my audible credit. What a great book! It’s rare that a novel will hold my attention constantly while I’m driving, but this one did. I loved Jean Kwok’s writing and this story of two sisters, which is part mystery, part story of a Chinese immigrant family. I loved the characters and even though this was a sad story, it was beautiful, too.

This book moves about in time and is aptly told in three voices (with three different narrators) – Sylvie, her sister Amy, and their mother.

Apparently it’s a Today Show bookclub book, too.

Highly recommended!

HFVBTours: Feature of Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard

Today I’m blasting it up for Historical Fiction’s Virtual Book Tours with FAREWELL MY LIFE by Cynthia Haggard.

(FYI – this book contains adult themes and would be rated “R”. I have not personally read it).

Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard
Publication Date: October 29, 2019eBook & Paperback; 586 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country. And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.
The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.
An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.

About the Author
Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015.
Her first novel, Thwarted Queen, a frustrating tale (hence the title) of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) who was nearly crowned Queen of England, was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.
Her forthcoming novel, Farewell My Life, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. 

PICTour for Colleen Coble’s Strands of Truth

I’m happy to take part in the Partners in Crime Tour for Colleen Coble’s new novel Strands of Truth. Ms. Coble is a popular writer who blends mystery, romance, and Christianity into her storyline.

This was a great read – very suspenseful with a well-plotted mystery. I really enjoy Colleen Coble and like how her novels very often have a “touch of Christianity” in them without being overly preachy or unbelievable. I also learned some interesting things about marine life! Highly recommended for fans of this genre!

Thank you for my review e-copy and for making me part of the tour!

Strands Of Truth by Colleen Coble

Tour September 9 – October 4, 2019
 Synopsis:

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.
Book Details:Genre: Romantic Supsense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0718085906 (ISBN13: 9780718085902)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Author Bio:
Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ColleenCoble
Twitter – @colleencoble
Instagram – @colleencoble
Facebook – @colleencoblebooks

Carrie Turansky: No Ocean Too Wide

Description

Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans–but was that the truth?

After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans’ home before Laura is notified about her family’s unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.

Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?

Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”.

I enjoyed this novel and learned about the movement in England that was similar to America’s “orphan trains”. The novel ends with no full completion of the children’s stories, so I’m sure another novel is coming. The genre is a mash-up of historical fiction, Christian, and romance. Carrie Turansky always writes about believable and likable characters and you can count on her for a “clean read”. I look forward to the sequel!

Thank you for my e-copy via Net Galley!

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Description

Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.  

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant. 

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

PRAISE FOR NATALIE TAN’S BOOK OF LUCK AND FORTUNENatalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is for every reader who likes a side of magic with their foodie fiction. You’ll want to move into the Chinatown neighborhood for the mouth-watering dumplings and the charming, eclectic neighbors. Exquisitely written, Roselle Lim sifts through the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, the freedom in unraveling family secrets, and the power of resilience.”—Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go

“Roselle Lim serves up a feast for the senses and the heart with this magical tale of love, loss, and redemption in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Filled with luscious, mouth-watering recipes, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune explores the hidden ties of family, mental illness, and desires lost and found, through the delectably transformative power of food. I had to stop myself from running out to buy juicy roast pork, plump crispy dumplings, and sweet pea sprouts!”—Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghost Bride and The Night Tiger

“A truly delicious page-turner, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is a magical feast for the mind, the heart, and the senses. With mouth-watering prose, crystallized characters, and a healthy dash of magic, Lim has created the perfect recipe for a truly delicious page-turner. I devoured this book. Sign me up for seconds!”—Samantha Verant, author of How to Make a French Family

“Vivid and lyrical with a touch of magic. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune explores culture, community, and the complex love between mothers and daughters, leaving your heart full…and your belly hungry. I absolutely loved it.”—Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

“What a treat! Reminiscent of Joanne Harris’s bestselling novel, ChocolatNatalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is heaped with heart and topped with the sweetest sprinkle of magic, creating a literary and culinary feast. Infused with ancient traditions and tantalizing recipes, Roselle Lim cooks up a mouth-watering tale that’s sure to delight!”—Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List

I really enjoyed this novel about life, family, and love in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It had the “magical realism” feel of Sarah Addison Allen or Alice Hoffman, along with the every day life trials and tribulations of the protagonist. It also included recipes! There are a lot of layers here, with family relationships, neighborhood characters, and romance. It would make a great bookclub discussion, along with Chinese food!

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

Wine? WWII? Resistance activities? Count me in! I really enjoyed this novel about a young woman who spent her post-war years trying to amend for her actions during the war. Don’t want to give it all away – no spoilers here!

I had enjoyed Kristin Harmel’s earlier novels, so I chose this one through Net Galley. I love reading of this era and am always amazed at the tenacity of the people who lived through such hardship. This was part love story and – to be honest – that was the one part I didn’t really enjoy. I particularly did not like the character of Celine’s husband and found him very one dimensional.

Overall, this was a great read and one I would recommend to folks who enjoy this genre.

Thank you for my review copy!

Description

Instant #1 bestsellerfrom The Globe and Mail (Toronto) and The Toronto Star

“Love and betrayal, forgiveness and redemption combine in a heady tale of the ever-present past…fantastic!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

The author of the “engrossing” (People) international bestseller The Room on Rue Amélie returns with a moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of northern France during the darkest days of World War II, perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

Book Blast: Hanging Murder by A. J. Wright

We are blasting it up today for one of the Lancashire Detective Mysteries, Hanging Murder, sent to me by the publicist.

We can all stand on principles until evil pays us a visit…

The year is 1894 when Mr Simeon Crosby, a retired executioner, comes to Wigan with his wife and brother to give a talk on his life’s work.

Whilst he has an eager following, there are also many people who strongly object to Crosby’s profession and do not wish his melancholy shadow to be cast over their town. Protests have been organised and threats have been made.

Detective Sergeant Brennan is tasked with overseeing the security of the controversial visitor and all seems to be going to plan… until a murder is committed on the night of Crosby’s talk.

As Brennan and his brawny constable Fred Jaggery begin their lines of inquiry, they become overwhelmed with suspects and frustrated at the ambiguity of the evidence.

And then a second body is found.

Brennan soon discovers that both victim and killer can take many, sometimes indistinguishable, forms.

Hanging Murder is one of A.J. Wright’s Lancashire Detective Mystery series of cleverly crafted Victorian whodunits, which also includes Sitting Murder and Elementary Murder.

Praise for A.J. Wright:

‘This is an absolute gem of a historical crime novel – cleverly and intricately plotted, very well-written and convincingly evoking all the social problems of a late-Victorian industrial town’ – Crime Review

‘Excellently plotted, with some breathtaking moments, as pieces of the dark past come into the light’ – Chris Nickson, best-selling author of the Richard Nottingham Mysteries

‘A.J. Wright has composed a clever tale indeed in his novel, “Sitting Murder”. The grey and gloomy place that was Victorian Britain is wonderfully rendered by the author in this fast-moving mystery novel’ – L.J. Shea, bestselling author of The Raven’s Augury

‘A network of loves, hates, intrigue and suspense’ – Roger Silverwood (best-selling author of DI Angel Mystery Series)

‘…the book vividly depicts the tensions and ramifications of the miners’ strike. The mystery is equally strong: the plot is fast-paced and cleverly strewn with red herrings and subtle clues. Highly recommended’ – Historical Novel Society

In 2009 A. J. Wright won the 2010 Dundee International Fiction Prize for his Victorian murder mystery Act of Murder. His writing is inspired by his two major interests: all things Victorian and classic works from the Golden Age of crime fiction. He lives near Wigan.