The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Publishing in March, 2019

If you know me, you know that I LOVE the novels of Lisa See and that I have read them all! Her writing is so evocative and beautiful, and her stories often focus on the power of family, love, and friendship. I also always learn something new! This novel was no different. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. From the interesting facts about the Korean women divers, to the tragedies that befell their families and villages, to the storyline of Mi-Ja and Young-Sook’s friendship, this novel was pure Lisa See goodness!

Description via Net Galley (thank you for my review copy!)

A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island.

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

But wait! There’s more! I get Lisa See’s newsletter and her website has wonderful resources, information, and in depth looks at the stories behind her novels. I highly recommend you check it out! Additionally, Lisa has information on tea you can serve at your book club and how to Skype with her, too. It’s all at http://www.lisasee.com

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Description via NG

Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal

Thoughtful, strong-willed sixth-grader Merci Suarez navigates difficult changes with friends, family, and everyone in between in a resonant new novel from Meg Medina.

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

I loved reading this touching and memorable story about plucky Merci and her family. The portrayal of family and culture were so moving, and Merci’s navigating of her private school world should be required reading for many private school classrooms. If I had one less than positive thing to say, it is that the story felt a bit long for children. I loved it – but I’m a reader and I regularly read 300 page novels when I was a middle-schooler. This story deserves to be read by all children, not just those that will stick with it for the whole 300 pages.

Thank you so much for my review copy via Net Galley!

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

I discovered this title on Net Galley and was excited to read it as I’m a huge WWII HF fan!

Ruth and Millie are two very different sisters and their paths separate and then cross in this novel. Each one is holding a secret, and Millie, a war widow, risks everything to start her new life in Springfield, MA, where her older sister Ruth is an officer’s wife. Strength, forgiveness, fortitude, and self-acceptance are all themes in this wonderful novel. It was a compelling read, and one where you feel like the characters are real people. I couldn’t put it down. This is my first title by this author and I loved her writing!

Thank you for my e-copy to review!

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The Christmas Forest by Rebecca Boxall

 

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A Note From the Publisher

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I loved this short story about quirky and endearing Enid and her online relationship with Fred and the time when she tries to go to Australia to meet him. Enid is sensitively portrayed and if you have someone in your life like her (and who doesn’t?) you can’t help but appreciate how spot on the character is with her sensitivities to certain things and her wonderful strengths. I hadn’t read a novel by Rebecca Boxall before and, to be honest, I chose this by the title and cover (beautiful!). I will look for her other work.
Thank you for my review mobi! Another great holiday read!

Spotlight on: A Cobbler’s Tale by Neil Perry Gordon

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I’m giving a shout out today for Neil Perry Gordon’s historical story, based on his family’s experience, which I am reading now: A Cobbler’s Tale.

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

A Cobbler’s Tale is an adventure story about Pincus Potasznik, a second-generation Jewish cobbler, born in a small shtetl in the province of Galicia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1910, at the historic height of the massive Eastern European immigration wave to the New World, Pincus decides to leave behind his pregnant wife, and three small children, in order to seek a new life for his family in the burgeoning Lower East Side of Manhattan. On his traumatic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean on the SS Amerika steamship, Pincus meets Jakob Adler, a young man running from an accidental murder of a notorious crime boss in Warsaw. The story also explores the challenges of pregnant Clara Potasznik as she does her best to protect her family, while the bloodiest battles of World War I explode within miles of her family home, a small village called Krzywcza. Moshe, the young son of Pincus and Clara Potasznik, discovers his divine ability to foretell dire events, and to offer real comfort those in pain, taking the reader into the wisdom and mystery surrounding the ancient Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah. A Cobbler’s Tale is a story of a family’s survival against tremendous odds.

Here’s some info about Mr. Gordon:

Biography

Born in the Bronx, Neil Perry Gordon is the eldest son to Elaine and Walter Gordon. At the age of seven years old, Neil’s family moved from the Bronx, to the suburban community of Rockland County. Neil graduated as the first high school class from the Green Meadow Waldorf School in 1976. Shortly after graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Pace University, he moved to south Florida and started a drapery business. In 1990, he relocated back to New York and still operates his business, Decorating with Fabric. He has two adult sons, Samuel and Maximilian. Neil has written two professional trade books, The Designer’s Coach, and An Architect’s Guide to Engineered Shading Solutions.
https://www.neilperrygordon.com/

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Thank you for my copy of A Cobbler’s Tale! I always enjoy a historical story!

The Unpredictability of Being Human by Linni Ingemundsen

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I loved this story about a slightly quirky girl coming to terms with the ups and downs of life. It made a great YA read, with the message that life can throw you some curve balls, it’s how you deal with them that matters.

Here’s the description:

“If I got to be God for one day, I’d like to say I’d end world hunger and create world peace. But I wouldn’t. Because if God could fix the big stuff, he’d have done it already.”

Malin knows she can’t fix the big stuff in her life. Instead, she watches from the sidelines, as her dad yells, her brother lies, and her mum falls apart. At least after she meets Hanna, she has a friend to help her. Because being Malin is complicated – learning how to kiss, what to wear to prom, and what to do when you upset the prettiest, meanest girl in school.

It’s tough fitting in when you’re different. But what if it’s the world that’s weird, not you?

A beautiful, funny and honest coming-of-age story that never pretends life is perfect.

About the Author

Linni Ingemundsen is from Norway, though she currently lives in Malta. She does not know how to draw but is somehow a freelance cartoonist. Some of her favourite things in life include chocolate, free Wi-Fi and her yellow typewriter.

Linni has lived in three different countries and will never be done exploring the world. She has worked as a dishwasher in Australia, a volunteer journalist in Tanzania and has approximately 2.5 near-death experiences behind her. Still, what truly inspires her writing is her background growing up in a village on the south-western coast of Norway.

Linni began writing The Unpredictability of Being Human while on the Oxford Brookes MA in Creative Writing. Her dark, comical storytelling is fully displayed in this unusual, slice-of-life telling as experienced by a fourteen year old girl in Norway.

 

Highly recommend for teens and adults alike, I loved seeing the world through Malin’s eyes. While never directly stated, Malin appears to maybe on the spectrum (though I ask you, aren’t we all somewhere on multiple spectrums?). I think it’s great to read a story where the reader can experience life in what may be a slightly different way than they usually do.

Thank you for my review pdf, which I received from Incorgnito Press, the US publisher.

 

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

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I am so very excited that Kate Morton, an author whom I adore, has a new novel coming out in October. I had the opportunity to read it via Net Galley and I really enjoyed it!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is wonderful historical fiction, and it follows the story of Birdie, a spirit who tells her own story within the story of a house and all the intertwining lives that play a role there over time. This story stretches from 1862 to present day, but eventually you come to see how all the lives are actually impacting each other through time and place, through love, murder, loss, and mystery. Though the story can sometimes be a bit confusing as the narrator changes, and the story does not move chronologically, I loved making the connections and guessing what would come next. It’s a bit of a sad story, but interesting, and with a cast of characters that is as memorable as it is unique.

Fans of Morton will love this treat, and new readers of her should not miss it!

Thank you for my review copy!

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And because you can find anything on the Internet, here’s a You Tube video of Kate Morton herself discussing the novel:
I watched this and just wished that I could shout out to her that I love her writing and I even have bangs, too!! We could be kindred spirits if she came to visit Boston!! 🙂