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!

We Were Sisters by Wendy Clarke

Description

I turn to where I left my baby in his pushchair and pull up short. With a racing heart, I look around wildly, fear gripping my stomach. I only looked away for a moment. The pushchair and my baby are gone.

Kelly is taking her twin daughters to their first day of school, ushering them into the classroom, her heart breaking to think they might not need her any more, when she turns around and sees that her newborn baby is gone.

As a desperate search ensues, baby Noah is quickly found – parked in front of a different classroom. But when Kelly reaches forward to comfort him, she finds something tucked beside his blanket. A locket that belonged to her sister Freya. A locket Kelly hasn’t seen since the day Freya died.

And then Kelly’s perfectly-ordered life begins to unravel…

We Were Sisters is a heart-pounding suspense thriller that will grip you until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train won’t be able to stop reading this incredible book.

I ALWAYS love a suspense-filled book! This one kept me guessing. It was a sad story, in part, because of the abuse and neglect that was involved in the characters’ past, but it definitely kept me guessing until the end!

Highly recommended if you like this genre!

Thank you for my review copy via Net Galley!

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Description (via NG)

An instant New York Times bestseller 

“A multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant.” —People
“Simply unputdownable.” —Good Housekeeping
“The perfect book club pick.” —SheReads

Named a Best Book of Summer by Entertainment WeeklyCosmopolitanWoman’s DayPopSugarHelloGiggles, and Refinery29

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. 

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Oh – I really loved this lengthy but easy to read book! Reading novels that go over many years and have the characters grow up are some of my favorite reads, and this story of two very different but very connected sisters was a great one. Of course, the youngest is named “Bethie” and that was what my family called me, so it made it extra relatable for me. I had not read Ms. Weiner’s work before, though I know she is very popular. Her writing is solid and descriptive and captures those small moments of life that we all experience. This book is long but worth it. There is some sexual content and abuse that might be disturbing to some readers, but I did not find it graphic and it was integral to the story. This would be a great book club read, and it would be interesting to focus on the theme of women’s roles and how they have and have not changed in the past 50+ years.

Highly recommended!

Thank you to the publishers and Net Galley for my e-copy!

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

Description (via Net Galley)

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we know the people we love most?

Well – I got this one a while ago via Net Galley (thank you!) and I started it right away and could not put it down! It was a suspenseful read and not easy to figure out. I really liked Sylvie’s character and I had my fingers crossed for a happy (or at least uplifting) ending with a sense of resolution and forgiveness. I was not disappointed! I read it in two evenings because I wanted the resolution.

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

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Oh my goodness, I loved this historical fiction novel about an ordinary family during an extraordinary time. The Bright family is moving to Philadelphia and it’s the outbreak of WWI. Along with the war comes the pandemic of Spanish Flu, which kills thousands of previously healthy young people. This family has to much loss to deal with, crisis, and challenges. Then in one of their darkest hours, one of the daughters finds a little baby and takes him home so that they can raise him and bring some light into their lives.

This story is told in the four distinct voices of the four main character women: Evelyn, the intelligent, eldest daughter, Maggie, who finds the baby and is quite determined, Willa, the spunky and headstrong youngest, and their gentle, kind mother Pauline. I loved the story and the characters and the message.

I have never read any of Meissner’s other novels, so I will need to look for them.

Thank you for my review kindle copy via Net Galley!

Description

DEVOTION by Meg Kerr

A few months ago, Prism Publishers in Canada sent me a pdf of Meg Kerr’s new novel DEVOTION, a continuation of Pride and Prejudice. Thank you!!

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Here’s the overview:

After answering in her first novel Experience some burning questions that Pride & Prejudice fans have always asked — just how happy ever after were Elizabeth and Darcy following their wedding? And what became of the other Bennet sisters?— in her companion novel Devotion Meg continues  the story of the Darcy family, with particular attention to Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana.

Devotion follows the now 20-year-old Georgiana Darcy. While her brother sets out without her knowledge to secure her a husband, Georgiana, upon receipt of a long-delayed letter, embarks on a secret journey—leading to a chance meeting with a charming yet wicked young man with nefarious intentions.

The story is full of intrigue, romance and humour, it also brings to the forefront stories of some other characters first introduced in Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice, including Caroline Bingley and Pen Harrington, and seamlessly introduces new characters while maintaining the integrity of Austen’s beloved classic tale.

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I have to be honest, now, and say that normally I detest these types of novels as authors rarely “get it right” (remember – I spend my spare time cavorting around the home of the Alcott’s and I consider Louisa May a kindred spirit. No one has captured LMA’s storytelling skills to date.).

I have to say that I loved this story! I loved the writing and was amazed by how well Ms. Kerr captured the nuances of 19th century style. I enjoyed the storyline and I think that others who love Austen will, too.

FROM JULY 15-JULY 19, 2017 YOU CAN GET DEVOTION FREE FOR YOUR KINDLE VIA AMAZON! Woot!

Here’s a bit about her (I want her to visit Boston so I can show her Orchard House and we can talk about the 1800’s. I will wear my hoop skirt!):

What do you do when you live in the twenty-first century but a piece of your heart lies in the nineteenth? If you are author Meg Kerr you let your head and hand follow your heart. With her love of country life—dogs and horses, long walks in the woods and fields, dining with family and neighbours and dancing with friends, reading and writing and the best conversation—and her familiarity with eighteenth and nineteenth century history and literature, Meg has a natural gift to inhabit, explore and reimagine the world that Jane Austen both dwelt in and created, and to draw readers there with her.

Her forthcoming book, Devotion, will be available in the summer of 2017.

 Here are a few videos of Meg talking about her novel – check them out!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/472d9xav1c9qprc/DEVOTION_3TheOthers.mp4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/l8uxexsw4qsz6pz/DEVOTION_2MrDarcy.mp4?dl=0

 

 

DUTY TO THE CROWN by Aimie Runyan

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Via GoodReads:
Set amid the promise and challenge of the first Canadian colonies, Aimie K. Runyan’s vividly rendered novel provides a fascinating portrait of the women who would become the founding mothers of New France.

In 1667, an invisible wall separates settlers in New France from their Huron neighbors. Yet whether in the fledgling city of Quebec or within one of the native tribes, every woman’s fate depends on the man she chooses—or is obligated—to marry.

Although Claudine Deschamps and Gabrielle Giroux both live within the settlement, their prospects are very different. French-born Claudine has followed her older sister across the Atlantic hoping to attract a wealthy husband through her beauty and connections. Gabrielle, orphan daughter of the town drunkard, is forced into a loveless union by a cruel law that requires her to marry by her sixteenth birthday. And Manon Lefebvre, born in the Huron village and later adopted by settlers, has faced the prejudices of both societies and is convinced she can no longer be accepted in either. Drawn into unexpected friendship through their loves, losses, and dreams of home and family, all three women will have to call on their bravery and resilience to succeed in this new world…

Praise for Promised to the Crown
 
“A heart-wrenching and timeless tale of friendship, love and hope that skillfully blends history and romance to educate, entertain and inspire.” –Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (less)

ebook, 352 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Kensington
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I absolutely love this historical fiction series about the young women who were “Daughters of the King” – sent to Canada as the “New Land” to marry and populate for the good of France in the 1600’s. This was Book 2 in the series, and it continues the story of the characters introduced in Book 1, with individuals growing older as the books go along. Three young girls from Book 1 are now young women, and they have many trials and tribulations to face as they tackle pioneer life in the 1600’s. I love how these books encompass the highs and lows of life — births, deaths, joys, and sorrows.
I can’t wait for Book 3!
Thank you to the author who sent me this copy as she knew how much I enjoyed Book 1!
BBC – what are you waiting for? Make a miniseries from these novels!!