Sunday, March 27, 2011


The Red Thread contained a lot of characters which sometimes can become confusing but it was so well laid out that the characters were easy to keep separated in your mind. The story is about several families who want to adopt Chinese babies with the help of 'The Red Thread Adoption Agency'. There were so many heart-tugging moments and Ms. Hood included parts of her own life. Unfortunately, she lost her own five-year-old daughter, Grace. All of the couples involved were unable to conceive except one. She previously had a biological child born with Fragile X syndrome and didn't want to chance birthing a second child with Fragile X. The deep desire in these couples hearts is a thread that connects to many people. It was an awesome read! March 27, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Ha Jin does a wonderful job of bringing the awarness of immigration to the forefront in this novel. Each day, immigrants often have to deal with the process of identity change and racism due to their colour.

Pingping and Nan immigrated to the United States and their six-year-old son, Taotao, arrives later. One sad part of this family is that Nan doesn't love his wife, Pingping, and instead pines for his old girlfriend. Pingping is aware of this but she remains a commited and loving wife to Nan and hopes that one day he will realize how very, very much she loves him.

Nan is adamant that TaoTao be raised 'America' and not as a 'Chinese' as he believes the Chinese must endure too much suffering.

Pingping and Nan found it extremely difficult in America for the first two years until they'd saved $30,00 to buy a restaurant to manage and this proved to be difficult times. Nan writes poetry and it is one of these poems that is the essence of this novel.

Wonderfully written but at 696 pages, it took me a couple of days too read. However, this is a novel I would recommend to anyone.

March 24, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Farah was seven-years-old and had overslept one morning. Worried that she would be late for school she decided to take a short cut through a field, saving her two or three minutes but little did Farah know that decision would turn out to be the worst of her life. Sadly, Farah stepped on a land mine! Quickly a crowd gathered around her but no one seemed to know what to do until a neighbour came along, hailed a taxi and put Farah onto the back seat and delivered her to the hospital. Farah was in so much pain that every time they had to move her legs or change bandages, she would scream. The pain, needless to say, was excruciating.

The hospital in Afghanistan was ill-equipped to deal with injuries as devastating as Farah's and all they could offer her were bandage changes and most of the time they didn't even have them at the hospital, it was up to her family to run around the city buying bandages from wherever they could.

Once a month a group of doctors from Germany came to choose the most seriously injured children to fly back to Germany for treatment. Thankfully, Farah was chosen to go but at seven years of age, she had to go alone, no family or friends would be allowed to travel with her.

Once in the German hospital where Farah remained for two years, she learned she lost her right knee and "...some of the bone just above and below that joint, and they fused my thighbone to my shinbone, holding them together with a metal rod that extends six or seven inches into both bones." Farah can no longer bend her right knee as she doesn't have one and can only move her foot up and down as her ankle joints are intact. Sadly, her entire left leg was amputated.

At age twelve, Farah and her mother were living in a refugee camp in Quetta, Pakistan. It is now winter and Farah's mother is suffering frequent bouts with her asthma from living in an unheated tent in the cold and wind. Farah has become her mother's caretaker at the age of twelve!

Farah exhibits such maturity beyond her years in age. She is a studious and intelligent girl who stood up for her and her mother's rights. In dealing with some under-handed people, they thought Farah, at age thirteen, was too young and ignorant to know any better about adult decisions, but they were sadly mistaken.

Farah is an inspiration to all of us that even in the direst of circumstances and pain that we can survive and endure. It takes a deep faith and commitment to deal with what Farah did but she is now a beacon of light for many.

This was an amazing memoir which I would recommend to anyone. You'll be amazed to learn what she and her mother endured after Farah's two years in the German hospital.

March 22, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Margaret "Meggie" Dillion lives in Rockaway, New York with her mother, father and grandfather. Her older brother, Eddie, has enlisted to fight in the war and everyone is having a difficult time coping with his absence.

Meggie's Grampa is German and she's heard rumours around town that anyone German will be arrested and Meggie worries constantly about him. The fact that he has a German accent isn't helping her feel any better nor is the fact that two older boys came and painted a red swastika on his kitchen window which Meggie removed herself with turpentine before her Grampa could see it and get upset.

Suddenly, Meggie's father announces that the family needs to help in the war effort, packs everyone up and moves to Willow Run, Michigan. Grampa decides to stay home and Meggie is very sad to be leaving him behind. Once they arrive in Willow Run, Meggie is shocked to see the horrible housing they'll have to live in while her father works at the factory building bombs piece-by-piece.

Meggie meets Lily, Patches, Harlan and a couple of other kids who slowly form a bond during the time they're in Willow Run. All of the kids have some family member who is fighting in the war and Meggie finds herself faced with questions about courage, and what it takes to go into battle like her brother Eddie, and to keep hope alive on the home front.

This was a really cute story for kids aged nine to twelve years of age. I had originally thought it was a novel and didn't notice when I ordered it that it said: "...for ages nine through twelve". It was still a very good read and rather relaxing!

March 20, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011


This is a beautiful yet very sad memoir about the sudden death of Ann's five-year-old daughter, Grace, from an aggressive form of strep throat. Told with integrity and honesty, Ann reveals just how tough it was and still is for her, four years later, to cope with her great loss.

Grace was a beautiful, precocious little girl who was in kindergarten and learning, of all things, to speak Chinese!! Her older brother, Sam, just adored her and the two of them got along like two peas in a pod.

Ann and her husband, Lorne, managed to maintain their relationship throughout the grieving process and unlike a lot of couples coping with the death of a child, become closer instead of being wedged apart in their grief.

Gorgeously written with harrowing candor, Comfort is a tribute to Grace and at the same time to this broken-hearted family.

March 19, 2011


Sarah is seventy-five years old and thought her life was settled and like a lot of elderly assumed that she and her husband, Charles, would live out their old age together in their rural Vermont home. Sarah is an amazing character and has a wonderful relationship with her family and friends.

After the death of her beloved husband, Charles, Sarah must learn how to love again and that loving means learning to love through loss but she is unable to find 'peace'. Slowly, Sarah begins to take in wilful and wayward souls. The first person to stay with Sarah is her disobedient granddaughter, Lottie, who can't stand living with her mother, then an Israeli soldier who needs a retreat; a woman with her baby who is escaping a violent partner; and a young Mom with her son whose home was disintegrated in a fire. Why is Sarah doing this, taking in these boarders? She has wonderful memories of her parents doing the same thing during the Great Depression and wants to preserve that memory.

Through this group of people, Sarah flashes back on wonderful memories of times spent with her husband in loving snapshots in her mind, while reinventing herself. All in all this was a good solid story and makes you think about the uniqueness of the word "family".

March 19, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Joanie and Richard are divorced and Joanie has taken a life-long vow to celibacy! Richard is living with, BJ, a girl half his age who is now pregnant and they're getting married. Joanie, almost 50-years-old, is in a divorce support group and only talks to her best friend Mary Margaret outside the group.

Fifteen-year-old teenage daughter, Caroline, is a secretive, manipulative, unhappy girl whose best friend Sondra has just introduced her to marijuana.

Ivy, Joanie's mother, lives with her and Caroline and they don't get along well. Joanie is working full-time again after being an at home Mom for years and Ivy undermines Joanie at every turn.

Joanie is so full of anger at Richard, fed up with listening to her mother that she freaked out one night during dinner after arguing with Ivy and smashed both their dinner plates on the kitchen floor then immediately retreated to her room. That same night, Ivy typed an email to David, her son and Joanie's brother, telling him she's scared and had to lock herself in her bedroom because his sister was throwing plates and she was afraid of being attacked!!! The following day, David phones Joanie to question her about what she is doing to their almost 80-year-old mother! Ivy can be ascerbic and sneaky but sweetly and subtly so.

Three women living together under one roof isn't a great idea, at least not for these three strong headed women. However, given their problems, the amount of fights and arguments they have, when it comes right down to it, they love each other immensely. This was a light-hearted laugh -a-minute book that every woman should read. I'm sure you'll all see a little of yourselves in one of these wonderful characters!

March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I'd read Deborah's first book, a memoir titled: "The Kabul Beauty School" and loved it. So of course I've been anxious to read her first debut work of fiction: "A Cup of Friendship".

The novel is centered around the "Kabul Coffee House" in Afghanistant located right in the middle of a war zone. Sunny, an American, is the owner and along with her employees her coffee house is home to a mixed variety of people: a British journalist, a country widow, a wealthy American named Candace and the pregnant Yasmina. These characters are lovable and their good qualities seep through in the story and you'll want to help them overcome their faults yourself.

This was an extremely good book in giving you a bird's eye view of an American working in the dirty and dusty city of Kabul surrounded by her newest friends and family. Deborah's years of living in Afghanistan herself has provided her with a perceptive eye which added to the story, her experiences there leak through into this story giving us a truer picture of what Afghanistan is really like. Well done!

March 15, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011


How To Be An American Housewife is a beautiful Japanese/American story of a family who fell out of favour with some relatives in Japan. For forty-years, Taro and his older sister, Shoko did not speak or communicate in any way. Shoko married an American Navyman in Japan and then moved to America with her husband, Craig after the falling out. Shoko had two children: Mike and Sue.

The story is rich with historical information and we visit some places such as: Nagaski, Kumamoto (to see the famous Kumamoto Castle), Peace Park, Uwajiima, Suizenji Jojuen Park, and Kyushu to name a few.

Shoko had planned to go to Japan to find her younger brother, Taro but she became too ill with heart problems to go, so she asked her daughter, Sue to go in her place. Sue and her 12-year-old daughter, Helena flew to Japan to begin their two week journey.

This novel is life affirming, poignant, and proves that no matter the distance we live from someone, or the number of years that we've passed without speaking, there is always room for forgiveness and redemption.

This would be a great book for anyone!

March 13, 2011


Oh, I absolutely LOVED this novel!! For a debut novel it really belongs up there with the seasoned author's. Beth Hoffman's first novel is adorable, sweet, tear-jerking, heart-tugging, wise, and speaks to the wonderful hospitality, eqtiquette and good manners of people in the South.

The characters are so well developed in this novel. You will absolutely love: CeeCee, Tootie, Oletta and Mrs. Odell. However, the relationship that CeeCee and Oletta carve out is unbelievable. Just their relationship alone will make you laugh and make you cry. Aunt Tootie's kindness toward CeeCee is overwhelming, I wish she'd adopt me!

You'll love the crazy neighbours, especially Ms. Hobbs and Ms. Goodpepper who don't get along with one another at all and you'll laugh your head off at one scene that takes place in Ms. Hobb's backyard one dark night with CeeCee and Ms. Goodpepper, unbeknownst to Ms. Hobbs, are witnessing moment-by-moment. And you'll be shocked and laugh at what they pull at an elegant afternoon garden party for CeeCee.

All in all this is one of the best books I've read this year and I'd recommend that everyone pick this one up, you won't be disappointed!! This is definitely going on my permanent bookshelf.

March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011


Wrecker is the story of a little three-year-old boy who was abandoned by his mother after she was sent to jail with a 30 year sentence. He was raised by three very different women: Melody, Ruth and Willow. Melody was his "mother" and the other two were helpful in supporting her but they often clashed on certain issues when it came to Wrecker.

Motherhood is a 'loosely' used term here as it was such a different environment that Wrecker was raised in, a very unique spin on the term 'family'. The novel will pull at your heartstrings and keep you reading throughout the night.

March 11, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The engrossing story of a Beefeater, otherwise known as Yeoman Warder Balthazar Jones. He lives in the Tower of London with his wife Hebe but they are grieving over Milo, the son the lost and their own marriage which is falling apart. The other occupants of the Tower include: a prize-winning Priest who secretly writes pornography under an alias, another Beefeater 'Ravenmaster' who is cheating on his wife, and Mrs. Cook, a 181 year old tortoise. There are other animals living there and they often present with challenges for the Beefeaters, like when a special Etruscan shrew dies, and they tell people it's hibernating!

Balthazar Jones is a complicated man, obsessed with weather and actively collects rain. It is an odd hobby for sure but it's part of how he deals with the loss of his son. It is the very unique details that make the characters of this story come alive.

Julia Stuart has written a fun book that is both serious at times yet laugh-out-loud funny at others. Anyone who picks up this book is in for the long haul!!

March 9, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011


Private Investigator Vish Puri is also the managing director of 'Most Private Investigators Ltd. A well respected and honest public litagator has been accused of killing Mary, his maidservant. Vish must also investigate a second case involving a potential bridegroom.

Vish's character is perfect, all but his immense fear of flying. Luckily for Vish, he has a team of operatives that support him, especially his Mommy who conducts her own investigation.

There are actually three mysteries in the story and each is well done. Tarquin Hall's writing is first class. Tarquin spent many years in India so he knows and understands the country and it's people well.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that kept me turning page after page. I kept telling myself that once I got to the end of the chapter I'd go to bed. Well, I didn't. Once I'd read the first page of the next chapter then I'd have to read the whole thing!

March 8, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Deborah Rodriguez was a hairdresser from Michigan with a degree in cosmetology who decided to move to Afghanistan and teach the women of Kabul how to be beauticians. As she was working out the details of how her hairdressing school would be run, she heard of Mary MacMakin who had already dedicated herself to the women of Aghanistan and was in the process of working on the Kabul Beauty School. Debbie quickly joined forces with Mary and became the first teacher to teach the first class in 2003.

During her years in Kabul she befriended a lot of the women from her classes who themselves went on to teach as well. Her friendships with these women meant a lot as the majority were victims of terrible beatings by their husbands and they were frightened and lacking self-confidence. By educating them Debbie had empowered these women and given them the knowledge and courage to begin working as hairdressers and they often made more money than their spouses.

Kabul Beauty School was a book I couldn't put down and it will provide you with a pleasurable read and a longing to have Debbie as your friend.

March 6, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Elisabeth Tova Bailey is bedridden with a mysterious disease that has left her paralyzed, but she finds meaning in her life through observing a small woodland snail. The snail served as her entertainment, her connection to a world beyond her own suffering, and gave her hope and strength to carry on and wait for her health to improve. Being bedridden, she is cut-off from the world and lives like a "hermit" just like her snail.

Ms. Bailey does not complain about her illness, her time is better spent being curious about her snail and marvelling at how resilient it is. By watching so intently and being a studious pupil, Bailey tells us she wants to fight her illness but that wouldn't have been possible without her snail.

The latter part of the book read more like a textbook on snails and other mollusks, and I would have liked to hear more of Bailey's life and her thoughts about her illness.

There is one line in the book that I will quote here because I find it is so very, very true. "Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten."

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a wonderful story and not at all like your usual memoir. I think anyone who reads this will love it!!