Friday, November 22, 2013


Story Description:
St. Martin’s Press|October 13, 2009|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-312-60481-3
Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative memoir recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women. 
Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930’s Hong Kong and finally to the UK.  Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through.
A love of food and talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals.  Helen Tse’s grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father.  Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950’s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe.  Eventually she opened one of Manchester’s earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine.  But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and tragically they lost the restaurant.  It was up to author Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother’s dream.  The legacy lived on when the sisters opened their award-winning restaurant Sweet Mandarin in 2004. 
Sweet Mandarin shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes passed down the female line can be the most valuable heirloom.  
My Review:
Helen Tse’s grandmother, Lily was born in a small village in Southern China in 1918 and is said to be a stubborn woman, but at 88 years of age she is still fit and intelligent. 
Helen and her sisters were immersed from birth in the Chinese catering business – the fourth generation of her family to make a living from food.  Although Helen became a lawyer, her sister Lisa a financier, and Janet an engineer they all gave up their well-paying careers to open a restaurant they named Sweet Mandarin in Manchester, England.  All their friends thought they were crazy to give up white collar jobs for the long, arduous and unrelenting hours that go into running a restaurant.  They viewed it as taking a step backwards in their lives.  However, the older generation understood. 
The business brought the sisters closer together and allowed Helen to test her entrepreneurial streak and also set the path for the sisters to be reintroduced to their beloved grandmother and mother by opening up a bridge between them that crossed East and West, uniting the past and the present. 
Each Saturday morning, Helen, her mother, and her grandmother shopped at the Chinese grocery store.  They purchased stock for the restaurant and their own home cooking.  In the past, Helen had only known the barest of facts about her grandmother’s long life, but the weekly shopping trips allowed Lily to begin to reveal her real story to Helen, bit by bit. 
Helen had only been aware of the odd anecdote or funny character who made up her family folklore – but now the detail and scale of what Lily had gone through began to emerge.  Each bottle or package Lily picked up in the store was tied to a different chapter of her life. 
Sweet Mandarin is a courageous true story about a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter: three generations of independent Chinese women whose lives take in Guangzhou in southern China in the 1920’s, colonial Hong Kong in the 1930’s, the horrors of the Japanese occupation and a changing England from the 1950’s to the present day. 
This was an excellent memoir that was remarkable and one I just couldn’t put down.  If only all of us had such in-depth knowledge of our family’s from four generations back.  The women in Helen Tse’s family were definitely survivors. 


Baker Publishing Group|June 6, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-8007-3387-2
It had been fifteen years since Lainey O’Toole lived in Stoney Ridge, a small Amish community.  Now all these years later her car breaks down in that very same town.  She had no plans whatsoever to stay as she was only passing through on her way to culinary school but when the local mechanic informed her that her car was unrepairable, she had no choice but to stay for at least a short period of time.
That very same day, the local bakery had posted a help wanted sign and Lainey took the job.  The owner had a sister who even had a room to rent right across the street from the bakery.  Lainey was all set up in one day.  Now she just had to work long enough to save up for a new car so she could continue her journey.  However, that’s not how things worked out for Lainey at all.  She was forced to face her past and discover how her decisions had affected so many other people. 
Bess Reihl is spending the summer with her grandmother, Bertha at Rose Hill Farm in Stoney Ridge.  Bess isn’t at all happy at the prospect of being there as Bertha is a domineering, out-spoken, and impulsive woman with a knack for drawing attention to herself and to Beth once she arrived in town. 
However, it isn’t very long before Bess realizes there is a specific reason her grandmother summoned her to Rose Hill for the summer.  Initially she’d told Bess’s father, Jonah that she’d had “female surgery” and required Bess’s assistance but in fact she’d only had a tooth pulled.   Bertha knew her son, Jonah well enough to know that he wouldn’t allow his daughter to spend the entire summer over a pulled tooth. 
Lainey and Bess will soon meet and their worlds will be rocked to the core!  The secrets that come to light will shock them both. 
The Search was as easy, quick, pleasant read with a good storyline and strong characters.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed stories about the Amish or Christian fiction. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Story Description:
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9860573-0-4
Ever wondered how Santa Claus came to be?  This book will permit you and your family to enjoy Santa Claus and the other secular customs of Christmas within the Christian celebration of Jesus’s birth.  For little children, Santa Claus becomes a real person delivering presents to them from Jesus.  Each Christmas season, reading a chapter a night will become a holiday tradition for the entire family. 
The tale begins with Shai and Adi, the childless owners of an Inn in Bethlehem.  When Shai rents out their bedroom, they must sleep in the stable.  During the night, Joseph and Mary arrive and Adi helps Mary through a difficult labor.  They bond, and when an angel appears telling Joseph to flee Egypt with Mary and Jesus, Shai and Adi go with them and become Jesus’s uncle and aunt.
The book tells of Jesus growing up with his friends Mary Magdalene and John, his ministry, and his death and resurrection.  These vignettes teach the lessons of life and the Bible through Jesus’s experiences. 
The book concludes with Shai and Adi following the Lord’s Star to the North Pole, where angels have built a palace.  Jesus wants Shai and Adi to raise the baby angels there until they reach adulthood.  The baby angels, or elves as the grown angels derogatively refer to them, are a mischievous lot.  Shai becomes known as Santa Claus when a baby angel mispronounces “Shai, Uncle of Jesus,” claus being the angelic word for uncle. 
Jesus also wants to give a present to each boy and girl on his birthday.  Christmas Day, a tradition he began during his life when he gave presents to his family.  As part of their training, once a baby angel sprouts wings he or she is assigned to watch children and make toys for them.  On Christmas Eve, Santa flies the sleigh to heaven to present the new adult angels to God, and then flies around the world delivering Jesus’s presents to the children of the world. 
The book is a story within a story, told by a visiting uncle to a little girl and her nephew.  Each night before bedtime beginning on December 6th, St. Nicholas’s Day, and continuing through Christmas Eve, the uncle tells part of the story.  Instead of numbers, the chapters are titled by day.  The book can be read as a normal book or a chapter each day, and it can be read to oneself or out loud to children.  When read out loud, the chapter lengths vary between 10 and 15 minutes. 
Wherever you may live, and by whatever name that you may know him – Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Pere Noel or Sinter Klaas – you will never forget the true story of Santa Claus, as you read it every Christmas with your children, who will someday read it every Christmas with their children too.
My Review:
Aunt Trixie, Uncle Aaron and cousin Jack were visiting from Jerusalem for Christmas.  Kalie and Pinkie were so excited that they kept asking Mom when Daddy would be back from the airport.  No sooner had she told them that the flight from Jerusalem had already landed, everyone arrived at the door.  The kids were so excited!  
Uncle Aaron was apparently a very good story teller and Kalie asked if he’d tell one.  Uncle Aaron was more than happy to comply.  He began by telling Kalie, Pinkie and Jack that this particular story took place in a little town called Bethlehem which was approximately a half day’s walk south of Jerusalem. 
Shai and Adi lived in an Inn and pretty much every other inn was full because people were registering for the tax rolls.  Adi was a bit miffed at Shai because he’d rented out their bedroom for the night when Adi thought they’d be sleeping on the kitchen floor instead.  But, Shai was offered double the money for the bedroom so he just couldn’t refuse.  He strolled outside to collect some extra blankets from the stable when he was approached by a man named, Jadon.  He asked Shai if he had any room left in his inn for himself and his family.  Shai told him he did as long as they didn’t mind sleeping on his kitchen floor.  Jadon was more than happy to do that for it meant they’d have shelter from the coming storm. 
Suddenly, Adi was calling: “Shai! Shai!” and he knew he was in trouble for she had just discovered that he’d also rented out their kitchen floor as sleeping space.  Adi demanded to know where they were supposed to sleep and when Adi answered: “the stable…” she was shocked to say the least.  But, nonetheless Adi said she’d bring their dinner out to the stable. 
Uncle Aaron and the rest of the family enjoyed a nice dinner together and told the kids that he’d tell them more of the story every day until Christmas, but decided to tell them a bit more before bedtime. 
The storm was fierce with loud thunder and gusting winds.  The noise woke Adi.  She got up to fix a slamming shutter when she saw a man with a woman on a donkey standing outside the inn.  Wrapped only in her robe she approached the couple.  The man said his name was Joseph, and his wife, Mary was pregnant and feverish.  Adi immediately ushered them with their donkey into the stable.  Mary was burning up with a  fever and about to give birth.  After laying her down it wasn’t long until baby Jesus was born.  What a miraculous night this had turned out to be! 
The following day Shai and Joseph were sitting outside sharing a bag of almonds.  Shai was almost asleep when suddenly a bright light flashed through his closed eye lids.  Right before him was a huge man wearing a brilliant white robe.  The giant man told them his name was Uriel, an angel of the Lord.  He told them that the baby Jesus was “the long promised savior of the Jews and the other people of the earth” and that He “must be raised in the ways of God so that He is prepared for His destiny.  King Herod had heard of Jesus’s birth and was fearful that he would “usurp the crown of Israel from him and his heirs.”  So, he had already ordered his soldiers to leave Jerusalem at sunset, march to Bethlehem and kill the baby Jesus that very night!  They were warned that the soldiers would break through the doors of the inn at midnight so they therefore must run at sunset. 
What is going to happen now?  What are Kalie and the other kids’ reaction to Uncle Aaron’s story?  And where does Santa Claus enter into all this? 
Scott Roloff has penned a most beautiful Christmas story that every family should read together every year.  For me the best way would be to read one chapter each day until Christmas just like Uncle Aaron did in the story as it helps the tension mount and gives the children lots to think about until the next installment.
Thank you Mr. Roloff for writing a most precious story that can be shared again and again and again for generations to come. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


Story Description:
Viking Adult|October 1, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-670-02485-8
A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed. 
In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery.  Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia.  Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself.  As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, the sun, likely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life. 
Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond.  Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters, missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad.  But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who was born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas.  Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers. 
My Review:
The Signature of All Things begins in the 1700’s with Henry Whittaker.  Being immensely poor for his family had nothing, Henry decides to become a man of his own making.  As a young lad he stole from the Royal Botanical Kew Gardens various types of flowers and barks used in the pharmaceutical business to cure people’s ills.  Sir Joseph Banks was the Director and he finally caught young Henry.  But by this time, Henry had already amassed a little fortune for himself but admitted nothing to Sir Banks.  As a punishment for stealing from him, Banks sent Henry to far off places to learn all he could about plants.  He was to keep copious clear and concise notes and provide sketches for everything he studied.  The conditions on the ships he travelled were absolutely abhorrent but Henry never so much as complained once.  He took everything in his stride. 
When the young adult Henry returned to England he had decided to make it his life’s work and aimed to become the richest man in the world. 
He married, Beatrix, a Dutch woman who was well-educated and they moved to Pennsylvania.   Henry had already amassed such a sizable fortune by this time that he built himself an overly elaborate estate which he named ‘White Acre.’  The people of Pennsylvania were in awe of the this mansion on the hill and the elaborate and beautiful gardens. 
Together, Beatrix and Henry had one daughter whom they named, Alma and a few years later adopted another girl named, Prudence who was suddenly in one night left without a family.  Prudence was a strikingly beautiful and small as Alma was homely and large.  The sisters could never become close. 
Henry valued education and the girls were schooled at home by their mother and a tutor until they were eighteen-years-old.  Alma followed the path of scientific explanation, loving to study plants, trees, barks, and mosses like her father had.  She ended up with a specialty in Bryology, the study of mosses. 
Alma’s life did not always go the way she had hoped and often suffered greatly.  She struggled for years and years to find personal happiness and fulfillment. 
The Signature of All Things is an epic masterpiece that should be read by all.  The way the prose and language Gilbert used is hauntingly beautiful and something which I enjoyed very much.  The writing was fresh, the characters so well fleshed out you felt like you knew them personally.  The descriptive narrative made it easy to hear, see, and smell everything the characters did as if you’d gone through the pages of the book and into the story itself. 
I would very, very highly recommend this book to anyone and would like to say “thank you” Ms. Gilbert for the best two days of reading I’ve done in a while. 

Friday, November 15, 2013


Story Description:
Atria Books|September 24, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN:978-1-4767-4032-4
Just breathe, Kacey.  Ten tiny breaths.  Seize them.  Feel them.  Love them. 
Four years ago, Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend.  Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind.  Armed with two bus tickets, Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami.  They’re struggling to make ends meet at first, but Kacey’s not worried.  She can handle anything – anything but her mysterious neighbour in apartment 1D. 
Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes and deep dimples, and perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy.  Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable, and Trent is desperate to find a way into Kacey’ guarded heart – even if it means revealing an explosive secret that could shatter both their worlds. 
My Review:
Twenty-year-old, Kacey Cleary and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie board a bus in Michigan headed for Miami, Florida.  Their parents had been killed in a drunk driving accident four years ago and now they’re on their own.  They have nothing to keep them in Michigan and just decide Miami would be a nice place to start over. 
They were staying with their Aunt Darla and Uncle Raymond but Uncle Raymond had a hard time keeping his hands and other body parts off young, Livie so they took off.
The girls found a cheap apartment on and it was only a half hour from the beach.  The apartment is small and dingy.  The first thing Kacey wants to do is strip the beds and wash the sheets in the hottest water possible.  She heads to the laundry room in the basement where she meets, Trent Emerson who had also just recently moved in.  He was strikingly handsome with a ripped body and the most beautiful blue eyes and long eye lashes. 
Kacey has been very closed since the fatal accident and comes across as a hard-ass to everyone.  She doesn’t trust people, won’t allow anyone to touch her, nor will she shake hands with anyone.  Young Livie always springs into action and saves her during moments of introductions. 
Although Kacey has this hard-ass demeanor and works very hard at keeping everyone at a distance, keeping that up with Trent becomes more difficult.  Trent is so enamoured with Kacey and is trying hard to find a way into her guarded soul, ‘’even if it means revealing an explosive secret that could shatter both their worlds.’’
I totally enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting.  The tension kept mounting and mounting and mounting until finally, BAM!  The secret was out!!!!  I sure didn’t expect that.  This book would appeal to people of all ages. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Story Description:
Harper Collins|October 21, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-44341-022-9
From the lavish parlours of Shanghai courtesans to the fog-shrouded mountains of a remote Chinese village – a sweeping, evocative epic of two women’s intertwined fates and their search for identity. 
Violet is one of the most celebrated courtesans in Shanghai, a beautiful and intelligent woman who has honed her ability to become any man’s fantasy since her start as a “Virgin Courtesan” at the age of twelve.  Half-Chinese and half-American, she moves effortlessly between the east and the west.  But her talents belie her private struggle to understand who she really is and her search for a home in the world.  Abandoned by her mother, Lucia, and uncertain of her father’s identity, Violet’s quest to truly love and be loved will set her on a path fraught with danger and complexity – and the loss of her own daughter.  Lucia, a willful and wild American woman who was once herself the proprietress of Shanghai’s most exclusive courtesan house, nurses her own secret wounds, which she first sustained when, as a teenager, she fell in love with a Chinese painter and followed him from San Francisco to Shanghai.  Her search for penance and redemption will bring her to a startling reunion with Flora, Violet’s daughter, and will undo all that Violet believed she knew about her mother. 
Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement sweeps the reader along a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, the legacies of traumas, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, returning readers to the compelling territory Tan so expertly mapped in The Joy Luck Club.  With her characteristic wisdom, grace and humour, Tan conjures up a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and senses, its illusions and truths. 
The Valley of Amazement was truly an amazing book!  An epic tale of the most magnificent proportions.  Amy Tan has written her best book yet.  I couldn’t put it down and at a hefty 589 pages I still read it in just over a day.
The book spanned fifty years and two contintents – China and America.  Two women, Violet and Lucia lost to each other through no fault of their own once again meet and try to flesh out what happened to them.  This book made me laugh, made me cry and left me feeling hugely satisfied.  For as long as the book was, I still wanted the story to continue on even further.  This is a book not to be missed and should be read by everyone.  I will be keeping this as part of my permanent collection.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


House of Anansi Press Inc.|April 6, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-77089-350-4
Under the Hawthorn Tree takes place in 1974 during the heart of the Cultural Revolution in China.  Jingqiu is a high school student who is very good at writing essays and is chosen as one of the students to travel to a small village to interview the people, write up her conversations so that they may be used as new textbooks. 
While there she meets Old Third and falls hopelessly in love but is his love ‘true’ and returned at the depth to which hers is?  Love is a funny thing and at times people do all sorts of things they wouldn’t normally do all in the name of love.
The story was so well-written, so engrossing that I couldn’t turn the page fast enough.  I was totally lost in the novel.  I’ve had it on my ‘to be read’ pile for a while and now wish I had of read it much sooner than I did.  This is a book that would definitely be enjoyed by everyone.  I might just read it again myself.  


Gallery Books|October 22, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4516-8445-2
“LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher.  She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.    
Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies.  In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master. 
Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire.  Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is – and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible. “
I totally fell in love with this story and couldn’t put it down for a second. I was even walking around the house holding the book while waiting for things to cook or the kettle to boil.  I’d not heard of this author before and actually just picked up the book on a whim and I’m certainly glad I did. 

Monday, November 11, 2013


Grand Central Publishing|September 17, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4555-2065-7
Ninety-one-year-old, Ira Levinson found himself in big trouble.  His car has gone off the road in a snowstorm and down a steep embankment.  Already frail and in poor health he is completely isolated and all alone.  Will someone see his car down the embankment and rescue him, or will he suffer from his injuries and the cold and succumb to his death?  As Ira fights with himself to stay conscious, a blurred image appears beside him – his dead wife, Ruth who has passed away nine years ago.  Ruth talks to Ira about the life they lived together to keep him focused, alert, and thinking to prevent him from lapsing into unconsciousness.  Ira has a difficult time at first believing that Ruth is really there with him but finally reconciles it in his mind and accepts it.  Ira and Ruth talked back and forth about the good times and the bad times in their marriage.  Ira has been deeply, deeply in love with his beloved Ruth and missed her more than words could ever express. 
College student, Sophia Danko is at a western dance with her friend and roommate, Marcia.  Not feeling up to dancing and not knowing how to line dance, Sophia goes outside into the fresh night air.  Within a few minutes her drunk ex-boyfriend, Brian strolled up and began to hassle her.  When he grabbed her by the wrist he was hurting her.  Just then a strikingly handsome cowboy named, Luke came to her aid.  Within seconds he had, Brian lying down, face first in the dirt with his boot on the back of his neck.  After finishing with Brian, Luke and Sophia strike up a conversation and it doesn’t take long for them to begin dating. 
Luke ends up showing Sophie a whole new word that she has never seen before – that of rodeo’s and farming.  As they get to know each other they horseback ride, attend rodeo’s together where Sophie watches Luke bull ride.  They are falling more and more in love.  Sophie begins to ponder what a permanent future would be like with Luke – that is, if the secret he is keeping doesn’t totally destroy their relationship first. 
Soon, the lives of Luke and Sophie and Ira and Ruth will come together in the most unexpected way. 
I loved The Longest Ride.  The plot was great, the characters well fleshed out and the ending totally blew me away.  I didn’t see that coming at all.
Nicholas Sparks has written another winner, a book to be enjoyed by all. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Story Description:
Harlequin|September 24, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7783-1547-6
Layla Roy has defied the fates.  
Despite being born under an inauspicious horoscope, she is raised to be educated and independent by her eccentric grandfather,Dadamoshai. And, by cleverly manipulating the hand fortune has dealt her, she has even found love with Manik Deb, a man betrothed to another.  All were minor miracles in India that spring of 1943, when young women’s lives were predetermined if not by the stars, then by centuries of family tradition and social order.
Layla’s life as a newly married woman takes her away from home and into the jungles of Assam, where the world’s finest tea thrives on plantations run by native labor and British efficiency.  Fascinated by this culture of whiskey-soaked expats who seems fazed by neither earthquakes nor man-eating leopards, she struggles to find her place among the prickly English wives with whom she is expected to socialize, and the peculiar servants she now finds under her charge. 
But navigating the tea-garden set will hardly be her biggest challenge.  Layla’s remote home is not safe from the powerful changes sweeping India on the heels of the Second World War.  Their colonial society is at a tipping point, and Layla and Manik find themselves caught in a perilous racial divide that threatens their very lives. 
My Review:
Layla Roy was born underneath an unlucky star which makes her a “manglik” according to her Hindu culture.  For Laya, growing up in the 1940’s, this is bad news because Mars is predominant in her Hindu horoscope and this angry red planet makes people rebellious and militant by nature.
However, this began to change for Layla on April 7, 1943.  Three things happened that day but the most important was that Layla Roy, seventeen-years-old, fell in love with Manik Deb. 
Dadamoshai, Layla’s grandfather was opening a new girl’s school in their town.  The morning of the opening there were protestors carrying signs with misspelled words.  Earlier that morning, Dadamoshai had chased the demonstrators away down the road yelling at them to “learn to spell before you go around demonstrating your nitwit ideas.” 
Dadamoshai was an advocate of English education and nothing bugged him more than the massacre of the English language.  He was an imposing man and had once been the most powerful District Judge in the state of Assam.  People respectfully stepped aside when the saw him coming.  To most people he was known as Rai Bahadur, an honorary title bestowed upon him by the British for his service to the crown. 
Layla’s life as a newly married woman takes her away from home and into the jungles of Assam, where the world’s finest tea thrives on plantations run by labor and British efficiency.  She struggles to find her place among the prickly English wives with whom she is expected to socialize and the peculiar servants she now finds herself in charge of.
But navigating the tea garden set will hardly be her biggest challenge.  Layla’s remote home is not safe from the powerful changes sweeping India on the heels of the Second World War.  Their colonial society is at a tipping point, and Layla and Manik find themselves caught in a perilous racial divide that threatens their very lives. 
Before marrying Manik, Dadamoshai and Layla had a housekeeper, Chaya, who was a slim woman with soft brown eyes and a disfiguring burn scar that fused the skin on the right side of her face like smooth molten wax.  It was an acid burn.  When Chaya was sixteen, she had fallen in love with a Muslim man.  The Hindu villages killed her lover, and then flung acid in her face to mark her as a social outcast.  Dadamoshai had rescued Chaya from a violent mob and taken her into his custody.  What followed was a lengthy and controversial court case that saw many people go to jail.  Although, Dadamoshai was considered a highly respectable man, this showed his human nature and the compassionate side of his personality. 
Both Layla’s parents had died, which is why she was living with and being raised by Dadamoshai.  Her father was a freedom fighter and died in the cellular jail.  Her mother drowned in a lily pond.  She killed herself. 
Teatime for the Firefly was a phenomenal story for a debut novel.  It had a little of everything in it:  mystery, suspicion, love, hate, thrills and chills and everything else you could possibly think of.  I’d been wanting to read this for a while and kept putting it back on my TBR pile and now I’m sorry I waited so long because this was one well-written, interesting, and powerful story.  Congratulations Ms. Patel on a fantastic debut novel!!!!  You deserve a standing ovation!