Friday, March 24, 2017

New Books Coming Your Way, March 28, 2017

The Wide Circumference of Love by Marita Golden
300 p.
Fiction; African-American

You just can’t plan for this kind of thing.

Diane Tate certainly hasn’t. She never expected to slowly lose her talented husband to the debilitating effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As a respected family court judge, she’s spent her life making tough calls, but when her sixty-eight-year-old husband’s health worsens and Diane is forced to move him into an assisted living facility, it seems her world is spinning out of control.

As Gregory’s memory wavers and fades, Diane and her children must reexamine their connection to the man he once was—and learn to love the man he has become. For Diane’ daughter Lauren, it means honoring her father by following in his footsteps as a successful architect. For her son Sean, it means finding a way to repair the strained relationship with his father before it’s too late. Supporting her children in a changing landscape, Diane remains resolute in her goal to keep her family together—until her husband finds love with another resident of the facility. Suddenly faced with an uncertain future, Diane must choose a new path—and discover her own capacity for love.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
320 p.
Historical fiction

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other…

Hope Blooms by Jamie Pope
320 p.
Romance

In one shattering instant, schoolteacher Cassandra Miller lost everything that mattered to her. Stricken with guilt and sorrow, she has no reason to care about tomorrow. The last person she wants help from is the man she wants to forget. In childhood, Wylie Everett was her cherished best friend. In adulthood, he was the secret lover who left her without explanation. Now he’s the person who won’t let her go down without a fight. And as he renews her joy in small things, and challenges her to take a fresh perspective, the desire they once shared burns more fiercely than ever—and proves anything but safe.

An ex-Marine, Wylie has always loved Cass, though their backgrounds were as different as could be. Years ago, he walked away believing he could never be good enough for her. But he’s never stopped regretting his decision. Now, helping her heal is the only way he can make amends, and hopefully make up for lost time. But their rekindled passion will be tested by pain he’s never resolved—and mistakes for which forgiveness may not be enough. Can he and Cass find one last way to move forward, and risk rebuilding their lives…together?

Map to the Stars by Adrian Matejka
128 p.
Poetry

Map to the Stars, the fourth poetry collection from National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist Adrian Matejka, navigates the tensions between race, geography, and poverty in America during the Reagan Era. In the time of space shuttles and the Strategic Defense Initiative, outer space is the only place equality seems possible, even as the stars serve to both guide and obscure the earthly complexities of masculinity and migration. In Matejka’s poems, hope is the link between the convoluted realities of being poor and the inspiring possibilities of transcendence and escape—whether it comes from Star Trek, the dream of being one of the first black astronauts, or Sun Ra’s cosmic jazz.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#BookReview: THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE by Lisa See

Summary: Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

Review: Someone once asked after watching Jeopardy with me why do I know such random things. My answer was that I loved to read. More than that, I love reading and learning new things, so Lisa See's latest was right on time. Coffee is too strong for my palate, but I love good tea. After reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, I know that what I'm drinking these days doesn't even begin to compare with what's found in the mountains of China.

I typically appreciate the care See takes with her major and minor characters, their surroundings and their story lines. I loved the way she delved into Li-yan's story from her time in the remote mountains to her adventure to the big city. Her rise and fall are written about in great detail so I found it easy to invest in her character.

On the other side of the coin was Haley, the daughter Li-yan gave up for adoption. I never really got into her story and found it to be a bit of a distraction from what I considered the real story, Li-yan's journey. Perhaps it was her Americanized life, but it never quite clicked for me.

Regardless, there is much to be learned from all of Lisa See's books and The Tea Girl is no exception. It's an engrossing story that had me sucked in from the beginning and stayed with me well after I finished reading it. Fans and newcomers to See's writing will certainly enjoy it.

384 p.
Published: March 2017
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher; opinions are my own.



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