This Week In Books – June 14th to 20th, 2017

This Week In Books


“This Week In Books” is a weekly event, hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found, that lets readers share what they read, what they’re reading, and what they’re planning to read next. I thought it would be a nice way to recap my reading week and share a few thoughts on what I’ve been reading.

 

What I Read:

Wow – talk about a small reading week! I was having a bit of an off week and just couldn’t get into anything and started listening to more music, so I didn’t listen to any audiobooks. And I just couldn’t find an audiobook that grabbed me, so I just took my time with some physical books.

Once And For All by Sarah Dessen – I was so excited for this one that I had to dig into it right when I got it. It was definitely really good and I loved the wedding planning part of it. It was very much a Sarah Dessen book, but something didn’t grab me as much as her other books and I had to suspend belief with the plot a bit. Not my favourite, but it was still good!

Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman – It had been forever since I read Kimberley Freeman’s last book and as I started reading this one I remembered how much I love her writing. This book was so good!! It seriously kept me up at night reading because I just had to see what was going on. I already have one of her older books on my books to buy list.

What I’m Currently Reading:

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – Last week I finally caught up with Aziz’s show Master of None, so when I saw this book at my library, I decided to give it a go. It’s so good! Right off the bat, I knew I had to slow down the speed (I’m a notorious 2x the speed listener) and just take in the book. I was laughing like crazy right away. It’s such an interesting book, a great blend of non-fiction and spit out your coffee humour.

 

What I Plan To Read Next: 

Oh hey, weren’t these on my list LAST week? Yup. But I’m TOTALLY going to read these this week! I was having a bit of an off week last week, so I need to catch up! I also just got the audiobook for It’s Not Like It’s A Secret and plan to listen to it next.

New On The Shelf


Nothing! It was such an off week for me that I didn’t buy one book. Definitely feels weird.

What I’m Waiting For


The powerful new novel from Kimberley Freeman.

A rich and satisfying story of two women with indomitable spirits and the high costs they have to pay for being strong-minded, from the author of the bestselling Lighthouse Bay and Ember Island.

A story about love, motherhood, and learning whom you belong to in the world.

In 1874, wild and willful Agnes Resolute finally leaves the foundling home where she grew up on the bleak moors of northern England. On her departure, she discovers that she was abandoned with a small token of her mother: a unicorn button. Agnes had always believed her mother to be too poor to keep her, but Agnes has been working as a laundress at the foundling home and recognises the button as belonging to the imperious and beautiful Genevieve Breakby, daughter of a local noble family. Agnes had only seen her once, but has never forgotten her. She investigates and discovers Genevieve is now in London. Agnes follows, living hard in the poor end of London until she finds out Genevieve has moved to France.

This sets Agnes off on her own adventure: to Paris, Agnes follows her mother’s trail, and starts to see it is also a trail of destruction. Finally, in Sydney she tracks Genevieve down. But is Genevieve capable of being the mother Agnes hopes she will be?

A powerful story about women with indomitable spirits, about love and motherhood, and about learning whom you belong to in the world.

TBA | Simon & Schuster Canada

Like I said, I love Kimberley Freeman’s books and when I started reading the book I just finished, Ember Island, I had to look her up and see if she had anything new coming out and this one was just released in Australia! I have no idea when it comes out in Canada but now after my second book by Kimberley, she is on my auto-buy list. Her books are just so good!

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? What books are you waiting for to be published?

[Audiobook Talk] One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank #LoveAudiobooks

Audiobook Details: 

Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Narrator: Amy McFadden
Length: 11 hours 44 minutes
Read: June 2017

Synopsis:

Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’ charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch – he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie.

My Thoughts

I remember browsing the new titles at my library and coming across this title a few times. Something about the title and the cover grabbed me and when it came time to get some audiobooks listened to for Audiobook Month, I picked it up and I’m so glad I did! I honestly went into this book without knowing anything about it, except that it obviously took place in Paris.

First off, I feel like I’ve read enough books that take place in Paris that I just know the city. I pretty much love any book that takes place in Paris and I love that it was Sophie and Eric’s first time to the city, even if it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Second of all, I loved that Sophie played piano! I had no idea and being a piano player myself, I loved hearing about the pieces she was playing and I was definitely envious of that Steinway.

When two families come together there is going to be drama, so this story wasn’t just about getting to Paris for the summer, but there was so much drama taking place – sibling drama, drama between the parents and the kids, drama between friends, drama between lovers. Some of it was big and serious, others were petty. But it all made for such a fun story to listen to, even when it had its heavy moments now and again.

I don’t know what it is about books that take place in Paris, but I feel like they’re always written in such detail that you just feel like you’re there as you read. Honestly, I doubt I could be like Sophie and want to practice piano while I was in such a beautiful city, but I ate up all of the times they went out and explored. And with my super rusty French, it was fun to see Sophie learn some of it throughout the story.

There’s so much growth happening between the characters and I think a lot of it was an age thing – maybe a sibling not realizing you’re growing up, or a parent still thinking you’re the child they saw years ago. But on top of that growth, there was beauty and wonder — as well as tears and frustration. It was just such a good book to listen to!

As a side note, when I finished listening to this book it was said that this book was published by Blink, the HarperCollins Christian Publishing Division, which had I seen that before I might have thought this book was more religious, but it really wasn’t at all.

When I was about 75% through this story I had to look up the author on Goodreads to see what else she had written and I was happy to see that she’s written LOTS of other novels, including some adult books. I can’t wait to try out more of her books!

Audiobook Notes: 

This was the first book I had listened that’s narrated by Amy McFadden and I really loved her narration! I loved how she got that slight Southern drawl to Sophie’s voice that was just a hint there, and she did so well with Camille and the other French accents, too. It was so much fun to listen to and I can’t believe that I hadn’t listened to anything else by McFadden. I’ll have to see if my library has more books narrated by her!

But don’t take my word for it … read some other reviews: 

Clockwork Bibliophile
Book Is Glee
Rylee Reads

[Audiobook Talk] The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See #LoveAudiobooks

Audiobook Details:

Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Narrator(s): Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, Alexandra Allwine, Gabra Zackman, Jeremy Bobb, Joy Osmanski, Emily Walton, Erin Wilhelmi
Length: 14 hours 7 minutes
Read: May 2017

Synopsis:

The thrilling new novel from number-one New York Times best-selling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been abandoned and adopted by an American couple.
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 audience. 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.

A powerful story about a family separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Lisa See book, so it was due time to read one! I feel like every couple years I long for one of her novels since she’s so great at weaving family stories into passionate historical tales that are true to their culture and emotionally driven. This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to of her books and it’s definitely not going to be my last!

I loved learning about the Ahka culture and Li-yan growing up in it. This isn’t an easy historical to read; just like in Snow Flower and The Secret Fan, there are some very heavy and difficult passages to read, so I definitely took this book in smaller doses than I usually do with audiobooks and listened to it over a span of four days. Lisa’s writing is super compelling and she pulls me in right from the get-go, and the great narration had me loving this book. I loved all of the tea culture and even though I thought I new a lot about tea, this taught me so much more, and it was really great to read how tea is actually harvested – I knew it was picked by hand, but the process is just so much more.

I also loved how this story wasn’t just about tea and the Ahka culture, but also about this child that Li-yan had to give up. Being adopted myself, it was really interesting to read!

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was that the ending seemed super rushed and almost … fantastical? I guess? It was exactly what I had predicted would happen and almost too easy. I don’t want to give anything away, but in a way it was definitely a great ending, but just not too realistic.

A note on the narration, I really enjoyed listening to this one on audiobook. At first I was a little scared because there were so many narrators, but it was nice to really just have one main narrator for Li-yan’s part of the story, and then there were letters and case notes with other narrators and it almost helped break up the story, making it really enjoyable. I loved how the story came to life in the audio and it was almost more compelling than it would have been if I read the physical book. I think listening left me my hands free to gasp in shock at certain parts and to really focus on what was being told to me. It was also nice to have the proper pronunciations and have that emotion really come across through the narration.

But don’t take my word for it … read some other reviews! 

A Pretty Life
Literary Hoarders
Lost In A Great Book