Sunday, January 29, 2017

From Mom to Me Again

Melissa Shultz and I seem to have a lot in common. Namely that two sons have recently headed off to college and the helicopter propellers have come to a grinding halt. There is literally no place to park this monstrous aircraft. (I took an online quiz once and it told me I was a Black Hawk) I generally do not read or review what I coin self-help books but a few of you out there may be after the same support and advice I currently seek. From Mom to Me Again kept me entranced about half way through, where I breezily thought – yeah, me too! – she seemed to be taking the words right out of my mouth during the first months of my abandonment. But alas, as only my own mother could tell me, it is time and processing. There is no magic secret. No golden advice that I haven’t already thought of on my own – as it is quite obvious a black hawk status helicopter mom has thought through every painful detail in advance. The second half I had to push through. The book revealed nothing other than plain old common sense. If it makes you feel better to know you are not in this alone, please go ahead and read this easy to digest book of one woman’s journey but don’t expect any miracles, apparently they only come from understanding your very own heart.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

From a small mountain village in China, where the minorities live, Li-yan and her family collect tea leaves. The members of their little enclave live and love by the old and often strict traditions of the Akha people as they have for many generations. The Akha follow their spiritual leaders and manage to scrape by with little money and barely enough food.  Li-yan’s mother is the medicine woman and mid-wife of their village and most often backbone of their community. When they are not collecting tea leaves Li-yan is one of the lucky few children to attend a small school hut where Teacher Zhang instills a love of learning and ultimately changes her future. One day a jeep mysteriously arrives and Mr. Huang – a successful businessman in search of the highest quality tea - can only be assisted by Li-yan as she now is the sole villager to speak Mandarin. And so begins her journey into adulthood, the difficult choices that are made and sometimes opportunities also missed. The intense mother love travels between mountain top villages and stretches across vast oceans all the way to California. Once again, magnificent author Lisa See takes us on a journey to another world where the reader can see the leaves being plucked one by one and practically smell the blossoms on the trees. Her steadfast attention to detail brings the characters alive and you will be thinking of Li-yan and her family long after the story ends. I am in awe of the way Ms. See manages to bring full circle the outcome and life lessons so smoothly that I find myself slowing my reading to digest every beautiful sentence. I highly recommend this breathtaking novel which will surely capture your imagination and your heart. And quite possibly have you booking a trip to China (as I hope to) in the near future.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Widow of Wall Street

Phoebe started dating Jake when she was barely 15 years old. Pretty and popular her entire life, she couldn’t wait to be a grown up. But after a secret college affair that turned sour Phoebe was drawn immediately back to Jake’s strong arms. Jake adored her and promised the moon and the stars. His dreams shaped a future she could have never even imagined. Phoebe did not realize that ambition is not a switch you can adjust or turn off. Married young with two small children Phoebe became nothing more than arm candy for Jake’s skyrocketing success. Mansion on the beach in Greenwich, boats, cars and jewels – everyone wanted to invest with Jake Pierce because they wanted what he had. So in addition to the highrollers not afraid of a gamble, all of their friends and family sunk their life savings into his investment firm, he called the Club. As the economy fluctuated, as there is no question it will, Jake’s anxiety begins to build. Phoebe’s trust and naivete leave her caring for her home and children while avoiding arguments anytime she questions Jake’s values or motives. This fast paced, in-depth look at a Madoff like Ponzi scheme had me on the edge of my seat with sweaty palms. I could not get off this suspenseful, emotional rollercoaster by incredible author Randy Susan Meyers (Accidents of Marriage). She creates a world of likable characters (except for Jake, of course!) and even when the crisis looming is obvious you are still rooting for some way that Phoebe can fix this mess. She is faced not just with financial ruin, but the loss of her children, her sister and her faith. Highly recommend this unputdownable read that will be available in April! Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to let my friends and fellow booklovers know that this is one they CANNOT miss!!