Book Reviews

Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Fifty Words for Rain is at once achingly sad and poetically beautiful. I love a heart-wrenching plot and complex characters, and Asha Lemmie delivers in one sweep with her debut novel. Prepare to get lost in the range of emotions you’ll feel at every turn. Whether it’s friendship, siblinghood, parenthood, hope, or survival, there is a theme in Fifty Words for Rain that will speak to your heart.

Fifty Words for Rain tells the tale of a young girl named Nori who goes to live with her grandparents – only to be forced into the attic and punished for things beyond her control.

In a world where she is to be neither seen nor heard to save face for her highly esteemed family, Nori eventually finds an ally in her brother Akira.

Akira shows Nori new possibilities that Nori had previously been denied. As Nori learns more from her brother about the outside world, it becomes harder and harder to return to the isolation of the attic.

Throughout many ups and downs, Nori’s adoration for Akira blossoms into a love that transcends both of their circumstances and leads to daring and courageous acts.

After a lifetime of suffering, Nori feels like a shell of her former self. Although the siren call of death can be disguised as an endearing temptress, Nori must persevere to protect herself and her loved ones. When motherhood presents itself, Nori’s harsh reality becomes even more evident.

Throughout life we make many choices, some big and others small, but all can have lasting impacts on other people. Nori must eventually come to terms with her choices, especially when it comes to love. Will she have room in her heart for more than one person?

As a single mother, I think about this issue sometimes. One day if “true love” presents itself again, how will I balance it with the love of my child? Can’t the love of your sibling or your child or your parent also be true love, just in a different way? Love is multi-faceted.

Nori’s journey is deep and devoted. There were times when I was overcome with sadness or anger and literally had to put this book down to compose myself.

Asha Lemmie has proven herself an expert at eliciting emotion. The only thing you could regret is not reading this book!

Learn more about Asha Lemmie and Fifty Words for Rain at her website.

Book Reviews

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Vicious tells the story of Victor and Eli: college buddies, roommates, handsome and intelligent, and striving for excellence.

And it presents an ultimate question – What will you do to be a hero?

Victor and Eli are ambitious. Their experiments in near-death experiences lead them down a path of no return. Will they go beyond the brink or will it be too late to stop each other?

I like to read on the back patio while my son plays outside.

This story was a fast read. The science-made-relative aspect reminded me a little of Michael Crichton and I liked that the chapters alternated storylines so we got to learn about each of the primary characters.

This book makes you think about what it means to be a hero or an anti-hero. Good vs evil and wrong vs right have a lot of grey area. Something that starts with the best intentions can still turn sour, and the worst situations can prevent interesting opportunities.

I am not a huge “superhero” fan. I like the old Superman movies and the Batman ones with Christian Bale, but I don’t own any comic books. Vicious was still a comfortable read to dip a toe into the proverbial waters of that world.

Learn more about V. E. Schwab and her other works – including Vengeful, the sequel to Vicious – on her website.

Happy reading, friends!

Book Reviews

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Are you a fan of dating apps? Has internet dating become your bff during covid? The Right Swipe might restore your faith in the dating app scene.

The Right Swipe was in a stack of pink books I picked up at Target.

Pink and I were a vibe that day.

My love life has been less than non-existent lately and sometimes it’s hard to read romance novels because I get all in my feels but The Right Swipe I really enjoyed.

First of all, the main character, Rhiannon, is 37, proud of her success, and not afraid to wear what she wants. (Sweatshirts/hoodies? Can I get an amen!)

Second, Rai incorporates some important topics such as friendship, evolving life circumstances such as having kids, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (Here’s a helpful link if you are unfamiliar with CTE.)

Lastly, the intimate scenes were wooooh! It makes sense since Alisha Rai has over a dozen romance novels under her belt.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that the love interest, Samson (former pro football athlete), sounds like a total dreamboat! Like Rhiannon, I don’t know much about who the professional athletes are these days (or any days), but also like Rhiannon, I’m secretly very interested in a hunk with intuitive hands.

I wish I was more like Rhiannon in one aspect – not forgiving ghosters. It gets better as I’m getting older but always a work in progress. So when Samson ghosts her and they end up meeting again, will she forgive him?

Check out The Right Swipe and let me know what you think!

To learn more about Alisha Rai, check out her website.

Happy reading, friends!

Book Reviews

Review: The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

Winter is approaching quickly! The last part of 2020 seems to be flying by and the holiday season is almost upon us.

The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork is a perfect addition to this winter’s TBR.

It’s a music-laden and intriguing twist on the nutcracker story. I was going to wait until December to read it – but I couldn’t help myself! Once I started, I didn’t want to stop.

This magical tale follows young pianist Clara as she experiences not only the bewitchment of her first crush on another piano protégé, but also the enchantments of Prince Nikolai Volkonsky’s kingdom of Imperia.

In an article on NPR, we learn that the original author of The Nutcracker was E. T. A. Hoffman, and at the time he titled it Nutcracker and Mouse King. At one time, Hoffman also wrote that music “reveals an unknown kingdom to mankind: a world that has nothing in common with the outward, material world that surrounds it, and in which we leave behind all predetermined conceptual feelings in order to give ourselves up to the inexpressible.”

In The Enchanted Sonata, music literally reveals an unknown kingdom. Music plays a very special role in the story so I won’t give away everything. Just know you’re in for a treat. 🙂

(There are a couple grisly moments that I would be hesitant to share with very young readers but all-in-all The Enchanted Sonata is a family-friendly story.)

What are your favorite holiday and winter reads? Let me know in the comments!

Learn more about Heather Dixon Wallwork at her website and view her adorable artwork on Instagram.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Kya lives alone in a shack by the marsh, cared for from a distance by a handful of people, all the while earning the title of Marsh Girl – although not earning the harsh treatment that comes with it. Her path crosses with Tate, her first love, and Chase, former high school athlete. They feel drawn to her the way some people feel drawn to the marsh – one as someone who loves it and one as someone who wants to conquer it. Among the gulls and the grasses of the marsh, Kya has learned humanity through the wild things. Can it save her when it matters most?

Written by zoologist Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing is bittersweet and beautiful – my favorite combination in a book.

The story of Kya, left by her mother and siblings to live alone first with her alcoholic father and then by herself, is sad and earnest.

The pace in the beginning of the book is slow, and I think some readers take issue with that. It’s not fast-action thriller but there is enough suspense to draw you in and make your heart pound.

The slow pace in the beginning set the tone for the turbulence of the second half of the book – where the timelines draw closer and closer and everything comes together

Where the Crawdads Sing is Delia Owens’ first novel and I haven’t read any of her other published works, but I feel from this story and based on her career that she is a master at setting the scene and bringing us closer to nature through patience while sharing the beauty of even the smallest creatures.

One cannot be in a rush amongst the wild things.

I also love the poetry that is shared throughout the book, such as this excerpt:

Have you read Where the Crawdads Sing? Did you love it or do you think it doesn’t live up to the hype? Let me know!

Stay tuned for my next Nature in the Novel post, featuring Where the Crawdads Sing!

Happy reading, friends 🙂

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Space Between Worlds

Cara is a traverser – jumping between worlds by both the mercy of Goddess Nyame and the intentional hands of science. She spends every day with a woman she loves from afar while trying to reconcile the present with the past… That is, until a powerful announcement is made and Cara begins to believe that while she can’t alter destiny, she can still exercise her free will to choose between what’s right right now and what’s right for all.

When I hear “sci-fi” my brain automatically goes to things like The Twilight Zone or intergalactic travel (I grew up in a Star Trek household). The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson is sci-fi that feels…. accessible. While not caught up in the technical aspects I usually lose interest in, there’s just enough for it to set the scene without rubbing it in your face. The emotions of the characters also create the drama that keeps me (and hopefully you!) coming. back. for. more.

The Space Between Worlds is also visually enticing. The juxtaposition of the technologically-advanced Wiley City and the left-behind-in-the-dust (literally) Rurals and Ashtown are something I would love to see on the big screen.

The Wiley City skyscrapers complete with gardens and courtyards are probably not far off from what our future holds. A quick Google image search of skyscraper vertical gardening gives you an idea.

It has the futuristic, post-apocalyptic thing going on which I think will never go out of style as long as we are pre-apocalyptic. Think The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, etc. Why are we so drawn to these books? A post-apocalyptic world seems so – forgive me – out of this world but is so full of heroes it’s hard not to be drawn to it.

Other than having a good plot and excellent character development, The Space Between Worlds is DIVERSE. The plot does not center around a cisgender, white protagonist with a few diverse characters sprinkled in to the edges for good measure. The story is about humanity, all of it, pulling back its layers and exposing its deep truths.

With appropriately-timed revelations and the continuous theme of the relationship between science and religion, there is plenty in The Space Between Worlds to spark conversation. It would be a great book club selection.

Have you read The Space Between Worlds? Would you want to world-travel? I would honestly much rather be the world-traveler than the person who is visited by a traveler because I would be INSANELY jealous!

Happy reading, friends!

Beliefs and opinions reflected in this post are mine alone and do not reflect the beliefs and opinions of the author and/or publisher.