~The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See~
Li-yan is from a remote village in China where her family makes a meager living by cultivating tea trees and picking the leaves to sell. When Li-yan has a baby out of wedlock, she takes her newborn to a nearby city and leaves the baby outside an orphanage. A cake of tea, wrapped in a paper with writing on it, is tucked in the baby’s blankets.
The infant girl is then adopted by an American couple and taken to America. This epic story spans from 1988-2016 is is told in alternating points of view, switching between mother and daughter. The history and customs of the Akha people, the cultural minority that Li-yan belongs to, is fascinating, and I was hooked from page one. In reading, I could tell that a great deal of research went into this novel and was impressed by how well See melded facts and story.
This is my first Lisa See novel and I was completely intrigued.
~A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake~
Kate Drayton is a grad student studying the 1800 time period under the guise of research for school in an attempt to uncover a family mystery. The story is set in Charleston, South Carolina, and movies in time, alternating chapters from present day to 1822 during the events surrounding the Charleston slave revolt. I had a hard time relating to Kate in the beginning, but quickly became interested in the story. The supporting characters in both timelines are well done, and I immediately became engrossed by the 1822 storyline.
I enjoyed reading this book, although I have to admit I liked her novel, Blue Hole Back Home, more and marked it as one to reread. Still, this one a great book and I will be on the lookout for new books by Joy Jordan-Lake in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction. If you liked The Invention of Wings, or other fiction about 1822 Charleston, you may like this one. Good read with interesting characters.
~Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber~ I think this will be my last Christmas book post for the year. I have piles more to read, but I am running out of December.
Ashley Davison gets a holiday bonus at the last minute and decides to head to Seattle for Christmas to surprise her mother. Kevin Tyler needs to get to Seattle for an important job interview. Neither can get a plane ticket and there is only one rental car left. At first, they are at odds, but then decide to share the car trip.Unbeknownst to either of them, Ashley was mistakenly placed on the no fly list. Now the couple is being tracked across the country by an over zealous FBI agent as they make their way to Seattle. The story has plenty of laughs and romantic sparks. This is a cute holiday book, a feel-good romantic comedy. This novel has been made into a Hallmark movie, so if you like Hallmark Christmas movies, you will probably enjoy this short read by Debbie Macomber. A funny, light-hearted, Christmas romance.
~A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg~
Fifty-two-year-old Oswald T. Campbell gets the bad news that he is dying and he won’t be long for this world if he doesn’t get himself to warmer climes immediately. Through a series of events, he finds himself moving to the small town of Lost River, Alabama which is chock full of friendly, if eccentric, people.
A local shop keeper, Roy, keeps a bird in his store, and has done so since he rescued it as a small wounded fledgling. Patsy, a little crippled girl, takes to hanging around the store and the redbird, named Jack, becomes her best friend.
No one tells a story like Fannie Flagg. It doesn’t matter how many characters her stories have, she writes them so well I never get them mixed up. Her characters seem to come to life on the page, and I always find them interesting and funny. I love to listen to her read her own books because she know exactly how to tell the story. I wish she would publish more books. I am charmed by her writing style. This novel is a feel good, humorous, happily ever after story. A sweet southern Christmas read.
~The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson~ I love this book! If you’re feeling down in the dumps or grumpy this Christmas season, grab a copy of this beloved Christmas tale. The Herdsman children, all six of them, are not the most well-behaved children. In fact, they are the town juvenile delinquents, and when they show up to church after being told the church has snacks, they take over the children’s Christmas play. Having never been to church before, or hearing the Christmas story, they have a unique and unconventional take on the story. This is sure to be a disaster, until the worst Christmas pageant ever turns into the best. This endearing book always puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart. You don’t have to be a kid or have kids to enjoy this children’s book.
~Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson~
This is a fun little Christmas story. Joy Jorgensen, an 85-year-old blogger, is being moved into an assisted living facility near her sons, but before she goes she plans a trip to spread Christmas joy. Instead of taking the scheduled flight Chicago to Phoenix, she decides to travel in her motorhome down route 66. Taking along her neighbor Miranda as a sidekick, Joy follows her detailed plan, stopping off along the way to spread Christmas cheer to contest winners chosen through her blog, Christmas Joy.
This is a sweet, short book about spreading holiday cheer and love. A light, feel-good read. In one part of the book, a character plays Santa to try to convince a disbelieving child. Being blessed with children who happen to be black and white, literal thinkers, we never tried to convince our children that Santa was real. If that idea bothers you, be forewarned. I enjoyed this little novella, and look forward to reading more of Melody Carlson’s Christmas books.
~Skipping Christmas by John Grisham~
What’s Christmas without the Kranks? This short novel has become a Christmas tradition for many. Who hasn’t, at one point or another, wanted to forgo the whole crazy holiday furor. I chuckled through the familiar story of the Kranks and Luther’s decision to skip Christmas for one year and go on a cruise instead. I enjoyed this short, humorous tale. It was interesting to read this departure from the types of novels I usually associate with John Grisham. Light hearted and fun, this one got me in the holiday spirit.
~Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know I say this too often, but this book really is one of my favorites. This is an inspirational Christian read. It was published in 2005, but remains at the top of my personal list of best loved Christian inspirational novels. Mibby has lost her husband and is trying to find her footing. This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with the twists and turns in her story. She’s working to get her small business of designing gardens going while at the same time raising her 13-year-old son on her own. Mibby’s a real woman. She has a pear shaped figure and uncooperative hair. She has a next-door neighbor who dispenses comfort with words of wisdom and sugary home-baked goods. She kind of reminds me of some people I know. It makes me wish for the company of a good friend. I love all the characters in this book.
I don’t generally like characters that cry, but Mibby gets a pass because the scenes are so well done. Her crying fits are honest. None of that fake stuff here. I love a character who finds comfort in prayer, sugar laden snacks, and in the occasional indulgence of a good ugly cry.
It isn’t a fast, action-packed book, but I liked the flow. The pacing seems perfect to me for this kind of book. Is it strange that I find a story about grief comforting even from the beginning? This is the first book in a three-part series and I would like it very much if Patti Hill would write some more of Mibby’s story.?