Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance Edited by Erin Passons

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As seen on Goodreads:

American Women. Their Stories. Their Resistance.

The despot is perched in his tower, threatening democracy with every tweet. Vultures of big business occupy his cabinet seats, while empty-headed puppets tie the Senate to a string. With a wave of a pen, they set our rights on fire.

Welcome to the new America.

And who are we? We are the women of the marginalized majority. We come from every corner of America. We are the outraged mothers. We are the unprotected daughters. We are the uninsured sick, the gay and the blamed, the cast-off patrons of the lesser paid, and the survivors of trauma taught to feel ashamed.

We are every woman you have ever met, and every woman you haven’t. Our stories are of struggle, but also of strength; of fear, but also of courage. We know despair, but we never lose hope. We are extraordinary women living in extraordinary times.

We are The Nasty Women Project.

100% proceeds from our book sales are donated to Planned Parenthood.

My Comments:

Nasty Women Project is compilation of essays written by regular, everyday women from almost every state in the US.  In an effort to be educated on the plight of women of all races, colors, creeds and sexual orientations, Erin Passons, the editor, called for submissions hoping “the darkness inspired by Trump will only bring forth more light”.  When it became a possibility that The GOP would have the opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood the idea was born: she would gather the written words of women across the country and publish them to sell, donating all the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

Telling their stories of election night, prejudice and life experiences provides women in the United States of America the opportunity to make sense out of their fears and hopes, and reading them provides a sense of camaraderie and courage.  These powerful, well written essays show struggles and fear along with new-found strength and focus.

Elizabeth Martin of Ohio says “Since Trump’s win, we have begun to organize.  We sign petitions.  We call politicians.  We march.  We fight.  I have thousands of life preservers surrounding me, and I no longer have the fear of drowning.”

As Jennifer Tyree from Arizona says, “We must rally.  Now is the time to make history.”

Take the time to hear what the women of the United States have to say and purchase your copy of Nasty Women Project HERE.  All proceeds are donated to Planned Parenthood.

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Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu

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As seen on Goodreads:

Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.

As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

 

My Comments:

A lovely debut, Marriage of a Thousand Lies brings to light the layers of struggles that shape our decisions on how we choose to live our lives.  Lucky and her husband Kris are both gay, in a marriage of convenience to keep Kris in the country and for Lucky to mend the relationship with her disapproving family and save face in the eyes of the Sri Lanken community.  Lucky returns home to care for her ill grandmother and is reunited with Nisha, her old friend whom she had a romantic relationship with when they were younger.  Nisha is preparing for her arranged marriage to a man, but in the weeks leading up to her wedding the suppressed love and desire of these former lovers are unleashed forcing both Nisha and Lucky to reevaluate their choices and how they want to live their lives.  Is it better to follow your heart and be shunned from your family and community or should you live a lie to be accepted?  Marriage of a Thousand Lies brings us on a journey of struggles and pressures, as Nisha and Lucky make their decisions on how to live and where to find acceptance.

Last week, on the 20th anniversary of Ellen Degeneres coming out at  gay on national tv to 42 million viewers, I reflected on how far we have come in the United States when it comes to acceptance and treating all people equally.   Yes, we have progressed in 20 years, but there are still many individuals and groups that preclude some from being considered equal and treated fairly.  It is part of the human struggle to protect and honor the past while we grow and accept change and celebrate difference moving forward.  Little by little we are finding the balance, one family and one community at a time, as brave individuals choose to live authentically and gain support from their inner circle.  I enjoyed this well written novel as it touched on the personal struggles of  each character with the added bonus of Sri Lankan traditions and customs.

Marriage of a Thousand Lies will be available June 13th.

Preorder here on AMAZON.

 

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About the author:

SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Her hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and was published by Split Lip Press. She was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Marriage of a Thousand Lies is her first novel, and will be released by Soho Press in June 2017.

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*GIVEAWAY* The Unexpected Daughter

I am excited to give away 3 copies of The Unexpected Daughter by Sheryl Parbhoo.  Giveaway closes Friday, May 5th at 11 AM EST.

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To Enter…

1. Like the Book Nation by Jen Facebook page

2. Like the *Giveaway* post on Facebook

3. Share on Facebook OR tag a friend

Winners will be announced Friday, May 5th.
US Residents only

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The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

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As seen on Goodreads:

The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

My Comments:

So much to enjoy in Jane Green’s latest novel, The Sunshine Sisters!  Sisters Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy, have damaged relationships with each other and their actress mother Ronni, and when Ronni asks them all to come see her at once, they are not enthusiastic.  Ronni is ill and wants to make amends before she dies.  She hopes to be forgiven for her less than perfect mothering and to bring her girls together so they can get reacquainted and become a support for each other.

Jane’s characters are complex and well developed; we learn of their insecurities, coping mechanisms and emotions, and we see how it manifests in their words and behaviors.  Each daughter had to overcome obstacles in her life and I was rooting for all of them every step of the way.  In addition to the realistically flawed, likable characters, I have to make mention of the setting.  As a Westport native, it was such a pleasure for me to see my town through the eyes of the Sunshine sisters, nostalgic, accurate and oh so much fun!

Always pleasurable to read a Jane Green novel, and for me, this one was especially wonderful.  A beautiful story of a family mending fences, reevaluating priorities, repairing relationships and creating new and better ones.  The wonderful Westport, Connecticut setting with mentions of all the hot spots read like a cherished home movie for me, and shedding some tears like I did always deserves a thumbs up!

The Sunshine Sisters will be available June 6th!  Order a copy HERE for your beach bag!

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Jane Green is the author of eighteen novels, of which seventeen are New York Times Bestsellers, including her latest, Falling Previous novels have included The Beach House, Second Chance, Jemima J, and Tempting Fate.  Her cookbook, Good Taste, debuted on October 4th.

She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide. She joined the ABC News team to write their first enhanced digital book— about the history of Royal marriages, then joined ABC News as a live correspondent covering Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.  A former journalist in the UK, she has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and is a regular contributor on radio and TV, including as well as regularly appearing on television shows including Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart show, and The Today Show.

Together with writing books and blogs, she contributes to various publications, both online and print, including anthologies and novellas, and features for The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and Self. She has taught at writers conferences, and does regular keynote speaking, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.

A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, Green filled two of her books, Saving Grace and Promises to Keep, with recipes culled from her own collection. She says she only cooks food that is “incredibly easy, but has to look as if you have slaved over a hot stove for hours.” This is because she has five children, and has realised that “when you have five children, nobody ever invites you anywhere.”

She lives in Westport, Connecticut with her husband and their blended family. When she is not writing, cooking, gardening, filling her house with friends and herding chickens, she is usually thanking the Lord for caffeine-filled energy drinks. A cancer survivor – she has overcome Malignant Melanoma, she also lives with Chronic Lyme Disease, and believes gratitude and focusing on the good in life is the secret to happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Insomniac City: New York, Oliver and Me by Bill Hayes

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As seen on Goodreads:
Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city’s incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.

And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance–“I don’t so much fear death as I do wasting life,” he tells Hayes early on–is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes’s distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.

My Comments:

I couldn’t help but fall in love with New York City as I lived it through author Bill Hayes’ eyes reading Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me.  He is a wonderful observer and he captures the essence of people through photographs and his stories.  He tells us his life journey (after he loses his beloved partner he leaves San Francisco to start fresh in NYC) and we experience his existence as he heals his soul, taking in the sights of the city and finding beauty in his connections with others.  We here about his relationship with Oliver Sacks, the well-known neurologist,  genius of a man and can feel the love they had for each other through the pages.  Although Sacks was almost 30 years older, Hayes often seemed to be his guide contributing to what made them a well matched, intriguing couple.

I’ve always been enamored with New York City and did enjoy living there for a while, but now, in addition to my renewed appreciation and love for my favorite city I feel warm feelings toward author Bill Hayes who is no doubt a kind, tender hearted, open minded man who, in his life has nurtured loves until they are gone, but he continues to see, appreciate and capture the beauty in this world. Oliver Sacks seemed like a brilliant, unique and loving man…I would have enjoyed meeting him.

As Bill Hayes writes. ” It requires a certain kind of unconditional love to love living here.  But New York repays you in time in memorable encounters, at the very least.  Just remember: Ask first, don’t grab, be fair, say please and thank you, always say thank you – even if you don’t get something back right away.  You will.”

This tender memoir was like reading a love letter to New York City – I have a list of people I know who will cherish it like I did!

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The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, Bill Hayes is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the author of several books.

A photographer as well as a writer, his photos have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Granta, New York Times, and on CBS Evening News. His portraits of his partner, the late Oliver Sacks, appear in the recent collection of Dr. Sacks’s suite of final essays Gratitude.

Hayes has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, the recipient of a Leon Levy Foundation grant, and a Resident Writer at Blue Mountain Center. He has also served as a guest lecturer at Stanford, NYU, UCSF, University of Virginia, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Purchase a copy of Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me HERE

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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As seen in Goodreads:

The #1 New York Times bestseller and modern classic that’s been changing lives for a decade gets a gorgeous revamped cover and special additional content.

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Comments:

The most important message from Thirteen Reasons Why is that how we treat others can effect them in bigger ways than we realize and we should be cognizant of our actions and interactions. At 16 Hannah has committed suicide and has left behind audio cassette tapes for the people who contributed to her unhappiness as one thing lead to another and her depression snowballed. Each person mentioned in the tapes is supposed to listen so they can see how their actions impacted Hannah. Clay listens to the tapes and little by little begins to understand her mindset as different people let her down along the way. The story is a sad one, and each person in her life had an opportunity to “save” her but nobody realized how bad she needed saving until it was too late.

My teenage son read this in a day and suggested I read it. His high school sent an email to all parents bringing to our attention the Netflix series based on the book and warning that the TV version may glamorize suicide and to watch and discuss it with your children.

Bullying, promiscuity, and teenage drama are not new topics but author Jay Asher does a nice job delivering a fast moving, suspenseful novel for adults and teens which sparks important conversation about the serious topics of suicide and depression.

The national phone number and website for help is 1-800 SUICIDE and http://www.hopeline.com.

 

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Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

He has published only one book to date, Thirteen Reasons Why, which was published in October 2007. He is currently working on his second Young Adult novel, and has written several picture books and screenplays. Thirteen Reasons Why has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It also has received high reviews from fellow authors such as Ellen Hopkins, Chris Crutcher, and Gordon Kormon.

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The Unexpected Daughter by Sheryl Parbhoo

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As stated in Goodreads:

Three people’s lives intersect in a tumultuous yet redeeming way that none of them could have ever predicted. Jenny is a young professional from the South with an upbringing she wants to forget. She meets Roshan, an Indian immigrant who has moved to the United States with his mother, Esha, to escape family ghosts. With strong cultural tradition, Esha has devoted her entire life to her only child, both for his own good and for her personal protection from a painful past. Roshan understands his role as his mother’s refuge, and from an early age, he commits himself to caring for her. But when Jenny and Roshan embark on a forbidden, intercultural relationship, all three get tangled into an inseparable web—betrayal, violence, and shame—leaving them forced to make choices about love and family they never wanted to make while finding peace where they never expected to look.

 

My Comments:

I loved this story, enjoyed following each character as they fought their own personal battles and learned a lot about Indian culture and tradition along the way!  Roshan and Jenny have a unique friendship that grows into more but they resist the temptation to commit, he due to his Indian background, customs and parental influences, and she due to her fear of abandonment, and her difficult upbringing surrounded by poverty and addiction.  After fighting the attraction, going their separate ways and living their lives apart for a decade, they come together and are faced with the same obstacles and more.  As author Sheryl Parbhoo shows us in The Unexpected Daughter, it is impossible to escape our formative years, good or bad; it is a part of who we are and how we live in this world.  What we can do is make good decisions for ourselves, embrace opportunities, live authentically and love with an open heart.

One of my favorite types of books is a story of immigration, assimilation and the mixing of cultures.  The Unexpected Daughter delivers all of that so well as the backdrop with a rollercoaster ride of a story of a modern multicultural family as they come to terms with their past and grow together, navigating love, loyalty, addiction, ambition, death, birth and celebration….Life.    A wonderful debut!

Order on AMAZON today!

 

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Sheryl Parbhoo is an author, blogger, educator, and mother of five. A native southerner, her interest in the intricacies of human culture led to a BA in Anthropology from the University of Memphis. Her longing for the spice of life culminated when she married her high school sweetheart, a South African Indian immigrant, and became a stay-at-home mom to their five children for over 20 years. After diligent, dedicated PTA and Room Mom duties, she earned a BS in Education from Kennesaw State University, becoming an ESOL teacher, focusing on immigrant students from Mexico and Guatemala.

Sheryl is known worldwide for her blog, Southern Life Indian Wife, where for four years she has shared stories from her spicy masala/southern cornbread way of life raising her large multicultural family and navigating the quirks of Southern and Indian in-law relationships. These, along with the responses received from readers, are the real-life inspirations for her novel, The Unexpected Daughter.

On sherylparbhoo.com, Sheryl shares her love of writing and personal experiences as a writer. She has been a featured contributor for Masalamommas.com, Twins Magazine, among others. She and her family’s blended cultural traditions have been highlighted on PBSNewshour.com, as well as on various online sites.

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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Published in 2016

As stated in Goodreads:

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

My Comments:

Loved this debut novel by Imbolo Mbue!  Jende and Neni, from Cameroon, are striving to achieve the American Dream…apartment in NYC, working hard and studying long, struggling to raise a family in the United States.  They have high hopes and aspirations, and with a positive outlook, they aim to achieve their goals.  Clark and Cindy are American, rich and live a lavish lifestyle.  Their lives are filled with pain and despair, as they desperately try to maintain their wealth and prosperity during the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a financially devastating crisis in 2008.  The two couples organically provide each other with help and support as they are faced with challenges in their personal journeys.

Mbue provides valuable insight into the immigrant struggle, the perseverance and strength it takes to settle in another country, and the breaking point when home may be calling, wherever the may be.  I loved the characters, their depth and their relationships with each other.  A thoughtful, timely, and fast paced read.

Purchase on AMAZON today!

 

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Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is her first novel.

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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As stated in Goodreads:

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing.

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

My Comments:

The Couple Next Door is an easy to read, thrilling page turner – enjoyable like an episode of CSI…devoured in one sitting!  A couple leaves their baby alone next door, sleeping in her crib, and then she is gone.  Who took her?  Did the parents facilitate the disappearance?  Other family members?  The neighbors?  An intruder?  Someone is hiding something.  Just when you think you figured things out…another twist to keep you racing to the end.  And what an end it was!  A rollercoaster debut thriller from Shari Lapena!

Posted in Authors, Book Reviews, fiction, mystery | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments