The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

A heartbreaking dual-narrative story set in WWII Shanghai and modern-day Australia about survival, family, and love.

DESCRIPTION:

Kirsty Manning makes her US debut with this gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.


1939:
Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.


2016:
Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself. 


The Song of the Jade Lily
is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Historical Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow

Expected Publication Date: May.14.2019

*Thank you William Morrow for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

I absolutely loved this book. Books that teach me something new, stick with me for quite a long time. And this one, taught me a lot. 

So what exactly did this book teach me? History! The focus of this book is on Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Those who escaped Hitler’s regime during WWII. It’s incredibly eye-opening. An aspect of the war I had never considered was revealed to me.

The story itself is told through two timelines. There is the WWII narrative where we see one young girl (Romy) and her family scraping a life together in Shanghai after experiencing such horror in Europe. Then there is the modern-day narrative (set in 2016), where we learn what happened to the young girl and her family. 

It’s a tearjerker, this book. It’s one bad thing after another. But there are instances of love and so much strength and resilience. Which is what made me fall for this book. That through it all, people were still fighting, and resisting. Empowering. 

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES!! Most definitely! It’s not your typical WWII novel, in that it doesn’t focus on the European theater.

2019: Week 19 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.5 – Saturday.May.11

AKA: the week of shiny new ARC’s + HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! ❤

FINISHED READING: 3

Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe #2) by Raymond Chandler

​A good mystery but Philip Marlowe’s characterization felt off for some reason. Plus, the ending was neatly tied up. [3.5*]

Trump and Me by Mark Singer 

​A short and funny book about one journalist’s experience with whatshisface [3*]

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

​SO DAMN GOOD!!! It was unexpectedly funny. Very insightful. Perfection. My favorite parts were the blog posts (they were real thinkers!) [4.5*]

CURRENTLY READING: 2

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

My current audiobook. Really enjoying it. About 42% through.

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

I’ve been wanting to read this YA mystery for a while now. Barely started it so I don’t really know how I feel about it yet.

UPCOMING READ:

Idk!

BOOK HAUL: 2

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

An ARC I won through a Goodreads giveaway! 😀

The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren 

An ARC I received from BookishFirst! I actually used my points to claim a copy of this book 😀

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

My review of How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox can be found HERE

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!! 😀

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

A haunting story of one young woman’s struggle to stay sane. A perfect read for Mental Health Month!



DESCRIPTION:

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was six. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach–first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears, and with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe–maybe maybe maybe–there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet. 

Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and, also, a chasm. She explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health

Publisher: Penguin Teen

Expected Publication Date: May.7.2019

*Thank you BookishFirst for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

This is a great book. The story, set in Australia, is so relevant and relatable. Biz can’t control her thoughts. At times, they get the better of her. As her mental health begins to unravel, we get a firsthand look at how she experiences the world. 

What I really liked about this story was how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is. Biz’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, are authentic. And you just don’t read about it, you feel it. The writing mimics the unwinding of Biz’s thoughts. This style has triggered me before and I was worried that this book would do the same. Thankfully, it didn’t. So I was able to enjoy this read somewhat at ease. But it just goes to show how incredibly well-written, and lyrical this novel is. 

The book delves into aspects of inter-generational mental illness. It does this in a subtle way. As the reader only becomes aware of it as Biz begins to learn about it herself. And it’s something that Biz struggles with. We see the effects of it throughout the novel.

In a nutshell, this an emotional journey. It is a book about loss and grief, first love, family/support. And a story that leaves you with many questions. As a reader, I was left wondering whether Biz’s experiences were real or imagined. Once again reinforcing the idea, that mental illness isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

A beautiful book. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! Especially if you enjoyed Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman! (The writing styles are similar).

2019: Week 18 Reading Roundup

 Sunday.April.28 – Saturday.May.4

AKA: Another good reading week!


FINISHED READING
: 5

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

​Love Morgan Matson!!! Her books are just so feel-good reads. In this story, we have Charlie, the youngest of 5 trying to get her older sister’s wedding back on track after disaster after disaster threaten to ruin the day. Family dysfunction and family love take center stage in this book. It’s unbelievably hectic, and wild and I enjoyed every second of it (even if Charlie did annoy me sometimes). [4*]

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (read by Jim Dale)

​A beautiful and magical tale. One of my absolute favorites. Loved the audiobook! [5*]

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

​A coming-of-age story told through various short stories/vignettes. It’s a beautifully written, quick read. Esperanza (the MC) reminded me of a young me. [4*]

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

OMG!! This book is so damn HILARIOUS!! The stories are ridiculous, and Lawson’s recounting is the best thing ever. I really enjoyed everything she had to say about mental illness. Recommend the audiobook!! [5*]

The Wrong Mother (Spilling CID #3) by Sophie Hannah

​Do not read this as a standalone! You’ll just be as confused as I was. I had no idea it was part of a series. So while I was trying to solve the main mystery, I was also trying to figure out what was going on between all these detectives. The mystery itself is actually really well done. I was a little shocked by the denouement (in a good way). [3.5*]

CURRENTLY READING: 2

Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe #2) by Raymond Chandler

My goal is to read the whole Philip Marlowe series. I’m about a quarter of the way through this read and while I am enjoying it, it feels a bit… different from The Big Sleep

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Okay, I barely started this book last night so I’m not that far into it yet. But first impression: the MC runs a blog!!! #relatable haha

UPCOMING READ: 1

Audiobook! Which one? Idk. Nothing is really calling to me right now…


IN OTHER NEWS:
 

Today is Cinco de Mayo. So if you want to go and get drunk? Go ahead! Just don’t use this “holiday” as an excuse (especially if it has absolutely nothing to do with your culture i.e. non-Mexican). Seriously. Don’t wear fake mustaches. Don’t wear a sombrero. It’s just plain wrong. Stop appropriating a historical event that has nothing to do with you. For the record, I’m Latina, not Mexican. So I will not be celebrating the Battle of Puebla. Because again, I am not Mexican. And if you’re not either, then you know what NOT to do. 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

2019: Week 17 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.21 – Saturday.April.27

AKA: The week I rushed to the doctor and got a booster shot because I work with tiny little humans and I refuse to die from a 19th-century disease like some Dickens peasant…

FINISHED READING: 3

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

​Three different storylines intertwine, all relating in some way, to the husband’s secret. The secret itself a doozy, and one we find out early on in the book. The main focus is on the consequences of actions taken (or not taken) by the characters. An easy, fast-paced read. I really liked the epilogue! (A lot of… what if…) [3*]

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (narrated by Mariska Hargitay and Lin-Manuel Miranda)

​Best book ever! Everything you ever wanted to know about the musical Hamilton is in this fabulous book. Costume choices, lighting, picking the performers, etc. I am #obsessed. FYI Lin-Manuel narrates the last part about the libretto lyrics, this is where the physical book would have been a better option [4.5*]

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

RTC!! Eventually…


CURRENTLY READING:
2

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (narrated by Jim Dale)

My second read, first time audio listen. Loving it!! Should be finishing it up before the month ends 🙂

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson does it again! I am really enjoying this read!! About 73% through the book. Should be wrapping it up by tonight.


UPCOMING READ:
1

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
I have this audiobook all set and ready to go as soon as I finish Peter Pan.


Well that wraps up another week in reading! Also, this is me right now:



HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!
😀

2019: Week 16 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.14 – Saturday.April.20

AKA: An incredible reading week!

FINISHED READING: 4

Del amor y otros demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) by Gabriel García Márquez

​A relatively short tale about a 12-year-old girl bitten by a rabid dog. Although she shows no symptoms, she is sent away to a convent where she undergoes various exorcisms to “cure” her of the sickness. The language was a bit difficult for me but I did like the story (for the most part). A 36-year-old man falls in love with the little girl. Yeah. A whole lot of nope at the last 20% of the book. [3*]

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (#1) by Douglas Adams

​Ha! This book is weird but amazing. I can’t even summarize the plot. It’s too indescribable. There’s a mystery involving 2 ghosts, the fate of humanity, and a whole lot of science fiction. Funny and odd, just like the adaptation. [4*]


The Orange Girl
by Jostein Gaarder

​My goodness, this book! A 15-year-old boy reads a long-lost letter his father wrote to him shortly before he died 11 years prior. In it, the father spins a fairytale-like story about meeting the orange girl (the boy’s mother). This book is so therapeutic, that I was sobbing by the end. Because it’s not only about love, but about our very existence in the world. [4*]

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

​The life-story of our foreign-born U.S. Founding Father. I absolutely loved this book!! Because it just goes to show how incredibly hard immigrants have to work to prove themselves just as capable as their colleagues. Hamilton didn’t take anything for granted, using every opportunity he earned, and relentlessly striving to preserve the sanctity of his adopted country’s constitution. He not only fought for the states and created our financial system, but actually shaped our beloved country. One of the best biographies I’ve encountered as it covers all aspects of Alexander Hamilton’s life (i.e. The good, the bad, and the controversies) and the American Revolution. Recommend the audiobook narrated by Scott Brick [5*

CURRENTLY READING: 1

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty 

My 30-Day buddy read. About 76% of the way through. The story is okay. Simply okay. Some things are interesting. But it really hasn’t held me captivated. As of now, it’s looking like a 3* star read. 

UPCOMING READ: 

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

I have this audiobook all ready to go! I am so damn excited!!! 

BOOK HAUL: 9

Anyone else get all 9 books on Amazon for World Book Day?? I can’t say no to free books! Especially since 1 of them was on my TBR haha. 

IN OTHER NEWS:

I know everyone is watching Game of Thrones. But is anyone watching the BBC  Les Misérables adaptation on PBS?? I really liked the first episode!  Hallelujah to the No Singing!! Plus having read the book recently, it seems like a pretty faithful adaptation which makes me very happy 🙂

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

2019: Week 15 Reading Roundup

Sunday.April.7 – Saturday.April.13

(AKA: The week I fell behind on writing ARC book reviews smh)

FINISHED READING: 3

Puddin’ (Dumplin’ #2) by Julie Murphy

​Just as amazing as Dumplin’. I loved the writing. I loved the way female friendship is portrayed. I loved all the diversity. I loved getting to know Millie and Callie. I loved this book! I want more books within this beautiful universe!!! [4*]

How It Feels to Float
by Helena Fox

​About a teenage girl struggling with her mental health after the death of her father many years before. Really liked this book. RTC! (Eventually…)

As Kismet Would Have It
by Sandhya Menon

​A short story sequel to When Dimple Met Rishi. Honestly, it was pointless. But I still liked it more than the actual book lmao [3*

CURRENTLY READING: 3

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Still making my way through this as part of a 30-Day buddy read on Instagram. About 53% through and it still hasn’t really hooked me. The husband’s secret is scandalous though…

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This audiobook is long but so good! It’s a nice crash course on early U.S. History. I am about 47% of the way through and absolutely enjoying it. Just worried my OverDrive loan will expire before I finish listening to it…

Del amor y otros demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) by Gabriel García Márquez

My monthly spanish read. I am completely invested in this little girl’s story but am really finding the language difficult. Whomp, whomp. 56% done. 

UPCOMING READ

No clue!

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

2019: Week 14 Reading Roundup

Sunday.March.31 – Saturday.April.6

AKA: The week I almost fell into a reading slump!

FINISHED READING: 3


The Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides
by Aeschylus


A Greek trilogy. It was surprisingly good and easy to read! I really enjoyed The Eumenides. It focused more on the details of why Athena created a justice system. I liked the moral debate that occurred within the trial. [3*]


Cannery Row (
#1) by John Steinbeck

​Steinbeck did it again!! My goodness. The little town in Monterrey, CA is an idyllic place. Through its inhabitants, a beautiful portrait of life is painted. I’ve never related so much to a gopher haha. [4*]

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

​Powerful. Recommend the audiobook because Khan-Cullors has a strong and soothing voice. She narrates her early life in LA and how and why she became politically active. Super relatable (to me at least). Really got me thinking when she made the comment that most mass shooters in the country have been straight, white men who are rarely (if ever) deemed terrorists. Yet her mentally ill, African-American brother was called a terrorist when he scared a random person on the street. [4*]

CURRENTLY READING: 3

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

A part of a 30-Day buddy read on Instagram. I couldn’t keep track of all the characters so I had to make a chart haha. Not fully gripped by the book yet.

Puddin’ (Dumplin’ #2) by Julie Murphy

Loved Dumplin’ (the book, let’s not talk about the movie). I’m happy to report that I am really liking this one as well!! I am flying through it. Will probably finish it later today.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Not that far into it but I already know I am going to enjoy listening to this audiobook. Very informational, without being overly-detailed or dense. 

UPCOMING READ:

An ARC probably. 

BOOK HAUL: 2

This week I got 2 ARCs in the mail.

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox courtesy of BookishFirst. And The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning through a Goodreads Giveaway! 

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

Review of The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang which can be found HERE

Also, I still haven’t written a review of When Dimple Met Rishi. Should *hopefully* be done this upcoming week though…

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

This book was so much more than what I expected! Loved it! Some serious gushing will ensue… 



DESCRIPTION:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Publisher:
Berkley

Expected Publication Date:
May.7.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

Esme is a single mother in Vietnam when she meets an older woman that wants her to fly to America and woo her son, Khai. Esme sees this as an opportunity at a chance at a better life for her family so she agrees to do it. Upon meeting Khai, she realizes that he is a bit strange. When he tells her that he is autistic, she doesn’t really understand what that means. In the span of two months, Esme and Khai have to figure out whether they can form a lasting, loving relationship.

I absolutely adored this book!! Esme is unlike any character I’ve ever encountered before. She is a strong mother. Her every thought and action is dedicated towards giving her daughter a better life. In the States, she works hard. Not only at her waitressing job, but at her studies. She takes every single opportunity to better herself. #empowering

The story itself is also fascinating. It’s a lot of “will they or won’t they”. Once you get to understand the characters, you root for them. I mean, Khai (the love interest) is just so perfect. (Although I’d probably take his tatted up older brother 😉 ) . He’s incredibly smart, kind, and movie star handsome. What’s not to love? There were also a few juicy parts in the story that had me swooning haha.

The ending was super rushed and felt a bit off. But overall, this is a fantastic read!!!

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES!! To romance lovers and anyone looking for a feel-good read.

2019: Week 13 Reading Roundup

Sunday.March.24 – Saturday.March.30

AKA The week baseball season officially started!! Whoo!


FINISHED READING:
5! (I read multiple books at once + audiobooks + no social life haha)

Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)
by Lorna Landvik

​I didn’t think I’d finish this book before publishing day. But, I did! It’s a heartwarming tale revolving around an ailing newspaper woman’s column. And like any good column, there are some delicious recipes included! {4*}


Ayesha At Last
by Uzma Jalaluddin

​An eARC I read courtesy of First to Read. First of all, look at this cover! Isn’t it stunning? #InstantCoverLove. Now to the good stuff. This is a Muslim Pride and Prejudice retelling set in modern-day Canada. RTC!


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach

​My audiobook for the week. It’s morbidly fascinating all the stuff scientists/researchers do with donated bodies. I was surprised and found the wry humor a nice counterpoint to all the informative bits. If you’re squeamish/easily grossed out, be warned, some parts are a little detailed. {3*}


When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon

​UGH!!! A rant post will probably pop up somewhere around here this week because boy, do I have a lot of feelings about this book. At some point I started hate-reading (which is never a good thing). Here’s the gist: Dimple is “not like other girls“. Gag me with a spoon. {1.5*}

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

​Another eARC courtesy of First to Read. Like the title suggests, this book is about Nina Hill, an introverted bookworm who works in a bookstore. RTC!

CURRENTLY READING: 1

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bendele

My current audiobook listen. I’m not that far into it but I already know I’m going to like it. 

UPCOMING READ: 

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

This is a 30-day buddy read I’m doing with Ashley on Instagram. It’s kind of like a book club, which is pretty cool.
I’m planning to start this today! 

PUBLISHED POST(S):
2

I’m making progress. Slowly but surely easing my way back into my blogging habits!

  • My review of Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) by Lorna Landvik can be found here
  • My review of The Book of Dreams by Nina George can be found here 

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀