The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Li-yan lives with her family in a remote Chinese mountain village. Ritual shapes her entire life – until she makes a startling choice to give her illegitimate baby up for adoption. Li-yan’s daughter, Haley, grows up in California with a tea cake as her only clue to her origins. “Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins, and across the ocean, Li-yan longs for her lost daughter.” – Book flap
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Keiko is not “normal.” She thinks in a very logical/literal sort of way, and feels pressured to fit into society, despite not understanding society’s expectations. So she fakes it. Her job as a convenience store worker suits her well, but she is worried about what will happen if she doesn’t meet society’s expectations that she either marry or get a better job.
I enjoyed this book mainly because it was so interesting. Keiko does not think like I do, and her exploration and experience of the world is just so different. I was hooked. It is also a short book and doesn’t drag on.
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren
This warm and inviting picture book is by Astrid Lindgren, the famed children’s book author of the Pippi Longstocking series. The Tomten is a little gnome-like fellow who discreetly watches over the farm in the woods during the cold dark of winter. With lulling repetition he visits the farm animals and the family to reassure them that he is watching over and caring for them. This book is a gentle exploration of the promise of spring during the depths of winter. A charming, quiet story to share with your little ones.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
With colder days upon us, and flurries that remind us of the urgency to “put summer to rest” I’ve gathered up the last of the seeds and pods to tuck away for spring’s rebirth. ‘Til then, after a summer of the garden’s resplendent bloom, I will need to settle for bulbs and books! The Language of Flowers, a novel written by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, tells us of the Victorian custom of communicating messages via flowers. It gives us a detailed look at the ‘language of flowers’ through the eyes of an emancipated from foster care eighteen year old girl. Victoria is a young woman consumed by fear, anger, and hostile behavior. Raised in multiple placements, Victoria is unable to place her trust in relationships, and is unable to give what she does not have within her. Through the broken, yet committed determination of a woman who is willing to love just a little bit more, she is taught about flowers and our fragile lives. The Language of Flowers is a story of foster care, told in past and present, beautifully interspersed with the magic of flowers. Short chapters with deep themes! A fascinating read on a quiet afternoon with a cozy fire and some bulbs growing on the window sill!
The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Kayla Butts is sad, if Avery has anything to say about it. She’s chubby, weird, and doesn’t hang with the right crowd. Avery Armisted is awful, if Kayla has anything to say about it. She’s spoiled, mean, and too caught up in her social media. The two clash; societal reject verses spoiled brat. However, Avery’s father doesn’t see this. Mr. Armisted decides that his daughter would benefit from a trip to Spain alongside her former best friend Kayla. After a perilous plans journey (including a lost passport and a lot of running) they arrive. Mr. Armisted expects to get work done and Kayla and Avery anticipate beautiful views and even more beautiful Spanish boys. What they actually find, could be more groundbreaking: a family secret.
A great, lighthearted, and engaging pre-holiday read with a dab of drama thrown in for fun. The main character, Olivia, is a pastry chef in a big city restaurant with a penchant for dying her hair crazy colors when she is stressed out. After an unfortunate incident at work that involves a flaming dessert she escapes to a little town in Vermont with her giant dog Salty and stays with a good friend, intending to stay only for a short time. She finds a small town full of quirky characters who make her feel right at home. She also finds a job and a place to stay as a baker at the local country inn run by a rather cranky owner. The cherry on top with this book is the recipes sprinkled throughout the story and included in detail in the back of the book because, of course, the author Louise Miller is a professional pastry chef herself. Louise is also New Englander making her home in Massachusetts.