Monday, November 24, 2014

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

A Reign of Terror and Oppression (Memorable Memoir)

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah is the heart-breaking true story of an “unwanted Chinese” daughter.  Adeline’s birth mother died from complications shortly after Adeline was born and soon a new stepmother entered the lives of the Yen family. The new mother called “Niang” gave birth to a girl and a boy, bringing the total brood to seven children.  Right from the beginning her own children were favored as the stepchildren suffered under her rule. Niang was a vindictive, conniving, tyrant who manipulated her husband, kids, and other family members’ lives in a “reign of terror and oppression.”  In an effort to divide and conquer, Niang encouraged strife and betrayal amongst the siblings.  Everyone was affected by her endless emotional abuse, but it was Adeline who was singled out.  Her own father, however, was not innocent, as he always sided with Niang, no matter how unjust, even dispensing own variations of mistreatment. This poignant and memorable book is about the basic struggle for love and acceptance, about defeat and ultimate triumph.  Like The Glass Castle it’s tragic, compelling, and unforgettable.

Falling Leaves, a complete biography from childhood to adulthood, was first published in 1997.  Two years later Yen Mah published an abridged version of this book called Chinese Cinderella.  I read Chinese Cinderella over a decade ago and it wasn’t until my book club chose Falling Leaves that I realized it was the same story.  Either book is riveting, and I highly recommend them.

This was a book club selection and all our members thought it was very good--a definite thumbs-up!  We were all outraged at the evil stepmother and her husband's disregard to his own children.

Let me know what you thought of this book by leaving a comment or email  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Dark Burden of Love (Love and Tragedy)

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife on an isolated island in Western Australia in 1926 who save a baby from a ship wrecked on their shores and bury the dead man who was with her.  This baby seems to be a gift from God to Isabel, the lighthouse keeper's wife, who's had several miscarriages.  With a heavy and reluctant heart, her husband, Tom, gives in to her pleas to keep "Lucy."  This sets the stage for an emotional journey of love, guilt, betrayal, and justice.  It's no secret right from the get-go that this book is designed to pull at your heart strings, and it did a good job of it.  In fact, it pulled on my heart like a taffy machine, yanking all my maternal instincts back and forth and back and forth again until it finally managed to coax out a couple tears, which are not always that forthcoming from me (see Firefly Lane).  

I really did like the book, tears, anguish, and all.  It was a fast read with a devastating story that will stay with me a long time.  It's a harsh reminder that sometimes we must do the best we can when fate relentlessly slaps us around.

Prepare to be moved.  Also be prepared to see it on the big screen as this book will be made into a BLT (bring lots of tissues) movie starring Rachel Weisz and Michael Fassbender.  Filming was scheduled to begin September, 2014, but no word yet on a release date in theaters.

Rachel Weisz

Michael Fassbender

Happy Reading,


What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email: 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

Crime and Drama in California (Classic Love and Murder)

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Frank and Cora did. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain is about a couple who instantly fall in love, tainted with a hearty dose of brutal lust.  He’s a drifter and she’s married to the owner of a roadside diner. They start a passionate and violent affair where bitings and beatings are all part of the fun. It isn’t long before they plan to take out Cora’s husband and then the fun really gets rolling.  Their quest brings them down a windy road with twists and turns around every corner. 

This crime novel was first published in 1934.  It is narrated in a “hard-boiled” roman noir voice where there’s some cheesy fast talk, punctuated with vintage exclamations like “swell, by golly, and grand.”  When it was first written, the violence and sexual heat caused quite a stir.  Offended Bostonians banned the book. But despite, or more likely because of the notoriety, this book has been popular for eight decades. There have been numerous film adaptations.  It’s a fast-paced, short book with only 87 pages in my version. 

See what all the fuss is about and make up your own mind as to what the title means since there is no postman in the book. 

Happy Reading,


What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Courageous Incident of a Boy on a Mission (Autism)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is about a 15-year-old boy with autism who discovers a neighbor dog has been killed with a pitchfork. Christopher makes it his quest to find the killer, all the while writing a book about the mystery.  Christopher does not like to be touched and has difficulties with social interactions, but he does have a gift for math and logic.  With great determination, he uses his logical reasoning to track the killer and soon finds himself in an unexpected journey of discovery, betrayal, and complicated relationships. 

I enjoyed this book because it was so different from anything I’ve read.  I liked “getting into Christopher’s head” and learning his fears and methodology for coping with them. Not only did I like Christopher, but I also had sympathy for those who loved and cared for him. This novel made me feel as though I might have a tiny bit better understanding of autism.  It’s a quick read that left a bittersweet aftertaste.

Happy Reading,


What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email: