Book Review: Snow in Vietnam: A Novel by Amy M. Le

Snow in Vietnam: A Novel by Amy M. Le

A Historical Fiction novel published by Amazon Digital Services (05/24/2019)

Summary:

Snow is the youngest of seven children growing up in Vietnam during a time of war. Life isn’t always certain. The future isn’t always certain. Snow agrees to marry a Vietnamese man even though she pines for an American G.I. She gives birth to sick child with a heart problem. America could be her daughter’s chance to live and Snow’s chance for freedom. Vietnam is uncertain in times of unification but every time Snow gathers enough resources to leave, another tragedy forces her to prolong her escape.

Keywords:

Love, Family, Survival, Hope, Politics, War, Vietnam, Mother, Struggle, Historical, Women’s Fiction, Trust, Strength, Fear, Uncertainty, Freedom

My Review:

This book was gritty and raw. I didn’t always understand why Snow treated her daughter or family like she did at times, but I felt like I was looking into the life of a real person. Snow felt like a completely genuine person, flaws and all. Snow was the essence of bravery and determination. Her goal to escape with her daughter was always in her mind and always in her actions. But family and tragedy kept getting in the way. I loved how close knit family is portrayed in this book. The characters in this book would do anything for family – to honor them, to love them, to provide for them, to give them a chance for a better life.

The love story in this novel was cleverly wound around the war-torn country and its effects on Snow’s family. The mystery surrounding her G.I. will keep you guessing as to where he is. The book was sad yet compelling because Snow had the strength to continue to adapt and survive and care for her sick daughter. If she can live and prosper and love under those conditions, then anything is possible.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 05/24/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Amy M Le’s Website

Book Review: The Gospel According to St. Rage by Karen Eisenbrey

The Gospel According to St. Rage by Karen Eisenbrey

A Young Adult novel published by Not a Pipe Publishing (08/20/2019)

Summary:

Barbara Bensen doesn’t want to be invisible anymore. She’s ready to be seen. She wants to form an all-girl punk rock band but doesn’t know who to ask or how to ask them. Then she meets Jackson, charismatic and popular, and he introduces her to the first member of the future band. But Barbara isn’t the only one on the fringes outside of popularity who wants to be seen.

Keywords:

Music, Band, Girl Band, Punk, Rock, Teenagers, High School, Superpowers, Garage Band, Invisible, Bully, Introverted

My Review:

I absolutely adored Barbara’s inner commentary about herself and the world. She’s bleak and yet hopeful at the same time. She is the perfect blend of quirky and shy. She is the underdog I immediately root for. Her goal is to be seen. Her dream is to be in an all-girl rock band. I know what she wants and I’m right there with her wanting her to get everything she hopes for and more. We are all losers sometimes. Barbara’s story and her description of high school reminded me all too well of my own time as a shy girl in school.

I was at first shocked when Barbara wasn’t the only narrator in this story, but I really liked getting the perspective of the other students and members of the band. I loved how distinct each voice was and how each person had their own look, personality, and set of unique problems. I loved seeing the characters grow as the novel progressed.

I’m not a huge music person, but I really enjoyed all the nuances of starting a band and holding practices and performing. I could feel the band’s excitement when they were on stage and I was right there with them.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the supernatural element in this book as it seems to fit perfectly with Barbara and her teenage dramas, but them seems at odds with the very realistic contemporary setting. I’m not sure the story was improved by including this element of fiction, but I’m also not sure that it detracts at all from the story either. The plot was complex enough to where the fantastical element was not necessary but I’m interested to see where the author takes it in the sequel.

This novel was published by Not a Pipe Publishing 08/20/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Karen Eisenbrey’s Website

Book Review: Santiago’s In Trouble by Victoria Bastedo

Santiago’s In Trouble by Victoria Bastedo

A Mystery Romance novel published by Amazon Digital Services (08/08/2019)

Summary:

“Santiago is where adventure meets truth and superheroes come to the aid of the homeless. Santiago, in a way, is my life here in Seattle.”

Jacoby lives a normal life. He works the night shift as a guard. He helps out with a local Christian group. But soon his calm life will be thrown into chaos when a mysterious letter shows up claiming something about an inheritance, the lady upstairs is in trouble and needs his help, and a stranger keeps calling him racist names. What is going on and how will Jacoby respond to the accusations against his family, his upbringing, and his ethnicity?

Keywords:

Romance, Friendship, Sleuth, Mystery, Seattle, Queen Anne, Superhero, Humor, Adventure, Racism, Inheritance, Family, Brothers

My Review:

This is the ninth book I’ve ready by Victoria Bastedo and every book has been better than the last. Every book set in Seattle (Mini-Droids and Tea, Black Poodle Over Seven Hills) has been utterly enchanting. This book in particular, and the other books set in Seattle, very much reminds me of the charm, ease of reading, and mystery of Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.

This book was a simple, meet-cute novel full of witty dialogue set against the lovely hills of Seattle’s Queen Anne and the surrounding neighborhoods. Santiago’s in Trouble was a charming fast read with a well-developed mystery surrounding the main character: Jacoby.

I loved the fact that Vivienne was a writer and placed herself into troubling situations in order to fully understand her female sleuth heroine: Santiago.

This book was centered more on Jacoby and his mystery and life than on Vivienne. This book also features strong Christian ties, though it works with the characters and the situations. The book itself is a sweet romance and does not go any further than gentle hinting at sex.

I absolutely enjoyed all the scenes and dialogue that included Jacoby’s cousin.

There were moments where I yelled at Jacoby for not being more interested or invested in the “mysterious inheritance.” Sometimes I wonder if there really are people out there who wouldn’t be curious about an inheritance.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 08/08/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

SnoValleyHobbit

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

 

Local Event Alert! Indie Author Night – Brick & Mortar Books in Redmond, WA 6/27/19

It’s time for another one of Brick & Mortar’s hugely popular Indie Author Nights!

The event format is simple: they bring in about 20 authors, tell you a bit about them, and they each have 2 minutes to talk about their book or series. After each author has given their pitch, customers will have the opportunity to purchase books and interact with authors!

I’m excited to be a part of this local event and to find some new awesome books to read. My TBR is getting low again…

Here’s a sneak peek at the lineup:

  • Sandra Anderson: Troubled Mother, Troubled Son, an autobiography for older teens and adults.
  • Brenda Baker: the picture book Oddly Colorful!
  • Rachel Barnard: For the Love of Donuts series for young adult and new adult readers.
  • Flora Burlingame: Path of Progress: One Man’s Fight for Women’s Rights and Charcoal and Chalk: John Ogilvie and the Beginnings of Black Education in Texas (adult historical fiction)
  • Van Chesnutt: Push the Red Button, a humorous travel memoir of adventures, misadventures, and observation accumulated over 30+ years of travel.
  • Ellie Collins: Daisy, Bold & Beautiful, a middle grade fantasy full of Greek mythology fantasy.
  • Beverly Cuevas: When the Twinkle is Gone: A Child’s Perspective on Death, an illustrated book for parents with information about how to help children deal with grief.
  • Danielle Dreger: Secret Heart, Bad at Love, and Reckless Night You Won’t Regret (YA queer romantic comedy) and The Ten Fantastic Fails of Rory O’Leary (MG contemporary fiction)
  • Bill Erxleben: A Lion Where There Were Lambs: The Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Rule of Law in the Pacific Northwest, a combination of courtroom drama, regional history, and memoir.
  • Gail Folkins: Texas Dance Halls: A Two-Step Circuit, literary journalism about Texas dance hall culture, and Light in the Trees, a memoir about growing up in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Carol Gavhane: She’s Got This!: Essays on Standing Strong and Moving On, an anthology featuring essays from 46 writers for women and mothers.
  • Julia Goldstein: Material Value, for consumers and to businesses wanting to implement more environmentally-friendly practices.
  • Jennifer Haupt: In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills, a novel for adults inspired by her time as a journalist in post-genocide Rwanda.
  • Amy M Le: Snow in Vietnam is an adult historical fiction tribute to her mother’s heroic decision to flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.
  • Ashton Macaulay: Whiteout (A Nick Ventner Adventure), the tale of a drunken monster hunter searching for yeti, and Aberrant Tales, a short fiction anthology.
  • Joyce Major: The Orangutan Rescue Gang, a middle grade fiction full of adventure, friendship, and the environment.
  • Abbi McKee: Cricket and Milo Visit Seattle, the first in a picture book series about two dogs who visit different places.
  • Saqib Rasool: Saqibism, poetry on innovation, entrepreneurship, and inner perception for changemakers, cultural creatives, and entrepreneurs.
  • Sonya Rhen: YA/NA books Space Tripping with the Shredded Orphans, The Shredded Orphans and the Space Pirates, and Requite Me: Poems of Love (humorous adventure science fiction) Jealousy, and Angst (poetry about love and love lost)
  • Deirdre Timmons: Brain Candy, a light-hearted and poignant memoir for people struggling with dire illness or loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
  • Doug Walsh: Tailwinds Past Florence (time travel romance) and The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides (for people interested in video games!)
  • O.M. Wills: ERTA: The Complete Series, a science fiction and fantasy series for adults.

Maple Valley Days 6th Year Follow-up

This was my 7th year volunteering behind the scenes of the event and FreeValley Publishing’s 6th year having a booth at the festival. Wow! I love being involved with this event and I learn something every year. I get to watch conflict resolution and large event planning. It is amazing how much detail and effort goes into putting on this festival and I’m glad I’ve been a part of it.

Local Event Alert: Maple Valley Days! This Weekend

You can find FVP and some great books by local authors at Maple Valley Days near the info booth! This is our sixth year at Maple Valley Days and we have some new books since last year.

And Happy National Donut Day!

http://www.maplevalleydays.com/

Check out our 2017 Maple Valley Days

Check out our 2016 Maple Valley Days

Check out our 2015 Maple Valley Days

Check out our 2014 Maple Valley Days

LAKE WILDERNESS PARK
23601 224th Ave SE
Maple Valley, WA 98038
 
FESTIVAL HOURS
Friday: 3pm – 8pm – Carnival  stays open until 10.
Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 10am – 5pm
 
For more information, visit the official website HERE or visit the new Facebook page HERE

Local Event Alert! Indie Bookstore Day – Author Signing

It’s happening again! Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is this Saturday, April 27 at participating local bookstores!!!
I’ll be participating at the Neverending Bookshop in Edmonds this year from 12-2. Here is the schedule at the Neverending Bookshop:
9 – 11: Valerie Stein
10 – 12: James Macon
12 – 2: Rachel Barnard
2 – 4: Karen Eisenbrey and Mikko

What Is Seattle Independent Bookstore Day?

When Independent Bookstore Day went national in 2015 (after its founding in 2014 by booksellers in Northern California was a rousing success), Seattle’s indie bookstores collaborated to showcase what we do best: build human connections through physical books, in a daylong celebration of the work we do and the readers and customers who make it possible. We offered many of the same events and exclusive items as our colleagues across the country, but we also introduced the Passport Challenge, encouraging readers to get their passports stamped at as many participating stores as possible on Bookstore Day. Those who get their passports stamped at every participating store that day are crowned Grand Champions, with a crown, a party, and best of all, a 25% discount at all participating stores for the following year. We admit we have been stunned by the response: in our first year, we weren’t sure if anyone would complete the full Passport Challenge, but we crowned 42 Grand Champions. In 2017, our third year, the number of Grand Champions, all of whom visited 19 stores from Poulsbo to Kirkland to Queen Anne to Georgetown in a single day, exploded to 320, and in 2018 our total number of Champions increased yet again, to nearly 500. We’re hoping for even more in 2019!

Norwescon! This Thursday through Sunday in Seattle

Catch books by local authors Sheri J. Kennedy, Rachel Barnard, Victoria Bastedo, Kennedy J. Quinn, and Jeffrey Cook at Norwescon later this week.

Norwescon.org

I’ll be wandering around in my costume.. See if you can spot me…

And don’t forget your towel!