Audrey H.'s Book Reviews

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A Map for the Missing: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 23, 2022

This beautiful and heart wrenching book will gut you in the best possible way. Going home after a long absence, begs the question, is it really going home or filial duty when a loved one needs help. Yitian wrestles with these issues after his mother informs him that his father is missing. He seeks help from his first love, whose path deviated from his, after taking the college entrance exams. What was extremely moving, were the glimpses into their respective pasts and how actions changed the courses of their futures. One scene, in particular, stayed with me. Yitian's relationship with his brother, who was the golden child of the family. Yishou, while not understanding Yitian's devotion to books, still supported and sacrificed for his brother in ways that are not forgettable, anytime soon.

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The Fishermen and the Dragon: Fear, Greed, and a Fight for Justice on the Gulf Coast Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 22, 2022

Another riveting read from Kirk Wallace Johnson. Here, racial animosity, prejudices and hatred that White fishermen have for Vietnamese fishermen, is on full display. And, one can see the playbook of conspiracy theories and disinformation continue into today. Basically, nothing has changed, other then the targets of White grievances. What tied it all together is the environmental impact of the big companies, polluting the waters and causing health issues for the residents of the area. The author has delved deeply into court records, newspapers and interviews to give a full and complete picture about what happened down on the Texas Gulf Coast. This work of narrative non-fiction will be enjoyed by readers of Patrick Radden Keefe, Jonathan Harr, Paige Williams, Susan Orlean, Clint Smith and Isabel Wilkerson.

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 20, 2022

Pachinko was my first staff pick when the store opened in June, 2017. And while all my picks mean something to me, Pachinko has a special place in my heart. I’ve loved watching readers connect to this family epic and watching how this book started receiving all its well deserved accolades.  Set in Korea and Japan, before and during war time, it follows one family's hardships and triumphs. What Lee did extraordinarily well was depicting the struggles that  ethnically different people who were born in a country were still treated (legally) as second class citizens and how they adapted to that unwelcome land. It also shows how broad the term "Asian" and the differences amongst the numerous ethnic groups.

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Shutter Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 20, 2022

A riveting read, featuring a memorable forensic photographer. Rita Todacheene,  a Navajo woman, is a photographer who can also commune with ghosts. Most are harmless, until she works a gruesome crime scene, where this ghost haunts her until Rita investigates her murder. The scenes flip from the present day, to Rita's pass where we see her family relationships as well as her love of photography unfold. Looking forward to more mysteries, set in picturesque Albuquerque, NM.

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A Hundred Other Girls: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 18, 2022

Devil Meets Prada meets Other Black Girl as print and digital publishing collide. Noora, an Iranian American, lands her dream job, as an assistant to THE editor in chief of an iconic culture magazine. But the dream doesn't live up to expectations as Noora finds her boss to be erratic, and unreasonably demanding as the EIC struggles with not keeping up with the times in terms of technology. The underbelly of magazines gets exposed with print and digital at war with each other and Noora has to navigate her job. And, Noora herself, is a writer with a popular blog, bringing to the public, her viewpoints. It's hard, finding out who you are, as loyalties are tested.

Bullet Train: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 15, 2022

This slow burn of a thriller had twists and turns. Get on board the train of assassins and see whether or not it crashes and burns. As the train moves from station to station, the killers begin to interact and have overlapping goals. And, there are some truly memorable characters and funny moments as the train speeds towards its final destination. 

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Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 12, 2022

Move over Harry Potter and. Morrigan Crow bc Amari Peters is back and She's Got GAME! This second installment was just as fun as the first one and leaves the reader wanting more. Once again, Amari is put in the position of having to save the supernatural world, and still have to deal with her sick brother, a best friend who is moving away and being labeled as a dangerous magician. She learns more about her magic and has to go head to head with Dylan, her former friend and now enemy. Parents had better stock up on flashlight batteries bc I foresee many a reader staying up way too late, to finish this book.

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The Book Eaters Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 7, 2022

Dark, intense and thought provoking, this won't leave your thoughts anytime soon. Book Eaters delves the universality of motherhood and the juxtaposition of purposefully keeping women undereducated and dependence on the patriarchy. Girls are fed fairy tales and are captive princesses while boys are raised on books focused on heroic escapades. Here, Devon, fights to save the one child she can, and sacrifices so much to do so and in return, may find an escape and a more hopeful future.

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This Place Is Still Beautiful Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 4, 2022

This book was so well done. Told from the pov of 2 biracial sisters, Margaret, who looks more Asian and Annalie, who looks more white, it's a story about sisterhood, growing up in a small town, first loves and dealing with racism. Although the book deals with many complex issues, it's so readable and relatable and deftly handles a hate crime (racial slur, written on the house) as well as the reactions of the mostly white town. One can't help but feel for both these sisters as they navigate the tricky situations as well as their own family dynamics.

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Boys I Know Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 2, 2022

June, has always felt that she wasn't good enough, or as good as.... Unfortunately, due to her lower self esteem she seeks to validate her worth via really poor choices in boys. And, these choices lead to painful realizations about herself as well as who she is comparing herself to, her seemingly perfect sister. This is messy and stressful but one can't help root for June to figure it out.

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After Hours on Milagro Street Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 1, 2022

A fun and sexy romance with a dash of mystery, set in the heartland of this country. Loved Alex and Jeremiah for their respective passions and how they begin to realize that it's better to seek common ground and understanding to help protect the people and places they love. The historical scavenger hunt was an added bonus to the fun. I especially enjoyed the history of the Mexicans and their substantial role on the railroads and in Kansas. I am really looking forward to the next sister romance. I'm hoping it's with the chef!

 

Her Rebel Highness (Daughters of the Dynasty) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: May 1, 2022

An enjoyable prequel focusing on Gemma's mom (from Heiress Apparently) and her background. Lei and her family have a complicated history with art and the Cultural Revolution. Set during the 1980s, the student protests at Tiananmen Sq, are starting up and Lei is driven to participate. Lei falls in love with a student activist and soon has to choose between love him and love of family and duty.

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