[Review] Clark and Division, Japantown Mystery Number One by Naomi Hirahara

Publisher and Publication Date: Soho Crime. 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery, romance.
Pages: 312.
Format: E-book.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers of World War II era with an interest in Japanese Americans in America.
Rating: Good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link @ Goodreads for Naomi Hirahara’s author page. And the link for the website.


Aki (pronounced Ah-key) Ito and her older sister, Rose, live in Los Angeles, California with their parents. After World War II, the Ito family along with other Japanese people living in America are placed in internment camps. The round-up and relocation for them began in 1942. Rose is the first member of the family to be released. She moves to Chicago to work. Later, the rest of the family are released and move to Chicago. Rose secures an apartment for her family before they arrive. The year is 1944.

Soon after arriving in Chicago, the family is shocked to hear about Rose’s death. What they are told about the circumstances of her death, Aki does not believe. Aki becomes her sister’s advocate.

My Thoughts:

I love the overall storyline.

I love learning about the history of the Japanese who came to America, and the further generations. Issei is the 1st generation. Nisei are the further generations. I dislike how they were treated during World War II, but I am thankful to read and learn about their plight. I don’t believe there have been many books written about this people group and history.

I love reading sister stories. This is a sad story, but there are strong themes of commitment, loyalty, steadfastness, and honor.

Romance is a theme, but it is not a dominant part of the story. I like this.

The pace of the story is good.

The secondary characters are well-written and varied with both males and females.

The Ito parents are secondary characters and are often quiet characters present in the room. Aki is the main character, but even she is reserved. Aki is a resilient and intelligent person. She is persistent. To honor her sister’s memory with the truth is her hope.

Prejudice and segregation in a people group that we hear little about is a strong bonus for this book.

The mystery reveal shows that the people we thought trustworthy are sometimes not.


[Review] The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Publisher and Publication Date: The New American Library/Signet Classic. 1965. First published in 1860.
Genre: Fiction. Classic literature. British literature.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 560.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of classic 19th century British literature. Readers of family stories.
Rating: Good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

I am reading George Eliot books for the 2023 George Eliot Chapter a Day Reading Challenge.

The Mill on the Floss is the second book I’ve read by George Eliot. I am currently reading Silas Marner.


Early part of 1800s. England.

The Tulliver family has a working mill in the rural countryside of England. Tom and Maggie are the children. Tom is the older brother. A serious financial hardship changes the dynamics of the family. The children return home from school to help the parents.

The Mill on the Floss shares the story of a great loss in the Tulliver family that effects their financial outlook and stress. But also, those dreams that might have been are halted. It also shows the society and culture of the era towards women in higher education and independence, and the ability to make choices of friendship and marriage. And it shows the parents bent towards showering attention and affection to one child over the other.

My Thoughts:

This is the second time for me to read The Mill on the Floss.

I want to state quickly this is not a feel-good story. It is not a story that when the last page is read, the reader feels a since of happiness about the storyline or characters. It is sad. The entire story is sad. However, The Mill on the Floss is well-written and memorable.

What I have a big problem with is Tom Tulliver. Tom is a disagreeable person. He is selfish. Self-centered. Hateful. Conceited. Abusive. Manipulative. Withholds love. Controlling. He is one of the few book characters (of all the stories I’ve read) I dislike. It is possible that his parents have favored him so much this has negatively impacted his character. It is also possible the stress of expectations placed on him by his parents has negatively impacted and soured his character. This creates an internal conflict for Tom but internal and external conflicts for his sister.

I dislike Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver. I dislike Mr. Tulliver’s unforgiveness and bitterness that seeps into the family and is a great influence on Tom. Unforgiveness and bitterness are strong themes in the story. The impact of these themes carries through to the end.

I believe George Eliot did not write The Mill on the Floss with the intention of a feel-good story. There is a purpose for the story. I realize this, but I still dislike Tom and his parents.

When the story begins, Maggie is a strong-willed child who poses a problem for her dear mother who wants a meek and lady-like daughter. Maggie is a disappointment to her mother. This creates internal conflicts between the two.

Maggie’s father is the only one who seems to be tender towards her; yet his nickname for her I dislike. That name is a reflection of other things going on in the story. {I love you, but I will keep you in the place I create for you.}

The Mill on the Floss is the story of an imperfect family who suffers under hardship which changes the course of their lives. George Eliot uses internal and external conflicts, characters, and a strong plot to capture the story.

The story has strong themes of unforgiveness, bitterness, death and dying, sacrifice, heroism, suffering, judgement, injustice, justice, dreams, grief, hope, greed, trust, innocence, and coming of age.

[Review] The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. April 3, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction. Women in literature.
Pages: 393 pages with writing.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Historical fiction readers of women in literature.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.


Li-yan lives in the mountains of China where tea is grown and harvested. She is an Akha people. They are a culturally distinct group of people who live in the rural Nannuo Mountain area of Yunnan. Yunnan province is located in the southwestern area of China, and near the countries of Myanmar and Laos.

Li’yan is intelligent. She enjoys school and does well. Her teacher encourages her to take a test so she may attend a school of higher learning.

Meanwhile, she meets a young man whom her parents’ dislike. They believe he is not right for her. They will not be a good match.

Li-yan begins secretly meeting the young man until he leaves the area to try and earn a better living for their future.

The story is told in five parts each separated by periods of years.

My Thoughts:

The first two chapters are depressing. I wondered if the entire story would continue to be filled with sadness. If so, I decided to take a break and read something else and later come back to it.

Part three issued in a new and lighter storyline. The atmosphere of the story changed. New characters are added. The scenery and environment changed. Whew.

I am drawn to read stories of women who live in China, Japan, Vietnam, North and South Korea, and other countries located in this region of the world. I want to learn about their lives. I want to learn about the culture, religions, and customs. It gives me a chance to travel without leaving my reading chair. I feel a little knowledge about other people groups helps enrich my mind.

Several reasons why I love The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane:

  1. I love tea. It is a huge bonus in the story that I learned about a rare type of tea.
  2. Li-yan is a person to admire because of her strengths. She is a person who is a dimensional character. I see her positive and negative character traits. She has struggles. She has fears. She has tenacity. She has perseverance. She is a person who at first sight can be disregarded because of her size or cultural heritage. I consider her a diverse person. I consider her a hero.
  3. I love the structure of the story in that there are actually 3 stories in one book. The stories are not back and forth in time but travel chronologically and geographically.
  4. I love it that the males in the story are not the strongest characters. I mean that both ways. They are not strong in character and they are not the primary characters in the story.
  5. I am fascinated by the culture of this diverse and unique group of people called the Akha. I don’t always understand or agree with them. I dislike immensely one of their superstitions.

[Book Blast] The Romanov Heiress by Jennifer Laam @hfvbt @jenniferlaam.writer @hfvbt @JenLaam @hfvbt @JenLaam

Publication Date: March 20, 2023.
Genre: Historical fiction. Russian. Early 20th century.
Pages: 351.
Format: Available to pre-order a Kindle copy @ Amazon.

#TheRomanovHeiress #JenniferLaam #HFVBT

At Goodreads: The Romanov Heiress.

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours is the host for the Book Blast.


Four sisters in hiding. A grand duchess in disguise. Dark family secrets revealed…an alternate future for the Romanov sisters from Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Lost Season of Love and Snow.

With her parents and brother missing and presumed dead, Grand Duchess Olga Romanova must keep her younger sisters safe. The Bolsheviks are determined to eliminate any remaining holdovers from the tsarist regime, hunting down the last Romanovs and putting them to death. Now living in England, the Romanov sisters remain hidden to protect their identities, even as isolation strains their relationships.

But they can’t distance themselves from the world forever.

Olga learns that a peer of the realm has accused the late Empress Alexandra of betraying Russia and her allies during the Great War. Under the spell of the scheming Grigori Rasputin, Alexandra disclosed military secrets to the enemy and pursued a separate peace with Germany. If this rumor becomes history, it will destroy her legacy and her family’s future.

Disguised as “Olivia,” a wartime nurse turned maid, Olga accepts a position in Lord Hammond’s household. There, she works to discover the truth about her mother. When Olga meets his lordship’s heir—an alluring, enigmatic war veteran—her situation grows even more precarious. Could she fall for the son of her new enemy? As she learns more about the tragedies of his past, Olga realizes the connection between their families is more complicated than it appears.

About the author:

An avid history nerd long fascinated with the Romanov sisters, Jennifer Laam’s next books, including The Romanov Heiress (March 2023), will explore their stories with several “what-ifs.”

A proud native of Stockton, CA, Jennifer currently lives in Sacramento with a spoiled tabby cat named Jonesy. When not reading or writing, she enjoys planning cosplay for the next San Diego Comic-Con, experimenting with vegetarian recipes (to mixed results), and obsessing over House Targaryen or Baby Yoda.



Enter to win an eBook of The Romanov Heiress by Jennifer Laam!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Direct link to the giveaway.

[Review] Adam Bede by George Eliot

Publisher and Publication Date: Oxford University Press. My edition is 2008. Originally published in 1859.
Genre: Fiction. Classic British literature. Victorian.
Pages: 592.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of classic literature. Readers of George Eliot stories. Readers of classic British literature.
Rating: Excellent.


Link for more information from Oxford University Press. This is a direct link to the book: Adam Bede.

Link for the book @ Amazon. I don’t understand why the paperback is $51.64! The Kindle edition is .99 cents.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble. $13.95.

The I copy read and reviewed is from the final edition, 1861.

George Eliot (1819-1880) is the pen name. Mary Ann Evans is the author’s name. Goodreads‘ author page.

Further links:


An article from BBC. The genius who scandalized society.


The year is 1799. England.

Adam and Seth Bede are brothers who live in a farming community near the village of Hayslope. Early in the story their father dies. Adam and Seth continue farming the land. Their mother is Lisbeth Bede.

Adam is in love with a local girl, Hetty Sorrel.

Hetty is a lovely girl. She is focused on the luxuries of the world. Things she like to have but does not. She has romantic notions in her head that are not realistic.

A young woman, Dinah Morris, is a traveling Methodist preacher.

The plot is Hetty and her choices and consequences of those choices which impact Adam, Dinah, and her family.

My Thoughts:

Adam Bede is the first book to read in Nick’s 2023 George Eliot Chapter-a-Day Read-a-Along. In this reading challenge, I read a chapter a day in a George Eliot book. By the end of the year, most of her major works will be read. The next book is Mill on the Floss. I have already began reading this book. This is the second time to read this book. I have two additional books I’d like to read in 2023. One is a biography, George Eliot: A Life by Rosemary Ashton. The second is Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot.

This is the first time to read Adam Bede. I read (several years ago) Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner.

Adam Bede is a soft, tender, and gentle story. Even though there are sad and harsh themes. The story has many moments of great tenderness.

Dinah Morris is my favorite character. However, I dislike her moments of presumption. A couple of strong character traits is she is insightful and wise. She is a deep thinker. This often leads her to ponder people and what may happen to them. It is possible Eliot used Morris as a way to give insight about Hetty’s character or a way to prepare the reader for what may happen. But I can relate to Dinah, and this is why I can state what a drawback it is to have her character traits. I am not always correct in my assumptions/presumptions. I pray about my attitude in casting doubt on a person when I don’t really know them and what I think may happen does not. Only God knows a person’s heart and motives and thoughts.

What I love about Dinah is her gentleness. Her sweet spirit. She is tender. Such beautiful writing surrounds Dinah. It’s as if the radiance of her spirit shines in her countenance. The people certainly respond well to her. They trust her. She is a remarkable book character. I looked forward to all the scenes and dialogues surrounding Dinah.

Adam is both a handsome man and a solid character. I believe he has the best of intentions. I believe he wants to do the right thing-the noble thing.

Seth is a secondary character that loses steam. I don’t see much of him in the story except in the beginning.

Hetty is a headstrong girl. She is beautiful, young, and impressionable. She is a young girl who has not had a mother to raise and prepare her for life’s challenges and disappointments.

Sometimes, Eliot interjects her own thoughts about the story and its characters. Most of the time the story moves chronologically allowing the character’s dialogue and scenes to develop.

I notice Eliot uses strong descriptions to set a scene, and often using the same words. For example, the sun, light, and reflection.

Eliot mentions facial expressions, thoughts, body language, and the countenance of people.

Adam Bede is an enjoyable story. It does have sad moments. It has a solid satisfying conclusion.

Adam Bede is a story of internal conflicts.

Some themes in Adam Bede: male and female romantic relationships, death, honor, conformity, wisdom, pride, gratitude, charity, hope, dreams, temptation, self-control, grief, judgment, innocence, and ambition.

Favorites quotes from the book:

“Dinah had been speaking at least an hour, and the reddening light of the parting day seemed to give a solemn emphasis to her closing words. The stranger, who had been interested in the course of her closing sermon, as if it had been the development of a drama-for there is this sort of fascination in all sincere unpremeditated eloquence, which opens to one the inward drama of the speaker’s emotions-now turned his horse aside and pursued his way, while Dinah said, ‘Let us sing a little, dear friends;’ and as he was still winding down the slope, the voices of the Methodists reached him, rising and falling in that strange blending of exultation and sadness which belongs to the cadence of a hymn.” Page 30.

“Everything was looking at its brightest at this moment, for the sun shone right on the pewter dishes, and from their reflecting surfaces pleasant jets of light were thrown on mellow oak and bright brass;-and on a still pleasanter object than these; for some of the rays fell on Dinah’s finely-molded cheek, and lit up her pale red hair to auburn, as she bent over the heavy household linen which she was mending for her aunt. No scene could have been more peaceful, if Mrs. Poyser, who was ironing a few things that still remained from the Monday’s wash, had not been making a frequent clunking with her iron, and moving to and fro whenever she wanted it to cool; carrying the keen gland of her blue-grey eyes from the kitchen to the dairy, where Hetty was making up the butter, and from the dairy to the back-kitchen, where Nancy was taking the pies out of the oven.” Page 67.

“When death, the great Reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.” Page 49.