Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

Hope Has Two Daughters is an historical fiction story which takes place almost entirely in Tunis, Tunisia.  It is the story of two revolts at two different times in history, the first — the Bread Riots of 1984, the second the Arab Spring of 2010.  The first is told in the words of Nadia, a young girl about to complete her matriculation at the Lycée; the second is told from the point of view of Lila, Nadia’s daughter who has come to Tunis reluctantly to improve her Arabic language skills and vocabulary. But like her mother before her, Lila soon gets caught up with a small group of students who want to rid themselves of an oppressive regime and this time have the means of technology to help them organize students and labour unions across their country.

Right from the very first page of this novel, you realize that Nadia is caught up in a very different world from what  western Europeans and N. Americans are familiar with, and even for Nadia, her day is different from a normal day.  She feels the tension and knows something is not right but is unaware of how her life is about to change — the riots are about to begin and her Lycée is about to be under attack.  Her best friend, Neila, is absent from school — Neila, whose father beats her and who plans to run off one day soon and marry her boyfriend, Mounir.  But, Mounir is involved in the riots and within hours is arrested, beaten, and imprisoned.  Nadia starts to understand the fear and oppression of the poor in her country and how the regime perpetuates poverty.  She begins to rebel in her own way.  Soon, escape to Canada is her only way to survive.

Lila knows next to nothing about her mother’s past, her family, and the rumblings of dissatisfaction within Tunisia when she arrives to stay with Aunt Neila and Uncle Mounir to study the Arabic language for the summer.  She finds the classes boring and her classmates more interested in culture than language — enjoying the nightlife and then talking about it in class in french instead of focusing on learning Arabic.  The language of sex is, after all, universal.  When Lila tries to use an Internet café and runs into language/cultural difficulties, a wealthy young neighbour, Donia, comes to her rescue and Lila cautiously reaches out to grasp her friendship.  Soon Lila is caught up with Donia’s friends and is not only learning everyday Arabic but also the language of dissent.

The similarities between the two revolts and the two daughters is striking throughout and while Lila thinks her mother will be frantic with worry if she finds out how she is becoming involved in revolution, she soon discovers that she and her mother are kindred spirits.  This is the story of revolution, survival, hope, and healing — but mostly of hope.  It is full of all the emotions of rebellion and the coming of age of both Lila and Tunisia.  It is the fulfillment of the hope of those who seek a better life and are willing to take a chance.  Mazigh says her story is not autobiographical but it is based on her personal knowledge and the history of her country.  It is a riveting tale about women coming of age at pivotal moments of history and how hope can change the future.  * * * * *

To read the introduction and a teaser from this novel, click here.

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Cozy Read Wednesday: The Guest Book, A Sunset Beach Novel (#2) by Marybeth Whalen

Today’s Cozy Read is from Marybeth Whalen‘s Sunset Beach series, The Guest Book (book #2).  This is an especially poignant story as the main character, Macy, has been drifting and pretty messed up ever since her father died 10 years ago, when she was sixteen.  She lost her father, lost her faith, and lost the opportunity to meet the boy who had put drawings in the Guest Book of the cottage Time In A Bottle at Sunset Beach in response to her drawings of her special vacations there.

Ten years on and Macy, her brother Max, her mother Brenda, and Macy’s daughter Emma, are only beginning to move on.  The boyfriend who left Macy stranded and vulnerable five years earlier has shown up wanting to pick up where he left off and while Macy wants Emma to know her father she’s not sure she can trust Chase not to take off again.  Nor is she sure that taking up with him again would be right for her — there’s too much she still has to sort out — like the guilt she feels for the way she treated her dad that last summer and the grief that drove her away from the God her father believed so strongly in.

Brenda has hosted a birthday party for her husband every year since he passed away but when Macy arrives for the event, she notices that the pictures of her dad, usually on display in the living room, have been taken down and there’s a somewhat different atmosphere this year.  When Brenda announces that she wants them to take another family vacation at Sunset Beach, Macy begins to look forward to it as a means for all of them to sort through the loss, the memories, the loss of faith, and possibly find the key to a new future.  Perhaps she will even find the boy who did the drawings.  Dare she pray that she will?

This is a story that could easily be true and it is based in part on a true setting and a true sculpture that exists at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, but in the story it is of Macy when she was a teenager.  (The true story behind the sculpture is revealed at the end of the book where you will also find discussion questions for your book club.)  Macy has talents she has not trusted, Max has guilt he’s been hiding in a bottle, outgoing little Emma is looking for a father figure, and Brenda possibly has a beaux waiting for her at Sunset Beach.  The theme of wishing time could stand still or be kept in a bottle and shared with loved ones is strong throughout the story and Macy’s prayer brings some surprising and interesting results.  A very cozy read.  I’ll be looking for more books by Marybeth Whalen.  * * * *


cozyreadwedCozy Read Wednesday is a recent meme.  No list of rules — just leave a comment with a link to your Cozy Read published on Wednesday, mention that Ms M is hosting the meme, and feel free to use the Cozy Read Wednesday icon on your site.  I look forward to reading your recommendations.

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First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: The Magdalene Scrolls by Barbara Wood

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  This week I’m starting The Magdalene Scrolls, a novel of Obsession by Barbara Wood.  Here’s the beginning of Chapter One, Benjamin Messer translating from a recently discovered scroll:

Beware to the heathen and to the evil-intending who would disturb the contents of these jars, for the Curse of Moses shall be upon him, and he shall be cursed in the city and in the field, and cursed will be the fruit of his body and of his land; and the Lord will smite hi with a severe burning, inflict him with madness and blindness, and pursue him with mildew for ever and ever.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same novel:

As if mesmerized by the ancient script, [Ben] stood rooted before his desk, the glossy photos suspended in midair. John Weatherby had been right. If more David ben Jonah scrolls were found, this could be a discovery to rock the civilized world. p.6

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  I’m a sucker for anything to do with archaeology and this novel grabbed me right from the start.  Share your thoughts and the link to your First Chapter, First Paragraph and/or your Teaser Tuesday post.

Happy Reading!

Posted in Adult Book, Adventure, fiction, Meme, Mystery, Opinion | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Mystery Monday: The Case of the Killer Divorce by Barbara Venkataraman

Welcome to Mystery Monday.  Today’s feature is the second book of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection by Barbara Venkataraman.  The first of the series, Death by Didgeridoo, was reviewed here and while each is a standalone story, the first fills in a lot about Jamie, her situation, and the people who make up her circle of family, work associates, and friends.

The Case of the Killer Divorce centres around a woman Jamie is representing in family court, Rebecca, who has left her husband Joe for the new boyfriend, Charlie.  After winning the first battle, the right of access to the girls, Joe’s smug announcement that his next step is to get custody of the girls elicits a threat from Becca in front of a witness besides Jamie.  When Joe is found dead the following Friday, Becca becomes the prime suspect.

Meanwhile, as Jamie is easing back into a work routine following grieving for her late mother, she has her PI friend, Duke, searching for the father she never knew.  When his leads and a letter her aunt has been keeping for her from her mother reveal the information that someone local has a connection that could lead her to her father, Jamie begins to have second thoughts.  An old love comes back into her life as well and helps Jamie to explore new insights into herself.

Barbara Venkataraman

This is a pretty cozy mystery story that is easy to read and perfect for a day best spent indoors with a fun book.  There’s lots of interesting settings around Jamie’s small town in Florida and lots of tension as Jamie learns that Becca is on drugs and has been lying to her as well as the fact she’s getting closer to finding the father who has no idea he has a daughter.  Fast-paced, lots of misdirection and fun.  * * * 1/2


MysteryMondayMeme02If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review.  You can also copy my MMM badge to your post.


Posted in Adult Book, Meme, Mystery, Opinion, Romance | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Costa Rica Here I Come

Something a bit different for my Sunday Reblog. This is a post from my other blog, On The Road with Ms M. It is about my upcoming trip to Costa Rica with Samaritan’s Purse Canada to bring gifts to children living in poverty in order to improve their health, education, and joy.  Read all about it here and I hope you enjoy my Sunday Reblog!

On The Road with Ms. M.

Well, I’m dusting off my dig hat and unpacking my Tilley vest but this time it’s not an archaeological dig I’m going to — it’s a mission to Costa Rica with Operation Christmas Child.  This is a mission that brings gifts of hygiene products, school supplies and toys to children in 13 developing nations where, for most of the children, it’s the first time they’ve ever received a gift.  In 2016, over 11.5 million shoe boxes were collected (more than 660,000 from Canadians) and large numbers of volunteers have been sorting them out to be delivered to villages in Central America, Africa, and Eastern Europe.  The logistics of such an undertaking boggles my mind.

Now, more volunteers are needed to help deliver these boxes to the children and I have been accepted to travel to Costa Rica as part of the team that will be meeting the children and…

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On My Bookshelf: Fri., March 10/17

On My Bookshelf this week are a number of books from a variety of places — online hard copies, ebooks, Chapters, and Giant Tiger for sure.

I’m almost finished reading Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh and am not only enjoying it but learning a lot about recent political history of Tunisia.

Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund captured my interest  partially because of the title but also because of the cover — love the cover!

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal is the second book in this series that I’ll have read.  Having read an excerpt, I’m quite anxious to get into it.

This one, I read about somewhere online and had to have it:  All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer.

I have a friend who highly recommends Jeffrey Archer so I was delighted when I found Book One of the Clifton Chronicles: Only Time Will Tell at my local Giant Tiger.

I really loved the last Jodi Picoult book I read and so I’m going to try The Storyteller.

That’s it for me for this Friday.  What’s on your bookshelf?


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Junior Read: A Cry Out of Time (The Esme Chronicles Book 1) by JL Redington

This is the first book by JL Redington that I’ve read and while A Cry Out of Time is the first in a series called The Esme Chronicles, the book is a standalone story — no cliff hangers.  I think you’d need to read it, though, before tackling the second book (I haven’t read it yet so I’m guessing) so that you know the backstory.

Fifteen-year-old Esme is an only child who lives with her mom and dad in St. Joseph, Missouri.  She has two best friends, Vienne and Delaney, and an aunt and uncle who live in Oregon just outside of a little town called Florence.  When her aunt and uncle decide to take a vacation, Esme and her parents are enlisted to help get their B & B, Heceta House, ready for their return.  Esme is excited about seeing the ocean, flying on an airplane, and having new experiences even though she will miss her friends.  The most exciting part is that Heceta House is supposed to be one of the 10 most haunted homes in America.

On the plane, Esme has an oddly realistic nightmare of being a little girl named LaRue in a shipwreck along with a huge dog named Butler who saves her life.  The dream leaves her very unsettled but when she arrives at Heceta House and meets the ghost of a young girl named LaRue, hears the murmuring of hundreds of voices, sees a ghost ship wreck itself on the shores when her parents see and hear nothing, and reunites with Butler’s ghost, things start to get really spooky.

In this story, Esme learns a lot about ghosts, friendship, and courage, but most importantly, she learns about herself — her own heart and how to understand others and be a friend.  It isn’t an incredibly exciting book but it is an interesting story with good characters and an interesting plot.  Butler seems to be a sort of Aslan from the Narnia Chronicles and there is magic and a struggle between good and evil where Esme needs to draw deep from within herself if she is to help her new friend, LaRue.  I think junior grade children would enjoy this story very much and I will probably read more from this series. * * *  1/2

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