Midweek Mini Reviews #18

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features some more non-fiction books.

Love and…Bad Boys, “The One,” and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship by Jen Kim

Lately, it seems like I’ve been reading a ton of self-help books. To be honest, this is probably due to my interest in studying relationships which came about when I was a psychology major rather than a real interest in self-improvement. My latest read on relationships is by Jen Kim, writer of the Psychology Today’s column, “Valley Girl With a Brain”. Like her column, Love And…: Bad Boys, the “One” and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship is written in a way that is easily accessible and appealing to Millennials. Alongside the pop culture references, I liked that she refers to real research studies and theories on top of her personal experiences to back up what she is trying to say. Witty, sarcastic and extremely straightforward, Love And… will make you feel like you’re not alone in being single or being in a relationship where things aren’t 100% perfect. An empowering and somewhat enlightening read, pick this one up if you are one of those people who is frustrated by modern dating and/or are someone hoping to gain greater insight into why we behave the way we do in love and relationships.

30 Before 30 by Marina Shifrin

In case you don’t know her, Marina Shifrin is most known for the way she publicly quit her job on YouTube. This skyrocketed her to fame and ended up leading to many opportunities for her. In her memoir, 30 Before 30 Shifrin’s writings manages to be witty and relatable for the most part. In particular, I enjoyed her essay on how life is a vessel for you to fill with good stories in addition to the one where she talks about learning to dress for your shape and splurging on investment pieces. The section on life advice she’s gotten from doing stand-up was also an excellent read. Additionally, I loved the fun corresponding illustrations included in the book as they added to the entertainment value of the book. However, in the end this was only an okay read for me as there were several times where I just wanted a bit more. Furthermore, some of the essays just didn’t sit right with me as they were centered on goals that were inaccessible to the average millennial who aren’t given the same privilege as the writer this lead to her coming off as slightly obnoxious. Still, I think 30 Before 30 may be a book that would appeal to anyone but particularly Millennials who are looking for a bit of a “push” to go for their dreams or even to start their own bucket list with little goals or experiences they want to do.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

November Posting Schedule

Last month was one filled with a bit of work craziness, though not too much as I’ve learned to how to prep things in advance.

It was also a month with a couple of fun book events including two previews and one thriller themed meet and greet, stay tuned for more about the previews on the blog in the coming weeks.

Fall is my favourite season, and while November isn’t my favourite month per say I am looking forward to another fall book preview this month as well as some quality hang time with my friends.

I hope you guys enjoy this month’s content, and be sure to vote on which book I should read next in this month’s “What’s Next” post.

***

November 7 Midweek Mini Reviews #18
November 8 – 5 Books from Penguin Random House That I’m Excited For This Fall and Winter
November 13 – All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung
November 15- Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
November 20 –  Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs
November 21 – Waiting on Wednesday #26
November 27Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit
November 29 – What’s Next? #5

Book Review | Family Trust by Kathy Wang

Authour:
Kathy Wang
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
October 30th 2018
Publisher:
William Morrow

Review:
Family Trust centres on Stanley Huang, a proud and complicated man who is on his deathbed. We are the introduced to those closest to him, including his son, Fred who has vast ambition and an even bigger ego to boost, his daughter Kate, who is trying to balance her professional life and family, Linda who is his highly accomplished ex-wife and finally Mary, his younger second wife who is also his primary caregiver. Each has their own reasons for feeling anxious about Stanley’s death, and all these reasons along with their current personal obstacles and issues are slowly revealed in their individual chapters.

Of all the characters, Kate was my favourite as her story resonated with me even if I’m not a mother as a result of the two of us being around the same age. I enjoyed seeing a female character in a high powered job who is incredibly capable yet still has doubts about her own abilities and actions. Her story was also refreshing considering the fact that after her marriage collapses the events that follow are not what the reader would typically expect. Linda’s story was also compelling as she’s an older woman trying to navigate what she truly wants in life especially with the freedom she has. In the end, I was satisfied with both of their character growth in addition to the resolution of both of their story arcs.

The other characters in the book were not as likeable, however I appreciated how Wang was able to portray both Fred and Mary as sympathetic people.  As a result, even if you do not agree with their motivation and actions, they were tolerable since they felt like human beings who truly believe that what they want is reasonable. 

Initially I found that Family Trust dragged and I truly was hoping for more excitement. However, as I gradually read on and more was revealed about Kate and Linda since it gave the book a more feminist tone which I definitely appreciated. I love how the true stars of the book were both professionally successful and self-sufficient women and how the book shows us the challenges and discrimination faced by even women who were considered well off. A thoughtful character-driven family drama, Family Trust may appeal to anyone who enjoyed Jade Chang’s The Wangs vs. the World and/or Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest as it’s another biting look at just how crazy a family can get when it comes to money.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Louise Penny is a former journalist and radio host with the CBC. The authour of the best selling Chief Inspector Gamache series, Kingdom of the Blind is her 14th book in the Inspector Gamache series. She currently lives in a small village south of Montreal with her dog, Bishop.

What is it about? The Chief Inspector Gamache novel has Gamache, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovering he was named as one of the executors of an old lady’s will. However, he has no idea who she is. Furthermore, Gamache is forced to deal with the consequences of a decision he made 6 months ago. A decision which lead to him being suspended but seemed like a small price to to pay at the time to prevent a bigger epidemic. Only now is he realizing perhaps a bit too late just how blind he had been…

Where does it take place? Once again the mysteries takes readers to the village of Three Pines as well as the streets of Montréal.

Why did I like it? After I finish every Inspector Gamache book, I’m always left wanting to know what will happen next with all the characters! Glass Houses was no exception, and while I had to wait a bit longer for Kingdom of the Blind it was well worth the wait! I loved revisiting my favourite characters again, especially after the dramatic conclusion of the last book. Kingdom of the Blind in my opinion is Penny’s strongest book so far. I loved seeing Beauvoir taking a bigger role in the investigation. This makes sense since Gamache is technically suspended due to his actions in Glass Houses. It’s made clear that Beauvoir operates differently than Gamache despite being trained by him, however he is still excellent at what he does. I also loved how everything was connected in the end with the central mystery as well as how the side plot with Amelia was resolved. A great novel to cozy up to in the fall, I hope this isn’t the last we see of Gamache, Beauvoir and the rest of the Three Pines and Sûreté characters. Highly recommended if you are a fan of the series!

 When does it come out? November 27, 2018

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Michael Connelly has written around 27 books, and he is best known for his known for Bosch and Haller series. Before becoming a best-selling crime writer, he was formerly a newspaper reporter. Dark Sacred Night  is the second book in his Renée Ballard series, which features a fierce female detective.

What is it about? The second book featuring Connelly’s female detective, Renée Ballard sees her teaming up with veteran Bosch to try and solve the old cold case of the death of fifteen-year-old Daisy Clayton. Told from both Ballard and Bosch’s story, this is the team up that fans of these two Connelly series didn’t know they wanted but they definitely need.

Where does it take place? Like many of Connelly’s other books, this one is set in California with the case taking to them the Hills in Hollywood and San Fernando.

Why did I like it? I love a good team up, especially if they feature two of my favourite mystery novel protagonists. I’m already familiar with Bosch having read a few of the books in his series, and I loved Ballard after being introduced to her in The Late Show. The two form an unlikely but interesting duo as one is more experienced, working outside of the police force while the other is still inside, but has been ostracized by most of her peers after filing a report against one of her fellow officers for sexual harassment. I also loved the abundance of female law enforcement officers who play a central role in this book as it’s always great to see the women kick butt and be badasses. That being said, Bosch being the character that he is, ended up dominating the majority of this book despite it being a team up with him and Ballard. And while, the novel does alternate between sections from both Ballard and Bosch’s perspective, Ballard unfortunately is eclipsed by Bosch’ every time he appears or is mentioned. Nevertheless, Dark Sacred Night is another gripping novel from Michael Connelly. Ballard and Bosch work well as a team, and I wouldn’t object to seeing them team up more often in future books.

When does it come out? October 30th 2018

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | The Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ovidia Yu is a Singaporean writer best known for her Aunty Lee books. The Frangipani Tree Mystery is the first book in her new Crown Colony series. The second book in the series, The Betel Nut Tree Mystery will be out later this month.

What is it about? Su Lin is a mission school-educated local girl who dreams of becoming a “lady reporter”. Instead she finds herself employed to look after the Acting Governor’s daughter while doing her own reconnaissance work to help Chief Inspector Thomas LeFroy solve the murder of the Irish nanny she was hired to replace.


Where does it take place? Singapore during it’s colonial period

Why did I like it? The Frangipani Tree Mystery served as a nice breather from heavier reads I brought with me for my Vietnam trip. Having a traditional whodunit set in Singapore during the early 1900s when Singapore was British colony made for a more interesting and unique story. While the mystery and reveal weren’t surprising or compelling, I did find the cast of characters to be charming as was the authour’s decision to tell the story using first and third person narrator. Su Lin was a plucky protagonist and it was refreshing to see a heroine who had a physical disability but didn’t let it get in the way of being kind and patient with others all while taking the initiative when it comes to solving mysteries. I also loved that Su Lin had dreams and ambitions of being free and was determined to take the risks that would put her on this path. The Frangipani Tree Mystery is the first book in Ovidia Yu’s Crown Colony series and while it had its charms I’m not sure I’m hooked enough to continue with this series. However, it was a solid and quick read making it perfect for those who want a historical mystery set in a foreign locale.

When did it come out? September 4, 2018

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | The Golden Hairpin by Qinghan CeCe

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Cece Qinghan is a Chinese writer who lives in Hangzhou, China. The Golden Hairpin is her first book to be translated into English.

What is it about? Huang Zixia is a young investigative prodigy who is forced to flee after she is framed for the murder of her family. Seeking help from Li Shubai, the Prince of Kui, she is forced into going undercover in order to stop a serial killer and to undo a curse that threatens to destroy the Prince’s life with only an unusual but exquisite golden hairpin as a clue.

Where does it take place? Ancient China

Why did I like it? Those of you who enjoy watching historical Chinese dramas will definitely appreciate the setting of The Golden Hairpin. I found it refreshing to have a Sherlock style mystery story involving the imperial courts in ancient China. In addition, I also loved the protagonist who was a young woman because not only was she incredibly clever and resourceful, but also extremely determined to get to the truth and get justice. And while I still cannot get on board with the “romance” aspect of the book, thankfully it was only hinted at and not developed. The Golden Hairpin is an interesting blend of cultural history with a traditional whodunit story, and while simple in its writing, it features a case that has countless twists and turns that made it all the more intriguing. However, if you are not a fan of cliff-hangers I wouldn’t recommend this one as there are definitely a lot of loose threads and unanswered questions after the story’s conclusion.

When did it come out? February 20th, 2018

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 28th 2018
Publisher:
Harlequin Teen
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Short story anthologies are always a mixed bag. However, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft piqued my interest as it features stories about witches by several of my favourite YA authours. And while I’m not much of a fantasy, supernatural reader I thought this anthology would be a marvelous way to ease myself back into the genre. 

Altogether, Toil & Trouble features various diverse and intriguing takes on what a “witch” truly is. The stories all feature strong heroines and I loved the positive representation of sisterhood and female relationships, both friendships and romantic ones. That being said, there were a few stories that truly stood out for me. The first one being, Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood. I knew her from her Cahill Witch Chronicles series, and she brings it once again with this heartbreaking and emotionally powerful story, proving that stories about witches and sisters are truly her forte. Other favourites include Emery Lord’s The Gherin Girls which looks at one sister’s toxic romantic relationship and how it affects her family. I adored this one as it made me cry while also warming my heart plus it was just a wonderful story about sisters and sisterhood. And finally The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe was an incredible story as I appreciated the message of standing up for yourself and not giving up your love as a result of another person being “chosen” as your “soulmate”.

Readers coming into Toil & Trouble will appreciate the fact that the stories in this collection feature not only the stories and voices from various cultures but also includes a decent amount of positive LBTGQ+ representation. While not my favourite anthology, I would recommend Toil & Trouble as a perfect fall read to those looking for a collection of feminist, empowering and witchy stories.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #17


This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two of the books I brought with me on my trip to Vietnam this summer.

Vi by Kim Thúy

What I loved most about Vi was how family was truly the focus of the story this time around. Readers learn about the title character’s family history (starting with her grandparents) well before we get to Vi’s story and even after she goes out on her own, her family continues to have an impact on her life. I also appreciated the fact that another one of the central aspects of this novel was the Vietnamese Canadian immigrant experience which does differ from the experiences of Vietnamese Americans. I also fell in love with Vi’s family, including her brothers who all looked out for her in their own way as well as her mother who “gave” Vi to her friend, Hà to raise so that she can have a better education and future. As a result of this upbringing, Vi is able to have many adventures across the globe which I loved reading about. All that being said, however, I felt that Vi was not as well written compared with Thúy’s earlier novels, Ru and Mãn and the ending left much to be desired. Furthermore, despite being the titular character readers barely get to know Vi before the book ends. In the end, Vi was a decent read as it has Thúy’s trademark stripped-down, exquisite prose, however the lack of lightness in Vi’s story a

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris

Lands of Lost Borders is a memoir that details the journey and life of the author Kate Harris. Harris has always dreamt of being an explorer and it was interesting to read about how she discovered and harnessed her writing talents to get funding for her adventures as a student. That being said, this was a slow and tough read for me because felt long-winded at times with all the history lessons and technical details of biking embedded in the book. I would’ve liked there to have been more on her adventure in present day, including greater details on the characters she came across and the cities and towns she and her friend travelled through. I did, however, appreciated the fact that Harris doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of her journey as they do face many challenges along the way. So as far as travel literature goes, Lands of Lost Borders isn’t high on my favourites or recommend reading list, however I did learn about Central and Western Asia from it. In the end, I think I probably would have been better off with an audiobook for this one given the type of story it was. 

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

What’s Next? #4 | Awkward Dead

What’s Next is a weekly book blogging meme originally created by IceyBooks; where bloggers ask their readers to vote on which one they should read next.

Today on Words of Mystery, I need to decide which of the two mystery novels I should read and review for  an upcoming #MysteryMonday.

Suspended from her job as a promising police officer for firing “one bullet too many”, Anne Capestan is expecting the worst when she is summoned to H.Q. to learn her fate. Instead, she is surprised to be told that she is to head up a new police squad, working on solving old cold cases.

Though relived to still have a job, Capestan is not overjoyed by the prospect of her new role. Even less so when she meets her new team: a crowd of misfits, troublemakers and problem cases, none of whom are fit for purpose and yet none of whom can be fired.

But from this inauspicious start, investigating the cold cases throws up a number a number of strange mysteries for Capestan and her team: was the old lady murdered seven years ago really just the victim of a botched robbery? Who was behind the dead sailor discovered in the Seine with three gunshot wounds? And why does there seem to be a curious link with a ferry that was shipwrecked off the Florida coast many years previously?

Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award winning author Peter James, faces his most complex case yet in Dead If You Don’t.

Shortly after Kipp Brown and his teenage son, Mungo, arrive at the Amex stadium for their team’s biggest-ever football game, Mungo disappears. A short while later Kipp receives a text with a ransom demand and a warning not to go to the police if he and his wife want to see their son alive again. But as a massive, covert manhunt for the boy and his kidnappers begins, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace starts to realize that not all is what it seems . . .

So, which book do you think I should pick up? Cast your vote in the Twitter poll below!

https://twitter.com/WordsofMystery/status/1041662801406701568

Book Review | The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Authour:
Rebecca Serle
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
September 11, 2018
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would you choose? Until fairly recently I had no idea, but now I can say for certain I’d want to have dinner with Anthony Bourdain, who seems incredibly worldly and down to earth, and perhaps my maternal grandfather as he seemed to have lived a remarkable life.

This question is also answered by the protagonist of Rebecca Serle’s first adult novel. In The Dinner List, Sabrina suddenly finds herself at a dinner table on her 30th birthday with a rather unusual mix of guests. There’s her best friend, her estranged father, an older professor, her ex and of course Audrey Hepburn! Interestingly enough, only two of the guests with the exception of Sabrina are alive in the present day, as the others have all passed away. This contributes to an entertaining dynamic especially as the reasons behind why each of the guests were chosen are revealed.

Almost immediately, the premise of this book had me intrigued even though I have never picked up a Rebecca Serle book before. Having the story of Sabrina’s life and relationship told through flashbacks as part of a dinner conversation was a refreshingly imaginative take on your typical “love story”. And while The Dinner List definitely has its moments, it’s honestly so much more than another relationship story. In fact, The Dinner List is not your light-hearted romantic comedy instead it’s a fairly realistic portrayal of how all relationships, not just romantic ones change and it’s when you become too comfortable that the relationship begins to break down. This is particularly glaring as we watch how Sabrina and Jessica’s friendship has changed over time as both have grown into two undeniably different people.

I’d admit that I confused the premise of The Dinner List for just another fluffy women’s fiction book and this made it initially difficult for me to become invested in Sabrina’s story. However, in the end The Dinner List turned out to be a well written novel that while bittersweet does give us some hope for our protagonist, Sabrina and her ability to finally let go and move on with her life.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #16


This Midweek Mini Reviews post features some  non-fiction books for those who are feeling a bit lost in life.

Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist by Meredith Goldstein

I’ve always liked reading advice columns in magazines and newspapers so I was keen to pick up Meredith Goldstein’s Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist as it promised a “behind the scenes” look at one of today’s most popular columns. Unlike your typical advice column, Love Letters is unique in that it allows responses from its readers in the comments section which gives it a more modern, “group therapy” vibe. The book is divided into different sections, each starting with an introduction from Goldstein talking about her personal life and experience. This “memoir” aspect of the book is then followed by one or two questions from her column that fall under the section’s topic along with Goldstein’s response and some of the responses from the comments. I loved seeing the comments from the readers as their responses and suggestions were always entertaining and occasionally extremely hilarious. I enjoyed this refreshingly, honest look at an advice column and am looking forward to checking out the actual Love Letters column online.

Nobody Cares: Essays by Anne T. Donahue

While the first few essays in Anne T. Donahue’s Nobody Cares truly resonated with me, the majority of the essays in this collection did not. However, there were a few that stood out to me. The chief among them is the essay on not being “fun” as I hate or at the very least don’t see the appeal of the popular things she also hates although I do love brunch. Still, I loved that the takeaway was about not doing things you don’t want to anymore, thus giving you permission to not force yourself to do the things you hate, this is something I’m definitely a fan of it. The other essay that stood out to me was her essay on death titled, “It Will Never Feel This bad Again” as not only was it extremely poignant but it was probably the most honest and relatable essay about death I’ve read so far. In the end, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and feeling lost or not liking where you are in life this book will definitely speak to you. Whether it’s by providing advice that needs to be repeated for you to follow like she does in her essay “Get to Work” or being straightforward and blunt with you while oddly also being comforting as seen in her essay titled, “In Case of Emergency”, Donahue truly cements her status of the best friend you would want to have in your corner.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter by David Chariandy

Authour:
David Chariandy
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
May 29th, 2018
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“We are a family of different generations, different upbringings, different backgrounds and races–diverse in ways no half-hearted policy or opportunistic advertisement campaign can ever truly represent, and brought together in celebration of your birth.” (p. 11)

Inspired by James Baldwin’s essay My Dungeon Shook which was written as a letter to his nephew, David Chariandy takes a break from fiction writing to pen I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You which has a structure reminiscent of a novella is actually a his letter to his pre-teen daughter.

While short in length, I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You manages to tackle issues such as culture, racism, family, parenting and the immigrant experience in a powerful and emotional way. It was fascinating to get a glimpse at Chariandy’s family life and history in addition to the brief mention of his wife’s family who has had a remarkably different experience than his own. And while I enjoyed the story of how two people from incredibly different backgrounds can come together to start their own family, I appreciated how he captured the true awkwardness of two cultures coming together with immense understanding and patience. Being a child of immigrants I could also relate to the section where Chariandy talks about his kids realizing that they don’t belong and that they appear to the locals as Canadian tourists who happen to have a cultural connection to the Trinidad and its people. This was how I felt as a kid every time I visited Vietnam with my parents.

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is firstly a letter of love to Chariandy’s pre-teen daughter. It is clear from the beginning to the conclusion just how proud he is of his daughter and how similar to every other parent, he struggles with trying to protect her while also letting go and letting her be her own person. A quick read, I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is a timely read that all Canadians should definitely consider picking up as it makes its readers truly reflect on life especially during the current political climate.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Bonjour Girl by Isabelle Laflèche

Authour:
Isabelle Laflèche
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 25th 2018
Publisher:
Dundurn
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Having previously read a few of Isabelle Laflèche’s books from her J’adore series I was curious to see how she approaches her first YA novel. I’ll admit I had a few reservations going into Bonjour Girl as the protagonist is half Chinese, however I felt that this aspect of Clementine’s background was barely touched upon as she truly is a European teenager having grown up in France with a European mother.

One of the unique aspects of Bonjour Girl was how Clementine was an international student attending New York’s Parsons School of Design, it’s refreshing as a reader living in North America to read a book from the perspective of an international student who isn’t just another American studying abroad in Europe or Asia. Clementine’s story is an entertaining one, especially when it comes to her colourful family history. In addition, I loved how passionate she was about her goal to become a fashion influencer which is obvious when she mentions real fashion bloggers and blogs like Garance Doré.

As with the majority of novels featuring young protagonists, there is adventure as well as drama in this case the drama revolves around cyber bullying and intellectual fashion property theft. There is of course, romance as well, however I wasn’t the biggest fan of the relationship between Clementine and Jonathan. The “romance” was seriously undeveloped and lacked any chemistry that would’ve made it believable or even charming. Instead the romantic plot in this book was truly unnecessary to Clementine’s story as the book would have been a better read in my opinion if the focus was more on Clementine’s school life and her friends.

Bonjour Girl seems like it’s just the beginning of Clementine, and with the hints given at the end of this book I wouldn’t say no to reading more of Clementine’s journey. After all, while she may be an incredibly privileged teenager living an essentially charmed life, her story is one with its amusing and interesting moments and a decent cast of side characters.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Authour:
Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
May 22nd, 2018
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“I love Jerusalem best in the morning when she’s naked before the shops are open and the scarves and jewelry cover the stone. And I like to wake her wake up and get dressed while I drink my jasmine green tea from the bakery overlooking Jaffa Gate. Or earlier still, from the Western Wall, when sacred time meets sunrise, and Jews and Muslims pray together although separately behind their glass walls at the brink of sunrise.” (p.141)

They say a person never forgets their “first”, and I suppose that’s true at least for me when it comes to cities and countries as Israel will always have a special place in my heart. Before picking up Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered, I was vaguely familiar with Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s work through her blog posts in The Times of Israel online website, so I was already intrigued by her book. I remember picking it up shortly after the US officially moved their embassy to Jerusalem, however it was definitely a book that had been on my shelf for some time before.

In Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered, the writer takes us deep into the parts of the Old City that the average visitor most likely wouldn’t venture to. I enjoyed the diverse perspectives and stories and I appreciated how Sarah makes an effort to talk to people of all walks of life and cultural backgrounds so that the reader is given several distinct opinions and stories and not one singular narrative. That being said, I was slightly surprised that the majority of this book was about her own personal life and not being about the Old City itself. It was also a much grittier, intense read than I expected as she does experience a great deal of trauma in her life. Nevertheless, I found Sarah’s honesty about her past and her current life in Jerusalem to be refreshing and it did make for a more emotional read.

An eloquently written book, Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered is truly a love letter from the author to the city of Jerusalem. However, the story along with the coloured photos only offers a glimpse into the city and Sarah’s life. In the end, I was left wishing that the author expanded more on the more various quarters in Jerusalem in addition to her own story. For instance, it would’ve have been interesting to learn more about the mysterious man who was friends with her mother as he only briefly appears near the end of the book.

For those who are curious about the situation in Jerusalem and in Israel, I would recommend this book as one of the countless books that you should pick up. Sarah Tuttle-Singer does an excellent job of humanizing the city and I definitely came away from the book with a better understanding of the various sides of this conflict. After reading this book, which was a far cry from a tourist book I found myself wanting to visit Jerusalem and Israel again, though with the current political climate I’m not sure it would be possible any time soon.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.