Book Review | Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Authour:
Roselle Lim
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 11th 2019
Publisher:
Berkley Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Everyone knows what comfort food is, well Roselle Lim’s debut novel is what I call a comfort read. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is just one of those reads that warm the heart, and provides a sense of nostalgia.

The story follows a young woman who returns to the neighbourhood, she grew morup in upon hearing of her mother’s death. When Natalie comes back home, she finds her once vibrant San Francisco neighbourhood dying, a shadow of what it once was. I found it interesting that the authour chose to tell Natalie’s story from first-person point of view. This helped me to further connect with Natalie’s personal history and story, including the father she never knew, and the mother who she was estranged from. Natalie’s story was more tragic than I initially thought, however I appreciated the complicated mother-daughter dynamics in the book. I also could relate to Natalie in more ways than one, especially her restlessness and wanderlust. Still, I admired how she fights for her dream and was able to make something of herself.

Along with this being a story of family, community and getting back to your roots, there is also romance in store for Natalie. Though if I were honest, the romance plot in the book didn’t genuinely work for me. The romance had its sweet moments but the development was too fast and the circumstances were too rooted in fantasy and not realistic for me to enjoy. Fortunately, it was not the main focus of Natalie’s story.

Still, there’s definitely something magical about Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, and I’m not saying that due to the magical realism elements of Natalie’s story. Roselle Lim’s writing truly brings the world that she created to life. The descriptions of all the food is so vivid and mouth-watering that it made me hungry. This is one novel you shouldn’t read on an empty stomach! Luckily, there are recipes in the book and while I may not be much of a cook, I now want to try them out for myself.

Touching on topics like mental illness, and estrangement between mothers and daughters, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be. It is however, a read that is as enchanting as its cover promises.

 

 

 

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 #24

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two books by Palestinian American women.

The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan

I loved Hala Alyan’s début novel, Salt Houses. This lead to me discovering her TEDx talk, which was a spoken word performance where she talks about the cities she’s been in and their effect on her. The talk really resonated with me, so I was excited to pick up her poetry collection, especially when I learnt it was titled The Twenty-Ninth Year. Being close to but not yet 29, I was hoping to find more pieces that truly spoke to me. Unfortunately, The Twenty-Ninth Year ended up not being my cup of tea. It was darker and rawer than I’d expected, touching a lot more on topics like assault, substance abuse and loss rather than just about a young woman coming of age. There were, however, some poems that stood out to me such as “Honeymoon”, “Gospel: Newlyweds” and ‘Step Eight: Make Amends” because they showed a more realistic take on a young marriage. Honest and candid, The Twenty-Ninth Year may not be a collection of poetry for everyone, but if it is for you, then it will make you feel like you are not alone.

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum 

In Etaf Rum’s A Woman is No Man, a woman named Isra and her daughter, Deya are the central focus of the book, however we also get to know Fareeda who is Isra’s mother-in-law. Isra’s story is particularly tragic because of the foregone conclusion that she and her husband both die when Deya and her sisters are still young since the girls are being raised by their grandparents in the present day. What’s even sadder is that not much has changed for women, as Deya is also pressured to get married after graduating high school despite it being 2008 and her wanting to attend college instead. I really liked Deya’s story, especially how it was connected to the other women in her family and it was thrilling to watch her slowly discover the truth about her mother. I also found it refreshing how none of the characters were multi-dimensional and that no one was truly an evil person. For example, by getting Fareeda’s back story we see that everyone, not just Deya and Isra have their own traumas, struggles and weaknesses. I also appreciated how it was shown that no one in their cloistered community was truly “free”, even the men have expectations and pressures thrust upon them. A powerful and well written novel, the book is made more significant once you learn that the authour drew inspiration from her own experience. And while I could have done without the epilogue, I am satisfied with the book’s hopeful ending as it was about time things started to change and move into a more positive manner for these women.

 

 

 

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

Book Review | There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Authour:
Sandhya Menon
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
May 14th 2019
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
We first met Ashish in When Dimple Met Rishi as Ashish is Rishi’s little brother. There’s Something about Sweetie continues Ashish’s story and introduces us to the sassy Sweetie Nair. I’ll be honest, despite my excitement for this book I was a bit wary. The plot of There’s Something about Sweetie meant that Ashish and Celia would no longer be a couple and I loved them as the beta couple in When Dimple Met Rishi. In spite of that, Sweetie quickly won me over and I truly felt that she and Ashish were the perfect foil to one another. 

This was a book that had me grinning from ear to ear, of course, there were a few (joyful) tears as I love how authentically both characters’ families were portrayed. As a child of immigrants, I could definitely relate to Sweetie’s conflict about wanting to be her own person and not giving in to familial pressure yet at the same time not being able to fully go against her parents. After all, even if you disagree with them their words still have an effect on you because they’re your parents and you want them to accept and love you for who you are. I also loved how this was a YA novel where families, especially parents play such an integral part in a teenager’s life. However, I also love how both Sweetie and Ashish’s friends are heavily featured in this book, especially as they are all such fun characters who always have each other’s’ backs. Furthermore, it was amazing how a couple of Ashish’s friends, even got their own subplot and character development moments.

Ashish truly has come a long way since his first appearance and I love how Sweetie grows, although her character doesn’t change a great deal. Perhaps this due to the fact that she was shown as being perfect with her only flaw being her struggling between standing up for herself and being a dutiful daughter? It’s hard for anyone to not fall in love with her. A delightful read, There’s Something about Sweetie is one of those books that’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood with its adorableness, lack of any major angst and message of loving yourself and opening yourself up to others.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #1

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren’s My Favourite Half Night Stand was one of my favourite reads of 2018, so I was excited for their newest novel The Unhoneymooners! The premise sounded promising, what with the enemies-to-lovers romance as well as the all the fake dating hijinks. However, this one was a bit of a letdown.While I did enjoy Olive and Ethan getting to know each other and realizing that they are compatible there were a couple of things I just couldn’t get passed. Mainly how just Ethan handles all things related to his brother, Dane. I didn’t like how Ethan doesn’t let Olive tell her twin sister about Dane, and it just seemed unfair how Ethan gets to look out for his brother but Olive isn’t allowed to do the same. I also hated how he easily dismissed Olive when she tried to tell him about his brother and I felt like this issue wasn’t really properly resolved. This made it hard for me to root for them as a couple in the end, despite me shipping them in the beginning. That being said, I liked how things were handled between Olive and her twin sister, Amy. Plus, I loved seeing how the girls’ crazy family was always quick to get together and have each other’s’ backs no matter how big or small a crisis was.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

II think I’m most likely in the minority here, but I loved Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test so much more than The Kiss Quotient. I think this is because I connected with the characters and story more as both the leads are of Vietnamese descent. I loved that we got to see more of Michael’s extended family with his cousins Khai and Quan, and I loved the sibling relationship between Khai and Quan. I also liked the character of Esme, as she refuses to be seen as a victim despite her circumstances and the numerous obstacles she encounters. That being said, I felt that we didn’t get to know Khai and Esme as a couple even though we did get to know them as individuals. I wish we got to know them more and have them directly face more of their issues as a couple and not have the story just skip ahead, still I did find their relationship to be incredibly heartwarming. Much more than just a steamy romance, I enjoyed the fact that The Bride Test was a bit more of a weightier read and I appreciated the story even more after reading the authour’s note at the end of the book, as heroine’s story was loosely inspired by the authour’s own mother who immigrated from Vietnam with her family when she was young. I’ll definitely be picking up Helen Hoang’s next book as it will be about Quan and I can’t wait!

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #23

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two books for kids, just in time for the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week!

Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms written by Robert Paul Weston & illustrated by Misa Saburi 

I don’t often read and review picture books, but Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms was such an adorable and heartwarming read that I’d thought I share on my blog. Written by Robert Paul Weston and gorgeously illustrated by Miso Saburi, this book follows a little girl named Sakura whose family has to move from Japan to the US. This book is perfect for kids, especially those who have moved to a new city or even country as it perfectly captures the difficulties that kids may face as well it shows the importance of good friends and how strong family bonds will always be there even when you are not physically near each other. Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms manages to stay light-hearted for kids while touching on topics like fitting in, bullying, homesickness and illness. I also loved how it shows that as a new kid even if you have just one friend, if they’re a good one it will make all the difference. Despite not being a kid, I really did enjoy both the story and the illustrations. And I think even adult readers would be able to appreciate the charm of Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms especially if they’re fans of seeing cherry blossoms in the spring.

Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney

Middle Grade books tend to be either a hit or miss for me. For instance, I adore Susin Nielsen’s books but haven’t had much luck with other middle-grade novels. However, Vikki VanSickle at Penguin Random House Canada made a strong case for Rachelle Delaney’s Clara Voyant that I just had to give it a chance. This novel is set Toronto’s Kensington Market, which had me intrigued as it’s a neighbourhood that I’ve recently discovered and fell in love with. I also liked the premise of astrology and psychic abilities. That being said, it took me an incredibly long time to get invested in the characters and plot as it was only near the end when the book started to get interesting for me. What I did appreciate about this novel, however was the wonderful friendship between Clara and Maeve, and how both girls had their own ambitions but still made time for each other. I also thought the twist at the end and the reveal of what happened to the missing mascot to be quite clever. While Clara Voyant certainly had its satisfying and entertaining moments, overall I don’t think this was my cup of tea. I do think that this would make for an excellent read for those in middle grade who are slowly figuring out who they are and who might not feel completely comfortable in their own skin yet.

 

 

 

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

Book Review | Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Authour:
Maurene Goo
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 7th 2019
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
For those who remember or are familiar with the movie, Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a princess looking for one day of freedom from her royal duties. Somewhere Only We Know modernizes this story by having it set in present day Hong Kong. I also like how Goo made the story her own by changing up the setting and making the two characters Asian American teenagers while still making nods to the book’s inspiration. The Hong Kong setting allows readers to visit another country and culture and experience Hong Kong from more of a local’s perspective, though with a sprinkling of the tourist highlights of course. I also felt that the pacing was actually perfect, especially for a story that supposedly takes place over less than two days at no point in the story did ever felt rushed. 

Somewhere Only We Know has two narrators, “Lucky” aka Fern (neither is her real name) and Jack. I found it refreshing that both were older teens as we watch them struggle to find their passion and decide what they want to do in life. I related to both characters’ pressure and stress over not letting others down, especially when they’ve made so countless sacrifices for you. I also appreciated how the parents, especially Jack’s parents weren’t your stereotypical strict, “tiger” parents. Since Jack’s story is told from his point of view, we only view his parents from his eyes. As a result, it was nice when he finally is able to talk to them and they’re able to clear up any misconceived notions he had about them. 

Finally central to Somewhere Only We Know is the relationship that gradually develops between Lucky and Jack. While there were a few clichéd moments that could be attributed to the K-drama feel of the book, their relationship like the characters themselves felt truly authentic. The romance wasn’t swoon worthy nor did it make me hardcore ship Lucky and Jack together. However, in the end I bought their connection and I’m satisfied with how both their story ends. 

A light read that isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, Somewhere Only We Know is still an entertaining read, especially for those who love K-dramas, or those who believe you can find love from a short, chance encounter.

 

 

 

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 | If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Authour:
Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
April 23rd 2019
Publisher:
Viking Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
As a slightly obsessive YA contemporary rom-com reader, I’ve wanted to read an Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka book ever since their début novel last year. Fortunately, I was able to snag an advance copy of their latest book, If I’m Being Honest. Pitched as “The Taming of the Shrew meets Mean Girls”, I was a bit wary of it since The Taming of the Shrew is the Shakespeare play that I hate the most. Yet something told me to give it a chance and fortunately I listened.  

To almost everyone around her, Cameron Bright appears to be your stereotypical “mean girl”. She’s attractive, popular and has no regard for others. However, as readers, we get a glimpse at Cameron’s home life and her complicated family, thus showing us a more vulnerable side to her “mean girl” actions. After getting to know her better, it was difficult not to feel sympathy for her. She just wants her father to acknowledge her since her mother never seems to care about her. So while Cameron is not your typical, likeable protagonist I actually liked her for her independent nature and how she was incredibly honest to others even if it was to a fault. It was also enjoyable to have a protagonist who was a teenager who, while flawed had several layers to who she was. This made it more satisfying as we see Cameron develop into a more self-aware and caring person while still retaining her “bite”. Furthermore, she learns to accept her flaws and won’t settle for someone who can’t take her as she is.

The romance in If I’m Being Honest was sweet. I love all the banter between Cameron and Brendan especially since they went from sending emails to each other to texting and then to interacting in person. There’s also family drama in this book as both of Cameron’s parents are not truly present in her life and Brendan and Paige also do not have the best relationship with their parents. Cameron’s mother, however does do a heel face turn towards the end of the book, though I had difficulty buying into her reasoning as it just doesn’t add up. That being said, it was refreshing to see parents who weren’t perfect, but who weren’t exactly all complete monsters either.

Similar to Always Never Yours, If I’m Being Honest is a modern twist of The Taming of the Shrew. However, it’s so much more than that. If I’m Being Honest stands on its own as an unflinchingly realistic, but empowering twist on your average teen rom com. I’ll definitely be checking out future books by this duo as well as Always Never Yours since the couple from that book make an adorable cameo in If I’m Being Honest.

 

 

 

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 #22

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two books focusing on South Asian women.

A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose by Samra Zafar

A Good Wife is about arranged marriage and domestic violence, knowing that it comes as no surprise that it was a difficult read for me. Still, I felt like it was a necessary read as even today domestic violence and sexual abuse is still prevalent, especially in Asian communities where unfortunately, more than often than not it is swept under the rug. I appreciated how Samra doesn’t sugar-coat the abuse she faced as well as the reality of what happens when you leave a marriage and the mixed feelings when your marriage ends. And it was refreshing to hear her path to being free wasn’t just an easy and straight road. Instead she was constantly plagued with doubts and even backslides at one point. However, this just makes her tale all the more inspiring and powerful, especially when she gains the strength and motivation to finally stand up for herself because of her father and daughters’ love and faith in her. More than just a survival story, A Good Wife is also the story of the importance of having a community and social support system. It’s also a heartbreaking read, but also one with some hope as Samra continues to tell her story and work to help those in situations like the situation she was in.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters appealed to me as it’s about travelling to a country where you look like the locals on the outside, but on the inside you’re different because you were born/grew up elsewhere. I also appreciated how the Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina were all complex and well-developed characters, and how the book looks at the challenges and issues women travellers face. The novel’s themes of sisterhood, culture and travel is also obvious in how the chapters are laid out. I loved that each chapter started with the girls’ late mother writing to them as it provided greater insight into who she was in addition to giving the readers some background and context about why she wanted her daughters to do the things on the itinerary she made just for them. This also made me feel like I was joining the girls on their pilgrimage and that I was right there with them every step of their journey. The conflict between the three sisters felt authentic and I truly empathized with each of them as they all had their own issues and struggles which, when not dealt with directly only exacerbated their various misunderstandings with one another. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a refreshingly empowering read. What I enjoyed most was how it touches upon issues like dysfunctional family dynamics, cultural representation in the media, female feticide, sexism and misogyny while still maintaining a good amount of lightheartedness thus making it the perfect vacation read.

Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

 

 

 

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

What’s Next? #6 | This Time Will Be Ordinary

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 YA contemporary novels I should pick up next.

For two sisters as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other’s nerves is par for the course. But when the family’s finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house in a way only characters from a Jane Austen novel could understand, the two drift apart like they never have before. Plum, a self-described social outcast, strikes up a secret friendship with the class jock, while Ginny’s usual high-strung nature escalates to pure hysterics.

But this has always been the sisters’ dynamic. So why does everything feel different this year? Maybe because Ginny is going to leave for college soon. Maybe because Plum finally has something that she doesn’t have to share with her self-involved older sister. Or maybe because the girls are forced to examine who they really are instead of who their late father said they were. And who each girl discovers—beneath the years of missing their dad—could either bring them closer together…or drive them further apart.

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

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

https://twitter.com/WordsofMystery/status/1113953200598601733

Frenzy Five | Spring/Summer 2019

It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years since the very first, Frenzy Presents. Frenzy Presents has certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings especially as this event had over 110 attendees and that’s not including the waitlist! This particular event was definitely shorter than the ones in the past due to the Angie Thomas event that was taking place at the Art Gallery of Ontario later that afternoon. Still there was no shortage of great titles, so without further ado here are my top five picks from all of the titles presented.

1. The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos (Release Date: May 28, 2019)

A contemporary-fantasy hybrid novel, The Wise and the Wicked is about a family with an unusual power. Every woman in Ruby’s family when they come of age, has the ability to see when exactly they will die. And without fail, every member of the Chernyavsky family has died in the same manner that they saw that is until Ruby’s great-aunt Polina passes away. This twist leads to Ruby having hope that things are not completely set in stone, but can she really change her fate? An own voices magical realism story, this one awesome some awesome LGBTQ characters and representation which I’m all here for!

2. Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh (Release Date: June 4, 2019)

This one was one of the titles on my wish list and I was fortunate enough to snag an ARC in my swag bag. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, this one’s for those who love stories about complicated and dysfunctional family dynamics particularly among sisters. 

3. This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura (Release Date: June 4, 2019)

Another contemporary YA novel that I’m eagerly anticipating, this one is about a Japanese American girl whose family owns a flower shop. Interestingly enough this one looks at the effect that the Japanese internment camps still has, since CJ’s family ends up selling their shop to the family that swindled her grandparents during WWII. This causes CJ to stand up and fight for her family, causing conflict within their entire Northern California community. Perfect for fans of Samira Ahmed’s Love, Hate & Other Filters, Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi as well Jenny Han.

4. The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter (Release Date: June 25, 2019)

Everyone that attended the event received a chapter sampler of this Evil Queen retelling. For fans of twisted fairy-tale retellings like the Lunar Chronicles series, this one takes place in a world where your fate is already written in the fairy tales. Everly Morrow is a loner and outsider who has the ability to commune with mirrors. Unbeknownst to her, she is destined to be the “Evil Queen” in Snow White’s story. Will she succumb to becoming the evil queen and a villain or give up her crown to become a hero? After reading this one, I’m even more intrigued to read the rest of Everly’s story.

5. Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin (Release Date: September 3, 2019)

Okay so technically this one doesn’t come out until the fall, however those who attended the Spring 2019 Frenzy Presents event were given a tiny glimpse of some upcoming fall titles. This one is the first in a fantasy duology, and is the authour’s debut novel. Although, fantasy isn’t my typical cup of tea I’m excited for this one because it has a runaway witch, a marriage of convenience cleverly orchestrated by the protagonist and of course some forbidden romance between a huntsman and a witch! Also how awesome is this cover?

Mystery Monday | Fate by Ian Hamilton

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

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 11 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Fate is the first book in his new Uncle Chow Tung series which will star a younger version of Ava Lee’s mentor and former business partner.

What is it about? When the The Dragon Head (also known as the Mountain Master) of the Fanling Triad dies under suspicious circumstances, his seat of power is left open. Many assume that his deputy, Ma would be appointed but the triad’s White Paper Fan, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” doesn’t believe Ma is up for the job and seeks to have an election putting Ren Tengfei, the Vanguard/operations officer forward as an alternative to Ma. However, when Ma is found shot to death along with a Blue Lantern named Peng things start looking even more suspect. Could the Fanling Triad have an enemy from within?

Where does it take place? Fate starts with Chow Tung aka “Uncle” escaping from Mainland China and follows him ten years later as the “White Paper Fan” in 1970s Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? Fate is the first book in the Ava Lee spinoff series that I never knew I needed until I got it. I’m a fan of Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series and I’ve always liked the character of “Uncle” so it was only natural that I’d want to know more about him and his past. Although, Fate took a bit of time for me to get hooked, it did succeed in hooking me in the end. Once the action and pacing picked up, I became invested in the story and the characters. In particular, I liked the complicated “partnership” Chow had with Zhang, a superintendent with the Hong Kong Police Force. This was a compelling relationship as both knew each other when they were first starting out, and even though both men were mentored by Tian, who was a part of the Triad they ended up taking different paths in life. I’m curious to see how their relationship evolves as things get more complicated with each book in this series. I also enjoyed meeting “Uncle” again and seeing how he rose in the ranks. Of course, I still prefer the Ava Lee series over this one. And yet I’m looking forward to continuing the Uncle Chow Tung series in hopes that I’ll get to see more family faces from the Ava Lee series including a younger, Sonny.

When did it come out? January 22, 2019

 

 

 

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 Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff

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

Who is it by? Sophie Hénaff is a French author and  journalist, known for humorous column, “La Cosmopolite” in the Cosmopolitan. The Awkward Squad is her first novel to be translated into English and it is the first book in her Awkward Squad / Anne Capstan series.

What is it about? Anne Capstan, a police officer with a promising future finds herself suddenly in charge of a new squad of misfits after recent events had her coming off as a bit too “trigger happy”. Whole officially the new team was created to work on cold cases, in reality her new squad consists of various misfits whom H.Q. is unable to fire but doesn’t want to deal with. But as this mismatched crew starts woking on random cold cases they come to a discovery that the cases they’re individually investigating may be in fact related and connected to something even bigger than they could have ever anticipated,


Where does it take place? Set in Paris, France this isn’t your romantic “City of Lights”. Instead Sophie Hénaff’s book allows readers to see the more realistic side of the City that just like any other major city has its own issues and problems, including corruption and crime.

Why did I like it? The Awkward Squad features a mishmash of misfit characters. I loved how they were all able to come together in the end as a team to cleverly take down the murderer who was someone with a lot of influence and power. I especially liked the dynamic between unapologetic, and crass Rosière and rule-biding Lebreton as well as the unique partnership between Anne Capestan and Torrez, who has a reputation for bringing bad luck to those working closely with him. I loved how Capestan ignored the superstition and trusted Torrez to be her partner in the investigation, as this ended up saving her. With a wacky cast of characters The Awkward Squad had a great deal of potential. However, I felt that the book had too many storylines and characters and with all the jumping around it made it difficult to keep track of who’s who and what’s really going on. So while the ending of The Awkward Squad leaves plenty of room open for future stories, I’m not sure I will continue with this series.

When did it come out? April 3, 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 Goddess of Yantai (Ava Lee #11) by Ian Hamilton

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

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 11 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

What is it about? Pang Fai, a famous Chinese actress and Ava’s current secret lover is being blackmailed. If Fai doesn’t comply with the demands which includes sexual favours, her latest film will not be distributed or promoted thereby ruining any future she has in the film industry. Turning to Ava for help leads to an investigation which in turn runs deeper than expected and will have future ramifications for Ava in other parts of her life.

Where does it take place? Starting in Beijing, the capital city of China The Goddess of Yantai takes readers on a thrilling journey into the seedy underground world of the Chinese film industry.

Why did I like it? I always look forward to the next installment in the Ava Lee series. However, unlike the previous Ava Lee books The Goddess of Yantai took some time for me to get into. Once it did pick up near the end, it became just as action packed and thrilling as the other books. What I liked about this particular book was how it developed Ava’s new romantic relationship with Fang Pai, a Chinese actress. We learn more about Pang Fai’s past and get to see how she and Ava are with each other during their “downtime”. I also liked the introduction of the other characters who live along the same Hutong as Pang Fai, it was heartwarming seeing how the neighbours looked out for one another. I am excited for the upcoming The Mountain Master of Sha Tin as there are hints that it will focus more on the trouble that is brewing with the triads and it will be interesting to see how Pang Fai interacts with this aspect of Ava’s life now that they are a couple. I’m also looking forward to see the regular extended cast of Xu, Sonny, and maybe even Lop in action.

When did it come out? December 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.

Midweek Mini Reviews #21

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two romances just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

Having heard many good things about Matchmaking for Beginners I decided to move it up on my TBR list. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me and I felt that it did not live up to the praise it received. Maybe it’s because I hate when people are no given much choice, but I had a hard time getting through this book. The protagonist, Marnie wasn’t very likeable and she came off as extremely flaky and an incredible doormat. Her heartbreak, however was relatable, which made it tough to see her getting pushed around and manipulated by basically everyone, including little kids, her horrible ex and even complete strangers. That being said, the side characters were entertaining at times and I did appreciate Jessica’s friendship with Marnie in fact, she was probably one of the few reasonable characters in the book. As for the “magic” aspect of the book, I thought it was cool initially as Blitz grew on me as a character, however, it eventually got rather irritating as the “sparkles” was used as an excuse for everything including going behind people’s backs to “help” them. I can certainly see how Matchmaking for Beginners could be the perfect, warm and magical holiday read, however for me it was too saccharine for my liking especially the ending and instead left me feeling slightly depressed.         

Liars, Inc. series by Rachel Van Dyken

The first Rachel Van Dyken novel that I read and loved was Infraction. So when I heard she had a new series coming out, this time centering on a women run PI agency that exposes cheaters, I was intrigued. Starting with Dirty Exes, I wasn’t completely sold yet. I liked Blair alright, however I wasn’t as big on Colin or even him and Blair as a couple. That being said, the book did introduce me to Jessie and Isla and from their shared scenes and off the charts chemistry in Dirty Exes I knew I just had to read their book. Fortunately, Dangerous Exes was a definite hit with me. While Jessie and Isla start off as “enemies”, it does not last very long. Soon they’re thrust into a fake engagement and before either of them realizes it, they’re hooking up and starting to develop “feelings”. I love how sweet the two were as a couple, and how they brought out the best in each other. I also appreciated the fact that Isla was half Chinese and that we got to meet Goo-Poh (her aunt). Goo-Poh was such a wild and hilarious character that she stole every scene she appeared in. While Dirty Exes was an okay read for me, Dangerous Exes was a hot and sweet romance that I could not put down. 

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #20

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two “self-help” books, perfect for starting a new year.

Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life by Melissa Leong

One of my New Years’ resolutions for 2019 was to learn to manage my money better. This is where my copy of Melissa Leong’s Happy Go Money came in. Unlike the majority of other personal finance books that I’ve tried to pick up, but failed to get through, Leong’s book was easy to follow, light-hearted and entertaining. Part personal finance, part self-help I appreciated how Happy Go Money combines psychology and happiness research with finance tips and tricks to give the reader advice, conversation starters and tasks that the readers can start to tackle their financial goals. While a lot of the material in the book may seem like common sense, it was a good reminder for me. I love how Leong encourages people to spend money on experiences and “time-savers” and I wholeheartedly agree with her advice on opening a separate, no-fee bank account with a debit card for all your non-essential spending. I’ll definitely be doing this, as soon as I have enough money to start another account without having any of my other accounts suffering as a result. Happy Go Money is perfect for people who don’t really read “finance” books but want to learn more as it manages to mostly maintain a decent balance between being warm and friendly while still being informative.

Design Your Next Chapter: How to Realize Your Dreams and Reinvent Your Life by Debbie Travis

Debbie Travis is well-known for her home and design shows on TV. However, Design Your Next Chapter isn’t another book about decorating or painting. Instead, it is more of a self-help book that is packed with tons of tips and inspiring stories about people who’ve taken the leap and pursued their dreams. While a lot of the material in the book seems geared more towards an older demographic, there are some takeaways for younger people as well. In particular, I loved the sections that allow you to fill in the blanks with your own hopes and dreams. I also found the Ten Commandments chapter, especially the section on losing your “fear” and the section on budgeting to be incredibly useful. For anyone who may find themselves thinking “what’s next?” reading this is book is a good start and for those who are curious, Design Your Next Chapter is an easily digestible and comforting read that can be relatable to many people.

 

 

 

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