Book Review | In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

Authour:
Jessica Brody
Format:
e-Galley
Publication date:
August 8th 2017
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I truly enjoyed, Jessica Brody’s A Week of Mondays, and was intrigued by her latest book for its “sliding doors” like premise. Every person has their what-ifs moments and it’s fascinating to explore the idea of alternate universes that are created because of a different decision or choice a person makes.

In the case of In Some Other Life we follow Kennedy Rhodes, who regrets turning down her acceptance into the prestigious Windsor Academy after she discovers her boyfriend (whom she initially gave up Windsor Academy for) is cheating on her with her best friend! After an accident leads her to “fall” into an alternate universe, she gets to realize for herself what her life would be like if she had chosen to attend Windsor Academy.

I liked that there was no easy fix, and that a few things still stayed the same in her “new” world despite her making a different choice. I also found it hilarious, that her genius little brother was the one constant between both worlds and that it frustrated him to no end. I also enjoyed the dynamic between Kennedy and Dylan which made me wish we had just a bit more of their interaction together. And finally I found it refreshing to that this book featured a father who works at home while the mother is the primary breadwinner as this isn’t something you see as often in fiction or in YA novels.

 That said In Some Other Life was a fairly predictable story that prone to dragging on a little especially in the beginning of the book. However, I did like that the message was that although we may have regrets our choices they make us who we are. Additionally, even if you went down another path in your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things will go exactly how you imagined after all the universe is just that unpredictable.

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 Late Show by Michael Connelly

Mystery Mondays

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. The Late Show is the first book in his Renée Ballard, which features a fierce female detective.

What is it about? Renée Ballard is a former homicide detective who now works the “late night” shift in Hollywood as “punishment” for daring to file a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor. This book focuses on two cases that she can’t let go of, one being the assault of a prostitute who is left for dead and the other being a bar shooting. Despite neither being in her jurisdiction, Ballard becomes relentless in her pursuit for justice especially when those close to her get dragged into the cases even if its to come at the expense of her career.

Where does it take place? Hollywood, LA the city of angels aka “Tinseltown”.

Why did I like it? I was both wary and excited when it was announced that Michael Connelly would be coming out with a new series, this one featuring a female detective. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about as once again Connelly brings it! His writing is sharp as always and the story is excellently plotted. I loved that Renée Ballard is a fierce, complex and unrelenting character and that right from her introduction, we see how she truly cares about helping others. She even goes out of her way to help those she knows who have cases that would otherwise get lost in the pile of other police cases. Furthermore, I enjoyed the portrayal of Renée’s employment situation as it highlights how difficult it can be for women working in a male dominated field and how unfortunate it is that those in a position of power can abuse their authority. That being said, I appreciated the fact that while she may be continuously dismissed and mocked, at the end of the day, even her superiors can’t help but acknowledge just how talented Renée is at her job. I’m definitely looking forward to more Renée Ballard books, as I’m intrigued to see where her character goes next.

When did it come out? July 18th, 2017

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 | Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Authour:
Hala Alyan
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Last year, I read a couple of books by Israeli authours so this year I thought I should try getting a different perspective by reading a book written by a Palestinian writer. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses through an excerpt included in Publishers Lunch’s Buzz Books 2017: Spring/Summer.

Salt Houses is a story about the Palestinian diaspora, and rather than focusing on the war and violence in the Middle East, the novel instead chooses to tell the story of a Palestinian family over several generations. What results it’s a glimpse of the various family members, and how they are separated as a result of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in addition to how each member survives in their own unique way. Unfortunately because of the way the story is told, we do not get a full glimpse into the majority of the characters and their development. Still, enough detail and information have provided over the various years that one can easily piece together the significant events.

Hala Alyan who is also a performer in addition to being a clinical psychologist and a writer brings many of her talents to her début novel, making Salt Houses an enchantingly beautiful and poetic novel that takes its readers on a difficult but unforgettable journey. Even now as I write this review days after I’ve finished the novel, the character of Alia and the haunting imagery of the last scene in Salt Houses still remains clear in my mind. Highly recommended if you love reading culturally, rich and diverse family sagas.

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 | Heart of the City by Robert Rotenberg

Mystery Mondays

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? Robert Rotenberg is a Canadian, Toronto based criminal lawyer and writer. Best known for legal thriller series, and for using real life Toronto locations in his book, Heart of the City is the fifth book in his Detective Greene series.

What is it about? It’s been some time since Ari Greene was falsely accused of murdering his lover, and although he was cleared of the charges he ended up fleeing Toronto. Now he’s back, but no longer as a homicide detective. Instead he finds himself in two new roles, one with his new job in construction and the other as a father to his newly discovered daughter. However, try as he might to avoid his past life, it seems like he can’t escape the call of murder and crime. This time however, the murder victim is condo developer Livingston Fox, who is technically his boss’s boss. As Greene once again finds himself at another crime scene, he is reunited with his former protégé, Daniel Kennicott and ends up becoming a part of the investigation.

Where does it take place? Ari Greene is back home in Toronto! And Heart of the City takes place in the Kensington Market neighbourhood.

Why did I like it? It’s been awhile since I’ve read any of Robert Rotenberg’s books. That being said, however, it was relatively easy to jump back into Ari Greene’s world and the characters of Rotenberg’s Toronto. Heart of the City was an incredibly well-written and fast paced mystery, especially as the chapters are all short in length. I also love that like all the other books, this one is set in Toronto as it was interesting to see real life places that I’ve been to or seen featured in a work of fiction. Furthermore, I like how Heart of the City focused on the real estate market and urbanization which are actually very real issues in Toronto at the moment.

Unlike the earlier books in this series, in Heart of the City there are less characters and perspectives which helped make the story more focused and less confusing to the reader. I also found the introduction of the character of Allison, Greene’s daughter to be a welcomed addition to the cast of characters. I like that she had her own storyline, but still was connected to the case. And while I was slightly disappointed by the ending and the identity and motive for the murders, overall Heart of the City was a solid read that left me curious to see what will come next.

When did it come out? August 1st, 2017

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

September Blog Schedule

This summer just flew by! Although I’m not going back to school, September still feels like the start of a new year for me.  Fall also means many new book releases! I’m looking forward to a couple of book events in the coming week and to all the amazing fall releases. What are you guys looking forward to in the coming months? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. I’ll see you guys again in November as I’ll have to go on a mini hiatus next month since work will get super busy. Until then, I hope you guys enjoy the posts this month.

***

September 4 – Heart of the City by Robert Rotenberg
September 5Salt Houses by Hala Aylan
September 11The Late Show by Michael Connelly
September 12In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody
September 14 Fall Books Preview 2017
September 19 – I’ll Have What She’s Having: Nora Ephron and the Three Movies that Changed Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson
September 21 – A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
September 27 – Mid-Week Mini Reviews #8
September 28 – Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Cover Reveal | Things to Do When It’s Raining by Marissa Stapley

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up and got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay by separate forces. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets that implicate Gabe and Mae’s family reveal a version of the past that will forever change Mae’s future.

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a poignant generational story about family and secrets. With honesty and heart, Marissa Stapley reminds us of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness, and that, ultimately, family is a choice.

***

As a someone who enjoyed Mating for Life, I’m definitely looking forward to Things to Do When It’s Raining. Also how pretty is this cover? This book will be out in stores, February 2018!

Midweek Mini Reviews #7

One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis

I’ve been a fan of Terry Fallis’ books since I’ve read Up and Down so I was excited for this one especially as it features twins! (For those of you who don’t know the author is also a twin in real life) Anyways, One Brother Shy was a well written and heartwarming story about family and moving on from your past. As with his earlier novels, Fallis’ trademark humour once again is evident within the pages of One Brother Shy in addition to his talent for writing scenes that are funny but also shockingly dark like the “Gabriel” incident in this book. I loved that in addition to family One Brother Shy touched on other topics like bullying, trauma, the effects that viral videos have on their victims. And despite liking the where the book Alex leaves at, I do wish we got to spend more time with Alex, Matt and the rest of their family. One Brother Shy is a great vacation read that’s not too light and not too dark, and bonus points for it being Canadian of course. Also while the book is good, I’d highly recommend you check out the podcast of One Brother Shy. Read by the author himself, you definitely feel more connected to the story, the world and Alex when you listen to the podcast.

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini

Having found, Katie Heaney’s earlier books fairly enjoyable I was really looking forward to her newest book, Public Relations which she co-wrote with her friend, Arianna Rebolini. I love a fun, light romantic comedy, especially for the summer and I was eager to dip into this tale of a faux showmances.

Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, although I did appreciate how the novel chooses to focus on Rose’s job in PR giving us an insider look at what goes on behind the scenes of a public relations firm. And I can definitely relate to her working an entry-level job and trying to work her way up the ladder. That being said, however, the characters and the majority of their relationships were often frustrating at times. Furthermore, I couldn’t stand the character of Archie Fox, who was supposed to be the intended love interest, as he came off as pretty spoiled and condescending and I couldn’t really see his appeal.

So while I didn’t hate Public Relations, I will admit it just wasn’t for me. I do think that Public Relations is a book that may appeal to the millennial crowd and someone who is looking for a read that’s light on romance and heavier on celebrity culture and PR.

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 | How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron

Authour:
Mandy Len Catron
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 27th 2017
Publisher:
Simon Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Don’t let the title fool you, Mandy Len Catron’s How to Fall in Love with Anyone is definitely not an instruction manual. Instead it’s a memoir and a collection of essays on the authour’s life as she examines our ideas of love through her own personal relationships.

In case you haven’t heard of her, Mandy Len Catron is best known for her 2015 Modern Love essay that was published under the same name as her first book, this book. I love personal essays, and have been lately getting into them so I was excited for this collection, especially as it stems from her famous essay where she write about how she and an acquaintance answered the questions from Arthur Aron’s psychological experiment on love, and how the two fell in love.

While I hoped for a light, albeit realistic examination of love and the romantic myths that we create, I was slightly disappointed to find that the book focused more on the authour’s dysfunctional relationships. Nevertheless, I did like how the book expanded on her Modern Love essay thus giving us greater insight into the authour’s past and family in addition to how she ended up at the place she did when she tried to “recreate” the famous Arthur Aron experiment. Another minor issue I had with this book was how often the book jumped from the authour’s personal story to referring to academic theories. This may it initially difficult to get into the book, though with some time I was able to adjust to the constant transitions.

How to Fall in Love with Anyone is a fascinating examination of how our idea of what “love” is supposed to be is shaped by several factors, and how that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I loved that the essays, especially the one titled, “I’m Willing to Lie about How We Met” made me stop and think about how the so-called “love stories” affect me personally and affect how I view my own personal relationships. How to Fall in Love with Anyone is an insightful read for anyone fascinated by the human condition known as “love”.

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 | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Authour:
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 13th 2017
Publisher:
Atria Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m no stranger to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was something completely different from her usual books. Normally, Reid’s books are either a hit or miss with me however, as soon as I started The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I was immediately obsessed!

It’s difficult to not to be captivated by the titular “Evelyn Hugo”, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, who transformed herself from a young girl living in poverty with an alcoholic father to the blonde bombshell that dominates Hollywood. And while Evelyn is far from perfect, it made me love her even more. She is unapologetic, even in her old age, and she is as fierce as she is resourceful. Even if you’re not into old Hollywood stories, Reid manages to weave an amazingly enchanting story that draws you into the world of the “Golden Age” of Hollywood with all its glitz, glamour and scandals.

While The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo does examine personal relationships similar to Reid’s earlier novels, it is not just a love story. Rather the “seven husbands” are as Evelyn says “just husbands”, it’s truly Evelyn that’s the real star after all it’s her story. There is however loads of heart and soul in her life story, and I love how the character of Monique was able to grow as a result of being the (chosen) person who is recording the life story of Evelyn Hugo.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the perfect beach read. It’s delightfully juicy and incredibly engrossing making it almost impossible to put down. And the author does such an amazing job of creating the character of “Evelyn Hugo” that it’s difficult to believe that she was not a real life figure. Regardless of how we feel about the titular character, I think readers will feel just as Monique did in that in the end, that we have all been blessed to have been given the gift of becoming acquainted with the life of Evelyn Hugo.

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 | Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Authour:
Kevin Kwan
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 23rd 2017
Publisher:
Doubleday
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Rich People Problems has been my most anticipated title ever since it was announced that there would be a third book in the Crazy Rich Asians series. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and the beloved characters for the series finale!

After having two books focus on Rachel, the third book focuses on Nicholas and his “crazy rich” family. Nick’s grandmother and the family’s matriarch, Su Yi is on her death-bed which means everybody is gathered at Tyersall Park. One of my favourite aspects about Rich People Problems other than the Astrid and Charlie relationship was the relationship between Nick and his Ah Ma (grandmother) who have been estranged for five years since Nick decided to marry Rachel. I liked that we become more acquainted with her past. I also wouldn’t object to an entire book dedicated to Su Yi’s life when she was younger as I felt that we only got snippets of her past which were discovered by Nick off-screen.

For the majority of Rich People Problems, I found the book to be well written and well-paced. However, there were several moments that occurred off-screen that I wish we could have seen, such as the development of some of the later romantic relationships in addition to Nick learning more about his Ah Ma’s past and finally Nick’s campaigning attempts and Rachel’s gathering of the “dream team” and fending off Nick’s crazy aunts. Though I supposed it was necessary for all these events to happen “off-screen” as there just wouldn’t be enough time or room for it all in one book.

Those who enjoyed the other books in the Crazy Rich Asians series will definitely enjoy Rich People Problems. It’s no simple task to be able to write a satisfying conclusion to a beloved series, but Kevin Kwan manages to do just that. Sure there are still a few minor questions that are left unanswered, nevertheless I remain more than satisfied with Rich People Problems being the last book in the series. That being said, however I am eagerly anticipating the movie release and wouldn’t object to a prequel featuring Su Yi and I know I’m not the only one, right?

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 #6

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Initially I was interested in Cecilia Vinesse’s Seven Days of You because of its Tokyo setting. However, I was a bit wary as YA novels that feature travel and foreign locales are usually a hit or miss with me (and the mixed reviews of this book didn’t help with that). Fortunately, Seven Days of You was a relatively easy read to get into which made it a perfect read for me to take along on my Japan trip. I loved that the romance aspect was kept mostly in the background, and that the main focus was on Allison getting ready to leave Japan and how it would affect her relationships with her friends. Additionally it’s also a coming of age story as Allison starts to come to terms with her complicated family dynamics. That being said, I did find the moments where Jamie and Allison bonded over their families and past to be adorable and it did endear me to their relationship more. Overall, a fairly enjoyable read that is perfect to bring along with you on vacation, especially if you’re planning to go to a place like Japan.

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake was a book that I had sitting on my shelf for some time. However, after meeting and chatting with the author at IFOA (the International Festival of Authors) last year I decided that I would take this book along with me to read while travelling in Japan.

What I liked about The Translation of Love is that fact that we get multiple perspectives in the story, all of which are important to the plot. I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know all the major players in the story as well as their motivations for their actions and choices.

A thought-provoking, and heartfelt novel that is perfect for all ages. The Translation of Love is a well-researched novel that does a good job at depicting what life is like in a post-war country for those who have to remain behind in addition to showing the devastating traumas of all who were involved.

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 | When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

dimAuthour:
Sandhya Menon
Format:
ARC, 380 pages
Publication date:
May 30th 2017
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
When Dimple Met Rishi is a novel that at least in the circles that I run it, has received a bit of hype. And while I was wary at first since it was pitched as an “arranged marriage” romantic comedy, I gave in to since I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Bollywood films.

After finishing the book, which I read way before its release ( I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy) I can say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that When Dimple Met Rishi struck just the right balance between its romantic comedy plot and its cultural aspects. I adored both Dimple and Rishi although I connected more with Dimple her wish to be independent and not wanting to sacrifice her dreams. This is something countless young women can relate to as often we feel that we are “forced” to choose between having a career and having a family.

While it is without a doubt that When Dimple Met Rishi is a romantic comedy, it was refreshing to have a story that was more than just a love story. Both Dimple and Rishi’s have a complex relationship with their family, who regardless of whether they’d admit it or not do have a major impact on their lives . Additionally, I enjoyed the friendship that develops between Dimple and with her roommate, Celia as it was authentic in that it had its imperfections along with its perfections.

When Dimple Met Rishi is undeniably THE YA romance novel that you should pick up whether you are in search of more diversity within the romantic comedy genre (can it be a movie already?) or you just want a book with a sweet love story that will charm you with its genuine characters and relationships.

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

June Blog Schedule

There’s nothing like a good vacation abroad to have you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed! In a way I’m glad to be back even if my trip felt like it flew by so quickly as it means that I can get started on planning my next trip. (I already have trips mapped out for the next four years)

Anyways, I’m excited to share my thoughts on the books featured this month as I think they all would make great beach reads for the summer! Feel free to let me know your thoughts on them if you’ve read any of them as well.

On another note, I will be taking my annual summer blog hiatus starting next month. And although I may have the occasional review or blog post during the summer, I won’t be back in full swing until September.

***

June 6When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
June 7Mid-Week Mini Reviews #6
June 13Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
June 15The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
June 20 – How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
June 21 – Mid-Week Mini Reviews #7

Book Review | The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson

Authour:
Hope Nicholson
Format:
E-Galley
Publication date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“A woman’s place is saving the universe.”

For as long as I can remember I have always loved reading comics and graphic novels and manga. And I love discovering new titles and characters in those mediums which is why I felt that The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History would be an enjoyable read for me.

Unlike the majority of other books about the comic book medium, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen focuses exclusively on female characters, especially those that have been forgotten over time. Divided into decades, the book serves as a great introduction to comics for those new to the medium while at the same time introducing new characters and stories to those who are already familiar with the genre. In particular, I loved that for each profile, there is a section that tells you where to go to read more about the character you just learnt about.

Overall, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen was an enjoyable read. The book is written in a way that makes it accessible to all, and the layout of the book makes it easier to navigate and find what you’re looking for. It also makes readers stop and think about how comic books and, in particular female comic book characters have evolved over time and how the representation of females in comic book continues to change. This is one of those books that I would love a follow-up to, as I feel that there are so many more characters that were left out of this one and I would also love to discover even more female comic book characters and stories to read. A must read for all comic book fans and even those who are looking to dip their toes into this medium.

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 | The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo

theaAuthour:
Karole Cozzo
Format:
E-Galley
Publication date:
May 16th 2017
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
It’s not uncommon for countless little girls (and even some little boys) to have a desire to dress up as princesses and play make-believe. However there are a few that take it a step further and actually become a beloved character at a theme park. This is the backdrop for Karole Cozzo’s latest novel, The Truth about Happily Ever After, which follows Alyssa whose summer job has her dressing up as a Cinderella at a theme park.

The Truth about Happily Ever After was actually one of the two most anticipated reads from Raincoast Books (they distribute Macmillan titles in Canada) and as soon as the title appear on Netgalley, I immediately sent in my request. And fortunately, it did not disappoint!

Turning the typical “princess”/”Cinderella” story kind of on its head, I liked how realistic the relationships and friendships were. Even after a relationship breakdown, it was refreshing how no one was painted as a one-dimensional “villain”. Sure, a couple of the characters could have handled a certain situation better, however, they’re only human and still young. I also felt that Alyssa’s feelings were warranted. Basically, if you are a romantic who loves an adorable, and sweet romantic comedy or are a fan of Disney and/or Disney princesses, you will love The Truth about Happily Ever After. I know I did, as it was kind of exciting to glimpse behind the scenes at what it is like to work at an amusement park as one of the “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.