Book Review | Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Authour:
Soniah Kamal
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 15th 2019
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that there will always be new attempts at retelling and adapting Pride and Prejudice and that some will excel in their efforts while others will fall flat. Fortunately, Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable falls into the former of the two.

Unmarriageable takes the plot of Jane Austen’s classic English novel and modernizes it by setting it in Pakistan during the early 2000s. The “Bennets” are now the “Binats“, a family who went from well off to more middle class due to jealous relatives. I loved the changes to the family’s back story and Kamal does an excellent job at keeping the essence of the original characters and their relationships while adding her own modern twists. Elizabeth Bennet is now Alysba (Alys) Binat, a teacher at an all-girls school and a feminist who tries to teach her students and her younger sisters about the importance of being independent and getting an education. 

However, it’s not just the character of Alys. This entire novel has a feminist feel to it. I loved that the minor female characters like Sherry Looclus (the Charlotte Lucas character), Qitty Binat (aka Kitty Bennet) and Annie were given a voice in this adaptation. It was refreshing to read parts of the story from their perspective. And even though they weren’t meant to be likeable, I appreciated that we got to see the story from the Bingla (Bingley) sisters as well since it makes it clear as to what their true colours are. Furthermore, the characters are seen facing issues that are familiar to women today, including abortion and fighting against the traditions relating to marriage and the role of women including having children. All that being said, the men in the book are given little notice and as a result characters like Darsee (the Mr. Darcy character) and Bungles (the Mr. Bingley character) are not as well developed.

The other thing I loved about Unmarriageable was how it doesn’t shy away from its source material. Pride and Prejudice is not only name dropped, but referenced and discussed by various characters. In fact, the novel begins with Alys asking her class to rewrite the famous first line of the novel. In addition, Unmarriageable is also a love letter to Austen and literature in general. Both Alys and Darsee are bibliophiles and I loved that the two were able to eventually bond over their love of books in addition to their experiences of studying and living abroad even if the love epiphany on Alys side felt a bit rushed.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a bit fatigued with all the Pride and Prejudice retellings. That being said, I truly enjoyed Unmarriageable especially how it veered from its inspiration. Forget what I said about the last Pride and Prejudice retelling I read as Unmarriageable now tops my list of favourite Pride and Prejudice adaptations. Read it if you are interested in a South Asian spin on an old classic or if you’re a fan of Austen and books in general.

 

 

 

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

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Book Review | The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

Authour:
Jennifer Robson
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
December 31st 2018
Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Jennifer Robson has come a long way since her début novel, Somewhere in France. In her latest novel, The Gown she takes her readers to two different time periods and settings. In 1946-1947 London, England we meet Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin  who both work as embroiderers at Hartnell’s, a designer who has designed clothing worn by the royals and who will go on to work on the wedding dress of Elizabeth II. Both women have tragic pasts and end up developing a close friendship over a short period. The third and last POV is that of a young woman named Heather living in Toronto in 2016. The granddaughter of Ann Hughes, Heather is unaware of her grandmother’s life before she came to Canada. However, upon her grandmother’s death Heather find herself in possession of a box with beautifully embroidered fabric which leads her back to England to uncover her grandmother’s past life.

I was initially drawn to this book in spite of the fact that it differed from Robson’s earlier books because I was intrigued by the fact that it would be about the people who made the wedding dress of the Queen today. The writing was beautiful and I truly felt like I was right there, inside the work rooms at Hartnell’s. Robson always take great care to research the setting and characters for her books, and it absolutely shows here. I loved how the women who were front and center in this book were also independent as well. Ann and Miriam’s story had me feeling so many feelings, both had experienced tremendous loss and their strength and resilience was incredibly inspiring. Seeing both women bond over their losses and support each other was truly heartwarming and I loved how their friendship changed both of them for the better. Heather’s story was also interesting and perhaps more relatable to me given her age and the fact that her story takes place in the present day. I enjoyed the subplot with her and Daniel, Miriam’s grandson although I wish we got to see more of how their romance developed.

A heartfelt book, The Gown is a perfect book to cozy up to during the winter holiday. Whether you’re a fan of the royal family, royal weddings and/or historical fiction The Gown is an exquisite look at the often unacknowledged but integral women who work behind the scenes to create their piece of royal history. 

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 | Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
December 18st 2018
Publisher:
Henry Holt & Company
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Anthology collections that are short stories or essays can be difficult to review at times, however reviewing an anthology of letters from real teens that are answered by authors in story form with a sprinkling of advice is something I haven’t done until now. As the title suggests, Dear Heartbreak has teens write in to authours about their heartbreaks and about the not so pleasant side of love which is unfortunately something we do not often see in non-fiction that is geared towards teenagers. I love this idea as it was a unique twist on the typical advice columns.

The authours’ personal experiences and stories lead to plenty of compelling reading material. Kekla Magoon’s response to a teen who is surrounded by people but still feels lonely, tiled “If You Call, I Will Answer” resonated the most with present me as I’ve also found it to be true that occasionally you need to be the one to reach out whether it’s when you need help or whether you just want company. The other piece that stood out to me from this collection was Gayle Forman’s response to a teen who wrote in initially about heartbreak however it turned out to be about experience. In “The Teacher of All Things”, Forman is able to write back in a way that shows she understands the teen and is able to emphasize with their desires without coming off as condescending or preachy. I also love that she recommends travel as a way to gain new experiences as I could not agree more!

In spite of the fact that I’m no longer a teen, this anthology still spoke to me and helped me to come to terms with my past experiences. I still remember as a teen and kid feeling lonely, confused and heartbroken as I faced constant rejection and felt socially isolated all while trying to find friendship and acceptance. As a result, seeing the raw vulnerability from teens and a few of the authours broke my heart and made me tear up several times while reading their stories. 

Dear Heartbreak is a collection that I wish I had as a teenager in high school. In terms of advice there isn’t anything that stands out in this book, however a list of resources is provided at the back of the book for those who need more. Otherwise, for people, particularly those in high school who feel like no one sees, hears, loves and/or understands them this book is like one giant, warm hugs.

 

 

 

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 #19

This month’s Midweek Mini Reviews post features some romance reads for the holiday season.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

I was really looking forward to Samantha Young’s Fight or Flight because of the plane travel plot. Plus based on the cover, it felt like it would be a light, and sexy vacation read. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to be more than just a fluffy romance novel. From their first meeting, you can really feel the animosity between Ava and Caleb which quickly escalates to a steamy hook up. However, this is more than an enemies to lovers romance. Both Ava and Caleb actually have some major emotional trauma from their past relationships, and this is never just glossed over. Ava and Caleb’s banter and relationships definitely has its moments, however I just could not get on board with Caleb. I felt that he was unappealing as a romantic male lead and he was too easily forgiven in the end. I would’ve liked to actually see him make more of an effort to make things up to Ava. That being said, however, Fight or Flight has one of the best female friendships, with Ava and her best friend, Harper that I couldn’t help but love the book in the end. To me Ava and Harper’s “love” story was the one that made Fight or Flight worth reading.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

I’ve only read one Christina Lauren book before My Favorite Half-Night Stand and that was Roomies which I liked though was weirded out by parts of it. I did pick up Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating due to all the hype, but could not bring myself to finish it. Fortunately Christina Lauren won me back with My Favorite Half-Night Stand which was just perfection. I love Millie, who while has her quirks is not incredibly annoying and intolerable like Hazel was. She has her issues, of course, but she’s also just plain relatable and quite likeable. I love her and the guys as the interactions and the group chats they have are just hilarious. Also the avatars in the chat they use are super cute. Reid and Millie were also a couple I could definitely root for. Both are incredibly stubborn people who, despite being book smart are kind of clueless and a bit hopeless when it comes to matters of the heart and each other. And while I’m not a fan of any kind of cat-fishing I did like how things were realistically handled and how Millie didn’t get off easily. The perfect length for a romance novel, My Favorite Half-Night Stand warmed my heart and made me smile for most of it.

 

 

 

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 | Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit

Authour:
Rebecca Solnit
Format:
Trade Paperback
Publication date:
September 4th 2018
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“To know history is to be able to see beyond the present; to remember the past gives you the capacity to look forward as well, to see that everything changes and the most dramatic changes are often the most unforeseen.” (p. 178)

With all that is happening in the US lately, Rebecca Solnit’s latest essay collection Call Them by Their True Names is an extremely timely read. Having been introduced to her writing from her last collection, The Mother of All Questions which I enjoyed immensely, I was excited to hear that she had a new collection coming out this year.

Unlike The Mother of All Questions, the eighteen essays in Call Them by Their True Names are not tied together as tightly under one theme. Rather the theme here is looser, as the essays are on various, scattered topics ranging from racial disparities to gentrification, to climate change and environmental justice. 

Solnit is a brilliant writer and while her short essay collections may not be the easiest and/or lightest read because they need a great deal of concentration to be able to focus and truly understand each essay it’s all worth it. My favorite essays in this collection were: “Preaching to the Choir” where Solnit argues that it is more worthwhile to motivate and encourage those who are already on your side as opposed to trying to change the minds of those who disagree with you; “Eight Million Ways to Belong ” which is written as a letter to the current US president and focuses on what the wonderful cultural diversity that makes up the “real” New York; and of course “Break the Story” which serves as both a call to arms and motivational speech that should be required reading for those who wish to get into the journalism field. The three stood out to me as they were the most compelling reads in this collection.

Once again, Call Them by Their True Names is another enlightening essay collection from Rebecca Solnit. While I did not enjoy this collection as much as I enjoyed The Mother of All Questions, I did appreciate how Solnit was able to offer hope and encouragement through her essays even while discussing the major problems society is facing today.  

 

 

 

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 | Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs

Authour:
Sam Maggs
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
October 2nd 2018
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“They are strong-willed and steadfast leaders whose very existence dissents from the way the world has been run for the last two thousand years–and affirms what the future should be.” (p. 105)

What I like when it comes to Sam Maggs’ books are how they remain inspiring, funny and a marvelous starting points for reading about pop culture and feminist figures. In Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History, Maggs takes us through history sharing the stories of women helping other women to rise. 

Before reading Girl Squads, I was already familiar with several women for instance I was aware of the Trưng sisters, the Supreme Justices Ruth Bader and Sonia Sotomayor and Dr. Kei Okami and Dr. Anandibai Joshi who were two of the first eastern doctors of western medicine. However, similar to her other books I learned a great deal more about other awesome women, including the Edinburgh Seven who were the first women medical students in Great Britain and the Red Lanterns, a Chinese girls’ fighting group, the Red Women of Finland and the Japanese volleyball team known as the “witches of the orient”. Reading all these stories of women uniting together made for an incredibly heartwarming read. This book also extremely inspired as the women in the book faced countless obstacles in their path to in order to accomplish their goals. And while they weren’t always completely successful, their perseverance definitely left me feeling empowered. 

With its light and entertaining writing style in addition to the bright, colourful packaging and illustrations, Girl Squads is a book that is unquestionably geared towards a younger, preteen audience. This is awesome as it makes feminist history and women’s stories accessible to those who are looking for positive examples of women around the world and across time. For those of us who are slightly older, Girl Squads is one of those books that can easily be read in one sitting. I’d recommend this one for those looking for an uplifting read as it provides an excellent introduction to a number of exceptionally fascinating groups of women.

 

 

 

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 | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Authour:
Julie C. Dao
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
November 6th 2018
Publisher:
Philomel Book
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
I’ve said it before, and I should probably say it again fantasy fiction is typically not my cup of tea. That behind said, I occasionally enjoy a magical fairy tale retelling. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is a Snow White retelling with an Asian cast and setting. As it is the second book and a companion novel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix takes place 15 years after the events of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. The heroine this time is Jade, who is the true heir to the Feng Lu. As a protagonist, I found Jade to be likeable and it was not at all difficult to root for her and her comrades. I also liked that despite being the heroine of the book, the individuals that chose to accompany Jade’s on her journey were also fleshed out with their own motivations and backstories. However, as a result of this I also felt that we barely scratched the surface of who Jade truly was as there was not much time spent with her. Moreover, I also would have liked to have seen more of Jade and her comrades working together and not having them be separated. 

On the other hand, what I loved about Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix was how the story was set in the world of Chinese mythology. Dao’s prose is exquisite and her descriptions of the setting and the various magical items such as the cloak gifted to Jade were incredibly lush, that I felt like I was actually transported into the world of the book. Furthermore, I appreciated how the third person omniscient narration of the book gave the story a Chinese folklore kind of feel. What I wasn’t too fond of was how the ending felt a bit rushed, the final battle happened so quickly and in such an intense manner that it gave me whiplash reading those scenes.

If you love the diverse representation in the fantasy, YA genre, then Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix may be the book for you. I went into it without reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and was still able to enjoy the book. A heartwarming story about the strength and power of love particularly familial love, this one surprisingly lived up to most of the wonderful praise its received.

 

 

 

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 | All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

Authour:
Nicole Chung
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
October 2nd 2018
Publisher:
Catapult
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Before getting my hands on a review copy of Nicole Chung’s exquisite memoir, I was already hearing praise about both her book and her writing in general. As a freelance writer, Chung has had her writing appear in Hazlitt, The Toast, Slate and The New York Times Magazine. And in her first book, she tells us the story of her own adoption.

While I am not adopted nor am I aware of anyone in my immediate social circle that was adopted, I was still able to relate to a certain aspects of Chung’s story. For instance the bullying she endured from others among the other challenges of growing up Asian in a town where there were few people who looked like you was something that I also experience. Furthermore, I too was always looking for Asian characters to relate to in the books, movies and TV shows that were around when I grew up and was disappointed when they weren’t prevalent. That’s why I truly loved how Chung’s story about her experiences growing up emphasizes the importance of non-stereotypical, diverse representation in the media. As it’s vital that all kids see and read about characters who look like them, so that they too can believe that they can be a hero/heroine. 

Additionally, I love how All You Can Ever Know is an eye-opening read on the various complicated layers of adoption, particularly interracial adoption as she a baby from a Korean family who was adopted into a family of European descent. Chung never downplays the pros of her adoption, however she also doesn’t hold back when it comes to the harsh realities of being adopted and being of a different race than your adoptive family. This is further realized when she is reunited with her birth family, the complications and difficult truths that come from it show that when it comes to family nothing is ever truly black or white. Speaking of family, my favourite part of Chung’s story was the bond that forms between her and one of her older biological sisters, Cindy. The two of become quite close and as a result Cindy’s story is briefly woven into the memoir through various short chapters told using a third person narrator as opposed to the first person voice that Chung uses to tell her own story in this book.

All You Can Ever Know was a book that genuinely touched me and moved me to tears. Chung’s writing is raw, clear and eloquent which made her memoir an incredibly poignant read. I would highly recommend this memoir for those who are looking for a gripping and emotional story with honest insights on family, race, motherhood, identity, and heritage.

 

 

 

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 #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.

Book Review | Family Trust by Kathy Wang

Authour:
Kathy Wang
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
October 30th 2018
Publisher:
William Morrow
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher

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.