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.

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Book Review | The Name Therapist by Duana Taha

nameAuthour:
Duana Taha
Format:
ARC, 347 pages
Publication date:
April 5th 2016
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What’s in a name? According to the authour of The Name Therapist there’s a whole lot. To be honest, I never had any issues with my name growing up, it’s rarely misspelled and almost never mispronounced. In fact I couldn’t imagine having another name. My parents, who were immigrants picked it for the reason that it was simple plus it easily translated from English back to Vietnamese. Still I found Duana Taha’s The Name Therapist to be an intriguing read.

Duana Taha is a self-styled “name therapist” who writes for the gossip blog, Lainey Gossip additionally she also works in Television where she gets to name characters which is basically the dream for a “name nerd” akin to herself. And while I’m not much of a “name nerd”, Duana’s enthusiasm for the subject had me slightly excited about it too. Part memoir, and part social science study throughout The Name Therapist readers are introduced to a bit of history behind certain names and their popularity in addition to how Duana’s love and fascination with names started. My favourite aspect of, The Name Therapist was learning about the various different types of name research and theories exist, including an app that tells you what careers has the greatest amount of people with your name. (In case you’re curious apparently there are numerous people named Lynne that are Interior Decorator/Designers).

Another section that intrigued me what, when the topic of anglicizing your name was brought up, especially if you’re an immigrant with a name that is definitely not a “Western” name. While there was never a need for me to anglicize my name, it made me remember an odd incident back when I was an undergraduate student. Back when I was trying to find a thesis supervisor, I often was required to send emails to professors expressing my interest in working with them. For some reason, I noticed that whenever I signed the email off with my full name which contained a very Vietnamese last name in my email was ignored, however when I signed the email with just my first name I often received replies, and invitations to meet with the professor in person to discuss potential thesis ideas. While it may have just been a coincidence, it struck me as strange at the time and I would be lying if I said it did not bother me. Anyways other than that, I do not believe my name has caused me any problems.

I guess it’s true what Duana writes in her book, there’s always something to be talked about when it comes names and it’s quite entertaining to hear stories behind people’s names. Thus if you are looking for an amusing and a different type of nonfiction read, you should give The Name Therapist a shot. Or if you’re just looking for another perspective on naming your unborn child The Name Therapist is the book for you.

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 | Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

lovegelatoAuthour:
Jenna Evans Welch
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 386 pages
Publication date:
April 12th 2016
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
My conundrum when it comes to YA novels remains that I have yet to find several novels featuring travel that I have come to adore. However, Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato was one of the rare few that met my expectations.

Love & Gelato is the story of 16 year old Lina whose mother has just passed away, as per her mom’s dying wish she is sent to spend the summer in Italy in order to be acquainted her father. To make matters worse, when she arrives she find out her father lives near a graveyard where he’s the superintendent. However, things improve when she is given her mom’s journal. This leads her on an adventure with her friend, Ren as they discover an entire other side to Florence in addition to a few new things concerning Lina’s mother.

The writing throughout Love & Gelato is simplistic yet amusing and entertaining, incredibly relatable. I loved the usage of journal entries to tell Lina mom’s story as you get to read the entries with Lina. The best part of having the story set in Florence, Italy were the numerous descriptions of marvellous food on top of the sights and sounds from one of the places that I have always wanted to visit. The entire time it felt akin to essentially being there in person and experiencing all the things alongside Lina.

As with the majority YA novels, there is romance to go along with the travel. To be honest, I wasn’t as invested in Lina’s romantic adventures. However, I stayed incredibly intrigued in the romance and love aspect of Lina’s mom, Hadley since it’s a major plot point to the central story. And even though we are familiar with how Hadley’s story ends at the start of the novel, it remained still a more compelling story than Lina’s story. Overall, Love & Gelato featured an incredibly charming cast of characters and a story about all types of love that gradually grew on me. And if possible I would love to read a continuation of Lina’s adventures and misadventures in Italy.

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 We Collided by Emery Lord


collidedAuthour:

Emery Lord
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 344 pages
Publication date:
April 19th 2016
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I adored Emery Lord’s last two novels, with Open Road Summer being my favourite. However, I was initially reluctant to pick up When We Collided seeing as the synopsis clearly indicated that it won’t be as light-hearted as her last two books. Ultimately I read a bit of it in the fall before returning to other review books that had impending release dates. Yet I couldn’t get When We Collided out of my head thus with a bit of nudging from Brittany over at This is the Story of My(Reading) Life I finished reading the book in October despite it not releasing until April of the following year.

As previously mentioned, When We Collided has a slightly different feel to it compared to the last two Emery Lord books. The story is told from the dual POVs of Jonah Daniels and Vivi Alexander and it addresses various difficult yet imperative topics such as mental illness, death and dysfunctional family dynamics. As always. Emery Lord’s prose is her greatest strength since the novel is filled with numerous meaningful quotes concerning life, existence and relationships that you just feel the urge to write them immediately all down.

Additionally Lord also excels at writing relationships, and while I miss the female friendships that were more predominant in her other books there were instead some excellently written familial relationships in this book. In fact, I ended up falling for the characters that made up the Daniels family just as Vivi did since they were written in such an authentic and endearing manner in the book. Of the two voices, I’ll admit that Vivi is not the easiest character to love or even connect with. Jonah is definitely easier to love as he’s incredibly sweet, understanding and hardworking. However, it’s obvious that despite their differences, and at least for the duration of the summer Vivi and Jonah need each other.

When We Collided is in part a short love story that is clearly not meant to last forever. Nevertheless, even though the love story between Jonah and Vivi was brief it doesn’t mean it wasn’t filled with love. Furthermore, by the novel’s conclusion the experience has left both of them changed for the better which in turn creates a satisfying story…at least that’s how I feel.

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 Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Authour:reader
Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Format:
Hardcover, 194 pages
Publication date:
April 7th 2016
Publisher:
Publishers Group Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“He was the reader, the bearer of the good word.” – p. 132

French writer, Jean-Paul Didierlaurent’s The Reader on the 6.27 is a quiet, short novel about loneliness and how the love of books and reading can bring people together. The protagonist is a man named, Guylain Vignolles who delights in reading aloud random passages on his commute to and from work. Guylain is a man who hates his job at a book pulping factory, and his only solace lies in saving pages from the paper-recycling machine that he tends to and reading them aloud on his work commute.

While not long in length, The Reader on the 6.27 took a while for the central plot to get moving. The first few pages were unappealing to me as they were filled with a countless confusing imagery and descriptions of Guylain’s workplace. Initially it wasn’t actually clear to me as to what Guylain did for a living and I ended up having to google the book in order to figure it out, and understand why it was that Guylain despised his job.

Gradually though, the reader becomes acquainted with Guylain and we meet his friend, Yvon who only speaks in Alexandrine and Giuseppe, a former co-worker who had lost the use of his legs due to a workplace accident. It was incredibly heartwarming, the lengths that Guylain went for Giuseppe in order to maintain his friend’s hope and optimism. Interestingly enough, the plot of the USB with a young woman’s diary on it doesn’t come into play into a few chapters into the book.

Regardless, The Reader on the 6.27 is a novel concerning how books and stories bring people together and how stories allow us to escape our world and make people who felt less live become more alive. And while it’s supposed to be taking place in modern society, the setting of the story often feels like its set a century or two ago during a much simpler time. Overall, The Reader on the 6.27 is a quiet, slow and beautiful novel that may be ideal for lovers of the written word.

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 Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi

beautyqueenAuthour:
Sarit Yishai-Levi
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
April 5th 2016
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
As it’s been five years since my time in Israel, I thought it would be enjoyable to read several books from writers who are from Israel. A couple of the books are review books, thus you will definitely be able to read my thoughts on them.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi is the first of these books, and was in fact the first book I finished in 2016. The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows three generations of Sephardic Jewish women and is told from the perspective of Gabriela the daughter of Luna, the titular “Beauty Queen of Jerusalem”. It’s a fascinating, albeit somewhat tragic family saga concerning the Ermosa women who are unfortunate enough to marry men who are hopelessly in love with other women. I loved that the novel was mostly set in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as these were the cities (outside of the city I resided in) that I spent the majority of my time in. And although much has changed since the times of Gabriela’s mother and grandmother, I could still picture the cities, the food, and the environment all of which made me nostalgic.

Of the three leading women, I found Luna to be an exceptionally unsympathetic character. Even as a child, she was incredibly bratty and to be honest though it may sound cruel, I felt that she got what she deserved in the finale. Another issue I had with this novel, was how abrupt the conclusion felt, as it left a few major loose ends hanging. Most notably, I was sad that we were not able to witness a formal reconciliation between Gabriela and her father, although I did appreciate that the novel concluded on an uplifting and hopeful manner.

All in all, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem remains one of my favourite reads in 2016. It’s a simple, captivating family saga that focuses on women who, while they may not be always likeable are no doubt strong. And even though I’m not a fan of sad stories The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem has a decent balance of tragedy and hope, happiness and humour that made me fall in love with it.

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