Midweek Mini Reviews #27

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features non-fiction books about relationships.

Man Fast: A Memoir by Natasha Scripture
When it comes to non-fiction, I love reading memoirs about single women searching for themselves and through travelling. Based on its description, Natasha Scripture’s Man Fast sounded like it would be a compelling read for me. Natasha has an interesting background, having worked in communications for the UN, which meant even before she embark on her “man fast” journey, she was already quite the globetrotter! That being said, Man Fast was a bit of a letdown for me. I could relate to her love of adventure and desire to help others as well as the societal pressures she faced by that was the extent of my connection with this book. I also love the parts where she talks about her relationship with her family. Still I felt like this memoir was lacking something and I just couldn’t get on board with many of the spiritual discussions in the book which made those sections drag on even longer. Furthermore, the book also felt slightly disorganized and all over the place. So, while it’s refreshing to have a woman’s journey, not end with finding the “one”, I felt like there wasn’t much takeaway from this book even if it was a well written on

Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell
Chances are if you hear the name, Candace Bushnell you think of Sex and the City and Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha. Even for someone who hasn’t read any of her books, I am still vaguely familiar with Bushnell’s work because of the Sex and the City and the Lipstick Jungle TV shows. That being said, I was surprised by how dark and serious Bushnell’s latest book, Is There Still Sex in the City? was. Immediately the book starts with divorce and death, which are both talked about in a matter of fact way, this is followed by the revelation that Bushnell has become disillusioned with life in The Big Apple. And while it took a few pages, I did eventually recognize the familiar voice of the creator of SATC as this book was also told through a series of connected first person narrated essays. I’m probably not the demographic for Is There Still Sex in the City? as I felt like this one wasn’t for me, however I did appreciate how real and raw Bushnell’s voice was when she talks about life after divorce, as well as grief, sex, friendship and dating in your 50s and 60s.

 

 

 

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 | Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Authour:
Julie C. Dao
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
November 5th 2019
Publisher:
Philomel
Source:
Received from publisher

Review:
Here’s the thing, fantasy has never been a genre that I gravitated towards. That being said, I never knew how much I wanted a Vietnamese YA fantasy world novel with characters who have actual Vietnamese names until I read Julie C. Dao’s Song of the Crimson Flower.

Having read Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, I was excited to return to the same gorgeous world again and see how Jade and Koichi are faring. I also loved how Commander Wei’s role was hilariously foreshadowed when the father of the heroine, Lan tells her she can visit the Gray City if she somehow convinces the Commander of the Great Forest to escort her there. Of course it was also interesting to see the mythology and world expanded from the previous books in addition to how things have changed a couple of years after the events the Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix.

However, the central plot of Song of the Crimson Flower is Lan and Bao’s story. I was looking forward to their love story and while I wish the romance was better developed, particularly on Lan’s part I did find their relationship to be sweet. When it came to other parts of the story I was a bit disappointed. The antagonist, Madame Vy wasn’t fully realized as a serious threat or even as a character. She had the potential to be a major villain, but instead was relegated to the background for the majority of the book. Actually, I was also slightly disappointed that even though the stakes could have been high, they truly weren’t in the end as all major conflicts and battles were swiftly dealt with off-screen. So as much as I enjoyed Bao and Lan’s story, I would have preferred that we had at least a glimpse of the main battle that took place as there was so much hype surrounding the battle/war.

As a companion book to both Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Song of the Crimson Flower is more of a love story set in a fantasy world and not a full on fantasy novel. Therefore, it is not necessary to have read the other books to enjoy this standalone novel. Still, without a doubt I would say that my enjoyment for Song of the Crimson Flower exceeded that of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Having recently returned from a trip to Huế which was one the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty as well as the Đàng Trong Kingdom, I was able to better appreciate the rich setting and characters in this book. Beautifully written though not incredibly action packed, Song of the Crimson Flower may be more suited to those who are looking to dip their toes into the fantasy genre rather than for fans of true high or epic fantasy.

 

 

 

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 | A Better Man 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, A Better Man is her 15th book in the Inspector Gamache series. She currently lives in a small village south of Montreal with her dog, Bishop.

What is it about? Gamache is back as head of the homicide department, a job he shares with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. In what may be the pair’s final case, a father approaches Gamache for help in finding his daughter who has gone missing. As more details about the woman’s condition and marriage come tonight,  the case becomes a more personal one to both men. Meanwhile a flood is hitting the pronvince and not even Three Pines is being spared, and Gamache once again finds himself being attacked this time on social media for his past mistakes.

Where does it take place? Once again the story is set both within the village of Three Pines as well as the

Why did I like it? I’ve loved most of the Inspector Gamache books that I’ve read with very few exceptions. However, A Better Man took a bit longer to sink back into. The case was a compelling one, although I think part of the reason it took me so long to get invested was because for the majority of the book the team was so laser focused on one suspect that they weren’t truly opened to any other possibilities. This made the reveal a bit of a surprise at the end, because in any other instance, you would have considered looking into that person as a suspect along with everyone else. That being said, Penny does excel at building suspense and the central mystery was laid out in a manner that entice me to keep on reading. Far from being my favourite book in the series, I did appreciate how the book never sugar-coated the mistakes the characters make and the consequences of their actions and obstacles they must face even as they strive to move forward and be a better person.

 When did it come out? August 27, 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.

Book Review | The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Authour:
Stacey Lee
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 13th 2019
Publisher:
Putnam
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Stacey Lee is a fairly well-known name when it comes to young adult fiction. Not only is she a writer of historical young adult fiction, she is also one of the founders of the We Need Diverse Books movement and non-profit organization. 

With The Downstairs Girl, Lee takes us to Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1800s. I’m sure I’m not the only reader to be surprised to learn that Chinese workers were shipped to the South to replace the field Black slaves after slavery was abolished. It was interesting read about the experience of the Chinese in America in the late 1800s as more often than not, their contributions and experience are left out of the mainstream history textbooks.

The Downstairs Girl works as it is obvious a ton of research was done to ensure that the story was historically accurate. This was obvious with portrayal of the major issues during this time including racism and the suffrage movement. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that the white women leading the suffragist were only interested in rights for (white) women, and they did not feel the need to consider intersectionality in their fight for women’s rights even though Black women like Noemi in the book were instrumental in the suffrage movement. Still I liked the female characters and their interactions and relationships in the book, and I appreciated how plucky both Jo and Noemi were. Furthermore, without spoiling too much, I loved the relationship Jo has with Old Gin who raised her and taught her everything she loves about horses. 

The Downstairs Girl has all the makings of a decent historical fiction read. That being said, even with its distinctive characters and unique premise and setting I wasn’t completely sold on it. For one, I could have done without the romance in the book, and I also felt that parts of the story dragged. Still the book feels truly authentic and gives readers new insight into the suffragists and the South on top of the Chinese experience in the South in 1860s America.

 

 

 

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