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.

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.

Mystery Monday | Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes

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? Victoria aka “Plum” Sykes is a fashion-writer, and socialite in addition to being a novelist. Though, not her first novel Party Girls Die in Pearls is the first book in her new Oxford Girl Mysteries series. She currently resides with her family in the English countryside. Sykes is also a Worcester College, Oxford alumni.

What is it about? Ursula Flowerbutton, a country girl is excited to start her first year at Oxford University. She is looking forward to joining the famous student newspaper Cherwell and perhaps even attending a ball or two? What she wasn’t expecting was to be embroiled in a major murder investigation at her new university which is unfortunately what happens when the school’s “IT” girl, India Brattenbury is found dead, and Ursula is the first to find her. As a result, Ursula is assigned the murder as her first story for the Cherwell however, as she gets deeper into her investigations into India’s death she may also find that she too could be in danger…

Where does it take place? Oxford University during the 1980s.

Why did I like it?If you are looking for a fun, light-hearted mystery look no further than Plum Sykes’ Party Girls Die in Pearls. Pitched as “Clueless meets Agatha Christie”, this book is pure escapism at its best. I loved the English university setting and as the main characters are just “Freshers” aka freshman in university, Party Girls Die in Pearls is definitely a novel that has crossover appeal to the YA audience in addition to all (cozy) mystery lovers.

In addition to being a murder mystery, Party Girls Die in Pearls is filled with several 80s cultural references which in addition to the all the delicious drama happening among the privileged set of students at Oxford made the book all the more delightful.

Furthermore, I adored the friendship between the protagonist Ursula Flowerbutton and her new friend, Nancy Feingold for the reason that while the two girls couldn’t be any more different, they form a charming and fun mystery solving duo when they’re together.

Finally I appreciated the fact that Ursula didn’t become too romantically involved with any of the guys she meets, especially the one who could have been the most obvious suitor as none of the guys were actually good enough for her in my opinion. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the Oxford Girl Mysteries series and continuing the adventure with both Ursula and Nancy.

When did it come out? May 9, 2017

Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

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 | This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack


Authour:

Erin Chack
Format:
ARC, 229 pages
Publication date:
April 25th 2017
Publisher:
Razorbill
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
2017 seems to be the year of new books from the writers and editors of major social media websites similar to Popsugar, Elite Daily and of course Buzzfeed. This is Really Happening follows this pattern, as it is a collection of personal essays and stories from Erin Chack who is a senior writer at Buzzfeed.

This is Really Happening is another title that I read an excerpt of in 2016, and after reading that preview I knew I needed to read the rest! And fortunately for me, I was able to snag an ARC of it. The book itself truly does read as if you were having a conversation and catching up with an old friend. Erin Chack’s writing is straight forward, relatable, and poignant with just the right amount of humour to save things from getting too heavy and dark. This is especially true as she dives right into the serious topics and discusses her diagnosis with cancer and the reality of learning that you have cancer from the start.

Some of my favourite essays in this book were, “Don’t Read the Comments” about what it’s truly like to have writing as your day job while giving us a glimpse at the behind the scenes at Buzzfeed and what happens when a post you write goes viral. I also enjoyed “Find your Carrot” where Erin shares in an honest and frank manner what’s it actually like to date a person for over a decade and how you grow and change together through the different personas you both inhabit through the years.

Compared to the majority of other memoirs from hilarious women, This is Really Happening is definitely one that would appeal more to the YA audience. However even if YA isn’t quite your jam, it is still worth it to pick up This is Really Happening as it’s an unflinchingly honest, quick and fairly lighthearted read into what life can be like for a millennial which in itself is quite entertaining.

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 | Miss You by Kate Eberlen


missyouAuthour:

Kate Eberlen
Format:
ARC, 433 pages
Publication date:
April 4th 2017
Publisher:
Harper
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
David Nicholls’ One Day, has a special place in my heart as it was the book that kept me company when I was living alone in Israel. So when I heard that Miss You was being compared to One Day I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. Fortunately I was able to obtain an ARC allowing me to read it before the release date.

Miss You follows Gus and Tess, who meet briefly as teenagers in Italy during the summer that would become the “start of the rest of their lives”. Miss You started off quite promising and full of hope, however the stories quickly take an incredibly depressing turn which rarely lets up. This is unfortunate as I grew to adore Tess, and it was incredibly heartbreaking to see how miserable she became. Despite giving up everything, her sacrifices never were appreciated instead it was borderline pathetic how she was always waiting for something/someone to “push” her towards seeking better things for herself. I did like the friendship between her and Doll although it was rather unfortunate as to how they fell out with each other. And while Doll does eventually redeem herself, the ordeal further shows how much of a pushover Tess could be as she was way too giving and nice to everyone.

The other half of the equation was Gus. I found it extremely difficult to like him or feel more than an ounce of sympathy towards him. He truly was a dreamer and not in a flattering way as he comes off as a rather awful person at times. And while there were definite similarities between him and Tess, I don’t think this necessarily is a sign that the two were meant to be or are “soul mates”. After all, even though two people are both miserable and have made some foolish decisions in life, it doesn’t mean that they would be perfect together. Perhaps if they had actually interacted more throughout the years, it would’ve been easier to root for him and Tess as a couple, instead the ending feels sudden and random almost as if it came from out of nowhere.

Despite being compared to One Day, Miss You shares more similarities with David Nicholls’ Us, a book which I did not enjoy all that much. Miss You’s premise was definitely promising, however despite its few moments of charm the novel came off as too long and heavy which did not work for the execution of the romance that was to come in the book.

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 Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions by Rebecca Solnit

motherAuthour:
Rebecca Solnit
Format:
ARC, 175 pages
Publication date:
March 14th 2017
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I first heard about Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and as a result I was pleased to receive a copy of The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions which is the follow-up to Men Explain Things to Me.

Lately, I’ve been really getting into essay collections and feminist reads especially given all that has been happening in the news and this book definitely quenched my thirst for more. A powerful, and thought provoking read packed collection of essays by the authour from the past two years, there is a great deal of knowledge in this slim volume.

I loved the fact that the introduction told the story of how as a woman writer Solnit is not immune to being asked incredibly personal questions that people often would never think to pose to men. Furthermore, it feels appropriately fitting that the first essay in this collection is a four parter on the (brief) history of silence given what we’ve seen so far of the new presidency in the USA in addition to all the scandals involving several major celebrities and women that have come to light in the recent years.

However, out of all the essays contained in this collection I was particularly fond of Solnit’s reaction to the GQ Magazine’s article “80 Books All Men Should Read” which concludes with her saying that she would never tell someone to not read a particular book and yet it’s important to note that if someone were to continuously read books where characters who are like them in terms of things like sex, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation among other factors are portrayed in a problematic manner it can become almost like second nature to start viewing yourself in that same negative light. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Case of the Missing Perpetrator because of how it pokes fun at how mixed up the government priorities are and how it illustrates just how misleading language can be.

Whether you’re a Rebecca Solnit fan or just a reader who is looking for a book that will enrich your understanding of modern feminism, The Mother of All Questions is an informative read that serves as an excellent introduction or supplement to all the existing feminist theory literature.

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 Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

teaAuthour:
Lisa See
Format:
ARC, 365 pages
Publication date:
March 21st 2017
Publisher:
Scribner
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Although I’ve heard of Lisa See through her well-known book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which was also adapted into a film. However, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane serves as my introduction to her writing and perhaps given its setting it was fitting that I started reading it around the time of Lunar New Year this year.

Centering on the Akha ethnic-minority who live in the Chinese province of Yunnan, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story about family, especially the complicated relationships between mother and daughter in addition to being a story about love, tragedy and of course tea, in this case Pu’er:Pu’erh tea.

What I loved about The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was the gorgeous and poetic prose throughout the book. The first two parts of the book focus primarily on the protagonist, Li-Yan’s early life, difficulties and tragedies while the later parts introduce us to the daughter she gave up through various ways such as through the transcripts of a therapy group to emails, letters and reports. That being the case, I do wish Hayley’s story was given more space to be fleshed out as I truly adored her character and it’s rare to read the stories and experiences of Chinese children who are adopted by American parents.

For those who are familiar with Lisa See’s work, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane will undoubtedly prove to be an enjoyable addition to their reading repertoire. As for those who haven’t read anything by her or who haven’t heard of Lisa See before, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane makes for a decent introduction to her books.

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 | Escape to Havana by Nick Wilkshire

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? Nick Wilkshire is a lawyer in addition to being a writer. Escape to Havana is the first book in his Foreign Affairs Mystery series. He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

What is it about?After a very public scandal involving his wife, and a divorce that followed soon after the last thing Charlie Hillier wants is to remain in Ottawa where his ex-wife is. So when a posting in Cuba opens up, he’s more than willing to go. What he wasn’t expecting to find in his new position are the drugs under his bedroom floor…

eh

Where does it take place? Havana, the capital city of Cuba where Charlie has his first foreign posting.

Why did I like it? Escape to Havana was a title that wasn’t actually picked by myself but rather it won a twitter poll to be the next title to be featured on “Mystery Monday”. To be honest, it felt like it took an eternity for something to actually happen and for a mystery there was not much sleuthing going on. That being said, the protagonist, Charlie is quite likeable and a character that us regular folks can generally relate to. And things do really pick up in the last few chapters before the book ends. Escape to Havana was a fairly light read with a satisfying conclusion however I’m not sure if I’m be picking up Book 2 in this series.

When is it out? November 12, 2016

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 | I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell

tellyouAuthour:
Chloe Caldwell
Format:
Trade Paperback, 170 pages
Publication date:
October 4th 2016
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I found out about Chloe Caldwell’s second collection of essays, “I’ll Tell You in Person” through an article that was shared on Twitter. It spoke of the collection of essays telling the experiences of a young woman caught between the ages of 20 and 30 which made me feel that perhaps I could relate to what she had to say. Additionally, as I was in the midst of trying to write my own personal essays I felt that it would be helpful to read what others have written. Apparently I’m not alone in doing this, as Chloe also notes in an interview included in the book that she read a bunch of personal essay collections while in the process of writing this book.

Initially when I started reading the first few lines of the book, I found that I’ll Tell You in Person did indeed speak to me. However, my initial infatuation with the book didn’t subside as in the end like any collection, some of the essays were strong while others were not as well written. Furthermore, some of the essays were about topics that I knew little of and/or could not relate though majority of the essays were interesting to read. In the end, my two favourites that stood out in the book, would have to be “Failing Singing” about giving up a talent that you have and “Sister Less‘, a heartwarming essay on the bond that Chloe forms with Bobbi, who the daughter of writer, Cheryl Strayed.

I’ll Tell You in Person, is a short read that makes it the perfect companion for a commuter. However, be forewarned that it does pack a powerful emotional punch, especially for those who find themselves in a similar stage of their life. Meaning one that’s prone to a great deal of imperfection and disillusionment as well as a bit of disorientation. But, hey we all need to go through it at some point, no?

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 | Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

everAuthour:
Erin Summerill
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
December 27th 2016
Publisher:
Harcourt Childrens Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
If you read my Raincoast Fall Preview post, then you would recall that Ever the Hunted was one of my most anticipated Fall/Winter 2016 releases. Thus I was beyond excited when I was approved for an e-galley of it.

Initially, Ever the Hunted was everything I was expected from it. The world building and descriptions were exquisite and the plot was compelling. I found myself speeding through the first half of the book. However, somewhere along the way I became slightly bored with the story. The protagonist, Britta wasn’t as kick butt as I hoped and her romance wasn’t as swoon worthy as I thought it would be. That being understood I did delight in the revelations and reveal of Britta’s past in addition to whom her mother and what it means to her. And I also found her voice and reactions to be refreshing, realistic given her age and situation.

Overall I felt that maybe the synopsis of Ever the Hunted (or rather my interpretation of it) misled me a bit into thinking that the book would have more of a revenge twist in addition to a cat and mouse type of dynamic between the lead and the guy who was accused of killing her father. Instead, I found that the entire misunderstanding was cleared up early on, leading to a jump into the romance aspect of Cohen and Britta’s relationship which for the majority was lacking in chemistry. All that being understood, however, Ever the Hunted does a decent job at setting up the premise for the series and the ending, while confusing also left me a bit curious as to what will happen in the book following in the series.

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 Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

sunalsoAuthour:
Nicola Yoon
Format:
ARC; 349 pages
Publication date:
November 1st 2016
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m probably one of the few bloggers who did not pick up Everything, Everything. To be frank, I didn’t feel that the book was for me. However, the person I passed my advance copy of the book to (my cousin) remains obsessed with the book as are several other bloggers who I know.

Yet Nicola Yoon’s sophomore novel, The Sun is also a Star had a synopsis that had me intrigued. And despite its comparisons to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, a book which I could not finish I actually thoroughly enjoyed The Sun is also a Star. For those of you who have read both, you’ll definitely be able to appreciate the obvious similarities between the two, however The Sun is also a Star truly does stand out as its own unique story.

Taking place all in a single day, The Sun is also a Star tells not only the love story of Natasha, a teenage girl who wants to save her family from being deported and Daniel the younger son of a Korean immigrant family struggling to live up to his parents’ expectations but also the story of those they meet on their adventure. Dispersed among the chapters telling Natasha and Daniel’s story are short chapters on various cultural, scientific and historical topics in addition to the stories of the other characters.

What I loved about The Sun is also a Star is that Natasha and Daniel both feel like real teenagers facing real issues, including the cultural struggles that ring true for those of us who were not born in our current country or who are the children of immigrant parents. I adore how families are portrayed in the novel and it’s refreshing that we are given the back story to characters like Natasha’s father and Daniel’s father who on the surface both appear to be difficult men.

Another thing I adore about the book, was Nicola Yoon’s prose which made for some gorgeous and heartbreaking storytelling. Though the story at times was disjointed and non-linear, I appreciated the fact we are given glimpses into the futures of various characters. Furthermore, I liked how Yoon demonstrates that we are all connected, and how one person’s decision can have major impacts on another’s life without them even realizing it. It makes the reader stop and consider how their actions can affect others. That being said the lawyer in the book annoyed me to no end, and it was heartbreaking how his actions ended up affecting both Natasha and Daniel.

The Sun is also a Star is infinitely more than your average love story, sure it’s the story of Natasha and Daniel but it’s also the story of their parents without whom they would not exist. It’s also the story of all the other people in the book. After all, your story is without a doubt your story, but it does not exist alone. As humans, we are constantly interacting with others, all who have their own stories that are just as important as yours. Reading a book like The Sun is also a Star reminds us that no one story is any less important than another and that you should never discount the stories of others.

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

Book Review | Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

Authour:flames
Sarah Raughley
Format:
ARC, 353 pages
Publication date:
November 22nd 2016
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
The moment I heard it about a book that was pitched for fans of Sailor Moon, and Avatar in addition to featuring a group of kick butt female leads, I was in and Fate of Flames became probably my most anticipated YA title from Simon and Schuster’s fall catalogue.

Fate of Flames is about four girls who all have control over an element resembling fire, water, or air. What’s intriguing about these girls is that there are always four of them, when one dies, another girl comes into her powers in addition to all the memories of her predecessors. This brings us to our protagonist, Maia whose effigy powers awaken during a lockdown at her school. This causes her to realize that her predecessor, the fire effigy has Natalya has died. She is at that point quickly thrust into the world of the effigies and fighting phantoms.

What I enjoyed about Fate of Flames was that it incorporated modern elements in a fantasy/science fiction story. Social media is a major element in the story, as are online forums which Maia tends to go on even before she became an effigy. I also liked the fact that Maia existed as a fangirl before she became an effigy as it makes this more relatable. Interestingly enough, I think the book took a realistic approach to how someone who is a fangirl transition into become one of the “heroes” they looked up to. Maia is definitely out her comfort zone, and it was refreshing to have a protagonist who doesn’t just easily adapt into her new powers and her role as a fighter, especially since it’s clear that Maia did not have any pre-existing badass attributes or abilities. Unfortunately, not much happens in Fate of Flames, the reader is thrown a great deal of history/backstory and information with little explanation. Furthermore, there isn’t much fighting until the near the conclusion of this book. Maia, the protagonist is incredibly useless for the majority of the book and instead her role is relegated to gathering the other effigies. Once the four girls, Belle, Lake and Chae Rin are gathered that’s when the story proceeds to move forward.

Overall as a first book in a trilogy, I’d consider Fate of Flames to be a decent read. I just hope all the hints, back stories, and mysteries lead up to a thrilling and satisfying story. My interest is definitely piqued, at least for book two which I hope will focus more on the girls learning to work more effectively as a team. Fate of Flames is a book for those who desire a female group focused fantasy novel that is refreshingly light on the romance.

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 | Faithful by Alice Hoffman

faithAuthour:
Alice Hoffman
Format:
Egalley
Publication date:
November 1st 2016
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Before Faithful, I’ve only read one book by Alice Hoffman which was Aquamarine, a book I read back when I was in elementary school. Thus, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Faithful besides gorgeous prose.

Told from a third person, omniscient perspective, Faithful is the story of a woman named Shelby, who struggles with immense guilt when a car accident leaves her best friend brain-dead while she is virtually unscathed. As a result, Shelby spirals downwards and engages in countless self-destructive behaviours before she is slowly able to come to terms with the fact that she “survived”. What I liked about Shelby’s story was that Shelby undergoes lots of terrible things yet in the end she is able to come out of it as a stronger character. It just goes to show that no matter how broken somebody may be, they can eventually come back from it.

Another story element I enjoyed within Faithful were the female relationships. In particular, the friendship between Maravelle and Shelby was incredible and I adored the way that Maravelle’s family gradually became a substitute family to Shelby. It was touching to witness her begin to care for others all while assisting her in her journey of learning to love herself again. The other central relationship throughout the book was Shelby’s relationship with her mother. It was lovely watching their relationship evolve over time and their bond becomes stronger as both grew older and begin to understand each other better.

In spite of the fact that I enjoyed Faithful for the reasons mentioned above, there were two things that I wasn’t fond of. One was the romance in the book, the relationship in the conclusion felt underdeveloped and if I were to be honest, this book would have been more than fine without any romance plot. The other thing that made me slightly uncomfortable was what happens to Shelby’s friend, Helene. Despite being brain-dead she is kept “alive” on life support so that people can come to and worship her for miracles. While it is understandable that her parents are unable to let go of their daughter, it’s also depressing to read how she is kept alive like this after having read about what she was like.

Faithful, is a powerful novel that demonstrates how amidst all the tragedy, loss, guilt, and shame there can be love, hope and perhaps even a “rebirth” of sorts. And that “magic” does exist and in manifests itself in unexpected ways in real life. All in all it was a fairly quick and engrossing read that I would recommend to readers who love stories of redemption and stories with dogs!

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 | Don’t I Know You? by Marni Jackson

don't knowAuthour:
Marni Jackson
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
September 27th 2016
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Written by Canadian journalist, Marni Jackson’s Don’t I Know You? has an intriguing premise to it. Rose McEwan is an ordinary woman who lives a fairly regular life except for her various random encounters with random celebrities among them, Joni Mitchell, Meryl Streep, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Taylor Swift.

While the first chapter where Rose encounters John Uplike was weird and to be honest, slightly creepy the following chapter with Joni Mitchell made up for it although I hated how passive Rose was. This was generally the tone of the book, a few of the encounters were strange while others were charming and cute. My favorite story in the collection is, probably, Mister Softee where Rose first encounters Leonard Cohen for the first time. I loved that it concerns family and dealing with death, and while it was a simple story it was incredibly poignant. The Reading featuring Meryl Streep and Exfoliation with Gwyneth Kate Paltrow giving Rose a facial in addition to Free Love with Joni Mitchell were all memorable and were close runner-ups. And obviously the final chapter with a featuring a canoe trip that Rose takes with Leonard Cohen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Taylor Swift stood out as the most unrealistic yet charming of all the stories in this whimsical collection.

Being a Canadian myself, I love that the author takes the time to highlight the various sights and sceneries that can be found in Canada. Thus whether intentional or not, it felt as if this collection of stories served as a homage or even a “love letter” to the country itself even if the book wasn’t completely set in Canada. Don’t I Know You? is a book that I’d recommend for those who appreciate short story collections that are slightly unusual yet charming throughout.

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