Book Review | This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Authour:
Misa Sugiura
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 4th 2019
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Every so often, when I’m stuck between two ARCs I turn to social media to help me decide what to read next. Misa Sugiura’s sophomore novel, This Time Will Be Different was the winner of a recent poll I had.

CJ Katsuyama is a Japanese-American teenager who lives with her mother, a high-powered executive and her aunt who runs the family flower shop. While there are countless things CJ isn’t sure of, the one thing she is sure of is that she loves working on floral arrangements with her aunt. So, when she learns that the family shop is being sold to a descendant of the man who cheated her family during World War II she decides to do something about it.

There are two things that I loved about This Time Will Be Different. The first was how relatable CJ was as a teenager, I found it refreshing that she was cynical when it came to matters of the heart as a result of her family’s complicated love history. Still it was nice to have a character be jaded when it comes to love yet still root for others and have crushes. I also appreciated how in the end CJ’s hasn’t been completely changed, she is open to love but not overly sentimental about it. The other thing I loved was the strong women in CJ’s life, I also liked how it the book highlights how CJ feels pressured as a teen to be amazing, especially seeing how well her mother has done for herself as a single and working parent.

This Time Will Be Different was an unexpected read for me, but in a positive way. It started off as a slow read for me, and initially I was only interested in learning more about CJ’s past as it was more interesting than her present day situation. However, I came away learning so much about the language and meaning of flowers in addition to the history of Asian Americans, particularly the Japanese and of the origins of the “model minority” myth. Even though all of this felt like an enormous information dump and at times the placement of these sections affected the pacing of the novel, I still was grateful that it gave me the context to critically look at CJ’s story.

An emotionally resonant story about family, community, and activism This Time Will Be Different shows that real life and people cannot be simplified into good or bad and that history can bring complications even several generations later.

 

 

 

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 | Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Authour:
Roselle Lim
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 11th 2019
Publisher:
Berkley Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Everyone knows what comfort food is, well Roselle Lim’s debut novel is what I call a comfort read. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is just one of those reads that warm the heart, and provides a sense of nostalgia.

The story follows a young woman who returns to the neighbourhood, she grew morup in upon hearing of her mother’s death. When Natalie comes back home, she finds her once vibrant San Francisco neighbourhood dying, a shadow of what it once was. I found it interesting that the authour chose to tell Natalie’s story from first-person point of view. This helped me to further connect with Natalie’s personal history and story, including the father she never knew, and the mother who she was estranged from. Natalie’s story was more tragic than I initially thought, however I appreciated the complicated mother-daughter dynamics in the book. I also could relate to Natalie in more ways than one, especially her restlessness and wanderlust. Still, I admired how she fights for her dream and was able to make something of herself.

Along with this being a story of family, community and getting back to your roots, there is also romance in store for Natalie. Though if I were honest, the romance plot in the book didn’t genuinely work for me. The romance had its sweet moments but the development was too fast and the circumstances were too rooted in fantasy and not realistic for me to enjoy. Fortunately, it was not the main focus of Natalie’s story.

Still, there’s definitely something magical about Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, and I’m not saying that due to the magical realism elements of Natalie’s story. Roselle Lim’s writing truly brings the world that she created to life. The descriptions of all the food is so vivid and mouth-watering that it made me hungry. This is one novel you shouldn’t read on an empty stomach! Luckily, there are recipes in the book and while I may not be much of a cook, I now want to try them out for myself.

Touching on topics like mental illness, and estrangement between mothers and daughters, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be. It is however, a read that is as enchanting as its cover promises.

 

 

 

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 | There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Authour:
Sandhya Menon
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
May 14th 2019
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
We first met Ashish in When Dimple Met Rishi as Ashish is Rishi’s little brother. There’s Something about Sweetie continues Ashish’s story and introduces us to the sassy Sweetie Nair. I’ll be honest, despite my excitement for this book I was a bit wary. The plot of There’s Something about Sweetie meant that Ashish and Celia would no longer be a couple and I loved them as the beta couple in When Dimple Met Rishi. In spite of that, Sweetie quickly won me over and I truly felt that she and Ashish were the perfect foil to one another. 

This was a book that had me grinning from ear to ear, of course, there were a few (joyful) tears as I love how authentically both characters’ families were portrayed. As a child of immigrants, I could definitely relate to Sweetie’s conflict about wanting to be her own person and not giving in to familial pressure yet at the same time not being able to fully go against her parents. After all, even if you disagree with them their words still have an effect on you because they’re your parents and you want them to accept and love you for who you are. I also loved how this was a YA novel where families, especially parents play such an integral part in a teenager’s life. However, I also love how both Sweetie and Ashish’s friends are heavily featured in this book, especially as they are all such fun characters who always have each other’s’ backs. Furthermore, it was amazing how a couple of Ashish’s friends, even got their own subplot and character development moments.

Ashish truly has come a long way since his first appearance and I love how Sweetie grows, although her character doesn’t change a great deal. Perhaps this due to the fact that she was shown as being perfect with her only flaw being her struggling between standing up for herself and being a dutiful daughter? It’s hard for anyone to not fall in love with her. A delightful read, There’s Something about Sweetie is one of those books that’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood with its adorableness, lack of any major angst and message of loving yourself and opening yourself up to 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 | Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Authour:
Maurene Goo
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 7th 2019
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
For those who remember or are familiar with the movie, Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a princess looking for one day of freedom from her royal duties. Somewhere Only We Know modernizes this story by having it set in present day Hong Kong. I also like how Goo made the story her own by changing up the setting and making the two characters Asian American teenagers while still making nods to the book’s inspiration. The Hong Kong setting allows readers to visit another country and culture and experience Hong Kong from more of a local’s perspective, though with a sprinkling of the tourist highlights of course. I also felt that the pacing was actually perfect, especially for a story that supposedly takes place over less than two days at no point in the story did ever felt rushed. 

Somewhere Only We Know has two narrators, “Lucky” aka Fern (neither is her real name) and Jack. I found it refreshing that both were older teens as we watch them struggle to find their passion and decide what they want to do in life. I related to both characters’ pressure and stress over not letting others down, especially when they’ve made so countless sacrifices for you. I also appreciated how the parents, especially Jack’s parents weren’t your stereotypical strict, “tiger” parents. Since Jack’s story is told from his point of view, we only view his parents from his eyes. As a result, it was nice when he finally is able to talk to them and they’re able to clear up any misconceived notions he had about them. 

Finally central to Somewhere Only We Know is the relationship that gradually develops between Lucky and Jack. While there were a few clichéd moments that could be attributed to the K-drama feel of the book, their relationship like the characters themselves felt truly authentic. The romance wasn’t swoon worthy nor did it make me hardcore ship Lucky and Jack together. However, in the end I bought their connection and I’m satisfied with how both their story ends. 

A light read that isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, Somewhere Only We Know is still an entertaining read, especially for those who love K-dramas, or those who believe you can find love from a short, chance encounter.

 

 

 

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 | If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Authour:
Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
April 23rd 2019
Publisher:
Viking Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
As a slightly obsessive YA contemporary rom-com reader, I’ve wanted to read an Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka book ever since their début novel last year. Fortunately, I was able to snag an advance copy of their latest book, If I’m Being Honest. Pitched as “The Taming of the Shrew meets Mean Girls”, I was a bit wary of it since The Taming of the Shrew is the Shakespeare play that I hate the most. Yet something told me to give it a chance and fortunately I listened.  

To almost everyone around her, Cameron Bright appears to be your stereotypical “mean girl”. She’s attractive, popular and has no regard for others. However, as readers, we get a glimpse at Cameron’s home life and her complicated family, thus showing us a more vulnerable side to her “mean girl” actions. After getting to know her better, it was difficult not to feel sympathy for her. She just wants her father to acknowledge her since her mother never seems to care about her. So while Cameron is not your typical, likeable protagonist I actually liked her for her independent nature and how she was incredibly honest to others even if it was to a fault. It was also enjoyable to have a protagonist who was a teenager who, while flawed had several layers to who she was. This made it more satisfying as we see Cameron develop into a more self-aware and caring person while still retaining her “bite”. Furthermore, she learns to accept her flaws and won’t settle for someone who can’t take her as she is.

The romance in If I’m Being Honest was sweet. I love all the banter between Cameron and Brendan especially since they went from sending emails to each other to texting and then to interacting in person. There’s also family drama in this book as both of Cameron’s parents are not truly present in her life and Brendan and Paige also do not have the best relationship with their parents. Cameron’s mother, however does do a heel face turn towards the end of the book, though I had difficulty buying into her reasoning as it just doesn’t add up. That being said, it was refreshing to see parents who weren’t perfect, but who weren’t exactly all complete monsters either.

Similar to Always Never Yours, If I’m Being Honest is a modern twist of The Taming of the Shrew. However, it’s so much more than that. If I’m Being Honest stands on its own as an unflinchingly realistic, but empowering twist on your average teen rom com. I’ll definitely be checking out future books by this duo as well as Always Never Yours since the couple from that book make an adorable cameo in If I’m Being Honest.

 

 

 

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 | Fate by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 11 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Fate is the first book in his new Uncle Chow Tung series which will star a younger version of Ava Lee’s mentor and former business partner.

What is it about? When the The Dragon Head (also known as the Mountain Master) of the Fanling Triad dies under suspicious circumstances, his seat of power is left open. Many assume that his deputy, Ma would be appointed but the triad’s White Paper Fan, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” doesn’t believe Ma is up for the job and seeks to have an election putting Ren Tengfei, the Vanguard/operations officer forward as an alternative to Ma. However, when Ma is found shot to death along with a Blue Lantern named Peng things start looking even more suspect. Could the Fanling Triad have an enemy from within?

Where does it take place? Fate starts with Chow Tung aka “Uncle” escaping from Mainland China and follows him ten years later as the “White Paper Fan” in 1970s Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? Fate is the first book in the Ava Lee spinoff series that I never knew I needed until I got it. I’m a fan of Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series and I’ve always liked the character of “Uncle” so it was only natural that I’d want to know more about him and his past. Although, Fate took a bit of time for me to get hooked, it did succeed in hooking me in the end. Once the action and pacing picked up, I became invested in the story and the characters. In particular, I liked the complicated “partnership” Chow had with Zhang, a superintendent with the Hong Kong Police Force. This was a compelling relationship as both knew each other when they were first starting out, and even though both men were mentored by Tian, who was a part of the Triad they ended up taking different paths in life. I’m curious to see how their relationship evolves as things get more complicated with each book in this series. I also enjoyed meeting “Uncle” again and seeing how he rose in the ranks. Of course, I still prefer the Ava Lee series over this one. And yet I’m looking forward to continuing the Uncle Chow Tung series in hopes that I’ll get to see more family faces from the Ava Lee series including a younger, Sonny.

When did it come out? January 22, 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 | 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.

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 | 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 | 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.

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.