Recently in Romance #5

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

This book starts with Liya bolting from her setup meeting with Jay only for it to turn out that he’s one of the lawyers working to save her company. I love the idea of fate and bad first impressions, however I didn’t love this book. I just couldn’t connect with Liya because she was just so prickly, judgmental and kind of mean. I understand she was forced to grow a thick skin to protect herself because her parents especially her father failed her when she needed them the most but it still doesn’t justify most of her behaviour. That being said, I didn’t hate Liya and Jay as a couple. Their first date was adorable and they worked because Jay was incredibly patient and understanding. The female friendships were also awesome and I loved Liya’s friends. I really hope we get to read the other girls’ stories particularly Sana and Preeti’s stories. Furthermore, I appreciated how Liya did not sacrifice her career ambitions and dreams even though they could take her away from Jay. The Trouble with Hating You is more than just a romance, it’s a glimpse into a South Asian community and shows us examples of the bad aspects like sexual assault and domestic abuse as well as the toxic gossip and shaming culture but also the good aspects like the supportive and open-minded women who looked out for one another and arranged marriages where the couple is happily in love and clearly equal partners.

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

The Marriage Game with its whole enemies-to-lovers situation with protagonists, Layla and Sam, was something I enjoyed. I also loved how Layla’s huge family was a major part of their story and how close Layla was with her father. The side characters were also great and I would love for Nisha, Sam’s sister, to get her own book as I feel like she and John’s story needs to be expanded upon. What I didn’t like was how the “revenge” plot was dropped so suddenly near the end, there was a resolution but nothing was seen through instead the book just kind of ended. At the very least it would have been nice for Nisha to acknowledge things and not interrupt with her own announcement. Another thing that bothered me was how Layla was supposed to be a recruitment consultant but we barely saw her do any real work, while it’s understandable that she’s starting over it was weird not to see her not even interacting with any client. Instead, the focus was on the “marriage game” of finding her a husband which was fine but could have been more entertaining, especially with the candidates. On the other hand, we get to see Sam at work as a Corporate Downsizing Consultant, which I found quite interesting. A delightful read, The Marriage Game is if you’re looking for a South Asian rom-com with lots of colour, food and heart to distract you from the chaos right now.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #30

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two new YA titles.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon
I’ve been excited for Samir and Pinky’s story ever since they interacted with each other in There’s Something About Sweetie! On the surface Pinky and Samir appeared to be complete opposites of so it was adorable seeing them get to know each other better and fall for each other’s true selves. As someone who grew up with cousins around my age, I liked the relationship between Pinky and her cousin, Dolly especially how they’re able to acknowledge their jealously of each other. I do hope that Dolly gets her own book someday. The relationship between Pinky and her mother was another interesting one. It’s one that many immigrant daughters could relate to especially if they feel like they could never see eye to eye with their moms. i do wish however that more time was spent on resolving this complicated relationship as I couldn’t buy her mother’s change of heart with very little lead up. This could also be in part due to the minor pacing issues in the book. There was a lot of back-and-forth and as a result everything felt rushed near the end. I also could have done without the possum or butterfly habitat subplots as they took time away from the development of Samir and Pinky’s romance in addition to resolving the tension between Pinky and her mother. Nevertheless, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky delivered an enjoyable fake dating, hate to love story that was the perfect light and fluffy distraction from the current craziness. Highly recommended if you enjoyed Sandhya Menon’s other books, especially if you love the humour, banter and heart in her books.

The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund 
Some nooks just read like movies. With its themes of high school relationship dramas, hookups and secret crushes Cameron Lund’s The Best Laid Plans feels like it could have been a teen movie on Netflix or Freeform. I’m always game for a friends to lover story and heard good things about this one. What I liked about The Best Laid Plans was its accurate portrayal of the high school experience, sure there were a few rather cliché and dramatic moments but for the most part the book does a decent job at subverting the usual cliché YA tropes. The characters mostly felt real and I could definitely see people I knew in them. It was also interesting to see how the book didn’t shy away from how messy and toxic friendships in high school could get while not making any of the characters out to be a one-dimensional villain. It was also refreshing for them to acknowledge how not everyone in a friend group is actually “friends” and sometimes you tolerate people because of mutual friends. I’m pretty satisfied with the ending even if the romance started to lose some of its magic near the end with all the reveals. Nevertheless, while nothing special The Best Laid Plans was a well-paced and well written novel.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #29

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two new YA titles.

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
Once Upon an Eid is an anthology of short stories that take place around or during Eid, a religious festival celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. As a non-Muslim person, I was intrigued by this book because I am familiar with some of the authors who have stories in this collection including S.K. Ali who is one of the editors. Like any holiday anthology the 15 stories are all heartwarming, fun and joyful in their own way. Two of my favourites were Like Chest Armor and Huda Al-Marashi’s Not Only an Only. The former was an adorable story about a girl’s first time wearing a hijab with touching upon other things like crushes and fandom in middle school, while the latter was a story about female friendship that I anyone who has been a minority in their school could relate to. I also enjoyed Asmaa Hussein’s Kareem Means Generous because it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling and I liked that it is set in Toronto, Canada. As Once Upon an Eid is geared towards middle grade and not YA, I’m far from the target audience for this short story collection. However, even I can tell after reading all the stories that Once Upon an Eid is a special book and I love getting a glimpse at how different cultures celebrate Eid. With the countless number of Christmas books out there, it’s nice that Muslims kids are able to have another collection of stories that they could personally relate to.

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong
Pitched as Crazy Rich Asians meets Love & Gelato, I really wanted to like My Summer of Love and Misfortune. But it took way too long to get into it, and while I could appreciate the character development and growth I couldn’t completely buy into Iris’s “transformation”. While it doesn’t necessarily mean this is a bad thing, in the case of My Summer of Love and Misfortune the uneven pacing along with all the drama in the book gave me whiplash. In spite of that, I didn’t hate Iris, in fact I couldn’t help but feel bad for her because she really is clueless and while she is shallow she truly believes she has good intentions. Also despite being an annoying character, I was still rooting for her to finally stand up for herself against those who did not treat her well. The writing in this book was strong, along with all the juicy family drama redeemed this book for me just a bit. My favourite parts were seeing the Wang family reunited and seeing Iris and her cousin Ruby come together and realize they actually make a great team. It’s unfortunate, but My Summer of Love and Misfortune was not the fun and light summer read that I had hoped it would be.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #4

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

this Is Love by Melissa Foster

 Having gotten to Remi more in Call Her Mine, I was excited that she was getting her own book before the end of 2019. With This is Love, I liked that we got to know more about Remi’s past and why her brother is so over protective. I also loved how Remi and mason bonded over their past trauma and loss and how it brought them closer. That being said, Mason and Remi were probably my least favourite Melissa Foster couple because even though the attraction and sexual tension was there I couldn’t completely buy into their relationship once they got together. There were a few moments where they appeared to be a genuine couple, however there were more times where they were too saccharine. Like the other books in Melissa Foster’s series, This is Love hints at a few couples that will be the focus of future books. I’m not sure if I will pick up the others because on one hand, I’ve found Harley’s doggedness with it comes to Piper to be frankly irritating, however, on the other hand best friends to lovers is my favourite romance trope. Nevertheless, for the most part I’ve enjoyed my time in the communities of Sugar Lake and Harmony Pointe and am glad to have gotten to know these all these characters especially the Daltons.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

The Right Swipe was one of my favourite reads of 2019 however, its follow-up, Girl Gone Viral was a bit of a disappointment for me. Not only was it much more tamed and way less steamy than any of Rai’s other books in the past but the romance felt underdeveloped. The build up to Jas and Katrina’s romance was underwhelming even if the readers knew that the two had secret feelings for each other for some time. They also barely interacted with each other romantically instead there were more scenes of Katrina interacting with her staff and with Rhiannon and Jia and of Jas with his family. That being said, I loved the cast of side characters in this book, including the girls and their awesome friendship as well as Jas’ family who show that even happy families have their baggage. I also loved how far Katrina had come from her first appearance in the series and even since the start of her book. Girl Gone Viral looks at the downsides of social media and shows how something that may seem like fun to, everyone can have negative consequences for those actually involved. After all, real people are not fictional characters and even in today’s era of social media everyone deserves to have their privacy respected and to feel safe in public. In the end, I’ll probably pick up the next book for Jia’s story, though it will be with lower expectations.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #28

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two non-fiction, travel inspired books.

The Romance of Elsewhere: Essays by Lynn Freed
To be honest, The Romance of Elsewhere was a bit of a disappointment for me as I thought the essays would be more about travel. Instead, only the title essay and the one tittle “Letter from London” were truly about travel while the other essays looked at a more general restlessness and not any sense of wanderlust. Featuring all previously published essays, the writings seem to be comes someone of rather a privileged background as shown by the mention of servants and an estate and a few of them had a bit of a condescending tone. That being said, it was fascinating to read Freed’s essay about choice and about her life growing up in South Africa during the apartheid-era and of course I appreciated the first essay which talks about travel and wandering the world in a raw and un-romanticized way. All in all, for the most part, I couldn’t really get into most of the essays. Despite that, however, I found that they were for the most part, well written and more often than not provided some thought-provoking and revealing insights about home and wandering.

Around the World in 80 Novels: A global journey inspired by writers from every continent by Henry Russell

I picked up this book when my travel plans changed and it seemed like I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere this year. If you’ve ever been curious about the real life settings and inspiration for some of the most famous books, Henry Russell’s Around the World in 80 Novels is for you. I liked how there was a good mix of classics and modern literature across various genres. On top of that, there are like tips and suggestions for those who are able to travel to these places. However, even if you aren’t able to physically travel to these countries, I like how this book expands on the idea that you can travel anywhere in the world and through time without leaving the comfort of your usual reading spot. Be ready with a notebook and pen while reading this book as I ended up discovering many titles to add to my TBR including Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea (Jamaica and Dominica), Rose Macaulay”s The Towers of Trebizond (Turkey) and Death in Oslo by Anne Holt set in Norway.

 

 

 

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

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.

Midweek Mini Reviews #26

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two short but interesting books.

Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories by May-Lee Chai
As both my parents are immigrants from an Asian country, I was I was immediately intrigued enough to pick up May-Lee Chai’s collection of short stories. There are eight stories in this collection, and every story is about either Chinese immigrants and/or migrants in China. Though mostly well written, I found that these stories weren’t up my alley. They did however make me stop and think several times as well they made me truly appreciate how fortunate I am to be a child of immigrants. Both my parents, like many immigrants went through a lot just to give their kids a brighter future. That being said, there were a few stories which I enjoyed. “Ghost Festivals” was an interesting one as it looks at how traditional Chinese families tend to treat the issue of one of their own being gay. My favorite story, however would have to be “Shouting Means I Love You”. The last story in this collection, this one resonated the most with me as it looks at the relationship between an adult daughter and her elderly father. I loved this one because I could relate to it so much, especially with all the misunderstandings and the stubbornness of both the characters. While slim in size, Useful Phrases for Immigrants is quite powerful and the stories deal with pretty heavy issues common to all immigrants not just those from China or even Asia.

The Girl Who Reads on the Métro by Christine Féret-Fleury
The description of Christine Féret-Fleury’s The Girl Who Reads on the Métro would have you believing it was another feel good read set in Paris. However, nothing could be further from the truth. While there were some potentially heartwarming moments in The Girl Who Reads on the Métro, I found myself not caring as much as the characters were well-developed. Furthermore, nothing truly happens within the almost 200 pages of this book. And while this would have been fine if this book about books showed us more of the journey of the books, it doesn’t which made for a dull and melancholy read. Still, I could not help but appreciate the fact that there was no romance forced into Juliette’s story. A mostly disappointing read that only showed some promise near the end, I did love looking up the various books mentioned and adding some of them to my pile of books to read.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #25

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features a couple of new two very different YA titles!

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

High school guys can be jerks sometimes. That’s what CeCe in Sonia Hartl’s Have a Little Faith in Me learns when her boyfriend, Ethan, jumps her soon after the two sleep together for the first time. As someone who is not religious I found CeCe’s experience as an “outsider” at a Christian summer camp for teenagers to be interesting. I also appreciate how the story doesn’t waste too much time on CeCe’s original reason for going to the camp which was to try to win back her ex. Instead we get to see her bond with the other girls in her cabin with whom she never thought she’d have anything in common with. I loved the girls of Cabin 8 and seeing how CeCe helps to bring them out of their shell while the girls help CeCe get over her judginess when it comes to others. It was also refreshing to have a YA novel openly call out hypocrites in religion and I liked the way the topic of consent, and how religion deals with sexuality was approached. Finally even though it’s the way the story was set up, I was still rooting for Paul and CeCe because their friendship was heartwarming and the two of them are adorable with the “stories” they tell each other. If you enjoyed Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us and/or Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn then this book is for you.

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
Gloria Chao has truly come into her own as a writer with her sophomore novel. Our Wayward Fate, not only looks at the what it’s like growing up as a child of immigrants in a place where no one looks like you, but it does so by incorporating elements of the Chinese legend, The Butterfly Lovers in to her story. This mostly works well, although I initially disliked the sections that contained Chao’s twist on the legend as it took time away from Allie’s story which I found more compelling. I connected with many of Allie’s frustrations as I also grew up with a mostly white town. Like Allie, every time there was a Chinese kid my age, I was often paired with them, despite the fact that I’m not even Chinese. That being said, I did like Chase and Allie’s relationship as it was adorable how they bonded over their many similarities. However, I felt that their transition into being a couple was rushed at the start as the pacing was super-fast after Chase’s arrival since everything just starts blowing up socially all at once for Allie. Fortunately their romantic relationship gets more fleshed out with time. I also liked the direction the author took with Allie and Yun and what the two of them together with Chase end up doing in the end. Finally, I appreciated how Allie was able to grow and realized that while many in her small town are racist, she is not guiltless when it comes to having stereotypes about other people either.

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | The Mountain Master of Sha Tin (Ava Lee #12) 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 12 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).

What is it about? With Xu down for the count and his most trusted enforcer, Lop out of commission Ava finds herself being once again brought into another triad war. This time she will be up against Sammy Wing, an old enemy of hers who has tried to kill her twice as well as his own more vicious nephew, Carter as they will do whatever it takes to reclaim Sha Tin for themselves.

Where does it take place? With all the current trouble with the triads Ava finds herself back to her second home base, Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? With The Mountain Master of Sha Tin, I enjoyed the return to Ava’s old line of work and world and it was nice seeing characters like Sonny in action, doing what they do best. It was also refreshing to have Ava be the central lead for many of the missions in the book as the heavy hitters, Xu and Lop were both out of commission for the majority of the story. Ava has already proven herself in the past books to be a highly skilled and fearsome negotiator, but in The Mountain Master of Sha Tin we get to see her get her hands dirty and get directly involved in the Triad war. And in spite of her personal ties she shows that she is just the woman for the job. I loved how fast paced and action packed this book was, and I felt that those scenes were balanced nicely with small heartwarming moments between Ava and those close to her. There were also many new subplots that cropped up in The Mountain Master of Sha Tin that I’m excited to see come about in the future books. In the end, after not being blown away by The Goddess of Yantai, I’m glad that Ian Hamilton was able to win me back to the Ava Lee series with this compelling page-turner of a book.

When did it come out? July 2, 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.

Recently in Romance #3

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

Only Ever You by C.D. Reiss

Two childhood friends, one marriage pact is the premise of C.D. Reiss’ Only Ever You. I’m a sucker for the best friends-to-lovers trope so I was excited for this one, despite having never read anything by this author. Overall, Only Ever You was a sweet and mostly satisfying read. It was refreshing to have the usual roles reversed in this book with a heroine who is a strong protector and who has more “experience” than the hero. This book was also surprisingly very steamy despite the couple not sleeping together right away. I also loved the cast of friends and family members on both sides, as they rounded out the story and added more hilarity and heartwarming moments to the book. In the end, while I appreciated the realistic way bullying was portrayed in that more often than not bullies don’t get punished, I do wish we got more of a lead up to how both Rachel and Sebastian’s career and work issues were resolved instead of a time skip epilogue where everyone is happy.

 What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

Looking for some light reading for my trip, I decided to pick up Sophia Money-Coutts’s What Happens Now? To be honest, this one was a bit of a disappointing read for me. Firstly, it was longer than I expected and it dragged for the majority of the book. It also wasn’t as light or hilarious as I hoped it would be, there were some funny bits but they were quite dry. In addition, the romantic relationship in the book was severely under-developed as the love interest, Max was absent for most of the novel. However, I did appreciate how Lil’s pregnancy was portrayed as in reality being pregnant isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I also loved the boys in Lil’s class as they were hilarious and I also adored the awesome support system she has with her parents and her best friend, Jess. So while I wasn’t completely on board with the romance aspect of the book, I found it refreshing to read a book where the protagonist is closer to 30 as it becomes a different type of story when it comes to showing how she handles things after she finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #2

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

Hurts to Love You, the third book in the Forbidden Heart series was my introduction to Alisha Rai. And I knew when Gabe’s sister, Rhiannon made her dramatic stand for her family against Brendan Chandler I knew I had to get to know this badass, successful woman. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long as the first book in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series is Rhiannon’s story. I loved Rhiannon and Samson’s story from start to finish. I was nice seeing the usually tough Rhiannon show her vulnerable and sensitive side and I loved seeing how she allows herself to slowly open up and trust Samson. I also appreciated how Rai touches upon timely issues in her book as in The Right Swipe. In a way that balances the serious subjects with the lighter love story, Rai not only looks at hookup culture and women tech entrepreneurs, but also the #MeToo movement and the effect Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and concussions has on football players and their families. The Right Swipe is an addictive and satisfying read, I was disappointed when I finished reading the book as I wanted so much more of Rhiannon and Samson. I’m definitely looking forward to more diverse and delightful stories from Alisha Rai and to continuing this series. Hopefully I’ll love the other characters as much as I love Rhiannon and Samson.

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

The third book to take place in the same universe as The Wedding Date, I was super excited for The Wedding Party as it focuses on two of Alexa’s best friends who Carlos noted seemed to have feelings for each other in The Proposal. Though a bit confusing at first, I liked how the events of this book overlapped with several from The Wedding Date because with the focus on a different couple we get to see these events from the perspective of other characters. I also love seeing Theo and Maddie together, and I found it adorably hilarious how the two of them couldn’t resist sleeping with each other. But what I loved the most was how their whole “secret” hookups were just so obvious to everyone around them however, I’m glad it happened the way it did because we get the best scene between the two of them and Alexa. The Wedding Party was one of the romances and the first Jasmine Guillory novel to hit all the right notes for me. I liked how Theo and Maddie bonded over their similar backgrounds and the challenges and obstacles they both faced as black professionals. The pacing, setting and mutual friend romance plot were all perfect, I only wish we got more of Maddie and Theo. Highly recommended for as a beach and/or vacation read or even if you need a break from all the weddings you have to attend in this summer!

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #24

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two books by Palestinian American women.

The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan

I loved Hala Alyan’s début novel, Salt Houses. This lead to me discovering her TEDx talk, which was a spoken word performance where she talks about the cities she’s been in and their effect on her. The talk really resonated with me, so I was excited to pick up her poetry collection, especially when I learnt it was titled The Twenty-Ninth Year. Being close to but not yet 29, I was hoping to find more pieces that truly spoke to me. Unfortunately, The Twenty-Ninth Year ended up not being my cup of tea. It was darker and rawer than I’d expected, touching a lot more on topics like assault, substance abuse and loss rather than just about a young woman coming of age. There were, however, some poems that stood out to me such as “Honeymoon”, “Gospel: Newlyweds” and ‘Step Eight: Make Amends” because they showed a more realistic take on a young marriage. Honest and candid, The Twenty-Ninth Year may not be a collection of poetry for everyone, but if it is for you, then it will make you feel like you are not alone.

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum 

In Etaf Rum’s A Woman is No Man, a woman named Isra and her daughter, Deya are the central focus of the book, however we also get to know Fareeda who is Isra’s mother-in-law. Isra’s story is particularly tragic because of the foregone conclusion that she and her husband both die when Deya and her sisters are still young since the girls are being raised by their grandparents in the present day. What’s even sadder is that not much has changed for women, as Deya is also pressured to get married after graduating high school despite it being 2008 and her wanting to attend college instead. I really liked Deya’s story, especially how it was connected to the other women in her family and it was thrilling to watch her slowly discover the truth about her mother. I also found it refreshing how none of the characters were multi-dimensional and that no one was truly an evil person. For example, by getting Fareeda’s back story we see that everyone, not just Deya and Isra have their own traumas, struggles and weaknesses. I also appreciated how it was shown that no one in their cloistered community was truly “free”, even the men have expectations and pressures thrust upon them. A powerful and well written novel, the book is made more significant once you learn that the authour drew inspiration from her own experience. And while I could have done without the epilogue, I am satisfied with the book’s hopeful ending as it was about time things started to change and move into a more positive manner for these women.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #1

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren’s My Favourite Half Night Stand was one of my favourite reads of 2018, so I was excited for their newest novel The Unhoneymooners! The premise sounded promising, what with the enemies-to-lovers romance as well as the all the fake dating hijinks. However, this one was a bit of a letdown.While I did enjoy Olive and Ethan getting to know each other and realizing that they are compatible there were a couple of things I just couldn’t get passed. Mainly how just Ethan handles all things related to his brother, Dane. I didn’t like how Ethan doesn’t let Olive tell her twin sister about Dane, and it just seemed unfair how Ethan gets to look out for his brother but Olive isn’t allowed to do the same. I also hated how he easily dismissed Olive when she tried to tell him about his brother and I felt like this issue wasn’t really properly resolved. This made it hard for me to root for them as a couple in the end, despite me shipping them in the beginning. That being said, I liked how things were handled between Olive and her twin sister, Amy. Plus, I loved seeing how the girls’ crazy family was always quick to get together and have each other’s’ backs no matter how big or small a crisis was.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

II think I’m most likely in the minority here, but I loved Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test so much more than The Kiss Quotient. I think this is because I connected with the characters and story more as both the leads are of Vietnamese descent. I loved that we got to see more of Michael’s extended family with his cousins Khai and Quan, and I loved the sibling relationship between Khai and Quan. I also liked the character of Esme, as she refuses to be seen as a victim despite her circumstances and the numerous obstacles she encounters. That being said, I felt that we didn’t get to know Khai and Esme as a couple even though we did get to know them as individuals. I wish we got to know them more and have them directly face more of their issues as a couple and not have the story just skip ahead, still I did find their relationship to be incredibly heartwarming. Much more than just a steamy romance, I enjoyed the fact that The Bride Test was a bit more of a weightier read and I appreciated the story even more after reading the authour’s note at the end of the book, as heroine’s story was loosely inspired by the authour’s own mother who immigrated from Vietnam with her family when she was young. I’ll definitely be picking up Helen Hoang’s next book as it will be about Quan and I can’t wait!

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #23

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two books for kids, just in time for the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week!

Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms written by Robert Paul Weston & illustrated by Misa Saburi 

I don’t often read and review picture books, but Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms was such an adorable and heartwarming read that I’d thought I share on my blog. Written by Robert Paul Weston and gorgeously illustrated by Miso Saburi, this book follows a little girl named Sakura whose family has to move from Japan to the US. This book is perfect for kids, especially those who have moved to a new city or even country as it perfectly captures the difficulties that kids may face as well it shows the importance of good friends and how strong family bonds will always be there even when you are not physically near each other. Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms manages to stay light-hearted for kids while touching on topics like fitting in, bullying, homesickness and illness. I also loved how it shows that as a new kid even if you have just one friend, if they’re a good one it will make all the difference. Despite not being a kid, I really did enjoy both the story and the illustrations. And I think even adult readers would be able to appreciate the charm of Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms especially if they’re fans of seeing cherry blossoms in the spring.

Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney

Middle Grade books tend to be either a hit or miss for me. For instance, I adore Susin Nielsen’s books but haven’t had much luck with other middle-grade novels. However, Vikki VanSickle at Penguin Random House Canada made a strong case for Rachelle Delaney’s Clara Voyant that I just had to give it a chance. This novel is set Toronto’s Kensington Market, which had me intrigued as it’s a neighbourhood that I’ve recently discovered and fell in love with. I also liked the premise of astrology and psychic abilities. That being said, it took me an incredibly long time to get invested in the characters and plot as it was only near the end when the book started to get interesting for me. What I did appreciate about this novel, however was the wonderful friendship between Clara and Maeve, and how both girls had their own ambitions but still made time for each other. I also thought the twist at the end and the reveal of what happened to the missing mascot to be quite clever. While Clara Voyant certainly had its satisfying and entertaining moments, overall I don’t think this was my cup of tea. I do think that this would make for an excellent read for those in middle grade who are slowly figuring out who they are and who might not feel completely comfortable in their own skin yet.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #22

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two books focusing on South Asian women.

A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose by Samra Zafar

A Good Wife is about arranged marriage and domestic violence, knowing that it comes as no surprise that it was a difficult read for me. Still, I felt like it was a necessary read as even today domestic violence and sexual abuse is still prevalent, especially in Asian communities where unfortunately, more than often than not it is swept under the rug. I appreciated how Samra doesn’t sugar-coat the abuse she faced as well as the reality of what happens when you leave a marriage and the mixed feelings when your marriage ends. And it was refreshing to hear her path to being free wasn’t just an easy and straight road. Instead she was constantly plagued with doubts and even backslides at one point. However, this just makes her tale all the more inspiring and powerful, especially when she gains the strength and motivation to finally stand up for herself because of her father and daughters’ love and faith in her. More than just a survival story, A Good Wife is also the story of the importance of having a community and social support system. It’s also a heartbreaking read, but also one with some hope as Samra continues to tell her story and work to help those in situations like the situation she was in.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters appealed to me as it’s about travelling to a country where you look like the locals on the outside, but on the inside you’re different because you were born/grew up elsewhere. I also appreciated how the Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina were all complex and well-developed characters, and how the book looks at the challenges and issues women travellers face. The novel’s themes of sisterhood, culture and travel is also obvious in how the chapters are laid out. I loved that each chapter started with the girls’ late mother writing to them as it provided greater insight into who she was in addition to giving the readers some background and context about why she wanted her daughters to do the things on the itinerary she made just for them. This also made me feel like I was joining the girls on their pilgrimage and that I was right there with them every step of their journey. The conflict between the three sisters felt authentic and I truly empathized with each of them as they all had their own issues and struggles which, when not dealt with directly only exacerbated their various misunderstandings with one another. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a refreshingly empowering read. What I enjoyed most was how it touches upon issues like dysfunctional family dynamics, cultural representation in the media, female feticide, sexism and misogyny while still maintaining a good amount of lightheartedness thus making it the perfect vacation read.

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