Mystery Monday | The Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff

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? Sophie Hénaff is a French author and  journalist, known for humorous column, “La Cosmopolite” in the Cosmopolitan. The Awkward Squad is her first novel to be translated into English and it is the first book in her Awkward Squad / Anne Capstan series.

What is it about? Anne Capstan, a police officer with a promising future finds herself suddenly in charge of a new squad of misfits after recent events had her coming off as a bit too “trigger happy”. Whole officially the new team was created to work on cold cases, in reality her new squad consists of various misfits whom H.Q. is unable to fire but doesn’t want to deal with. But as this mismatched crew starts woking on random cold cases they come to a discovery that the cases they’re individually investigating may be in fact related and connected to something even bigger than they could have ever anticipated,


Where does it take place? Set in Paris, France this isn’t your romantic “City of Lights”. Instead Sophie Hénaff’s book allows readers to see the more realistic side of the City that just like any other major city has its own issues and problems, including corruption and crime.

Why did I like it? The Awkward Squad features a mishmash of misfit characters. I loved how they were all able to come together in the end as a team to cleverly take down the murderer who was someone with a lot of influence and power. I especially liked the dynamic between unapologetic, and crass Rosière and rule-biding Lebreton as well as the unique partnership between Anne Capestan and Torrez, who has a reputation for bringing bad luck to those working closely with him. I loved how Capestan ignored the superstition and trusted Torrez to be her partner in the investigation, as this ended up saving her. With a wacky cast of characters The Awkward Squad had a great deal of potential. However, I felt that the book had too many storylines and characters and with all the jumping around it made it difficult to keep track of who’s who and what’s really going on. So while the ending of The Awkward Squad leaves plenty of room open for future stories, I’m not sure I will continue with this series.

When did it come out? April 3, 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.

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Mystery Monday | The Goddess of Yantai (Ava Lee #11) 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).

What is it about? Pang Fai, a famous Chinese actress and Ava’s current secret lover is being blackmailed. If Fai doesn’t comply with the demands which includes sexual favours, her latest film will not be distributed or promoted thereby ruining any future she has in the film industry. Turning to Ava for help leads to an investigation which in turn runs deeper than expected and will have future ramifications for Ava in other parts of her life.

Where does it take place? Starting in Beijing, the capital city of China The Goddess of Yantai takes readers on a thrilling journey into the seedy underground world of the Chinese film industry.

Why did I like it? I always look forward to the next installment in the Ava Lee series. However, unlike the previous Ava Lee books The Goddess of Yantai took some time for me to get into. Once it did pick up near the end, it became just as action packed and thrilling as the other books. What I liked about this particular book was how it developed Ava’s new romantic relationship with Fang Pai, a Chinese actress. We learn more about Pang Fai’s past and get to see how she and Ava are with each other during their “downtime”. I also liked the introduction of the other characters who live along the same Hutong as Pang Fai, it was heartwarming seeing how the neighbours looked out for one another. I am excited for the upcoming The Mountain Master of Sha Tin as there are hints that it will focus more on the trouble that is brewing with the triads and it will be interesting to see how Pang Fai interacts with this aspect of Ava’s life now that they are a couple. I’m also looking forward to see the regular extended cast of Xu, Sonny, and maybe even Lop in action.

When did it come out? December 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.

Midweek Mini Reviews #21

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two romances just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

Having heard many good things about Matchmaking for Beginners I decided to move it up on my TBR list. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me and I felt that it did not live up to the praise it received. Maybe it’s because I hate when people are no given much choice, but I had a hard time getting through this book. The protagonist, Marnie wasn’t very likeable and she came off as extremely flaky and an incredible doormat. Her heartbreak, however was relatable, which made it tough to see her getting pushed around and manipulated by basically everyone, including little kids, her horrible ex and even complete strangers. That being said, the side characters were entertaining at times and I did appreciate Jessica’s friendship with Marnie in fact, she was probably one of the few reasonable characters in the book. As for the “magic” aspect of the book, I thought it was cool initially as Blitz grew on me as a character, however, it eventually got rather irritating as the “sparkles” was used as an excuse for everything including going behind people’s backs to “help” them. I can certainly see how Matchmaking for Beginners could be the perfect, warm and magical holiday read, however for me it was too saccharine for my liking especially the ending and instead left me feeling slightly depressed.         

Liars, Inc. series by Rachel Van Dyken

The first Rachel Van Dyken novel that I read and loved was Infraction. So when I heard she had a new series coming out, this time centering on a women run PI agency that exposes cheaters, I was intrigued. Starting with Dirty Exes, I wasn’t completely sold yet. I liked Blair alright, however I wasn’t as big on Colin or even him and Blair as a couple. That being said, the book did introduce me to Jessie and Isla and from their shared scenes and off the charts chemistry in Dirty Exes I knew I just had to read their book. Fortunately, Dangerous Exes was a definite hit with me. While Jessie and Isla start off as “enemies”, it does not last very long. Soon they’re thrust into a fake engagement and before either of them realizes it, they’re hooking up and starting to develop “feelings”. I love how sweet the two were as a couple, and how they brought out the best in each other. I also appreciated the fact that Isla was half Chinese and that we got to meet Goo-Poh (her aunt). Goo-Poh was such a wild and hilarious character that she stole every scene she appeared in. While Dirty Exes was an okay read for me, Dangerous Exes was a hot and sweet romance that I could not put down. 

 

 

 

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 #20

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two “self-help” books, perfect for starting a new year.

Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life by Melissa Leong

One of my New Years’ resolutions for 2019 was to learn to manage my money better. This is where my copy of Melissa Leong’s Happy Go Money came in. Unlike the majority of other personal finance books that I’ve tried to pick up, but failed to get through, Leong’s book was easy to follow, light-hearted and entertaining. Part personal finance, part self-help I appreciated how Happy Go Money combines psychology and happiness research with finance tips and tricks to give the reader advice, conversation starters and tasks that the readers can start to tackle their financial goals. While a lot of the material in the book may seem like common sense, it was a good reminder for me. I love how Leong encourages people to spend money on experiences and “time-savers” and I wholeheartedly agree with her advice on opening a separate, no-fee bank account with a debit card for all your non-essential spending. I’ll definitely be doing this, as soon as I have enough money to start another account without having any of my other accounts suffering as a result. Happy Go Money is perfect for people who don’t really read “finance” books but want to learn more as it manages to mostly maintain a decent balance between being warm and friendly while still being informative.

Design Your Next Chapter: How to Realize Your Dreams and Reinvent Your Life by Debbie Travis

Debbie Travis is well-known for her home and design shows on TV. However, Design Your Next Chapter isn’t another book about decorating or painting. Instead, it is more of a self-help book that is packed with tons of tips and inspiring stories about people who’ve taken the leap and pursued their dreams. While a lot of the material in the book seems geared more towards an older demographic, there are some takeaways for younger people as well. In particular, I loved the sections that allow you to fill in the blanks with your own hopes and dreams. I also found the Ten Commandments chapter, especially the section on losing your “fear” and the section on budgeting to be incredibly useful. For anyone who may find themselves thinking “what’s next?” reading this is book is a good start and for those who are curious, Design Your Next Chapter is an easily digestible and comforting read that can be relatable to many people.

 

 

 

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

Book Review | The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

Authour:
Olivia Hinebaugh
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
January 22nd 2019
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Olivia Hinebaugh’s The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is an important read, especially for teenagers since even in 2018 sex ed. is under constant attack. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear about schools where the curriculum is outdated or harmful to students as happens to the characters in The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me 

The protagonist of The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is a high school senior named Lacey who is fed up with her school’s climate of shaming students who may have real questions about their sexual health. And while she has little life experience in that area, Lacey is probably more qualified when compared with the questionable guest speakers and perhaps even a couple of her teachers as she grew up with learning everything there is to know about “the birds and the bees” from a mother who is a obstetrics nurse. 

The mother-daughter relationship between Lacey and her mother was refreshingly drama free and supportive. It was entertaining to see her mother more than ready to jump behind the antics of Lacey and her friends as they try to fight the educational “system”. In addition to being a sex-positive and health-conscious book that makes the topic of consent “cool”, The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is also an incredible “friend group” book. There is also a bit of romance in the book, but it’s truly only a minor part of the entire book. Instead the friendship between Lacey, Evita, Theo and later Alice stood at the forefront of the book. Which is why I appreciated the fact that any potential love drama between the friends was avoided by having the characters engage in honest conversations and not fight with each other and/or act all passive aggressive. I also loved the frank way in which asexuality was discussed. Evita considers herself to be asexual, but she also struggled with discovering her sexuality, which is also common among young people in life.

I liked The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me for the fact that it tackles something I haven’t seen yet in YA novels in a non-preachy way. However, other than its interesting premise, it was only an average read for me. That being said, I hope this book gets into high school libraries as it is an excellent book about an important issue and it can help start what teens may feel to be an awkward conversation by making the topic more accessible. 

 

 

 

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 | Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
December 18st 2018
Publisher:
Henry Holt & Company
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Anthology collections that are short stories or essays can be difficult to review at times, however reviewing an anthology of letters from real teens that are answered by authors in story form with a sprinkling of advice is something I haven’t done until now. As the title suggests, Dear Heartbreak has teens write in to authours about their heartbreaks and about the not so pleasant side of love which is unfortunately something we do not often see in non-fiction that is geared towards teenagers. I love this idea as it was a unique twist on the typical advice columns.

The authours’ personal experiences and stories lead to plenty of compelling reading material. Kekla Magoon’s response to a teen who is surrounded by people but still feels lonely, tiled “If You Call, I Will Answer” resonated the most with present me as I’ve also found it to be true that occasionally you need to be the one to reach out whether it’s when you need help or whether you just want company. The other piece that stood out to me from this collection was Gayle Forman’s response to a teen who wrote in initially about heartbreak however it turned out to be about experience. In “The Teacher of All Things”, Forman is able to write back in a way that shows she understands the teen and is able to emphasize with their desires without coming off as condescending or preachy. I also love that she recommends travel as a way to gain new experiences as I could not agree more!

In spite of the fact that I’m no longer a teen, this anthology still spoke to me and helped me to come to terms with my past experiences. I still remember as a teen and kid feeling lonely, confused and heartbroken as I faced constant rejection and felt socially isolated all while trying to find friendship and acceptance. As a result, seeing the raw vulnerability from teens and a few of the authours broke my heart and made me tear up several times while reading their stories. 

Dear Heartbreak is a collection that I wish I had as a teenager in high school. In terms of advice there isn’t anything that stands out in this book, however a list of resources is provided at the back of the book for those who need more. Otherwise, for people, particularly those in high school who feel like no one sees, hears, loves and/or understands them this book is like one giant, warm hugs.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #19

This month’s Midweek Mini Reviews post features some romance reads for the holiday season.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

I was really looking forward to Samantha Young’s Fight or Flight because of the plane travel plot. Plus based on the cover, it felt like it would be a light, and sexy vacation read. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to be more than just a fluffy romance novel. From their first meeting, you can really feel the animosity between Ava and Caleb which quickly escalates to a steamy hook up. However, this is more than an enemies to lovers romance. Both Ava and Caleb actually have some major emotional trauma from their past relationships, and this is never just glossed over. Ava and Caleb’s banter and relationships definitely has its moments, however I just could not get on board with Caleb. I felt that he was unappealing as a romantic male lead and he was too easily forgiven in the end. I would’ve liked to actually see him make more of an effort to make things up to Ava. That being said, however, Fight or Flight has one of the best female friendships, with Ava and her best friend, Harper that I couldn’t help but love the book in the end. To me Ava and Harper’s “love” story was the one that made Fight or Flight worth reading.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

I’ve only read one Christina Lauren book before My Favorite Half-Night Stand and that was Roomies which I liked though was weirded out by parts of it. I did pick up Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating due to all the hype, but could not bring myself to finish it. Fortunately Christina Lauren won me back with My Favorite Half-Night Stand which was just perfection. I love Millie, who while has her quirks is not incredibly annoying and intolerable like Hazel was. She has her issues, of course, but she’s also just plain relatable and quite likeable. I love her and the guys as the interactions and the group chats they have are just hilarious. Also the avatars in the chat they use are super cute. Reid and Millie were also a couple I could definitely root for. Both are incredibly stubborn people who, despite being book smart are kind of clueless and a bit hopeless when it comes to matters of the heart and each other. And while I’m not a fan of any kind of cat-fishing I did like how things were realistically handled and how Millie didn’t get off easily. The perfect length for a romance novel, My Favorite Half-Night Stand warmed my heart and made me smile for most of it.

 

 

 

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

Book Review | Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs

Authour:
Sam Maggs
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
October 2nd 2018
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“They are strong-willed and steadfast leaders whose very existence dissents from the way the world has been run for the last two thousand years–and affirms what the future should be.” (p. 105)

What I like when it comes to Sam Maggs’ books are how they remain inspiring, funny and a marvelous starting points for reading about pop culture and feminist figures. In Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History, Maggs takes us through history sharing the stories of women helping other women to rise. 

Before reading Girl Squads, I was already familiar with several women for instance I was aware of the Trưng sisters, the Supreme Justices Ruth Bader and Sonia Sotomayor and Dr. Kei Okami and Dr. Anandibai Joshi who were two of the first eastern doctors of western medicine. However, similar to her other books I learned a great deal more about other awesome women, including the Edinburgh Seven who were the first women medical students in Great Britain and the Red Lanterns, a Chinese girls’ fighting group, the Red Women of Finland and the Japanese volleyball team known as the “witches of the orient”. Reading all these stories of women uniting together made for an incredibly heartwarming read. This book also extremely inspired as the women in the book faced countless obstacles in their path to in order to accomplish their goals. And while they weren’t always completely successful, their perseverance definitely left me feeling empowered. 

With its light and entertaining writing style in addition to the bright, colourful packaging and illustrations, Girl Squads is a book that is unquestionably geared towards a younger, preteen audience. This is awesome as it makes feminist history and women’s stories accessible to those who are looking for positive examples of women around the world and across time. For those of us who are slightly older, Girl Squads is one of those books that can easily be read in one sitting. I’d recommend this one for those looking for an uplifting read as it provides an excellent introduction to a number of exceptionally fascinating groups of women.

 

 

 

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 | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Authour:
Julie C. Dao
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
November 6th 2018
Publisher:
Philomel Book
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
I’ve said it before, and I should probably say it again fantasy fiction is typically not my cup of tea. That behind said, I occasionally enjoy a magical fairy tale retelling. Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is a Snow White retelling with an Asian cast and setting. As it is the second book and a companion novel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix takes place 15 years after the events of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. The heroine this time is Jade, who is the true heir to the Feng Lu. As a protagonist, I found Jade to be likeable and it was not at all difficult to root for her and her comrades. I also liked that despite being the heroine of the book, the individuals that chose to accompany Jade’s on her journey were also fleshed out with their own motivations and backstories. However, as a result of this I also felt that we barely scratched the surface of who Jade truly was as there was not much time spent with her. Moreover, I also would have liked to have seen more of Jade and her comrades working together and not having them be separated. 

On the other hand, what I loved about Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix was how the story was set in the world of Chinese mythology. Dao’s prose is exquisite and her descriptions of the setting and the various magical items such as the cloak gifted to Jade were incredibly lush, that I felt like I was actually transported into the world of the book. Furthermore, I appreciated how the third person omniscient narration of the book gave the story a Chinese folklore kind of feel. What I wasn’t too fond of was how the ending felt a bit rushed, the final battle happened so quickly and in such an intense manner that it gave me whiplash reading those scenes.

If you love the diverse representation in the fantasy, YA genre, then Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix may be the book for you. I went into it without reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and was still able to enjoy the book. A heartwarming story about the strength and power of love particularly familial love, this one surprisingly lived up to most of the wonderful praise its received.

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #18

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features some more non-fiction books.

Love and…Bad Boys, “The One,” and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship by Jen Kim

Lately, it seems like I’ve been reading a ton of self-help books. To be honest, this is probably due to my interest in studying relationships which came about when I was a psychology major rather than a real interest in self-improvement. My latest read on relationships is by Jen Kim, writer of the Psychology Today’s column, “Valley Girl With a Brain”. Like her column, Love And…: Bad Boys, the “One” and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship is written in a way that is easily accessible and appealing to Millennials. Alongside the pop culture references, I liked that she refers to real research studies and theories on top of her personal experiences to back up what she is trying to say. Witty, sarcastic and extremely straightforward, Love And… will make you feel like you’re not alone in being single or being in a relationship where things aren’t 100% perfect. An empowering and somewhat enlightening read, pick this one up if you are one of those people who is frustrated by modern dating and/or are someone hoping to gain greater insight into why we behave the way we do in love and relationships.

30 Before 30 by Marina Shifrin

In case you don’t know her, Marina Shifrin is most known for the way she publicly quit her job on YouTube. This skyrocketed her to fame and ended up leading to many opportunities for her. In her memoir, 30 Before 30 Shifrin’s writings manages to be witty and relatable for the most part. In particular, I enjoyed her essay on how life is a vessel for you to fill with good stories in addition to the one where she talks about learning to dress for your shape and splurging on investment pieces. The section on life advice she’s gotten from doing stand-up was also an excellent read. Additionally, I loved the fun corresponding illustrations included in the book as they added to the entertainment value of the book. However, in the end this was only an okay read for me as there were several times where I just wanted a bit more. Furthermore, some of the essays just didn’t sit right with me as they were centered on goals that were inaccessible to the average millennial who aren’t given the same privilege as the writer this lead to her coming off as slightly obnoxious. Still, I think 30 Before 30 may be a book that would appeal to anyone but particularly Millennials who are looking for a bit of a “push” to go for their dreams or even to start their own bucket list with little goals or experiences they want to do.

 

 

 

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 #17


This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two of the books I brought with me on my trip to Vietnam this summer.

Vi by Kim Thúy

What I loved most about Vi was how family was truly the focus of the story this time around. Readers learn about the title character’s family history (starting with her grandparents) well before we get to Vi’s story and even after she goes out on her own, her family continues to have an impact on her life. I also appreciated the fact that another one of the central aspects of this novel was the Vietnamese Canadian immigrant experience which does differ from the experiences of Vietnamese Americans. I also fell in love with Vi’s family, including her brothers who all looked out for her in their own way as well as her mother who “gave” Vi to her friend, Hà to raise so that she can have a better education and future. As a result of this upbringing, Vi is able to have many adventures across the globe which I loved reading about. All that being said, however, I felt that Vi was not as well written compared with Thúy’s earlier novels, Ru and Mãn and the ending left much to be desired. Furthermore, despite being the titular character readers barely get to know Vi before the book ends. In the end, Vi was a decent read as it has Thúy’s trademark stripped-down, exquisite prose, however the lack of lightness in Vi’s story a

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris

Lands of Lost Borders is a memoir that details the journey and life of the author Kate Harris. Harris has always dreamt of being an explorer and it was interesting to read about how she discovered and harnessed her writing talents to get funding for her adventures as a student. That being said, this was a slow and tough read for me because felt long-winded at times with all the history lessons and technical details of biking embedded in the book. I would’ve liked there to have been more on her adventure in present day, including greater details on the characters she came across and the cities and towns she and her friend travelled through. I did, however, appreciated the fact that Harris doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of her journey as they do face many challenges along the way. So as far as travel literature goes, Lands of Lost Borders isn’t high on my favourites or recommend reading list, however I did learn about Central and Western Asia from it. In the end, I think I probably would have been better off with an audiobook for this one given the type of story it was. 

 

 

 

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #16


This Midweek Mini Reviews post features some  non-fiction books for those who are feeling a bit lost in life.

Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist by Meredith Goldstein

I’ve always liked reading advice columns in magazines and newspapers so I was keen to pick up Meredith Goldstein’s Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist as it promised a “behind the scenes” look at one of today’s most popular columns. Unlike your typical advice column, Love Letters is unique in that it allows responses from its readers in the comments section which gives it a more modern, “group therapy” vibe. The book is divided into different sections, each starting with an introduction from Goldstein talking about her personal life and experience. This “memoir” aspect of the book is then followed by one or two questions from her column that fall under the section’s topic along with Goldstein’s response and some of the responses from the comments. I loved seeing the comments from the readers as their responses and suggestions were always entertaining and occasionally extremely hilarious. I enjoyed this refreshingly, honest look at an advice column and am looking forward to checking out the actual Love Letters column online.

Nobody Cares: Essays by Anne T. Donahue

While the first few essays in Anne T. Donahue’s Nobody Cares truly resonated with me, the majority of the essays in this collection did not. However, there were a few that stood out to me. The chief among them is the essay on not being “fun” as I hate or at the very least don’t see the appeal of the popular things she also hates although I do love brunch. Still, I loved that the takeaway was about not doing things you don’t want to anymore, thus giving you permission to not force yourself to do the things you hate, this is something I’m definitely a fan of it. The other essay that stood out to me was her essay on death titled, “It Will Never Feel This bad Again” as not only was it extremely poignant but it was probably the most honest and relatable essay about death I’ve read so far. In the end, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and feeling lost or not liking where you are in life this book will definitely speak to you. Whether it’s by providing advice that needs to be repeated for you to follow like she does in her essay “Get to Work” or being straightforward and blunt with you while oddly also being comforting as seen in her essay titled, “In Case of Emergency”, Donahue truly cements her status of the best friend you would want to have in your corner.

 

 

 

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 | From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Authour:
Sandhya Menon
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
May 22nd, 2018
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my favourite reads back in 2016 so I was eager for more Sandhya Menon! That being said, I definitely wasn’t prepared for From Twinkle, with Love.

From Twinkle, with Love is centred around Twinkle Mehra who is an aspiring, teenaged filmmaker. Through her diary entries written as letters to her favourite female filmmakers, we get to learn more about the Twinkle who sees herself as a “wallflower” who is nothing special. She finds proof of this in her life where her parents who are almost never around physically or emotionally in addition to her complicated friendship status with her former best friend, Maddie.

What sets From Twinkle, with Love apart from your typical adorable contemporary is that traditional storytelling is basically non-existent in this book. Twinkle’s story is told mainly through her journal entries and this is interspersed with text messages between Sahil and his buddies in addition to Sahil’s blog posts which provide an alternate perspective on the events of the story. As a result of this non-traditional storytelling, I initially could not get into the story, although I did love Sahil from the start as his blog posts and text messages between him and his friends were hilarious and helped to endear him to me more as a reader. Twinkle, however, took some time to grow on me, though I could definitely relate to her in several ways as I had my share of “complicated” friendships at her age though I never had a talent like her penchant for filmmaking.

From Twinkle, with Love is a clever and enjoyable book that teens may be able to relate to especially with all the high school drama that occurs in the book. Filled with entertaining and diverse characters, From Twinkle, with Love was an above average read that remained consistently genuine 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.

Midweek Mini Reviews #15


Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (Translator), Mai Ohno (Illustrator)

Moshi Moshi was my first Banana Yoshimoto novel, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Similar to several other well-known Japanese writers, there is an element of magical realism to the story. However, in this case, it is extremely subtle and takes the form of a not quite a ghost story since the “ghost” of the protagonist’s recently father haunts the pages of the book and remains a significant “presence” despite not actually being present. Yoshimoto’s writing is incredibly minimalist and cool, yet she manages to provide some fascinating commentary on the traditional gender roles and expectations in Japan today. Furthermore, she does an excellent job of capturing the grief and the process of trying to move on when someone you love dies in a remarkably traumatic manner. In addition, it was refreshing to see an accurate portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship where both are now grown yet neither are completely dependent on the other. But what I loved the most about Moshi Moshi, was the setting of the novel. Set in the Tokyo neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa, the book made me want to visit the area and check out the restaurants for myself. The only issue I truly had with Moshi Moshi was the romantic development and conclusion in the book as it was a bit unsettling and awkward. Nevertheless, Moshi Moshi is a soothing read in spite of its weirdness.

Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss by Jann Arden

Jann Arden’s latest book, Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss touches upon a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Having worked with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, I was looking forward to this memoir of caring for elderly parents who have dementia. Told in dated journal entries interspersed with personal photos and recipes, the Canadian singer-songwriter brings readers into the daily realities of her life as a caregiver to a parent who has dementia. At times, the book feels almost too real however that’s the beauty of it. Arden’s candor about what it’s really like for the families of those with dementia makes Feeding My Mother resonates so much more for those whose loved ones also have dementia. The design of the book is also beautiful and soothing, and I loved the gorgeous photos included in the book. I also liked the theme of food in the book, and will definitely be attempting to make some of the recipes in the book like the Four-Cheese Mac. An absolutely heartbreaking yet warm, and comforting read.

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 | How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

Authour:
Matt Haig
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
February 6th 2018
Publisher:
HarperAvenue
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Haig two years ago at an event for his book, A Boy Called Christmas which I loved. It was at this event where I first heard about How to Stop Time which he was still working on at the time. The concept of a person not aging on the outside and slowly aging on the inside had me intrigued. However, I had completely forgotten about the book until earlier this year when I saw it on the Savvy Reader’s “Most Anticipated Reads of (Early) 2018” blog post.

The protagonist of How to Stop Time is a man named Tom Hazard, a man who suffers from a condition called “anageria” which makes him appear like he’s in his forties when he is actually over 400 years old. From the first page, Haig’s whimsical writing draws you in, as it feels as if Tom is speaking to you directly. I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, but somehow Haig makes the story work in a manner that was kept me turning the page as Tom’s story is one that would resonate with anyone who is human.

More than just another science fiction book about time, How to Stop Time is a story about love (both of a romantic and familial nature) and what it means to be human. As we follow Tom’s narrative both in the present time and in his past, we come to realize that at their core humans have both changed and remained the same. And that for a person who has been alive for so long, there truly is a difference is between just “existing” throughout time and choosing to live your life in the present.

Despite the pacing being a bit off at times, and the conclusion of the major threat in the book being anti-climactic I still found How to Stop Time to be a profound and remarkable read. And as the film rights for this book have been bought, I look forward to seeing how this incredible book will be translated onto the sliver screen.

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