Midweek Mini Reviews #5

  

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson 

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I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Robson’s first two novels from her The Great War series so I was excited to finally get the opportunity to meet her and get an ARC of her newest book, Goodnight from London which is actually part of a new series set during the 1940s.

Goodnight from London like Robson’s past novels is extremely well researched and you truly get a feel for what it was like for a female war correspondent. Which was an interesting as its amazing just how far Ruby’s male coworkers went in order to protect their pride and bring her down. I loved how the writing and descriptions of all the sights and sounds whisked me away on a London adventure with the heroine as I’ve never been to England before.

If you’re looking for romance there’s not much of it here as its all very slow burn and takes a backseat to Ruby’s professional life. However, there are great friendships, work relationships  and family bonds that are formed and it was lovely to see Ruby finally find a warm, loving and supportive place that she could settle down in and call “home”. I’m definitely looking forward to the next Jennifer Robson book!
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What Remains: Object Lessons in Love and Loss by Karen Von Hahn

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I first came across this title in the House of Anansi catalogue and the synopsis had me curious to learn more. Fortunately, I was able to get an ARC of it at OLA while waiting for their Ian Hamilton signing.

What Remains by Karen Von Hahn is a memoir about a daughter, recalling her larger than life, dramatic mother. It’s also a fascinating look at the writer’s life and upbringing as well as her mother’s life and how each of their personal circumstances made them who they were and are. I thought it was unique for the authour to use objects that were significant to her and/or her late mother as starting points for each of the chapters in the book and as a way to examine the writer’s family history and significant relationships. I also appreciated the fact that unlike most other memoirs I’ve read, this one takes place in Toronto, which allowed me to see what the city and neighbourhoods were once like back in the 1970s and ’80s.

Recommended for those who are all too familiar with having grown up with a (somewhat) maddening and overburdening yet glamorous mother, or those who like those types of memoirs and wanting to get a glimpse at the life of the privileged in Toronto during the 1970s and ’80s.

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 Couturier of Milan (Ava Lee #9) by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays

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

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the 7 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?After a successful show to introduce PÖ to western audiences, Ava and her partners from Three Sisters were expected to see the orders come in and gain more new accounts. However what they were not expecting was mogul Dominic Ventola to take a sudden interest in Clark and PÖ. And when The Three Sisters turn down his corporation’s offer to buy them out, things turn ugly as Clark finds his reputation under attack and The Three Sisters find their investment at risk as they start losing clients right and left. Fortunately Ava Lee doesn’t back down from a fight, with her connection and wits she’s determined to make Dominic regret ever attacking PÖ and Clark

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Where does it take place? From London to Milan to Shanghai, once again Ian Hamilton takes us around the world. This time to some of the major fashion centres of the wild.

Why did I like it? Even after nine books, Ian Hamilton still manages to keep the series momentum continuing strong. And despite a few major changes that are taking place in this book, I remain intrigued and still have the desire to continue with this series, which I have grown to love increasingly with every book.

As always, Ava Lee is a total badass and even when she is up against challenging and intimidating opponents resembling members of the Italian mafia, she doesn’t back down. It’s also admirable how she is also able to command the respect and loyalty from such powerful men, Additionally, I also love the bonds and loyalty that the “Three Sisters” have for each other on top of the pride and protectiveness they have over PÖ and its founders, Clark and Gillian.

Once again, Ian Hamilton has crafted another incredibly skilful page turner that gets you from the start. He definitely excels at descriptions of fashion, and body language and has a gift for setting the scene which are all factors that have made the Ava Lee books consistently incredible in the last few installments that showcase Ava Lee embarking on a new chapter of her work life. As with the previous Ave Lee books, I flew through this The Couturier of Milan loving every second of it.

When is it out? January 16, 2016

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

Top Ten Tuesdays | Top Ten Best Books of 2016

TTT Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesdays | Top Ten Best Books of 2016”

Mystery Monday | The Princeling of Nanjing (Ava Lee #8) by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays

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

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the 7 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? Uncle’s successor and the leader of the triads, is being pulled back into the drug business something which he left a long time ago. It’s now up to Ava to do what she does best and get as much Intel as possible to prevent this from happening. Along the way she’ll discover that what starts out as a research into one family actually ends up revealing some surprising connections extending outside of China to places like the UK and the USA.

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Where does it take place? Taking place right from where The King of Shanghai left off, the events of The Princeling of Nanjing mostly occurs in Mainland China though Ava does go back to Hong Kong as part of her work.

Why did I like it? Despite it being almost a year since I read The King of Shanghai I was able to effortlessly jump right back into the business world and travel adventures of Ava Lee. And The Princeling of Nanjing definitely lived up to the expectations I had of the book that I got from reading the preview that was included in The King of Shanghai.

What I particularly liked about The Princeling of Nanjing was seeing Ava’s business venture with The Three Sisters take off. I love seeing them launch the PÖ clothing line and as always the trust that Ava has in her business partners, Amanda and May is admirable as she is slowing getting used to depending on others after having done mostly solo work in the past. Finally my favourite aspect of The Princeling of Nanjing was the recurring theme of embracing your past and not running away from it. In the end I enjoyed seeing Ava come to terms with her past and embracing who she was and still is now in addition to accepting what she’s always loved doing and been good at. Because after all without all the adventure and action that she finds herself in, she wouldn’t be the Ava Lee that readers have come to love today.

So while I would’ve loved to see characters like Sonny get more screen time and action, The Princeling of Nanjing was another addition to the Ava Lee series that did not disappoint. Its unfortunate that I will have to wait a whole other year before The Couturier of Milan is out.

When is it out? January 12, 2016

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

Book Review | Serafim and Claire by Mark Lavorato

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Mark Lavorato
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 419 pages
Publication date:
February 9th 2014
Publisher:
House of Anansi Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis:

Claire Audette is a dancer whose reputation in the vaudeville houses of 1920s Montreal is rapidly on the rise. Serafim Vieria is a photographer and lonely immigrant, wandering the streets of the same city haunted by memories of a lost love in his native Portugal. Around them, the Twenties are roaring, and the metropolis is simmering: corrupt politicians, the burgeoning of jazz, the emerging suffragette movement, trouble in the Red Light, fascism in the Italian community, with the English/French divide cleaving through it all. And as Serafim and Claire’s lives begin to intertwine, a dangerous plot forms that could boost both their fortunes. Can their naïve yet cunning plan succeed? Can they make their own luck? And, if they fail, what will become of their budding love? Serafim and Claire is the unforgettable story of two idealistic yet flawed dreamers being drawn together, and of the vibrant city and times in which they live. In lush and beautiful prose, Mark Lavorato brings an entire world vividly to life.

Review:

The best books in my opinion are the ones that can transport a person to a place and perhaps even a time period that is different from where they currently are. Having been to Montreal (though not in the 1920s of course), I found the idea of revisiting the city during one of my favourite decades irresistible. Serafim & Clare is what can be considered a pretty good “snow” read. The descriptions in the book really capture winter in Montreal well, and although things are different now some things remain the same.

For most of the story the two titular characters are showed as individuals on their own journeys, in fact they don’t really meet until more than halfway through the novel. By doing this the authour gives readers the opportunity to really get to know both Serafim and Clare on their own. We get to follow them from when they are young, hopeful dreamers to the people they end up as when they finally encounter each other.

I actually enjoyed the individual journeys of both Serafim and Clare more than their interactions together in the book. While there were some parts of their relationship that were endearing, I found Clare a bit too dominating and Serafim too passive when they were together. Throughout the book, I adored the relationship between Clare and her sister Cecile as well as the friendship between Serafim and Alvaro. I liked that each chapter started with a description of a photograph that tells the reader what year it is as well as a letter addressed to Clare or Serafim, usually from either Cecile or Alvaro. Both Clare and Serafim are characters with whom I can relate to. With Clare I can relate to many of her views on the world and people while with Serafim I can relate to the desire to photograph and capture “moments” rather than poses. Serafim & Clare is a great historical fiction read as we are given glimpses and mentions of historical events and figures but it doesn’t overwhelm either of the journeys of the main characters’ journeys. In the same vein while politics and religion do play a role in the story it is secondary to the art of dancing and photography which are essential parts of the protagonists. Serafim & Clare is not only historical fiction, it is a literary novel and a story about two characters trying to find their place in the world during a tumultuous time.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Emperor of Paris by C.S. Richardson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

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