Mystery Monday | Foresight (Uncle Chow Tung #2) 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). Foresight is the second book in his newest Uncle Chow Tung series which stars a younger version of Ava Lee’s mentor and former business partner.

What is it about? The betting shops run by Fanling Triad gang are losing money because of the competition from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Chow Tung’s men are starting to lose trust in him and are turning towards other means to make their money. In an effort to increase their profits, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” decides to take a risk by quickly investing in the textile industry in Shenzhen. By doing so he will not only create new partnerships but also encounter enemies both new and old along the way.

Where does it take place? 1980s Hong Kong and China in particular Shenzhen which is directly across the border from Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? Following the events of Fate, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” is now head of the Fanling triads. I was looking forward to see more of his adventures since Ian Hamilton has two more books lined up in his Uncle Chow Tung series, Foresight and Fortune which is due out in 2021. Unfortunately, it took some time for me to get invested in Foresight’s plot compared to Fate and this may be because of all the financial and business “talks” that occur in the book. The book does eventually pick up and there are a few interesting twists and reveals especially with regards to the political loyalty and government in China. Hamilton’s writing is of course also as sharp as always, and he does an excellent job at capturing the small details and showing the emotional turmoil of his characters. I’m not sure if I will pick up Fortune as its clear, especially after this book that I’m much more interested in Ava Lee’s journey compared with Uncle’s past.

When did it come out? January 21st 2020

 

 

 

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 #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.

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.

Mystery Monday | Fate by Ian Hamilton

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

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

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

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

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

When did it come out? January 22, 2019

 

 

 

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

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.

Book Review | Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls by Elizabeth Renzetti

Authour:
Elizabeth Renzetti
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
March 6th 2018
Publisher:
House of Anansi Press
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
I had seen Elizabeth Renzetti’s Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls on social media for a while, however it wasn’t until I saw Kaley from Books Etc. rave about it that I was intrigued enough to pick up a copy.

A collection of feminist essays by Globe and Mail columnist, Elizabeth Renzetti Shrewed is a timely read given the current social climate. Shrewed was also one of those books that I immediately devoured as soon as I snagged a copy owing to the fact that it was exceptionally well-written. While there are countless books being released that focus on issues facing women and feminism, it was refreshing to read one from a Canadian perspective. I appreciated this given that despite being geographically right by each other, there remain some significant differences between Canada and the USA.

Among all the essays contained in Shrewed the first essay, “The Voice in Your Head is an A**hole” stood out to me, as it was truly relatable since I have often passed on applying for jobs for the reason that I felt I did not meet enough of the qualifications even though I know my colleagues especially male ones or even my father or brother wouldn’t hesitate if they were me. Likewise, her essay on how encouraging “fearlessness”, especially in our girls, can be a foolhardy concept was equally compelling. The essay was incredibly honest in explaining how a little fear and anxiety is necessary for humans, and that not letting your fear rule, this does not mean that you shouldn’t be smart about your choices. Finally, I also enjoyed her essays that were framed as letters to her daughter, son, and even to her younger self as they were full of truth and authentic wisdom.

Funny at times, and always frank, and inspiring Shrewed made me self-reflect a great deal about my life so far and about what the future has in store not just for me but for women in general. This is why I love that the Renzetti’s Shrewed ends with a message on how women and girls should not be afraid to be “loud” and “take up space” and that men shouldn’t be fearful of sharing these “spaces”. After all, there is more than enough room for us all.

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

Mystery Monday | The Imam of Tawi-Tawi (Ava Lee #10) 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 now 10 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? As a favour to her late mentor’s friend, Ave finds herself headed to the Philippines to assist “Uncle” Chang with a problem one of his business partner is facing. What she discovers will force her to pull her skills and connections to limits greater than she’s ever had to be before.

Where does it take place? As the title suggests this book is set mainly in Tawi-Tawi, an island province in the Philippines, that borders both Malaysia and Indonesia. It is known for its majority Muslism population which plays a central role in the novel.

Why did I like it? I love the Ava Lee series, and always anticipate the next book in the series every year. What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the fact that similar to the other books in the series, The Imam of Tawi-Tawi addresses topics and issues that are current and therefore relevant. The book poses an interesting question to both Ava and the reader as to what is the “right” course of action and whether extreme (and twisted) means are ever justified to achieve an end goal. Before going into this book I was not quite familiar with the political climate in the Philippines, therefore I found it fascinating that it plays a prominent role in this book. While The Imam of Tawi-Tawi has less action than the earlier books in the series, there were several twists and turns that helped to get me hooked. I also did enjoy the investigation aspect of the novel in addition to all the travel that Ava gets to do. The Imam of Tawi-Tawi is another strong addition to what is becoming one of my go to mystery series, and based on the excerpt provided I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

When is it out? January 6, 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 #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!
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

What Remains: Object Lessons in Love and Loss by Karen Von Hahn

whatremains

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.

 

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

milan

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.

princeling

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

Authour:serafim
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.