Midweek Mini Reviews #2

Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life by Sayed Kashua

nativeAs, Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life was my introduction to the writings of Sayed Kashua I was struck by how dry, dark, and self-deprecating the humour was at times. Just by reading the columns, I felt as if I got to look beneath the surface at what life is truly like in Israel particularly if you’re an Arab. Of course it was fun being reminded of some of the quirks of living in Israel as I too can recall having a shower in my apartment that a n incredibly strong water pressure, which was amazing when you’re living in the middle of a desert town. Additionally, I also enjoyed reading about Kashua experiences going through book festivals and travelling as it appealed to the book nerd in me. All in all, this was a somewhat dark, satirical, albeit a heartwarming collection of stories about the Israeli-Palestinian Life.

But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Judith Perrignon

didnt

While short in length, But You Did Not Come Back manages to summarize the important details of Marceline’s life, including the horrors of the concentration camp and her struggle to adapt to the world once she returns “home”. The events she relates back in the book are especially horrifying if you let it sit in your head for a while until you realize the book is not a work of fiction but rather a memoir of the authour’s life experiences. People were actually treated in the concentration camps in the despicable manner that Marceline describes and it’s unfortunate that even today some people still hold the same beliefs as the tormentors back at the concentration camps.

Written as a letter to her deceased father, But You Did Not Come Back also comes across as a heartbreaking story of true survival and resilience. Like the author, I too am slightly pessimistic about our world today given all that’s happened in the world and politics in 2016 and the aftermath of such events. And it’s why books like this one are so important in that they remind us to not forget that what happened in the past can happen again if we are not careful.

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

Book Review | The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

yearfellaprtAuthour:
Emily Martin
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 314 pages
Publication date:
January 26th 2016
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What drew me to The Year We Fell Apart was the premise. I’m a major fan of the friendship turn romance trope and the synopsis of The Year We Fell Apart promised a story that remained more than just a fluffy read. However it was much more than the story that made me fall in love with this book. First and foremost, the prose in the book was gorgeous and filed with much emotion that you can almost feel exactly what Harper is feeling both in the present and in the flashbacks. It’s as if you’re right there feeling her confusion, hurt, anger and frustration as she comes to terms with her situation and moves on from her past mistakes.

Starting this book, I felt it would be a major tear-jerker however fortunately it wasn’t. It however was full of heartbreaking moments as both Declan and Harper have been deeply wounded emotionally both by each other and by their family situations. I enjoyed the flashbacks and the reveal to why they fell apart since it made me root for them even more in the present to hurry and find their way back to each other.

Another element of the book that I enjoyed was the authentic portrayal of other non-romantic relationships. I liked how it showed that Harper and her brother both had their own way of dealing with their mom being sick. I can definitely relate as my siblings and I have been in a similar situation with our father and though we are all siblings we dealt with it all in extremely different manners. Additionally, I love the character of Cory as he’s an excellent friend to Harper especially. I believe it’s realistic that he knows he can’t stop Harper from her self-destructive ways nevertheless it’s nice that he was only a phone call away and when it came down to it he was there to pick up the pieces and/or provide her a ride home so that she made it home safely. At times it’s the little things you do for your friends that make all the difference, you don’t need to be a “hero” who saves them or their “parent” who tells them what they can and can’t do you just need to be there for them. And I reason this book captures this idea beautifully not just with Harper and her friend Cory but also with her and her brother.

Set against a tragic backdrop of death and heartbreak, The Year We Fell Apart remains a story that made me smile at the little heart touching moments and left me with an even greater smile every time I put it down. And I highly recommend it to all you contemporary YA lovers out there.

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 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 | Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

firstsAuthour:
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 320 pages
Publication date:
January 5th 2016
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Griffin
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s Firsts caught my attention with an intriguing synopsis that promised me a different type of contemporary read and heroine. And while it definitely has its heartwarming moments, it’s definitely not a fluffy read as the reader soon learns after Mercedes’ story gradually escalates and takes a much darker turn. However, that’s what I enjoyed about Firsts it’s not afraid to be show realistic consequences while adding a few dramatic twists for the purposes of the plot.

I’ll admit that I didn’t love Mercedes or agreed with her choices, however I couldn’t fault her for how she acted or what she thought. Coming from a great deal of family dysfunction and neglect coupled with a past trauma has led to her having an extremely messed up way of thinking which mostly serves as a defense mechanism to protect herself. And while incredibly flawed, Mercedes isn’t a completely horrible person. In fact she has numerous layers to her including her love of science and her goal to attend MIT to study engineering after she graduates from high school. In her own twisted way she truly believes that she is helping others and it was tragic witnessing how she was socially punished while the guys that she “helped” didn’t face as much wrath from others even though they’re just as responsible. This is an accurate perception of something that is all too common in real life, often girls are judged more than guys when it comes to having sex.

Overall I felt the book characters and their actions seem quite realistic and authentic. I particularly enjoyed seeing Mercedes warm up Faye and become friends with her, after all the two girls had a great deal in common. I also appreciated the updates we receive at the conclusion on the various characters and I enjoyed how the book’s ending was rather frank in illustrating how you can never return to how things were however you can move forward despite not fully knowing what future holds. And this I think is where Mercedes character development truly shines through as she evolves from a person who always needs to be in control to somebody who is able to open up to whatever life has in store for her.

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