Book Review | The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Authour:
Chloe Benjamin
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
January 9th 2018
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“If nothing else, Judaism had taught her to keep running, no matter who tried to hold her hostage. It had taught her to create her own opportunities, to turn rock into water and water into blood. It had taught her that such things were possible.” (p. 138)

What if you were told that there was someone who could tell you when you were going to die? Would you want to seek out this person to know? What would you do with this knowledge? These are questions that haunt the Gold children in Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists.

Divided into four parts for each of the Gold children, Daniel, Varya, Klara, and Simon. Thus readers are given a glimpse at each of their lives from the time they first encounter the mysterious gypsy woman who tells them when they are “destined” to die to the end of their life. The majority of the book is incredibly tragic and heartbreaking as we witness the downfall of each of the siblings one by one. And while none of the siblings are truly likable, they are written as if they were real people and this made it difficult not to sympathize with and mourn each of them even if they usually were the cause of their own undoing.

Often it’s been said that knowledge is power, however, in the case of the Gold siblings, it is shown that knowing when you’re going to die may not give you the sense of freedom that you think it may bring. Each of the siblings deals with this information in their own way, and none of them execute it in a healthy way. Instead, they trap themselves in “mental traps” of their own making. All four of them focus more on survival rather than actually “living” and this brings about consequences, not just to themselves but to those close to them. And in the end, the reader is left with the same question that is posed to Varya, which is more desirable? Living a longer life or a “better” life?

A beautifully written novel, The Immortalists is infused with an element of magic realism as one has to wonder if the mystical woman was truly psychic or if she was just a scammer similar to the rest of her family. Regardless, it just shows how fragile humans are and how susceptible and vulnerable children’s minds can be despite a brave front. And while I’ll be lying if I didn’t say that I was hoping for a more uplifting read, The Immortalists was still a well-written albeit at times a difficult read that I suppose deserves all the buzz it has 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.

Advertisements

Midweek Mini Reviews #14


Only for You by Melissa Foster

I LOOVED the first book in the Sugar Lake series and was excited for a book featuring Bridgette, Willow’s older sister who was a teenaged rebel and now a single mother and overall just a sweet person. Similar to The Real Thing, Only for You was a cute and quick read that I flew through once I got started. Bridgette’s son, Louie was adorable and Bohdi was definitely a charming love interest. I also admired the overall familial closeness of the Dalton family and their acceptance and openness to new people. However, unlike The Real Thing I wasn’t sold completely on was the romance as I felt that Bridgette and Bohdi’s relationship got extremely intense rather quickly. I guess because of the genre and the brevity of the book this was the only option, still, it would have been nice to have a bit more lead up before the two of them started hooking up. That being said, I did appreciate the decision they made about their relationship as it was mature and realistic even if they regretted it almost immediately. Of course in the end, Only for You is still a feel-good romance so readers can expect another happy ending for all.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The premise of The Wedding Date is incredibly fun though, two strangers have a “meet cute” in a hotel elevator and proceed to inevitably hook up. What I like about The Wedding Date was it put a new spin on the usual romance tropes by having the characters entering into a long distance hook-up situation since Drew lives in LA while Alexa lives closer to San Fransisco. Furthermore, neither character is shown to have a “One-Hour Work Week” as it’s made fairly obvious how both Alexa and Drew’s jobs truly are demanding and central to their lives, which given due to the nature of both their careers. I also liked Alexa because I could relate to her in that we are both busy young professionals who love pink glazed donuts with rainbow sprinkles! What I hated was the way that all the drama/fights happened as a result of a lack of communication, sure conflict is necessary to move the plot forward, but the way things occurred made both Drew and Alexa seem so immature, which made it last satisfying when they “made up” as it was difficult to buy that they’d be okay in the end. Overall, The Wedding Date was for me a lackluster read as it was not only predictable (as expected) but also there wasn’t much that made it a standout read for me. Still, I will most likely read the follow-up book, The Proposal since it stars Dex’s best friend, Carlos who was a cool character.

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 #12

  
The Real Thing by Melissa Foster

I’m fairly new to the adult romance genre, and after reading a few that I adored I got a blogger friend of mine to give me some recommendations. On her list of recommendations for romances that are more rom-com was Melissa Foster’s The Real Thing. This was my first Melissa Foster book and I absolutely loved it! I’m so glad I decided to pick up this one as one of my first picks. The Real Thing takes place in a small town called Sugar Lake and features Zane and Willow who have a somewhat complicated history. I loved that they technically started out as friends and kept in touch all those years before getting together as it just made their chemistry and relationship all the more steamier and swoonier. And while the fake relationship trope was used in this book, I found it refreshing that the book did not focus on the angst of the scenario. Instead the two managed to have a relatively healthy relationship despite how they first get together. It was also refreshing to see a couple directly address their issues and problems and not take forever to dwell on their conflict and let things fester. A light and fluffy rom-com, The Real Thing has me adding another romance series on to my TBR list. Since the author has stated that there will be books for each of Willow’s siblings, I’m looking forward to the next one which features Bridgette in addition to the ones that will inevitably focus on the pairings of Ben and Aurelia and Piper and Harley as I’m not ready to say goodbye to all these characters for good.

Unconditionally by Erin Lyon

I did enjoy Erin Lyon’s I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions, however the cliff-hanger ending was killer! Especially since I went into the book not realizing it was only the first book of a duology. Unconditionally picks up almost immediately after the events of I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions. Things are finally picking up for Kate, she’s now has a new place and a job that she’s finding she doesn’t hate. I loved how chaos and hilarity follows Kate especially at work where she somehow always gets the most “interesting” cases and clients. Unconditionally was every bit, if not more enjoyable than I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions. And while there are times where the characters, especially Kate come off as superficial, and shallow this just added to the entertainment, and escapism element of the novel. Even with its incredibly satisfying conclusion, I can’t help but want a continuation of the Contract Killers series if only for more of Kate, Adam and their group of friends.

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 Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 23rd 2018
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
If you’ve been to my blog before, you’d probably know that I’m a immense fan of nonfiction that have a travel aspect to them. Shoba Narayan’s latest book, The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure is an interesting twist on the usual “travel” story as it’s partly about her experience living with her family as expats (of sorts) in India. I say “of sorts” because while she and her husband actually were born and raised in India, her two daughters were not. Instead they were born in the USA, and part of the reason that Shoba and her husband decided to move back to India was to give their girls the chance to truly get to know their grandparents and family in India before it was too late.

I started this review talking about the author and her family and their move, but The Milk Lady of Bangalore is at its core truly a book about the history, economy and religion of India. Using the “cow” as a “lens” the author dissects Indian society and culture and the reason why an ordinary (to us Westerners) animal  is still so revered in India. I definitely learned a great deal about what life is like for those actually living in India in addition to the communities that are formed in a country that’s still more collectivist than it is individualistic. Furthermore, it was incredibly fascinating to read about all the beliefs and rituals surrounding cows in India which while rapidly becoming more modern still holds on tight to numerous ideologies and superstitions that are connected to the country’s agricultural history.

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure teaches us readers that we should appreciate what we are fortunate to have. In writing The Milk Lady of Bangalore, Shoba also shows how just by investing in one person you can end up making an enormous difference for several more people. The times are without a doubt changing, but what remains the same is the concept of life and death and if you are able to help just one person and bond with them thereupon making everything all the more sweeter.

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 | Busted by Gina Ciocca

Authour:
Gina Ciocca
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 1st 2018
Publisher:
Sourcebooks Fire

Review:
As mentioned in an earlier post, Gina Ciocca’s Busted was my most anticipated YA title from the Raincoast Teen Reads Preview back in September. Fortunately I was able to snag an ARC of it last year.

The synopsis of Busted somehow had me thinking that it was going to be light, fluffy read where the girl falls for her “mark”. However, in reality it was far from an adorable read though what do you expect when a book is compared to the show, Veronica Mars? Still, there wasn’t much actual investigating either, which made Busted and interesting novel that was somewhere between your lighter contemporary YA fare and a YA thriller.

Personally I felt that overall the novel is well balanced as it was overall a gripping read that was neither too light or too dark. My favourite thing about Busted is actually the characters, and their relationships. And by relationships I don’t necessarily mean the romantic ones which honestly weren’t that well-developed. Instead the friendships and sinking relationships felt more fleshed out. Marisa, herself is definitely a relatable character in that she’s geeky and quirky yet down to earth and doesn’t take any crap from those in her life. I loved that her brother was her occasional albeit reluctant accomplice and that he wasn’t her best friend or her enemy, which I found to be a fairly realistic portrayal of the brother-sister dynamic in real life. I also enjoyed the portrayal of female friendships and how the book showed how people remain friends even if they don’t go to the same school. Also, I admired how the friendships had several layers, and that Charlie and Marisa weren’t just about blindly and superficially supporting everything the other does.

Busted was not as fluffy as I thought it would be, however I still found it mostly enjoyable. Recommended for those who like a quick read with a bit of high school drama, a pinch of darkness, and a dash of romance.

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.

Book Review | Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to Be Solved by Andrea Bain

Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
January 13th 2018
Publisher:
Dundurn
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m not going to lie, I was beyond excited for Andrea Bain’s Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to Be Solved and I was disappointed when the release date was pushed back from its original November release date. Fortunately I was able to acquire an eGalley a few months early for me to read and review on my blog.

I’m familiar with Andrea Bain from her current role as one of the co-hosts of the CBC show The Goods and I was interested in seeing how her amusing on-screen personality translated onto the written page. Additionally, Single Girl Problems promised me a realistic and refreshing new perspective on what it means to be a single woman in the 21st century. After all, there are countless books on how to find and keep the “one” compared to the few books that focus almost exclusively on the single woman.

Right from the introduction Single Girl Problems spoke to me, especially the sections where Bain discusses the stigma associated with being unattached after a certain age while being surrounded by couples. I loved that the main message was for the majority about embracing your singledom. That being said, this is still a relationship book and the underlying message remains that one should be at least open to the idea of having a relationship. While this is something I could not necessarily get on board with, I did appreciate the overall positive and modern approach of Single Girl Problems. Thus, while I would’ve liked for the book to touch a bit more on the concept of just being single and not having to need a relationship it was still a relatable and entertaining read. With a perfect balance of research and Hollywood/pop culture references Single Girl Problems is more than just your run of the mill self-help book.

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 | Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 2nd 2018
Publisher:

HMH Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Back in May during the Raincoast TeenReads Fall 2017 Preview, Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet was the top title on my review book wish list. Even before the preview, when I first found out about this book I knew that it would automatically be on my must read list. After all YA Contemporary fiction is (probably) my favourite genre to read, and several of my favourite authors like Emery Lord, Nicola Yoon and Katharine McGee contributed to this collection of stories about fateful “meetings”.

Typically in short story collections, there’s at least one story that I’m not sold on, however, with Meet Cute I found that even if I did not love the story there was always some aspect of each of the stories that I enjoyed. Some of the more memorable stores were Emery Lord’s Oomph which features a meet cute between two girls in an airport, Jennifer L. Armentrout’s The Dictionary of You and Me and Click by Katherine McGee. However, my favourite of them is Julie Murphy’s Something Real as it was such an adorable and fun take on the  usual reality show competition.

For those of you looking for diversity in characters and stories, Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet is definitely a short story collection that you need to pick up. While all the stories in this collection are technically “love stories” they vary in genre and structure. And it was refreshing to discover that they weren’t all insta-love and happily ever after stories, in fact the majority of them were fairly realistic. If you enjoy adorable stories, then Meet Cute is for you as there is something for everyone as long as that person is someone who can appreciate an adorable first meeting between characters.

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

Winter/Spring 2018 Preview (Raincoast Books)

Back in September, I got the opportunity to attend the Toronto session  at the Bloor/Gladstone Library. Hosted by Vanessa and Laura from Ampersand Inc. as well as Jenn from Lost in a Great Book, the event was a fun, snack-filled chance to watch the live stream with other book lovers of the actual preview event that was taking place in Vancouver, BC.

Since the end of November is much closer to 2018, I thought that now would be the perfect time for me to share with you guys my top four picks from all the titles that were showcased at the preview event.

1. Busted by Gina Ciocca (on sale January 1st, 2018)

This was the very first title that was presented during the preview. Pitched as “Veronica Mars meets 10 Things I Hate About You”, Busted is definitely a must read for contemporary YA fiction lovers. If you love Jenny Han and Morgan Matson then this one is recommended for you! Seeing as I’ve loved several books by both of those authors, I immediately added this one onto my TBR list. This book features spying and a protagonist who finds herself falling for the guy who she shouldn’t as not only is he unavailable he’s also her “mark”. Stay tuned for my review of this book in early 2018!

2. Wires and Nerves, Volume 2 by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin (on sale January 30th, 2018)

Like many book bloggers, I’m a HUGE fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series. The graphic novels are set after the events of the main series, and they follow Iko who’s known as Cinder’s android best friend. The graphic novels find Iko teaming up with some familiar faces and I definitely can’t wait for the second and final volume to come out!

3. Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu (on sale March 6th, 2018)

The past year and a bit I’ve be really getting into feminist and empowering reads like The Mother of All QuestionsWonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History and Kelly Jensen’s Here We AreBrazen is the latest book to follow the trend of female empowering reads. The book features profiles of 29 different women and unlike the books before it, this one is told in graphic novel format! Combining with my love of comics with my growing interest in women’s history and stories, this book has made it high on my list of must reads for 2018!

4. How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation by Maureen Johnson and Tim Federle (on sale May 1st, 2018)

Since this book doesn’t come out until May 2018, there’s not cover for it yet. Anyways lately given all that’s happening in the world right now, it’s no surprise to see an increase in books talking about human rights and activism. How I Resist features essays about activism and hope (which many of us can use during these times) from many well-known YA authors and actors that’s meant to inspire everyone not just the young people it’s targeting!

So what 2018 titles, are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below.

Cover Reveal | Things to Do When It’s Raining by Marissa Stapley

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up and got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay by separate forces. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets that implicate Gabe and Mae’s family reveal a version of the past that will forever change Mae’s future.

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a poignant generational story about family and secrets. With honesty and heart, Marissa Stapley reminds us of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness, and that, ultimately, family is a choice.

***

As a someone who enjoyed Mating for Life, I’m definitely looking forward to Things to Do When It’s Raining. Also how pretty is this cover? This book will be out in stores, February 2018!