Words of Asia | The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

WOA

For a listing to the links for all the other review posts for the Words of Asia blog event click here.

About the Authour:
Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. She currently lives in the States with her husband and their three children as well as their African Grey parrot. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was her debut novel, and her second novel, When the Moon Is Low is out late this year.

Pearl-That-Broke-Its-Shell

Where Does it Take Place?
Set in Kabul, readers get to travel back to some of the smaller rural villages as both women move around for different reasons. This also gives readers great insight into how life is vastly different for the women living in the big cities in Afghanistan compared with the women who live in rural villages, where it’s harder to monitor and regulate how things work and how women are treated.

What’s it About:
The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell is a story about two women from different generations who lives in Afghanistan. Shekiba who disguises herself as a boy once her parents and brothers pass away in order to protect herself from her father’s very traditional, and disapproving family. She is also Rahima’s great, great grandmother. In present day, we meet Rahima who is one of many girls in her family. As her family has no sons, and dad is sick and can’t be man of the house, her aunt comes up with the idea to disguise herself as a boy by telling Rahima the story of her great aunt, Shekiba.

My Thoughts:
I love reading about the experiences of women in South Asian countries, and when I heard about The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi I just knew that I had to read it. And I’m glad that I got the opportunity to read and review this important book on my blog.

While many of us may be somewhat aware of situation and often the mistreatment for many girls in Afghanistan, I wonder if many people also knew of the concept of bacha posh? I for one did not know about it. Bacha posh, is basically when young girls who haven’t reached puberty yet are allowed to dress up as boys which allows them a great deal of freedom that isn’t normally afforded to them as girls. I thought this was an interesting concept, and it was even more fascinating seeing two women taking part in bacha posh and how their experiences differed as they did it during different times and for different reasons.

Of the two women in the book, I found that Shekiba’s journey fascinated me more. I felt more invested in her character as she gets to experience many different things that were uncommon for women during her time. Though it’s unfortunate as to what happens to her, I think it illustrates the harsh reality for women during her time. So while I disagreed with her choice, and found it difficult to understand how she thought that would be the solution I kind of get her desire for more freedom. On the other hand, I was less interested in Rahima’s journey though she does go through her own set of hardships and tragedy. Nevertheless, I adored her relationship with with her Aunt Shaima. Shaima is the one who tells Rahima the story of her Great Aunt Shekiba and thus forms a connection between the two women. The Pearl that Broke Its Shell though is filled with much obstacles and hardships for both the women it’s about, is ultimately an uplifting story about earning your happy ending.

You’ll like this book, if you love:
Historical and literary fiction about the experiences of women living in countries where there is great inequality and they are viewed as “less than” men. Also if you love inspiring stories about women who find strength to live their restricted lives as much on their own terms as possible in the times and country they were born into.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Nevertheless, 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 One & Only by Emily Giffin

Authour:theone
Emily Giffin
Format:
Hardcover, 400 pages
Publication date:
May 20th 2014
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“Then again, I know it’s not the win itself, but everything that went into the victory.” (p. 413)

Emily Giffin is such an amazing authour and I have always loved her books for the reason that the characters are usually incredibly relatable. And I also just love reading her stories and seeing how they unfold is she is a gifted storyteller when it comes to women and relationships. Giffin’s latest book, The One & Only is about Shea Rigsby, a thirty something woman who thinks she has her life all figured out until a tragedy close to her makes her realizes that she doesn’t. The rest of the book is about her journey of finding out what she truly wants in life.

One of the things that I found was extremely different in The One & Only versus Giffin’s previous novels, is how there is a lot of football talk in the book given the setting of the book it made sense but for someone who isn’t incredibly into football or any sports for that matter, it was difficult to immerse myself in that aspect of the story at times.

While overall I liked the writing style and the story, I had a few issues with the book. The first one is a bit of a nitpick, but I found it annoying how Coach Clive Carr was always be referred to in the book as “coach”, in fact there were times I forgot his name was actually Clive. And while I get that being a football “coach” is a major part of his identity, I wish Giffin used his name more in the book. On the other hand, while I found it weird that Coach Carr called Shea “girl”, it did not annoy me as much as the whole “coach” thing. Secondly the thing that I had a bigger issue with was the romantic that was the endgame. Without giving away too much (I hope), I found that relationship to have a major power imbalance which made me feel a little weirded out, especially as I was trying to imagine how I would react if one of my friends had a romantic relationship like the one that Shea ends up in.

In the end however, I think there is a one important message that this book gives to readers, which is if there is something you want, then you should strive for it no matter what anyone says, because if you try and succeed then perhaps its meant to be. And if you try and fail then perhaps it was not meant to be. All in all, The One & Only was a decent read that touches upon some extremely serious topics. And while I still sort of like her other books a bit more, I would recommend The One & Only to those who are diehard Emily Giffin fans or diehard football fans or both.

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 | Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Authour:sec
Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 248 pages
Publication date:
May 13th 2014
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

I love a good classic or fairytale retelling like the Lunar Chronicle series by Marissa Meyers which I adore or Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die so I was excited to see Alyssa B. Sheinmel’s take on the classic children’s novel, Peter Pan. Unfortunately, this modern and “beachy” retelling of Peter Pan kind of fell flat for me.

First of all, for a novel that is short in length, there was not much happening in the first 60 pages or so. The majority of it was Wendy’s inner dialogue since the story is told from a first person narrator, so while on the plus side, we get to know Wendy and her family’s past extremely well it also means that the plot moves quite slowly. In addition, I had a difficult time reading about how Wendy’s family and friends were so quick to dismiss her as crazy and as an addict. As the events of the book were real and not some hallucination on Wendy’s I myself getting rather upset at the extreme measures her parents took with her which included sending her to a center where she was tied up and told repeatedly that she was psychotic. Yes, Wendy is troubled and grieving, but I feel that what she needed more was some patience and understanding from her parents and friends. And this is what she got from both her potential love interests, Pete and Jas which is why she fell for them and ended up choosing the guy she chooses. In the end the synopsis was also a bit misleading as the romance aspect while present was not as predominant as you may think since the focus was on Wendy and her search for her brothers.

Anyways, this is just my experience but you should try it for yourself if you’re curious, maybe borrow it from the library? After all, just because I didn’t enjoy Second Star doesn’t mean you won’t like it either

If you like this book, you’ll love: On the Fence by Kasie West

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 | Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Authour:you've gone
Morgan Matson
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 448 pages
Publication date:
May 6th 2014
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
To be honest, I wasn’t going to pick up this book to read, but after hearing so several of my fellow book bloggers enjoy it I just had to check it out. Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone is at its heart a story about female friendship which is what I loved about it. I loved the friendship between Sloane and Emily because Sloane truly helped Emily to come out of her shell. As well their friendship reminded me of the relationship between my best friend in my first year of college and me. Like Sloane, my friend ended up disappearing halfway through the year and in the end I never heard from her again. I should mention that although Sloane has disappeared in the present story she does make a lot of appearances via flashbacks which always make sense when they occurred were always carried out in a smooth and clearly stated manner. It is through these flashbacks that we get a better understanding of their friendship and why it’s so important for Emily to find out where Sloane went.

Another aspect in Since You’ve Been Gone I adored was the significance of lists in the story. Firstly it is the list that Sloane leaves behind for Emily that spurs her to embark on a quest to complete all the items on the list in hopes that by doing so she will find Sloane again. This leads Emily to have numerous adventures, while discovering who she is outside of Sloane. The other thing is the numerous playlists throughout the book that Emily uses for when she goes running in addition to the playlists that her love interest, Frank listens to. I loved all the playlists spread throughout the book and I could not resist looking up some of the songs to compile into my own playlist to listen to as I read this book.

While there is a bit of romance in the book, it is more of a slow burning one as the love interest, Frank has a girlfriend at the start of the novel. This actually leads to the next point I want to make which was the only thing that I hated about this book was how quickly all of Emily’s new “friends” dropped her after she confessed to doing a certain thing. This frustrated me because she was so supportive of all the things they did, but when she made one mistake they just ditched her. Sadly this is left unresolved by the end of the book.

Still in spite of my one issue with the story I did enjoy this book, as the story of Sloane and Emily’s friendship truly resonated with me. Overall Since You’ve Been Gone was an enjoyable book, perfect for light summer reading.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

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

[Blog Tour] Book Review |The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

ArtOfLainey_blogtour

Authour:Lainey
Paula Stokes
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 378 pages
Publication date:
May 20th 2014
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’ve really been on a contemporary young adult fiction kick lately, so I was pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Paula Stokes’ The Art of Lainey. Before I even picked up this book though I stumbled upon a guest post the authour wrote featuring an interview with the protagonist, Lainey and her best friend Bianca. It was this post that made me what to start reading the book months before the actual blog tour. I just loved the friendship that Lainey and Bianca have and this was evident in the guest post as well as throughout the novel. They were always there for each other when one needed the other and I liked that they could joke around with each other so easily.

Lainey was an interesting character. Normally I dislike any character that tends to define themselves mainly through the people they are dating but somehow the authour pulls it off and makes me root for Lainey. I think it’s probably because she’s a tomboy and kind of loud which makes her a little more relatable to me. In addition she showed a lot of maturity as the book progressed as she began to differentiate between those who truly loved and supported her and those who cared only about their own interests.

I also adore the relationship between Micah and Lainey, the romance was part cute and some part hot, and the fact that they didn’t seem like a perfect fit initially made it all the more adorable when they started to fall for each other. The Art of Lainey was an enjoyable contemporary YA novel with very real characters and pretty realistic portrayals of relationships and friendships. It had a great story, as well as good writing and characters, and I loved the fact that each chapter started off with a quote from The Book of War, an ancient Chinese war manual and the book from where the title of this book was loosely based off of.

If you like this book, you’ll love: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

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 | No Relation by Terry Fallis

Authour:norelate
Terry Fallis
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 395 pages
Publication date:
May 20th 2014
Publisher:
Douglas Gibson Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
So who here has a weird name? Who here shares a name with a famous person? And who here has both? As in an odd name that is also the name of a well–known celebrity? I’m lucky that I have a fairly normal name though the same can’t be said for the protagonist in Terry Fallis’ latest novel, No Relation and many of the characters he encounters.

Earnest Hemmingway aka “Hem” whose name sounds a lot like a certain famous American writer, is a copywriter and aspiring novelist who recently has had a string of bad luck in his life on top of his chronic writers’ block. Unemployed and suddenly single, he finds he has a lot of free time and uses it to form a “support group” of sorts called “NameFame” for people like him meaning people who share a name with a famous person. As a result the reader gets introduced to many interesting and hilarious characters such as a hot tempered Indian man named Mahatma Gandhi who hands out butterscotch candy when apologizing for his sudden outbursts and Diana Ross, a woman who works for the NYPD, and who has an amazing voice but can only sing when drunk because she gets severe stage fright otherwise. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I loved this cast of well written, wacky supporting characters as the whole group is like a group of true companions who are always true for one another when they need it like when a bunch of members get together to devise the “Ernest Hemingway Exorcism World Tour” plan to help Hem get over his writer’s block. I fell in love with almost all the characters in the NameFame group and couldn’t help but root for them throughout the book.

Another thing I loved about this book was how it portrays family relationships as both complicated but importance influences in our lives. Hem is the heir to a major underwear company although he doesn’t want to take over as CEO. On the other hand his younger sister wants the job and seems like she’d be the best candidate for the job but because she isn’t the first born son her father refuses to acknowledge her as the best candidate to take over the family company. This is a major conflict in the book and I kind of liked how it played out in the end as the entire Hemmingway family realizes they need to do a better job of communicating with each other.

Terry Fallis does a good job of highlighting the challenges of sharing a moniker with a famous player. He makes you feel sorry for some of the characters at times but he also doesn’t take things to seriously and thus the readers can see that despite a few extreme situations the characters themselves aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves because of their names. The only thing I wasn’t really a fan of was how it kind of seemed like all the characters in the NameFame group were paired off by the end which felt a little bit unrealistic and convenient though I get that it plays into the idea of tying up all loose ends by the book’s conclusion.

This was an amazing book that I adored because it had me chuckling throughout. I would recommend No Relation to anyone looking for a fun Canadian book to read.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Up and Down by Terry Fallis

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

Early Book Review | Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

Authour:cutteeth
Julia Fierro
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 319 pages
Publication date:
May 13th 2014
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
A group of parents are invited by one of their “friends” to spend the weekend at her parents’ beach house. This is how Julia Fierro’s Cutting Teeth begins as Nicole; an overly anxious mother invites the other members of the play group she is a part of to spend some time away from their regular lives. Nicole isn’t the only one with issues as we discover as each of the other member of the play group is introduced including a Tibetan nanny named Tenzin who has a rather unique and unusual view of the parents.

This book definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. Al though it has interesting takes on the different kinds of families and children that come from them in addition to the fact that it wasn’t afraid to expose the hard realities and real anxieties of modern parenting I had a difficult time getting into this book. I think this is probably because I will never be a parent so I couldn’t relate to some of the things the parents did, and instead it just made them less tolerable for me. However unlikable an d unbearable I found the characters, I did appreciate seeing chapters from their perspectives as it gave me more insight into why they are the kind of person and parent that they are. Though it in no way redeems them from any of the horrible things they do, it does make them more “human” in my eyes.

While Cutting Teeth is a fictional story, I think it does an incredible job of tackling aspects of parenthood that people would rather not talk about or may not consider like the dynamics in play groups which are like high school cliques. It gives one kind of behind the scenes look at parenting and how some parents may view their kids. I think the ending of the book has an important message in that sometimes you just have to move on from big, dramatic events mostly because you have no choice but sometimes because its what’s best for everyone.

If you like this book, you’ll love: We Are Water by Wally Lamb

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

Early Book Review | Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Authour:brokenhearts
Katie Finn
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 339 pages
Publication date:
May 13th 2014
Publisher:
Feiwel and Friends
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
A summer away in the Hamptons living in a huge house which you mostly have to yourself and living near a very cute boy, sounds perfect right? That’s what Gemma thinks until things go very wrong. It all starts with a case of mistaken identity, upon her arrival Gemma is mistaken for someone else and she just goes with it? Why you may ask? Well because she hopes to use the opportunity to atone for some horrible things she did as a kid to her former best friend, Hallie.

I found the extent that Gemma went to hide her true identify to be very over the top at times and always hilarious. And I found her attempts to make things right with Hallie pretty desperate as Hallie doesn’t seem to be responding in kind. I think because the entire book is narrated by Gemma we can sympathize with her more than Hallie since I actually felt bad for Gemma throughout the entire book. She isn’t a bad person and she has grown up from the kid she was before. Unfortunately she is still carrying all this guilt from something that happened when she was just a scared, little kid and now it seems like she’s still paying for it. Though I didn’t really like Hallie, I did enjoy the developing romance between her brother Josh and Gemma. It was super sweet and cute for a summer romance. I also liked Gemma’s friendship with Sophie, Sophie was such an amazing friend to Gemma and I loved how understanding she was of everything after Gemma confesses to her.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend is not your typical light and fluffy contemporary read. It’s more like a contemporary read with a bit of a somewhat sinister lining throughout the book as it’s quite obvious who is behind everything bad that happens to Gemma in this book. Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend was an okay start to the trilogy but I am more excited for the next book because based on the title, I think it will be extremely interesting to see how Gemma gets her revenge. I’m hoping it’s going to be good as I’m definitely rooting for her.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Love Struck by Chantel Guertin


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