Book Review | Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Authour:
Hala Alyan
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Last year, I read a couple of books by Israeli authours so this year I thought I should try getting a different perspective by reading a book written by a Palestinian writer. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses through an excerpt included in Publishers Lunch’s Buzz Books 2017: Spring/Summer.

Salt Houses is a story about the Palestinian diaspora, and rather than focusing on the war and violence in the Middle East, the novel instead chooses to tell the story of a Palestinian family over several generations. What results it’s a glimpse of the various family members, and how they are separated as a result of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict in addition to how each member survives in their own unique way. Unfortunately because of the way the story is told, we do not get a full glimpse into the majority of the characters and their development. Still, enough detail and information have provided over the various years that one can easily piece together the significant events.

Hala Alyan who is also a performer in addition to being a clinical psychologist and a writer brings many of her talents to her début novel, making Salt Houses an enchantingly beautiful and poetic novel that takes its readers on a difficult but unforgettable journey. Even now as I write this review days after I’ve finished the novel, the character of Alia and the haunting imagery of the last scene in Salt Houses still remains clear in my mind. Highly recommended if you love reading culturally, rich and diverse family sagas.

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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Midweek Mini Reviews #7

One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis

I’ve been a fan of Terry Fallis’ books since I’ve read Up and Down so I was excited for this one especially as it features twins! (For those of you who don’t know the author is also a twin in real life) Anyways, One Brother Shy was a well written and heartwarming story about family and moving on from your past. As with his earlier novels, Fallis’ trademark humour once again is evident within the pages of One Brother Shy in addition to his talent for writing scenes that are funny but also shockingly dark like the “Gabriel” incident in this book. I loved that in addition to family One Brother Shy touched on other topics like bullying, trauma, the effects that viral videos have on their victims. And despite liking the where the book Alex leaves at, I do wish we got to spend more time with Alex, Matt and the rest of their family. One Brother Shy is a great vacation read that’s not too light and not too dark, and bonus points for it being Canadian of course. Also while the book is good, I’d highly recommend you check out the podcast of One Brother Shy. Read by the author himself, you definitely feel more connected to the story, the world and Alex when you listen to the podcast.

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini

Having found, Katie Heaney’s earlier books fairly enjoyable I was really looking forward to her newest book, Public Relations which she co-wrote with her friend, Arianna Rebolini. I love a fun, light romantic comedy, especially for the summer and I was eager to dip into this tale of a faux showmances.

Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, although I did appreciate how the novel chooses to focus on Rose’s job in PR giving us an insider look at what goes on behind the scenes of a public relations firm. And I can definitely relate to her working an entry-level job and trying to work her way up the ladder. That being said, however, the characters and the majority of their relationships were often frustrating at times. Furthermore, I couldn’t stand the character of Archie Fox, who was supposed to be the intended love interest, as he came off as pretty spoiled and condescending and I couldn’t really see his appeal.

So while I didn’t hate Public Relations, I will admit it just wasn’t for me. I do think that Public Relations is a book that may appeal to the millennial crowd and someone who is looking for a read that’s light on romance and heavier on celebrity culture and PR.

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 | Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Authour:
Kevin Kwan
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 23rd 2017
Publisher:
Doubleday
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Rich People Problems has been my most anticipated title ever since it was announced that there would be a third book in the Crazy Rich Asians series. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and the beloved characters for the series finale!

After having two books focus on Rachel, the third book focuses on Nicholas and his “crazy rich” family. Nick’s grandmother and the family’s matriarch, Su Yi is on her death-bed which means everybody is gathered at Tyersall Park. One of my favourite aspects about Rich People Problems other than the Astrid and Charlie relationship was the relationship between Nick and his Ah Ma (grandmother) who have been estranged for five years since Nick decided to marry Rachel. I liked that we become more acquainted with her past. I also wouldn’t object to an entire book dedicated to Su Yi’s life when she was younger as I felt that we only got snippets of her past which were discovered by Nick off-screen.

For the majority of Rich People Problems, I found the book to be well written and well-paced. However, there were several moments that occurred off-screen that I wish we could have seen, such as the development of some of the later romantic relationships in addition to Nick learning more about his Ah Ma’s past and finally Nick’s campaigning attempts and Rachel’s gathering of the “dream team” and fending off Nick’s crazy aunts. Though I supposed it was necessary for all these events to happen “off-screen” as there just wouldn’t be enough time or room for it all in one book.

Those who enjoyed the other books in the Crazy Rich Asians series will definitely enjoy Rich People Problems. It’s no simple task to be able to write a satisfying conclusion to a beloved series, but Kevin Kwan manages to do just that. Sure there are still a few minor questions that are left unanswered, nevertheless I remain more than satisfied with Rich People Problems being the last book in the series. That being said, however I am eagerly anticipating the movie release and wouldn’t object to a prequel featuring Su Yi and I know I’m not the only one, right?

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 | When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

dimAuthour:
Sandhya Menon
Format:
ARC, 380 pages
Publication date:
May 30th 2017
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
When Dimple Met Rishi is a novel that at least in the circles that I run it, has received a bit of hype. And while I was wary at first since it was pitched as an “arranged marriage” romantic comedy, I gave in to since I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Bollywood films.

After finishing the book, which I read way before its release ( I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy) I can say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that When Dimple Met Rishi struck just the right balance between its romantic comedy plot and its cultural aspects. I adored both Dimple and Rishi although I connected more with Dimple her wish to be independent and not wanting to sacrifice her dreams. This is something countless young women can relate to as often we feel that we are “forced” to choose between having a career and having a family.

While it is without a doubt that When Dimple Met Rishi is a romantic comedy, it was refreshing to have a story that was more than just a love story. Both Dimple and Rishi’s have a complex relationship with their family, who regardless of whether they’d admit it or not do have a major impact on their lives . Additionally, I enjoyed the friendship that develops between Dimple and with her roommate, Celia as it was authentic in that it had its imperfections along with its perfections.

When Dimple Met Rishi is undeniably THE YA romance novel that you should pick up whether you are in search of more diversity within the romantic comedy genre (can it be a movie already?) or you just want a book with a sweet love story that will charm you with its genuine characters and relationships.

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 Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson

Authour:
Hope Nicholson
Format:
E-Galley
Publication date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“A woman’s place is saving the universe.”

For as long as I can remember I have always loved reading comics and graphic novels and manga. And I love discovering new titles and characters in those mediums which is why I felt that The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History would be an enjoyable read for me.

Unlike the majority of other books about the comic book medium, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen focuses exclusively on female characters, especially those that have been forgotten over time. Divided into decades, the book serves as a great introduction to comics for those new to the medium while at the same time introducing new characters and stories to those who are already familiar with the genre. In particular, I loved that for each profile, there is a section that tells you where to go to read more about the character you just learnt about.

Overall, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen was an enjoyable read. The book is written in a way that makes it accessible to all, and the layout of the book makes it easier to navigate and find what you’re looking for. It also makes readers stop and think about how comic books and, in particular female comic book characters have evolved over time and how the representation of females in comic book continues to change. This is one of those books that I would love a follow-up to, as I feel that there are so many more characters that were left out of this one and I would also love to discover even more female comic book characters and stories to read. A must read for all comic book fans and even those who are looking to dip their toes into this medium.

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 Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo

theaAuthour:
Karole Cozzo
Format:
E-Galley
Publication date:
May 16th 2017
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
It’s not uncommon for countless little girls (and even some little boys) to have a desire to dress up as princesses and play make-believe. However there are a few that take it a step further and actually become a beloved character at a theme park. This is the backdrop for Karole Cozzo’s latest novel, The Truth about Happily Ever After, which follows Alyssa whose summer job has her dressing up as a Cinderella at a theme park.

The Truth about Happily Ever After was actually one of the two most anticipated reads from Raincoast Books (they distribute Macmillan titles in Canada) and as soon as the title appear on Netgalley, I immediately sent in my request. And fortunately, it did not disappoint!

Turning the typical “princess”/”Cinderella” story kind of on its head, I liked how realistic the relationships and friendships were. Even after a relationship breakdown, it was refreshing how no one was painted as a one-dimensional “villain”. Sure, a couple of the characters could have handled a certain situation better, however, they’re only human and still young. I also felt that Alyssa’s feelings were warranted. Basically, if you are a romantic who loves an adorable, and sweet romantic comedy or are a fan of Disney and/or Disney princesses, you will love The Truth about Happily Ever After. I know I did, as it was kind of exciting to glimpse behind the scenes at what it is like to work at an amusement park as one of the “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.

[Blog Tour] Book Review | The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

 

Being a huge Emery Lord fan, I am thrilled to be part of the Canadian blog tour for Emery Lord’s latest book, The Names They Gave Us which is now out in stores.

To help celebrate its releases and as a part of the tour each of us bloggers on the Canadian blog tour got to ask Emery a question. So be sure to stop by the other blogs on the blog tour to see what everyone asked her and to see her answers.

My question for Emery was …

Your books always make me think of summer. Since this one takes place at a summer camp, what books are on your summer camp reading list?

Below is her answer …

“There’s a Fourth of July scene in the book that came to me while listening to Ryan Bingham’s  SUNRISE. But my most summer of all records is Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. All 12 songs, start to finish. It feels like everything summer is, full of longing and possibility and moments of glory.”

I don’t know about you guys, but those songs definitely give me the summer feels.

*********************************************************************

Authour:names
Emery Lord
Format:
ARC, 384 pages
Publication date:
May 16th 2017
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
So basically, The Names They Gave Us pretty much confirms that I’ll read and enjoy anything that Emery Lord writes. Just like with her previous book, I also went back and forth on whatever or not I’d read this one as I tend to stay away from any book with religious themes. However, I love the way it was portrayed in this book as it was done in a respectful, non-judgemental and not preachy manner.

The Names They Gave Us follows Lucy Hansson, whose summer plans fall apart when she learns that her mother’s cancer is back. On top of that, her boyfriend has decided that they need a “pause” and her parents, her making her attend what she refers to as “the hippie camp” instead of their bible camp. These events cause her to get out of her comfort zone and eventually find her own “people”.

As with Emery Lord’s other novels, the prose is gorgeous and Emery Lord truly has a talent for setting the scene and the showcasing emotion in her characters. And of course true to form, the friendships that she writes are just perfect (in particular the friendship that forms between Anna and Lucy), it kind of made me feel like I missed out on something special, having never been to an overnight summer camp. I also felt that Lucy came off as an authentic person as she had her flaws and was incredibly relatable.

While not a perfect novel (there were some parts where the pacing seemed off and the ending felt slightly abrupt, especially after the major reveal), The Names They Gave Us is lively and powerful coming of age story about love, loss, family, friendship and the magic of summer. A must read for fans of contemporary YA fiction, those who can’t wait for summer to get here and even for those who are nostalgic about their summer camp days.

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 

gl

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 | Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes

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? Victoria aka “Plum” Sykes is a fashion-writer, and socialite in addition to being a novelist. Though, not her first novel Party Girls Die in Pearls is the first book in her new Oxford Girl Mysteries series. She currently resides with her family in the English countryside. Sykes is also a Worcester College, Oxford alumni.

What is it about? Ursula Flowerbutton, a country girl is excited to start her first year at Oxford University. She is looking forward to joining the famous student newspaper Cherwell and perhaps even attending a ball or two? What she wasn’t expecting was to be embroiled in a major murder investigation at her new university which is unfortunately what happens when the school’s “IT” girl, India Brattenbury is found dead, and Ursula is the first to find her. As a result, Ursula is assigned the murder as her first story for the Cherwell however, as she gets deeper into her investigations into India’s death she may also find that she too could be in danger…

Where does it take place? Oxford University during the 1980s.

Why did I like it?If you are looking for a fun, light-hearted mystery look no further than Plum Sykes’ Party Girls Die in Pearls. Pitched as “Clueless meets Agatha Christie”, this book is pure escapism at its best. I loved the English university setting and as the main characters are just “Freshers” aka freshman in university, Party Girls Die in Pearls is definitely a novel that has crossover appeal to the YA audience in addition to all (cozy) mystery lovers.

In addition to being a murder mystery, Party Girls Die in Pearls is filled with several 80s cultural references which in addition to the all the delicious drama happening among the privileged set of students at Oxford made the book all the more delightful.

Furthermore, I adored the friendship between the protagonist Ursula Flowerbutton and her new friend, Nancy Feingold for the reason that while the two girls couldn’t be any more different, they form a charming and fun mystery solving duo when they’re together.

Finally I appreciated the fact that Ursula didn’t become too romantically involved with any of the guys she meets, especially the one who could have been the most obvious suitor as none of the guys were actually good enough for her in my opinion. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the Oxford Girl Mysteries series and continuing the adventure with both Ursula and Nancy.

When did it come out? May 9, 2017

Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

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

May Blog Schedule

April was a busy month for me personally. And after all the chaos, I’m glad that I’ll be finally able to travel in a few days. And while it may just be me running away for a bit, I could really use the break from all the craziness that’s been happening in my life. Plus I could really use a change.

Interestingly enough the trip itself has brought on some interesting situations that will have to be dealt with once I arrive in the country that I’m travelling to. But here’s to hoping that there are no major mishaps and/or drama and that my trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Anyways I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but if you’re still reading and following my blog, I just want to take this time to say thank you. This month I’m back to posting (almost) twice a week, and I’m hoping to keep it up for next month too (fingers crossed).

***

May 8 – Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes
May 10 – Mid-Week Mini Reviews #5
May 16 – The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
May 17 – Waiting on Wednesday #24
May 30 – The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo
May 31– The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson

Midweek Mini Reviews #4 (Travel Edition)

  

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter

allover

Down to earth and written in an easy to relate manner like Geraldine DeRuiter‘s blog The Everywhereist, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft isn’t your typical travel memoir. While travel is a major theme, the book is more about the role that travel has played in the DeRuiter‘s life and not a tell all about the various travel adventures she’s had one her own and with her husband. This makes the book more of a memoir than a travelogue.

With a gift for telling stories of simple, albeit messy life moments DeRuiter manages to turn these moments into something remarkable leaving a poignant message for the reader. In particular, I loved the chapter where she describes how she slowly “fall in love” with the city of Ashland, Oregon comparing it to how she fell for her husband. And for all those who are not “pros” at travelling, you’ll definitely appreciate the chapter where she comes to the conclusion that getting lost isn’t the end of the world, and that you may not be an expert on travelling but at least you are the “expert” on your own travel experiences which can be just as valuable.

A sweet, comforting, and quick read I love how the common thread among all chapters in Geraldine DeRuiter‘s All Over the Place is that it forms one big love letter to her husband to whom the book is dedicated to.

Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke: Completely Revised and Updated by Off Track Planet

offtrack

I love travelling and have a serious case of wanderlust. And while I have been fortunate enough to have visited a handful of countries it’s definitely not enough! This year I’m hoping to get the opportunity to solo travel to a place that I’ve been dying to go to since I was little. Anyways to prep for my second (potential) solo trip I’ve decided to read more travel guides starting with Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke: Completely Revised and Updated.

With it’s aesthetically pleasing layouts and photographs Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke definitely caters to who its intended audience. The photos and colourful fonts and titles definitely scream “fun”. However, I felt that there was a great deal of information that wasn’t relevant to me as I’m not an American nor am I someone who has never travelled before. Still there was some useful information in the planning and research section of the book that I will definitely be taking advantage of.

Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke is a well-organized guide for those less “seasoned”/”experienced” travellers that provides a general overview making it a good starting point for those who want to travel but aren’t sure how to go about it or even where to travel to.

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

Waiting on Wednesday #22 | Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan

wed Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights upcoming titles that we’re looking forward to/dying to read. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

rich
Synopsis:
When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside–but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park–a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore–the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife–a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood, Kevin Kwan’s gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets and rich people problems of Asia’s most privileged families.

When I first heard about this book, I knew I needed it right

If you know me even a little bit, you will know that I am OBSESSED with Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series. I always try to stay on top of the latest news when it comes to the book series and the movie which is currently in casting. I’m also responsible for convincing most of my blogger friends (and a couple of non book blogger ones as well) to pick up this series.

The synopsis of the last book in this series promises a ton of juicy drama and I’m definitely looking forward to the face-off between Kitty and Colette! Rich People Problems is without a doubt my most anticipated 2017 release. Here’s to hoping that it proves to be a satisfying conclusion to what has been one of my favourite series ever! (I’m also hoping the author visits Toronto again so I’ll be able to get my copy of the book signed)

What books are you “waiting” on this week?