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.

 

Book Review | This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack


Authour:

Erin Chack
Format:
ARC, 229 pages
Publication date:
April 25th 2017
Publisher:
Razorbill
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
2017 seems to be the year of new books from the writers and editors of major social media websites similar to Popsugar, Elite Daily and of course Buzzfeed. This is Really Happening follows this pattern, as it is a collection of personal essays and stories from Erin Chack who is a senior writer at Buzzfeed.

This is Really Happening is another title that I read an excerpt of in 2016, and after reading that preview I knew I needed to read the rest! And fortunately for me, I was able to snag an ARC of it. The book itself truly does read as if you were having a conversation and catching up with an old friend. Erin Chack’s writing is straight forward, relatable, and poignant with just the right amount of humour to save things from getting too heavy and dark. This is especially true as she dives right into the serious topics and discusses her diagnosis with cancer and the reality of learning that you have cancer from the start.

Some of my favourite essays in this book were, “Don’t Read the Comments” about what it’s truly like to have writing as your day job while giving us a glimpse at the behind the scenes at Buzzfeed and what happens when a post you write goes viral. I also enjoyed “Find your Carrot” where Erin shares in an honest and frank manner what’s it actually like to date a person for over a decade and how you grow and change together through the different personas you both inhabit through the years.

Compared to the majority of other memoirs from hilarious women, This is Really Happening is definitely one that would appeal more to the YA audience. However even if YA isn’t quite your jam, it is still worth it to pick up This is Really Happening as it’s an unflinchingly honest, quick and fairly lighthearted read into what life can be like for a millennial which in itself is quite entertaining.

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 | How to Make a French Family: A Memoir of Love, Food, and Faux Pas by Samantha Verant

frenchfamAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
e-Galley
Publication date:
April 1st 2017
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What happens after you reunite with the Frenchman you fell in love with 20 years ago, and the two of you marry in a romantic, fairy tale California wedding? In Samantha Vérant’s How to Make a French Family we learn what happens after she marries the love of her life and moves to southwestern France to live with him and his two young children.

What I love with regards to How to Make a French Family is that Vérant doesn’t sugarcoat things concerning the various difficulties she has initially with adjusting to life in a foreign country in addition to her role as a step-mother. She faces resistance, isolation loneliness and the occasional humiliation (due to the odd unintentional language faux pas) and yet gradually she learns to adjust to her new life in France all while making a couple of new friends too. Through it all, Vérant draws you into her world with her gorgeous prose and teleports you along her in moments of both sadness and joy.

What’s also interesting in this book is that the author tells us the story of how her first memoir, Seven Letters from Paris came to be. For those who are interested in publishing, it’s an interesting glimpse at one way of how a book can come about. And for those of you who haven’t read Seven Letters from Paris I highly recommend that you pick it up. In fact, before starting How to Make a French Family I picked up Seven Letters from Paris again and it remained just as excellent of a read as I remember.

In Seven Letters from Paris, my favourite parts were of Samantha and Jean-Luc interacting with each other and rekindling their romance from when they were young. However, in How to Make a French Family I adored reading the moments where she interact with her stepchildren and how she forms a bond with them. This is especially heartwarming given the children’s volatile and mistrustful relationship with their last stepmother.

As a person who loves travel and food, this book was a pleasure to read. Food plays a major role in How to Make a French Family and Vérant provides readers with recipes of dishes that she or her family members/friends have made that were mentioned in the book. Once again, Vérant has written another gem that has you cheering her on as she tackles her challenge of “how to make a French family”.

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 #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.

Book Review | Traveling with Ghosts by Shannon Leone Fowler


travelghostsAuthour:

Shannon Leone Fowler
Format:
ARC, 294 pages
Publication date:
February 21st 2017
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Both the authour, and the (human) love of her life, Sean were only in their twenties when Sean was stung by a jellyfish in Thailand and died almost instantaneously. What follows is the authour’s journey of learning to live with this tremendous personal loss. I can’t begin to imagine the amount of grief, she must have felt losing the (second) love of her life due to the first love of her life, the sea.

I love an excellent travel memoir, and in Travelling with Ghosts, the authour takes us back to the times and places she travelled to with her fiancé. This done both through flashbacks to when Sean was alive in addition to descriptions of her return to these countries, this time on her own. I particularly enjoyed the section where she goes to Israel to visit the two Israeli girls who stayed with her when Sean died in Thailand. It was fascinating to read how different the country was back when the authour visited Israel compared to when I went there eight years later.

However, Travelling with Ghosts is more than just a beautiful travelogue, it is also a story about loss, grief, and one woman’s journey that follows. Unlike the majority of memoirs, nothing is sugar-coated here. As is the case in real life occasionally there are no silver linings, but regardless, we must find a way to manage and continue on with our lives despite being forever changed.

If you are someone who enjoys reading poignant memoirs that are somewhat longer than you should consider picking up Travelling with Ghosts. While I felt that some sections dragged on for too long, Travelling with Ghosts was overall a decent read that encourages people to be courageous and not be afraid to venture on their own.

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 Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra

elepAuthour:
Rajiv Surendra
Format:
Hardcover, 288 pages
Publication date:
November 22nd 2016
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

” I had no choice here. This was the clarity I needed–Pi was everything to me, and here on out, it was all or nothing.” p. 166

As kids we are taught that if you work hard, you will succeed. No one (or rather few people) ever talk about failing to realize their dream or major goal. Sure, it’s easy to tell a person to just pick themselves up after failing, and to just shake it off the feelings of hurt and disappointment to move forward, however that is something that is without a doubt easier said than done.

Thus I was enticed enough to pick up Rajiv Surendra’s The Elephants in My Backyard. The premise of The Elephants in My Backyard follows Rajiv as he goes on this journey to obtain is dream acting role, “Pi” from Yann Martel’s renowned novel, Life of Pi. Non-spoiler alert, but despite the lengths Rajiv goes through to be the best possible “Pi”, he doesn’t land the role of “Pi”. In the end, while he doesn’t obtain his dream role, he does end up making several new friends throughout his journey which furthermore results in him becoming acquainted with himself and accepting who he is as a person.

Rajiv’s passion for Life of Pi, and in particular the character of “Pi” truly shines through his writing, which made you root for him even more despite knowing the outcome. And while a few of the sections felt as if they went on forever and it took time for me to immerse myself into the story. However, there were certain sections that had me completely engrossed. Among them were the one where he shares his experience of learning how to swim in addition to the chapter detailing his dysfunctional family life and how it affected his personal life.

Part memoir, part travelogue The Elephants in My Backyard also has several gorgeous hand drawn illustrations done by the authour. This is one story that is both powerful and emotional and will resonate with those of us who have put our all into something only to be passed over for it in the end.

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 #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 | I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell

tellyouAuthour:
Chloe Caldwell
Format:
Trade Paperback, 170 pages
Publication date:
October 4th 2016
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I found out about Chloe Caldwell’s second collection of essays, “I’ll Tell You in Person” through an article that was shared on Twitter. It spoke of the collection of essays telling the experiences of a young woman caught between the ages of 20 and 30 which made me feel that perhaps I could relate to what she had to say. Additionally, as I was in the midst of trying to write my own personal essays I felt that it would be helpful to read what others have written. Apparently I’m not alone in doing this, as Chloe also notes in an interview included in the book that she read a bunch of personal essay collections while in the process of writing this book.

Initially when I started reading the first few lines of the book, I found that I’ll Tell You in Person did indeed speak to me. However, my initial infatuation with the book didn’t subside as in the end like any collection, some of the essays were strong while others were not as well written. Furthermore, some of the essays were about topics that I knew little of and/or could not relate though majority of the essays were interesting to read. In the end, my two favourites that stood out in the book, would have to be “Failing Singing” about giving up a talent that you have and “Sister Less‘, a heartwarming essay on the bond that Chloe forms with Bobbi, who the daughter of writer, Cheryl Strayed.

I’ll Tell You in Person, is a short read that makes it the perfect companion for a commuter. However, be forewarned that it does pack a powerful emotional punch, especially for those who find themselves in a similar stage of their life. Meaning one that’s prone to a great deal of imperfection and disillusionment as well as a bit of disorientation. But, hey we all need to go through it at some point, no?

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 | My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa Anselmo

ptparisAuthour:
Lisa Anselmo
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
October 11th 2016
Publisher:
Thomas Dunne Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
As someone who has a close relationship with her mother, I can’t even begin to imagine my life without her. As a result, I felt this book would resonate with me as the author loses her mother to cancer, and it forces her to re-evaluate her life after having lived with a mother who always needed to be in control.

I adored the travel aspect of the book, as I always do in the books I read. Although, I must confess I have never been to Paris and it had not been high on my travel priority list for some time. However, My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home made me reconsider my hesitations about visiting “The City of Lights”. This may also be a result of the drool worthy, glorious descriptions that the author provides of the various foods she samples while in Paris and France.

One of my favourite sections in My (Part-Time) Paris Life was the chapter titled, “Le Dating Game”. I enjoyed this chapter for the reason that Anselmo acknowledges that dating is difficult, especially in another country with a different culture. And it was refreshing to glimpse her reflections on her past and acknowledge how her tight relationship with her mother has affected her love life. I especially love that in the end she came to the conclusion that she needs to embrace her independence and to become re-acquainted with herself as an “individual” before embarking on any serious romance.

And while I wish there was more to her story and adventure in the book, I’ll definitely be checking out her mini web series. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a good, self-searching memoir about dealing with grief, and learning to just let yourself be happy in life. If it hasn’t crossed your mind to visit “La Ville-Lumière”, it definitely will after reading this 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 | Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

pensAuthour:
Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen
Format:
ARC, 287 pages
Publication date:
May 31st 2016
Publisher:
Grand Central Life & Style
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
For those of you who aren’t aware, “Words of Mystery” is in reality currently compose of two of us. Though she is less involved now, my best friend from high school was instrumental when I first took over this blog as she often provided a second opinion on posts and assisted with some of the design of the blog. And perhaps that was why I enjoyed Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen since I could relate to a majority of it.

Pen & Palate started off as a (still running) food blog run by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen who have been best friends since high school. Lucy is a New York based writer and journalist and Tram is an illustrator and costume designer who lives in Chicago. Both women contribute blog posts consisting of personal essays and recipe while Tram provides the lovely illustrations that go along with each of the post. While I was aware of the blog before this book, I’m glad that I got to discover their blog through this book.

An entertaining element with regards to Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is how the book is structured as chapters that alternate between Lucy and Tram. As a result, we see various events from both their perspective which serves to illustrate that occasionally the grass may seem greener on other side however isn’t quite true. When it comes to your friends, the majority of them who seem as if they have things figured out probably are in a similar boat as you. Additionally, I enjoyed was how I can relate to numerous things that Tram mentions in her chapters, since also being of Vietnamese descent several instances of what she described appear as if they could have come from my life too. It’s always wonderful to read writing from people who come from a similar cultural background as you, especially as there are not that many Vietnamese writers out there.

Anyways, Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is the perfect book for those who love food and who are in the so-called “emerging adulthood” stage of their life. I loved how it perfectly captures how female friendships evolve as people grow and perhaps embark on different paths.

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 | Crime Seen by Kate Lines

crimeseenAuthour:
Kate Lines
Format:
Hardcover, 247 pages
Publication date:
April 7th 2015
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“We may have been deep underground, but where we were was definitely the real world, where trying to understand the criminal mind could be a matter of life or death.” (p. 4)

As somebody who once flirted with the idea of becoming a profiler, I was looking forward to reading Crime Seen as not is it by a former profiler, but one that is also a Canadian and a woman. For those of you who love watching crime show dramas similar to CSI, Criminal Minds or even Bones, I would definitely recommend that you pick this book up. As a proud Canadian, I loved the fact that the authour herself is Canadian as its more common for us to observe how the American police system works since that is what’s usually portrayed in TV shows and movies.

Having taken a few courses in law and psychology in university, I took pleasure in reading the book and recognizing several of the methods and theory from what I learned in class. Although, the majority of it was stuff I was already aware of, it was still interesting to read the first hand experience of a Canadian police officer and profiler. Not only do you get to read on the subject of how a profile is created, and how a profiler mind works on the job, but you also get a glimpse into the possible inner workings of various criminals.

However, Crime Seen is more than a book concerning crime; it’s also an extremely inspiring story concerning how one woman was persistent and took every opportunity that came her way to advancing herself and work her way up the ladder in a field that still is today dominated by men. As one of the Canadians to study at FBI academy, Kate Lines broke through countless glass ceilings on her way to the top and to her position as the chief superintendent of the OPP. As this is also her story, we get to witness what it was like being a woman on the police force when women were just starting to become police officers. In particular, I enjoyed her recollections of her time as an undercover cop. Since, this is an area that is often glamorized by Hollywood; it was refreshing to hear about the grittier, less luxurious side of doing undercover work.

Finally, Crime Seen is also a story concerning the victims of the cases that Lines worked on throughout her career. The stories she shares regarding the victims and their families are both raw and meaningful whether or not they had a “happy ending”. And as these were real life cases, there wasn’t always a pleasant, happy ending with all the loose ends tied up. All in all, I found Crime Seen a compelling read that was truly difficult to put down.

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 | Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant

7letterAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 258 pages
Publication date:
October 7th 2014
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I love a good love story especially ones that involve travel of some kind, and it’s even better if the story is one that actually happened as there is a serious lack of epic love stories in my real life. (No offence intended to anyone I know who may be reading this)

What I loved regarding Seven Letters from Paris is that it is such a delightful story of romance, missed opportunities and second chances. It is a book that is fairly reminiscent to the YA novel, Just One Day by Gayle Forman which I adore with the exception that there are a few twists one of which is that the book is a memoir of the authour’s real life fairy tale romance. Seven Letters from Paris concerns a disillusioned woman who is nearing forty who is recently separated from her husband and broke. As she tries to figure out where she went wrong in her life, she comes across seven love letters written to her from a handsome French scientist whom she met and got to be acquainted with for only a day when she was nineteen. She subsequently decides to take a risk and attempt to find him, and the rest of the book details her adventures that come once the two reconnect.

Throughout it all the writing is simple and crisp, and the story was certainly engrossing. My favourite component of this book however was the fact that all seven of Jean-Luc’s (the French scientist) love letters were included in this book. It added a charming touch to the story especially given how significant of a role they played in the book. Occasionally the truth can be even better and more interesting than fiction, and this book was an example of this.

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 | Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz

Authour:mosque
Zarqa Nawaz
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 237 pages
Publication date:
June 24th 2014
Publisher:
HarperCollins Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Back in high school, I discovered and fell in love with a Canadian television show called Little Mosque on the Prairie. It was so different from all the other shows I had seen on TV not to mention that it was funny and had a great cast of well written characters. As a result, when I heard that the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie was coming out with a book that was a sort of memoir, I knew that it would be on my to-read list.

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is a book that is divided into numerous short chapters, each touching upon different aspects of Islamic culture and the authour’s personal experience with them. I love the earlier chapters more than the later ones since the experiences were awfully relatable to me even though I’m not a Muslim. I can, however definitely relate to the feelings of not fitting in as a kid and feeling like an outsider as I was one of only two Asians in my elementary school which was dominated by Italians.

The chapters that stood out to me were, “Muslim Summer Camp” and “Meeting Sami”. The former was about the time she was left in charge of running a Muslim Summer camp for kids and had no idea what she was doing while the latter recounts her adventures meeting various suitors before she met the man who would later become her husband. Both of these stories were hilarious to read about and they were my two favourites in this book. However my favourite one as it is the chapter that I relate the largely to, would have to be, “Medical School Reject”. For anyone who’s been a student and who has had their plans for after graduation fall apart, Zarqa’s story and journey is a definite must read.

In conclusion, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is an exceptionally entertaining and comedic look at at one woman’s view of growing up Muslim. I love how the book ends with a chapter titled, “Photos with White Men”. I first heard it on the CBC radio show, DNTO and I loved reading it because of its message that no matter what culture you are, your mother always knows best.

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 | Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz

Authour:mosque
Zarqa Nawaz
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 237 pages
Publication date:
June 24th 2014
Publisher:
HarperCollins Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Back in high school, I discovered and fell in love with a Canadian television show called Little Mosque on the Prairie. It was so different from all the other shows I had seen on TV not to mention that it was funny and had a great cast of well written characters. As a result, when I heard that the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie was coming out with a book that was a sort of memoir, I knew that it would be on my to-read list.

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is a book that is divided into numerous short chapters, each touching upon different aspects of Islamic culture and the authour’s personal experience with them. I love the earlier chapters more than the later ones since the experiences were awfully relatable to me even though I’m not a Muslim. I can, however definitely relate to the feelings of not fitting in as a kid and feeling like an outsider as I was one of only two Asians in my elementary school which was dominated by Italians.

The chapters that stood out to me were, “Muslim Summer Camp” and “Meeting Sami”. The former was about the time she was left in charge of running a Muslim Summer camp for kids and had no idea what she was doing while the latter recounts her adventures meeting various suitors before she met the man who would later become her husband. Both of these stories were hilarious to read about and they were my two favourites in this book. However my favourite one as it is the chapter that I relate the largely to, would have to be, “Medical School Reject”. For anyone who’s been a student and who has had their plans for after graduation fall apart, Zarqa’s story and journey is a definite must read.

In conclusion, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is an exceptionally entertaining and comedic look at at one woman’s view of growing up Muslim. I love how the book ends with a chapter titled, “Photos with White Men”. I first heard it on the CBC radio show, DNTO and I loved reading it because of its message that no matter what culture you are, your mother always knows best.

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 | How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying by Carol Leifer

Authour:suceedbus
Carol Leifer
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 224 pages
Publication date:
April 8th 2014
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying is a sort of memoir written by Carol Leifer, who is a comedian, writer, producer and actress. In case you haven’t heard of her (I know I didn’t before picking up this book), she was a writer for shows like Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live, in addition to being one of the creators of The Ellen Show which was a sitcom starring Ellen DeGeneres.

Initially this book did intrigue me, and so I was more than happy to start reading it when a friend of mine suggested I pick it up next. How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying was an interesting look at one woman’s career, I love reading about how she got her start and how supportive her parents were of her dreams and goals. And I think it was a nice touch that she wove pieces of incredibly useful and practical advice that can be applied to any career and not just show business within the anecdotes and stories that she tells about her life. Overall there was an excellent mixture of life stories and practical advice throughout.

While several of her advice may seem obvious to several readers, I personally felt that I learned so much. In fact, I found myself putting various sticky tabs throughout my copy, all while having the urge to highlight or underline certain things in the books so that I can go back and find them again in the future. All in all, How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying was an extremely straightforward and highly entertaining read. It is a book that you want to savour because it’s so short and you don’t want to miss anything. And despite being chocked full of useful and practical advice, the conversational tone of the writing allows it to not come off as too preachy. I would highly recommend this book for anyone currently looking for work especially in this economy.

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