Midweek Mini Reviews #3

 The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec

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What I liked most about The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec is just how relatable some of the essays in the collection are. They are also quite entertaining in a self-deprecating manner which leaves the reader with a lot of good quotes you can’t help but scribble down. Two of my favourite quotes from the book are “A great writer knows when not to fake being a expert” and “If anything breakups should be renamed breakdowns. That’s all they really are. Whatever drew two people together in the first place eventually breaks down,” these two were the most memorable for me because they are simple yet so true.

Of all the essays in the collection I particularly was fond of the collection’s titular essay because who here hasn’t at least once found themselves listening in onto the conversations of strangers around them? I also enjoyed “Life on the Other Side of the Internet” because it gives you a “glimpse” at what’s its actually like working for a major Internet site.

Overall if you enjoy reading Elite Daily articles (the authour is the managing editor of the site) you will probably like this book, but even for those who are millennials who are only vaguely familiar with the site (like myself) Dybec’s musings on life, family and relationships could definitely be appreciated as being relatable.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

vicBefore reading Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, I have to admit I knew very little about the history of Queen Victoria other than that she is (now) the monarch with the second longest reign (Queen Elizabeth II recently just surpassed her record). However, I am a fan of Daisy Goodwin and what she does when it comes to historical fiction so I was looking forward to Victoria.

In Victoria, Daisy Goodwin once again does what she does best in historical fiction and really whisks you away to the 1800s and into the life of a young royal who is coming of age and into her role as a country’s monarch. While naïve, it was difficult not to root for a young Victoria as she struggled to find her way into her new role against so many obstacles and barriers and with a whole lot of spunk. In the end, knowing what becomes of many of the characters from Victoria’s youth in real life made this book an incredibly bittersweet and emotional coming of age novel.

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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Book Review | The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi

beautyqueenAuthour:
Sarit Yishai-Levi
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
April 5th 2016
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
As it’s been five years since my time in Israel, I thought it would be enjoyable to read several books from writers who are from Israel. A couple of the books are review books, thus you will definitely be able to read my thoughts on them.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi is the first of these books, and was in fact the first book I finished in 2016. The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows three generations of Sephardic Jewish women and is told from the perspective of Gabriela the daughter of Luna, the titular “Beauty Queen of Jerusalem”. It’s a fascinating, albeit somewhat tragic family saga concerning the Ermosa women who are unfortunate enough to marry men who are hopelessly in love with other women. I loved that the novel was mostly set in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as these were the cities (outside of the city I resided in) that I spent the majority of my time in. And although much has changed since the times of Gabriela’s mother and grandmother, I could still picture the cities, the food, and the environment all of which made me nostalgic.

Of the three leading women, I found Luna to be an exceptionally unsympathetic character. Even as a child, she was incredibly bratty and to be honest though it may sound cruel, I felt that she got what she deserved in the finale. Another issue I had with this novel, was how abrupt the conclusion felt, as it left a few major loose ends hanging. Most notably, I was sad that we were not able to witness a formal reconciliation between Gabriela and her father, although I did appreciate that the novel concluded on an uplifting and hopeful manner.

All in all, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem remains one of my favourite reads in 2016. It’s a simple, captivating family saga that focuses on women who, while they may not be always likeable are no doubt strong. And even though I’m not a fan of sad stories The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem has a decent balance of tragedy and hope, happiness and humour that made me fall in love with it.

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

Words of Asia | Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

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:
Nayomi Munaweera was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the age of three she immigrated with her family to Nigeria. Her family later settled in Southern California in 1984. Island of A Thousand Mirrors, is her first novel and it was actually first published in South Asia in 2012 before it was released in America by St. Martin’s Press in 2014.

Where Does it Take Place?
Both own Sri Lanka where all the characters are from and later some parts take place in America as one of the families in the book escapes the conflict by moving to the USA.

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What’s it About:
Book has two “sections”. First half we get to know all the major players in the story personally at different ages and stages of their life. Set at the beginning in Sri Lanka, the story gradually shifts settings as some of the characters choose to escape from the island and immigrate to the USA. We then get to see, who is Yasodhara who is Sinhala try to adjust to life in America with her family.

The second part of the book has a bit of a time skip to tell the story of Saraswathi, a young Tamil girl in Sri Lanka who wants to become a teacher. It then moves back and forth between Yasodhara and Saraswathi as the two become connected through a major tragic event. Throughout the entire two girls with their different backgrounds provide readers with the perspectives of the two warring cultural groups. As a result we get two sides to the conflict.

My Thoughts:
The writing in Island of a Thousand Mirrors is simple yet very tender and the prose just flows effortlessly from page to page. I loved learning more about the civil war and conflict in Sri Lanka as it was something that I was not aware of before reading this book. Munaweera does a good job of examining the immigrant experience from the perspective of children who are coming into a new, foreign country where they are made to realize that they are different from their peers in more ways than one. In addition she does an equally good job at portraying the life of families who are stuck living in a war-torn country and how they struggle in their day-to-day lives to survive. I really enjoyed Yasodhara story more as it was interesting to see the person she grew up to become, and the relationships she would develop as well as the hardships she had to endure herself. I always love hearing the stories of women who become involved or are affected by major conflicts and overall, Island of a Thousand Mirrors is a heartbreaking but truly beautiful book.

You’ll like this book, if you love:
Stories about strong women who will do anything for their family and to survive.

I received a copy 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.

What’s Next #1 | Stay Calling

What’s Next is a weekly hosted by IceyBooks; where bloggers ask their readers to vote on which one they should read next.

Today on Words of Mystery, I need to decide which of the three historical fiction novels on my shelf I should read first. (All have been sitting on my shelf for some time and figured it was time I started to read some of them)

stay Stay follows Abbey, a young woman from Canada now living in a village outside Galway. She falls in love with Dermot, an older Irish man, in an unconventional, affectionate but troubled relationship.

The extraordinary skill of Stay lies in its unsentimental depiction of modern Ireland. The inhabitants of Dermot’s village form a riotous and poignant chorus, commenting on their rapidly changing world with wit and insight. Here is a beautiful, funny and richly rewarding novel about history and obligation, and above all, the meaning of human connection in a land poised uneasily between past and present.

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In Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler, eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It’s a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive Isabelle from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.

Curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle’s guarded past, she agrees, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son’s irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.

Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper—in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle’s first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.

So, which book do you think I should pick up next? Cast your vote in the poll below!

Early Book Review | Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Authour:landline
Rainbow Rowell
Format:
Egalley
Publication date:
July 8th 2014
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I haven’t had much luck with Rainbow Rowell’s books; I disliked and did not finish Eleanor and Park. And while I found both Attachments and Fangirl okay, I wasn’t truly wowed by either of them. However the synopsis her newest book, Landline appealed to me much more than the plot of any of her other books so I was excited to pick it up. And I’m glad I did as Rainbow Rowell’s writing has definitely improved a great deal over time.

A marriage is in trouble and a magic yellow phone may be the key to saving it; this is the premise of Rainbow Rowell’s latest book Lanline. In Lanline, the Protagoras is Georgie McCool, a mother, wife, and TV writer who is working on a new show that she hopes will get picked up. However as she gets more and more consumed with her work she starts to neglect her family and her marriage more. This realization finally hits her hard when her husband and daughters take off to visit his mother for Christmas leaving her behind and alone. And it is on this day when she is alone in her room that she discovers a way to talk to a younger version of her husband Neal. With this Georgie is confronted with a dilemma, having found a way where she could go back and change the past and as a result her and Neal’s future, would she take advantage of it?

To be honest, initially I didn’t actually like present day Neal, even though he seemed like a decent guy and an excellent father. Mostly I found his relationship with Georgie frustrating, even though it was both of their faults that there were problems in their marriage. However after getting a chance to see what Neal was like when they were younger in addition to learning about the back-story of their relationship, the pairing of Georgie and Neal started to slowly grow on me. I also thought the present day Georgie’s phone conversations with 1998 Neal were incredibly adorable, mostly because it showed how obviously Georgie was in love with Neal both in the past and in the present.

Landline is a realistic portrayal of long-term relationships in particular marriage and how easy it is to get comfortable in routines that you end up forgetting to consider the other person in the relationship. This book is for anyone who is a fan of Rainbow Rowell’s other books as well as anyone who loves adult contemporary fiction.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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.

Waiting On Wednesday #16 – Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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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
landline

Synposis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Authour:
Rainbow Rowell

Publication date:
July 8th 2014

Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press

Okay, I know I already have like two books by Rainbow Rowell that I still need to get to but this one sounds really good so I couldn’t help myself. I’m not just a fan of contemporary young adult fiction, I also love contemporary adult fiction too!