books, REVIEWS

It’s Not About The Burqa edited by Mariam Khan

“No one woman can speak for all Muslim Women – for that rich and varied tapestry of experiences, practice, belief and ways of being” – Nadine Aisha Jassat

#theguywiththebookreview presents It’s Not About The Burqa

The quote above from Nadine came on the last page of the book and I think it reaffirms my original decision to not review this book the way I usually try to critically (although amateurly) look at the contents.

17 Muslim women from a wide range of backgrounds share their thoughts about what it is like to be a Muslim Woman, sometimes very visibly so (Hijabi Muslim Women) and sometimes not as visibly.

A few of the essays here were fascinating to me. Having lived most of my life where ‘normal’ to me is a lifestyle circled around Islam and practicing Muslims, the Muslim identity to has always been the default. Where segregation of sexes is the norm and where things go to a halt when it is prayer times (All shops close for 20-30 minutes during the 5 prayer times in Saudi Arabia)

There were essays which I absolutely disagreed with and then there were some that were almost enlightening. One in particular by Saima Mir definitely choked me up.

But without a doubt my absolutely favorite of all the essays came very early in the collection: On the Representation of Muslims *Terms and Conditions Apply by @nafisa_bakkar Her essay made a super lazy reader like me get up and grab my highlighter. I went crazy highlighting the stuff she’s written! Absolutely on point!

I would recommend this to readers across the board, Muslim or Non Muslim with a very small note that not everything in this book is about being a Muslim or Not being a Muslim. These are mostly experiences and aren’t to be taken word for word as a representation of or not of Islam.

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If you’re interested in buying the book, please click HERE for my Affiliate Link, Thank you!

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Please consider subscribing to my blog HERE.

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If you are looking for more book reviews, please find the links here:

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura

The Man-Eater Of Malgudi by R.K.Narayan

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Anne Frank’s Diary (Graphic Adaptation)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A Long Wall To Water by Linda Sue Park

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

So Lucky by Nicola Griffith

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

books

Chapter 8: Estonia. The Traveling Biblio Chronicles.

With Chapter 8 of the TTBC Sandra Falke will take us on a Literary Journey across Estonia through her pick to represent, Estonia.

Over a random conversation with Sandra last month she expressed interest in writing for the blog series and I immediately said yes! I personally have never read anything based in Estonia so there was my own personal agenda behind getting a recommendation as well!

Sandra will now take over, hope this becomes a good place to start for Estonian Literature!

Sandra can be found on wordpress, here and on Instagram here.

Estonia is a small country in the Baltic region and its geographical position has caused it to be occupied by various other countries. Because of these historical events, Estonian culture has experienced many oppression periods and our literature has only been able to flourish since the beginning of the 20th century – apart from a handful of folk songs, some poetry and short texts written in German by Baltic Germans there is no Great Estonian Novel before that time. However, we are now making our mark in the literary world. Here‘s a small introduction to what‘s happening in the moment and a speculation on what is about to happen soon.

Thematically the most important novels deal with historical subject matter, focusing mostly on the country‘s development and awakening during the 20th century, so it is no surprise that Ilmar Taska‘s „Pobeda 1946 – A Car Called Victory“ („Pobeda 1946“, 2016) has received raving reviews on the Estonian and European scale from readers and critics alike. The book has been translated into several languages and adapted into a short movie which takes place in Hungary.

Although the place of „Pobeda“ is actually Tallinn (the capital of Estonia), the history of Soviet Europe is interchangeable so like the KGB agent sent to question a small boy whose father is wanted for intelligence purposes, nobody in this story is given a name – only a motivation. The boy must not talk to strangers about his family life, the mother must protect the boy, the agent must infiltrate the family and keep his superiors satisfied.

This is a story most of Europe can relate to, since the Soviet Union has left an un-erasable mark in its history. The internal terror families were put through as the communist machine taught their children to spy on the parents at home, and the subtle techniques the agent uses to make a small naive person do just that are quite horrific.

As the novel is being told mostly from the little boy‘s perspective, sensations of horror and fear grip the reader almost immediately. The boy is in danger, while the agent keeps luring him in with his cool and modern car „Pobeda“, and Taska does a great job in keeping this suspense up while continuing to tell the story of the family as well as the agent in an empathetic way. Even the enemy is human, as „Pobeda 1946“ manages to tell the story from the other side as well.

In addition to all of that, Taska tells another story related to the family: Even in times of terror and behind iron curtains there is a love story to be found, about crossing borders and overcoming fear.

All in all, „Pobeda 1946“ is a complex novel, rich in emotions and stories, witty in its psychological structure, and well-balanced in combining horrifying and satisfying aspects of a suspenseful story. It is also a perfect example for getting to know one of the most important episodes of Estonian history.

Estonian literature depicting earlier history is somewhat similar to many Scandinavian writers: the novels often tell of a farmer‘s life who works hard to survive against nature‘s will, all the while being legally bonded to his master and enduring additional hardship from that. A great example for this is the pentalogy „Truth and Justice“ („Tõde ja õigus“, 1926) by Anton Hansen Tammsaare, picturing Estonian life from 1870 to about 1930. A shorter conclusion of this collection and an introduction to Estonian folk tales is Tammsaare‘s novel „The Misadventures of the New Satan“ („Põrgupõhja uus vanapagan“), which is a mixture of satire, political commentary and local mythology.

Newer Estonian literature is harder to pinpoint. Many writers reflect the individual loneliness that contrasts our fast technological development (Martin Algus, Katrin Johanson, Andris Feldmanis, Meelis Friedenthal). Some are analyzing the national individuality of Estonia in light of becoming a member of the European Union (Martin Kivirähk, Mihkel Raud). Many are still writing memoirs and reflections on the past (Toomas Mikker, Mart Sander, Andrus Kasemaa and many others).

However, I believe Estonian literature has come to a point where new ideas and perspectives are necessary and about to be explored and a future- or at least present-driven type of novel is emerging. This is made possible by the fact that more novels from Estonian authors have been translated into German and English in the last three years than ever before (Karl Ristikivi, Katrin Johanson, Ilmar Taska, Mart Sander, Vahur Afanasjev, Elin Gottschalk and many more). We are finally about to step out into world literature. In my opinion, the imminence of these developments makes Estonian literature something to watch out for in the future!

This was Chapter 8 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Sandra Falke. You can buy the book here from book depository
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here
Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.


Our previous Chapters are as follows, have a look!

Chapter 1: Australia here

Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

Chapter 3: Egypt here

Chapter 4: Palestine here

Chapter 5: Kenya here

Chapter 6: Pakistan here

Chapter 7: Argentina here

books, REVIEWS

Between The Assassinations by Aravind Adiga

I’ve been thinking a lot about this book and I have to say it very much could be the perfect sampler to the Raw experience of Indian Lit.

#theguywiththebookreview presents Between The Assassinations by Aravind Adiga.

The first book I read by Adiga was the very much critically acclaimed and Man Booker Prize Winner, The White Tiger.

Surprisingly this book was actually written by Adiga before that one but published later.

Between The Assassinations is a collection of short stories based in Kittur, India and encompasses a wide range of characters from different parts of its society which make for a very intriguing experience when these characters come together.

Each type of character seems to have been researched meticulously and Adiga manages to touch a plethora of topics, from terrorism to casteism to poverty and corruption. Some of the short stories mildly intermingle to give them a much richer experience which sometimes short stories might lack.

There are many books based in India which make for great picks to start with Indian Lit but if you’re undecided on where to start, I’d definitely recommend this book or The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

You can buy Between The Assassinations HERE

You can buy The White Tiger HERE

books, REVIEWS

After The End by Clare Mackintosh

Literally just finished the book and although it’s midnight I know I can’t go to sleep without putting my thoughts out.

#theguywiththebookreview presents After The End by Clare Mackintosh (Gifted by @littlebrown)

This book is divided into two parts, Before and After. Pip and Max have a son who is terminally ill and they are faced with the heartbreaking decision to either let him go or try unconventional medication which might delay the inevitable but will not improve his health.

Max and Pip do not agree and end up in court to decide the fate of Dylan.

‘Before’ deals with this part of their journey as parents (up-to the courts decision)

‘After’ follows their lives after the courts decision and is surprisingly even more heavy on the heart than ‘Before’.

There are three perspectives in the book, Max, Pip and Dylan’s Doctor Leila.

All are in first person and that gives each chapter a very personal touch making the impact of their tough situation even more haunting. The inclusion of Leila is especially helpful as it adds another dimension to the story which breaks the alternating chapters between Max and Pip. Really effective story telling.

I cannot write more without spoilers but I really want to. (Please don’t read onwards if you have already made your mind to read it) You can pre order the book HERE.

Spoilers…

‘After’ is made extremely interesting because Clare takes us into two directions: One where the court decides that Dylan is in too much pain to live and the other where Dylan should get the medication required to live for as long as possible.

These two directions are managed in alternating chapters and are again told from Max and Pips perspectives. In each they get what they wanted from the court (Max – Dylan lives; Pip – Dylan is let go)

After I read the book, I read Clare Mackintosh’s Note where she tells how more than a decade ago she faced a similar situation. Reading that made my heart fall and so I couldn’t wait to write what I felt about the book. Clare does acknowledge this would be a difficult book for many readers to get through so please pick it up only if you are okay with reading a tough story.

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Please consider subscribing to my blog HERE.

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If you are looking for book reviews, please find the links here:

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura

The Man-Eater Of Malgudi by R.K.Narayan

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Anne Frank’s Diary (Graphic Adaptation)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A Long Wall To Water by Linda Sue Park

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

So Lucky by Nicola Griffith

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

books, REVIEWS

If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura

There are so many things to talk about this book but discussing almost anything is potentially a spoiler, so I’m going to try sneak through this review like a kitty cat 🐈

#theguywiththebookreview presents If Cats Disappeared from The World by Genki Kawamura

In this surprisingly heartwarming story of our unnamed protagonist who is diagnosed to die soon, The Devil appears and offers one extra day to live against making one thing disappear from the world.

Then starts the grueling daily routine where he has to choose what thing to get rid of from the world for one day of life. The characters, pace and writing all come together very nicely to give a short yet impactful experience. There is a sense of nostalgia portrayed in the book which might make you pause and reminisce.

Not necessarily meant to be a very serious book, but it does take a nice detour in the closing chapters and the book wraps ups very nicely! Would definitely recommend it to cat lovers and especially those who loved The Travelling Cat Chronicles.

You can buy the book HERE through my affiliate link.

If you are looking for book reviews, please find the links here:

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Man-Eater Of Malgudi by R.K.Narayan

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Anne Frank’s Diary (Graphic Adaptation)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

After The End by Clare Mackintosh

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A Long Wall To Water by Linda Sue Park

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

So Lucky by Nicola Griffith

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

books, REVIEWS

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I guess it was ‘maktub’ that I won’t like this book at all and struggle to finish it without making faces every other page.

#theguywiththebookreview presents The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The book is about chasing our dreams and giving everything to fulfill our ‘personal legend’ which for Santiago according to a fortune teller, is to travel to the Pyramids wherein lies a treasure waiting to be found by him.

Obviously the journey to find the treasure isn’t expected to be easy and Santiago keeps taking risks and working hard to get closer and closer to his goal. At no part dod I feel any empathy, sympathy or any emotion towards Santiago or his so called journey, I just couldn’t be bothered. Extremely bland protagonist and so were the rest in the book. One of the worst aspects about this book was the repetition. We get it, the whole universe conspires to make our dreams come true. We don’t need being told that half a dozen times.

That’s basically what the Alchemist is about with a lot of life lessons, some subtle but most of them forced towards the reader making them feel extremely unnatural. It’s very much like how The forty rules of love crammed in 40 rules randomly making it sound more like a lecture you don’t want to be part of.

There was one part in the book where it’s implied that Hijab is for Married women but not for single women, so yeah…Maktub indeed.

I have an affiliate link you can use to buy the book…but why bother…? Use it HERE to buy something else.

books, REVIEWS

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Before we go down The Road (Excellent pun, Faroukh 👏🏼) I need to say that Cormac McCarthy instantly became one of my favorite authors!

#theguywiththebookreview presents The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Dystopian narratives are something that I have usually struggled to like and even though this book seemed to go nowhere in it’s dystopian setting, it kept moving steadily.

The book is about a Father and Son’s journey towards the Sea, where they hope to find safe haven from a dusty world. All they have is a little food (they scavenge along the way) and a shopping cart which they use to push their meager belongings.

I cannot point out why but the book gripped me from page one, the writing is absolutely beautiful and care has been taken to polish out everything unnecessary.

Father-Son narratives are one of my favorites (my favorite childhood book being Danny the champion of the world) and in my mind I was thinking of The Road as a fictional Jump Sequel to it.

I would absolutely recommend this to everyone, even those who are not fond of Dystopian fiction. The ending is one of the best I’ve read in a long long time, absolutely heartbreaking yet hopeful.

Click HERE to buy.

books, REVIEWS

The Man-eater of Malgudi by R. K. Narayan

Probably one of the most famous fictional cities in India, Malgudi was a little part of my childhood too!

#theguywiththebookreview presents The Man-eater of Malgudi by R.K. Narayan.

Set in Malgudi (based somewhere in South India) we have Natraj, a very hardworking owner of a small 2 man printing press which is also a daily place to socialize for a couple of local men. Sastri is Natraj’s assistant and the book sets off in a very relaxed pace until Vasu, a taxidermist moves to town and somehow manages to rent out Natraj’s attic but never pays him a dime.

Vasu has ironically a very straight forward approach when it comes to getting things done but has no problem twisting things when it comes to being responsible for his own actions.

The Malgudi series of books seem to have been a very genuine commentary on Indian culture and way of life. Through the inclusion of a ‘loose’ woman and the different reactions of men to her presence Narayan manages to seamlessly navigate through and deconstruct the thoughts of different people.

Midway through the plot picks up pace and the final 25 pages take a very intriguing turn in events and the book is no longer just a social tale.

I think the brilliance with Narayan’s approach of using a fictional town is to detach the characters and events from any particular place and via fiction make us all look into ourselves transparently. (I don’t know if this makes sense but it’s been 5 minutes and I don’t know how to say this any other way)

Pick this up! Rating 🐘/5

Click HERE to buy. (This is linked to a 2 in 1 book which also includes A Tiger for Malgudi)

books

Book Mail: April 2019

Hey guys!

Been a while, I know…

I thought I’d share bookmail on the blog as well.

If you’ve come here from Instagram, HIGH FIVE!! Please don’t forget to subscribe! PLEASE **inserting super duper crying emoji**

Here are the books I received in April:

1- After the end by Clare Mackintosh from Little Brown.

From New York Times bestselling author Clare Mackintosh, a deeply moving and page-turning novel about an impossible choice—and the two paths fate could take.

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers, unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

Click HERE to buy!

2- Call Me Evie by JP Pomare from Little Brown.

In this propulsive, twist-filled, and haunting psychological suspense debut perfect for fans of Sharp Objects and Room, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played on the night her life changed forever.

For the past two weeks, seventeen-year-old Kate Bennet has lived against her will in an isolated cabin in a remote beach town–brought there by a mysterious man named Bill. Part captor, part benefactor, Bill calls her Evie and tells her he’s hiding her to protect her. That she did something terrible one night back home in Melbourne–something so unspeakable that he had no choice but to take her away. The trouble is, Kate can’t remember the night in question. 

The fragments of Kate’s shattered memories of her old life seem happy: good friends, a big house in the suburbs, a devoted boyfriend. Bill says he’ll help her fill in the blanks–but his story isn’t adding up. And as she tries to reconcile the girl she thought she’d been with the devastating consequences Bill claims she’s responsible for, Kate will unearth secrets about herself and those closest to her that could change everything. 

A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind, Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth, even from ourselves.

Click HERE to buy!

3- The Watermelon Boys by Ruqaya Izzidien sent to me by the Author.

It is the winter of 1915 and Iraq has been engulfed by the First World War. Hungry for independence from Ottoman rule, Ahmad leaves his peaceful family life on the banks of the Tigris to join the British-led revolt. Thousands of miles away, Welsh teenager Carwyn reluctantly enlists and is sent, via Gallipoli and Egypt, to the Mesopotamia campaign.

Carwyn’s and Ahmad’s paths cross, and their fates are bound together. Both are forever changed, not only by their experience of war, but also by the parallel discrimination and betrayal they face.

Ruqaya Izzidien’s evocative debut novel is rich with the heartbreak and passion that arise when personal loss and political zeal collide, and offers a powerful retelling of the history of British intervention in Iraq.

Click HERE to buy.

4- Heartstream by Tom Pollock sent to me by Walker Books.

I just wanted to see you. Before the end. A taut psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal, for fans of Black Mirror.

Cat is in love. Always the sensible one, she can’t believe that she’s actually dating, not to mention dating a star. But the fandom can’t know. They would eat her alive. And first at the buffet would definitely be her best friend, Evie.

Amy uses Heartstream, a social media app that allows others to feel your emotions. She broadcasted every moment of her mother’s degenerative illness, and her grief following her death. It’s the realest, rawest reality TV imaginable.

But on the day of Amy’s mother’s funeral, Amy finds a strange woman in her kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives – and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time. Who is she? A crazed fan? What does she want?

Amy and Cat are about to discover how far true obsession can go.

Click HERE to buy!

5- Malamander by Thomas Taylor sent to me by Walker Books.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

Click HERE to buy!

6- The Parisian by Isabella Hammad from Vintage Books.

As the First World War shatters families, destroys friendships and kills lovers, a young Palestinian dreamer sets out to find himself.

Midhat Kamal picks his way across a fractured world, from the shifting politics of the Middle East to the dinner tables of Montpellier and a newly tumultuous Paris. He discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong.

Isabella Hammad delicately unpicks the tangled politics and personal tragedies of a turbulent era – the Palestinian struggle for independence, the strife of the early twentieth century and the looming shadow of the Second World War. An intensely human story amidst a global conflict, The Parisian is historical fiction with a remarkable contemporary voice.

Click HERE to buy!

7- Cygnet by Season Butler from Dialogue Books.

Seventeen-year-old Kid doesn’t know where her parents are. They left her with her grandmother Lolly, promising to return soon. That was months ago. Now, Lolly is dead and Kid is alone, stranded ten miles off the coast of New Hampshire on tiny Swan Island. Unable to reach her parents, and with no other relatives to turn to, Kid works for a neighbor, airbrushing the past—digitally retouching family photos and movies—to earn enough money to survive.

Surrounded by the vast ocean, Kid’s temporary home is no ordinary vacation retreat. The island is populated by an idiosyncratic group of elderly separatists who left behind the youth-obsessed mainland—”the Bad Place”—to create their own alternative community. These residents call themselves the Swans. Kid calls them the Wrinklies. Even as Kid tries to be good and quiet and patient, the adolescent’s presence unnerves the Swans, turning some downright hostile. They don’t care if she has nowhere to go, they just want her gone. She is a reminder of all they’ve left behind and are determined to forget.

But Kid isn’t the only problem threatening the insular community. Swan Island is eroding into the rising sea, threatening the Swans’ very existence there. To find a way forward, the Kid must come to terms with the realities of her life and an unknown future that is hers alone to embrace.

Season Butler makes her literary debut with an ambitious work of bold imagination. Tough and tender, compassionate and ferocious, intelligent and provocative, Cygnet is a meditation on death and life, past and future, aging and youth, memory and forgetting, that explores what it means to find acceptance—of things past and those to come.

Click HERE to buy!

books, REVIEWS

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

A short story collection in which Murakami explores the mundane and treads the thin line between magic and reality (as usual!)

This was my second short story collection by Murakami, having read Men without women I had a general idea about his style when it comes to short stories.

I always have trouble reviewing short stories as it seems to become more about the author than about the plot or characters, there are simply too many.

Which gives me full rights to fangirl on this review!

What I like about Murakami is how he squeezes out interesting moments from daily life and how he can focus on one moment and make it feel like time is not a factor, like he’s taken us on a story telling limbo.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how almost all of his characters are regular people, no one too beautiful, no one too out of reach. The one thing he does seem to work on his characters is their absolute mediocrity. People with unfulfilling jobs, broken relationships and silly thoughts.

The highlight of this book was The Second Bakery Attack and The Elephant Vanishes.

The first is a weirdly eventful night between a newly married couple who end up roaming around town looking to steal bread from a bakery.

The Elephant Vanishes is one of those of Murakami’s where he leaves things unanswered and flirts with the idea of endless possibilities. You can buy the book here

If you are new to Murakami, I’d suggest reading my blog post ‘Why I no longer recommend Murakami to readers’

Another Murakami I have reviewed is his latest Killing Commendatore