books, REVIEWS

WARLIGHT by Michael Ondaatje

I’ve been sitting with my laptop open since half an hour trying to figure out how to start talking about this book. I recently heard a literature critic share that one of the things we need to figure out while reviewing a book is the intention of the author with the letters bound into words strung up together to tell the story. And that’s exactly what confuses me about this book. What was the point? WAS there even a point?

IMG_5357.jpgAt the center of everything we have Nathaniel who seems to be around 30 years of age when he is recalling what he went through since he was a teen with his sister. Nathaniel and Rachel’s parents leave them in the care of a very shady individual who the siblings nick name The Moth. Their parents are off to Singapore from London. But things get slightly confusing when they find their mothers packed suitcase at home a few months after she’s apparently left.

The book is set in the years following Worldwar II and it does add to the overall mood, but it doesn’t seem as effective as you’d expect, the effects linger in the subconscious but its not what the book is about so the war-like rustic feeling fades quite early (Just an observation, neither a good or bad thing, I guess)

Ondaatje has worked a lot on the character development and you can tell he has been meticulous with the editing of his early drafts, you do not get any information which doesn’t play a part in developing the narrative. Every character has a part to play in the overall narrative and they all come together by the end, except one, the shadow, the father.

I feel that Ondaatje wanted to keep a secretive and out of reach narrative when it came to the father but it frustrated me because the way each character is brought to a closure by the end you expect/almost want him to do the same with the father. Doesn’t happen and its very disappointing.

Another tool used with the characters is he’s given them nicknames (The Moth and TheIMG_5070.jpg Darter) which make them seem more than ordinary, its a smart thing to do and it definitely is effective in giving them an added dimension.

Nathaniel doesn’t have a regular childhood obviously but some of his reactions are very unusual. When they find their mothers suitcase, you’d expect them to have a million questions but they seem to just accept the fact and go on with their lives. Rose on the other hand does have a lot of issues making her seem more human than him. His character fueled sometimes by his quiet and nonreactive nature seems very bland and inhuman (Although he definitely is not). I think if there were more one to one conversations between the siblings, it might have changed the feeling of Nathaniel’s impersonal and robotic aura.

By the second half of the book we do find a change in narrative and its more focused on the mother and her relationship with Nathaniel. There are some passages where you just want them to connect more and feel some emotion towards him. But in the end its just not effective, and leaves a pretty hollow feeling.

One thing which I was absolutely stunned by in some places was Ondaatje’s writing IMG_5255.jpgmasterclass! There were several passages I read and reread and read again! Absolute genius!

I’d recommend this book to people who like character focused books with a hint of mystery or basically just love great writing! As for the book critics suggestion to understand why an author has written a book, I guess while writing this review I seem to have figured its a story Ondaatje wanted to tell, a story which has no fancy objective, a book where you sympathize with someone who has had a broken childhood. I’ll be honest in saying that when I finished this book, I barely gave it a 3 star but now I’m leaning towards a 4.

If you’d like to buy this book, please use this Affiliate link, it helps me too!

books, REVIEWS

So Lucky by Nicola Griffith

IMG_4884Since the past year or so I’ve been hearing a lot about Own Voices and their importance. So I was really interested in reading So Lucky by Nicola Griffith sent to me by @mcdbooks
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It’s a book about Mara Targelli who you might call the ideally empowered woman in today’s world. Head of a huge company, a martial artist and fierce and straight forward in her dealings. Mara finds out she’s suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and things start to go south for her.
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You can read the summary for broad details of the book, I usually don’t get into those in the review so I don’t take away much from your experience.
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This book is not just about MS and what people go through when they suffer from it. It’s more of a social and political commentary on what happens with the disabled in society IMG_4934.jpgat large.
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Mara doesn’t want to be called the victim of her circumstances and wants to take hold of her life without the help of anyone, she readjusts her home to be self sufficient for her and starts an online campaign to help other people like her. Nicola Griffith gives a really good insight on how everyday life is affected by MS and it’s really helpful in educating us about it. I personally had no clue about how MS affects someone and this book made me research a lot about MS and I can say I do have a general understanding about it now.
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It’s also an interesting reflection on Social Media and how it can be empowering and can sometimes even a negative effect.
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Mara’s character is what holds the book together as the rest of the characters aren’t as involved and could be thought of as props to tell Mara’s story. The writing is very IMG_5191.JPGcomforting and not too complex. There is a certain hint of suspense in the second half of the book but it’s never the focal point.
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Overall a very good experience and maybe an important one at that. I’d urge you to pick it up, I think we could all benefit from reading about such topics. I’ve added HILD by Nicola Griffith on my TBR as well, its a memoir focussed on her experiences with MS.

What do you think? Would you read this book? If you have any good recommendations for books dealing with MS, I’d love you to comment below!

For a link to buy the book from Book depository, click here

 

 

books, REVIEWS

Book Review: Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Giovanna and Tom Fletcher collaborate to bring us the story of Eve and Bram.

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The premise:

img_1679The premise is very interesting, Eve is the first girl to be born in 50 years and obviously all eyes are on her in hopes that she can carry forward the human race once she comes of age. Eve is taken care of by a corporation based in a tower where she lives in ‘The Dome’ and is disconnected from the outer world. The only friend she has is Holly (An AI bot controlled remotely by ‘pilots’, one of them being Bram.)

 

The world:

The planet is drowned in water and the world outside the Tower is in shambles. There is a huge disconnect between what goes on inside it and what’s on the outside. The outside world barely gets mentioned until we reach the latter part of the book, which seemed like a big mistake.

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World building:

Normally when it comes to the dystopian genre you would expect efficient world building. But since the first half of the book is based inside the Tower and what’s outside img_3773it only comes in play in the second half, there is a huge disconnect. We’re kept in the dark (probably unintentionally) and it doesn’t work. Unless you’re only interested in what happens between Eve and Bram, you’d want to know more about this dystopian world.

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Narration:

Chapters are divided between Eve and Bram and it seems like each author wrote one of the characters chapters, there isn’t any cohesion between the two. This isn’t that bad a thing because each of the characters chapters is easily distinguishable and you could say each character has a voice of its own. I’d have enjoyed it a lot more if the tower and what’s outside had alternate chapters.

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Characters:

The characters are all extremely predictable. There’s no depth to any of them. Character img_3862development is non existent and sometimes even forced. I think there wasn’t a single one of them that had a distinct identity, it seemed that all of them were set to default character settings and let go.

The execution:

I expected this to happen and the answer is yes, the book turns into a Damsel-in-distress-where-is-my-savior plot. It was almost unbearable in the last 100 pages where every movement was thoroughly explained and there was nothing left for me to think about. Every thing was extremely dramatized and the one time something was kept a secret, it seemed forced and well, it wasn’t really a plot twisting secret.

Over all, I think I’d have enjoyed this and maybe even recommended it if I was a teenager. Unfortunately I’m no longer one.

 

books

Chapter 4: Palestine (The Traveling Biblio Chronicles)

Welcome to Chapter 4 of the Traveling Biblio Chronicles!

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Dounya Hamdan is taking us on a lovely little trip over to Palestine! I found Dounya’s account a few months ago on instagram @doonz____ and i love how she focuses her energy on life and things that are close to her heart, especially towards the cause of Palestine.

I’m really excited to hear your thoughts about this post that Dounya has written for us.

Dounya has shared a link to a donation site which works towards funding Palestinian refugee families in the Gaza Strip. As of right now $616,738 have been raised (Goal was $600,000 which has been crossed, but anything above it will of course be a appreciated)

Click here to donate: UNRWA Donation Link

Dounya is going to take over now!

IMG-2812.JPGLet me tell you about a place full of wonder, a place where you will find little treasures in the crevice of every cobblestone street, in every shopkeeper’s store and deep in the gardens that lay beyond every home.

Palestine is where my heart resides. It is the home of my mother and father, my grandparents and my resilient ancestors.

It is where I find solace while I sit atop my grandmother’s home watching the golden sun melt away into dusk. At nighttime, the moon generously illuminating the streets, walking beside me until I have made it home safely. The last time I visited my homeland was about a year ago and my heart is yearning to go back. Palestine is made up of many villages, each with their own customs and traditions.

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Every time I visit, it is a tradition to rush from the airport and drive straight to my grandparents’ home. I always find them patiently awaiting my arrival on their porch with their smiling faces and warm embraces.IMG-2821

When I am thousands of miles away from Palestine, my soul yearns to be reminded of its beauty – and so I delve deep into books that remind me of my homeland. I have read many great stories such as “Secrets Under the Olive Tree” by Nevien Shaabneh, “Fast Times in Palestine” by Pamela Olson and “I Saw Ramallah” by Mourid Barghouti.

I would like to recommend to other fellow readers a story that shows both sides to this beautiful vast land. The side that portrays what the Palestinians endure daily – the occupation, the apartheid wall, checkpoints and hope amid the sorrow. The other side portrays the Israelis and the belief that this land is theirs – that they have a right to a Jewish state. “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan instantly came to mind. It is a story of a Palestinian returning to his childhood home 19 years later only to find an Israeli woman living there now. The story unravels to show you pain and heartache, bitterness and love from both sides.IMG-4020

I truly hope you take the time to see for yourself the hidden beauty of Palestine, for it welcomes anyone with a soft heart and kind eyes.

This was Chapter 4 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Dounya Hamdan. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a little bookish journey to a new place!
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.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

Check out Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

Check out Chapter 3: Egypt here

books

Chapter 3: Egypt (The Traveling Biblio Chronicles)

Noha Badawi from @thebookishword is joining us today to recommend us a book based in Cairo, Egypt. I’ve known Noha through her bookstagram since more than a year and really love her Instagram for all this bookish and photography!

You can find Noha on her Social channels below

Instagram: @thebookishword

Website: www.thebookishword.wordpress.com

Goodreads: thebookishword

COB.jpgCity of Brass is a journey through my town; Cairo

Picking up City of Brass was one of the best decisions to do in 2018. It’s not easy to come across a novel about Egyptians, their mythologies and the history of Arabs. It warmed my history geek-heart, filled my Muslim heart with a starlight of happiness. This book was like I was immediately transported into the tales of Aladdin and the lamp, a journey through the Arabian Nightsand oh boy, it was so damn good.

On the streets of Cairo, during the 18th century, Nahri doesn’t believe in magic; ignoring the powers she obviously have. She’s a con woman with unequaled talents and she’s well aware that what she practices on the streets of Cairo to survive – palm readings, zars, and healings – are tricks, illusions and statement to the slight of her hands. In a zar, Nahri spoke the long lost language of her ancestors – whom she knows nothing of – and accidentally summoned an equally sly, dark and mysterious djinn warrior to her side. Not existent in her childhood memories of tales and stories anymore, Nahri has to accept the magical world. When the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?

A city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, old resentments are simmering behind gilded brass walls with six gates – one for each djinn tribe. Entering this world, Nahri learns the true meaning of power, magic and all about this whole cunning world. But her powers and talents cannot yet shield her from the cruel politics of the court in Daevabad. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for. 

Adding voice to this #OwnVoices novel; a tale of a powerfully rich history and a world to mesmerize and marvel at, City of Brass is a novel to not be missed on. It’s an experience, a journey through the old cities to embark upon and never want to detour from.

Here’s my detailed review of City of Brass: City of Brass Full Review

This was Chapter 3 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Noha Badawi. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a a much needed journey to Palestine
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.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

Check out Chapter 2: Afghanistan here

books

Chapter 2: Afghanistan (The Traveling Biblio Chronicles)

I have known Yeldah @beautiful.bibliophile for a couple of years now thanks to bookstagram and she was one of the first people I approached for this series. Yeldah originates from Afghanistan and she will take over today’s post. Afghanistan needs to be read about more and I’m so happy she is recommending a book based there on today’s guest post.

You can find Yeldah on her channels below

Website: www.yeldahyousfi.com

Instagram: @beautiful.bibliophile

Twitter: @yeldahyousfi

Pinterest: @yeldahyousfi

Snapchat: @b_bibliophile

Tumblr: @beautiful-bibliophile

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“For you, a thousand times over.”

Hi there, it’s Yeldah! You might know me from Instagram as @beautiful.bibliophile or this may be your first hearing about me, which ever it is I’m glad to be writing this piece. I was very excited when Faroukh asked me if I would participate and write a guest post for his weekly blog segment: Traveling Biblio Chronicles.

As a daughter of immigrants from Afghanistan, but born and raised in Canada, I grew up surrounded with Persian/Afghani culture with a Canadian twist. When I was younger I hardly read anything by Afghan authors or books that were set in Afghanistan because there wasn’t much to read. Not having many diverse books growing up I decided to do some research of my own.

When I was 13 or 14, I picked up my first book written by Afghan author which was also set in Afghanistan – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Immediately after starting it, I knew that this book would deeply affect me (aka make me cry like a child). I only read half the book then, but a couple years later I picked it up for my English class and this time I finished it.

Review:

The Kite Runner is a book that follows the life of an Afghani boy, from his childhood to adulthood. It tells the story of Amir, the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, and his struggles in dealing with real-world terrors such as the Afghan-Soviet War but also with private horrors that come to light as the book progresses.

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I found The Kite Runner to be such touching story, but it was hard to read at times since it dealt with some very real and dreadful Afghan history. It also deals with the topics of child neglect mental/physical abuse, violence in times of war and terrorism in an authentic and important manner. The characters are all relatable because they aren’t perfect and have flaws, even if they are not always likeable they will break your heart (you have been warned). But in my most honest opinion, there’s a kind of beauty and significance of this story that really touched me.

Hope you have the chance to pick this wonderful work of fiction up, I would highly recommend it to everyone!

What are some books that left you speechless?

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This was Chapter 2 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Yeldah Yousfi. You can buy the book here from book depository
This book travel series will continue next week when our next guest takes us on a magical journey to the land of the Pyramids!
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.

Check out Chapter 1: Australia here

books, REVIEWS, Tips, Tricks and Tutorials

How The Forty Rules of Love taught me a lot about reviewing books.

This might become a post on how to review books, hang on tight!

A couple of years ago I started reviewing books on Instagram. I never did a full fledged detailed review. Mostly bite sized reviews that fit an Instagram caption which didn’t really have a set format.

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My primary goal was to review books without giving anything away. No spoilers, no reveals. Just purely what I felt about the pace, characters, plot and feel of the book. Enough to make the readers decide for themselves if they’d like to pick a book. This still has not changed.

Over time, I graduated to a simpler format for my reviews. I start with my thoughts on the book, writing, plot etc. and end with listing things I liked and things I didn’t really like. This seems to work best for me, I’ve had comments on ‘negative’ book reviews where readers have been intrigued by the book, despite the negative review.

I have no authority over literature of any kind and that’s another thing I’m careful about while writing a review – to make sure I don’t sound authoritative about a book, a genre or a subject.

In case you’re interested, my reviews are here

img_2217A few reviews after my first, I read a book which I really disliked and wouldn’t recommend to anyone I knew unless they like to read books on the subject. This was The forty rules of love by Elif Shafak. I will not get into why I didn’t like it, let’s just say I was in a pickle on how to write the review without sounding hateful.

So I tried, and I think I did a decent job in pushing forward my thoughts on the book. This was when I did not have many followers, probably somewhere around 1000 and the response was really good. I think the comments section had 100+ comments which was unthinkable for me at that level.

Funny thing was, a lot of people said they liked my ‘honest’ review. I didn’t think much of it but over time I found that some bookstagrammers (especially bigger ones) stay away from posting negative reviews because they want their pages to only have positive content (I respect that) but later I also found that a lot of people get hate over writing negative reviews from readers who love that negatively reviewed book. This can be really problematic for reviewers and in my view it’s best to stay away if you can’t handle online hate (it can be tough, trolls online sometimes forget there is a real person behind an account and they keep knocking for months and stalk every single word you post, it’s a serious problem)

Recently one of my friends who is white was bullied into deleting a review of a book written by a POC. Since their following is quite high, they deleted it because of fear of backlash from people. Unfortunate, but this is life I guess.

Fortunately I have a very thick skin and I can take a hit or two (trust me, I get hate in all shapes and forms mainly because I say what I feel and seldom sugar coat things)

Anyways, over time, I started receiving books from publishers. I remember I had received and didn’t like the first book sent by a major publishing house. I made sure I reviewed the book like I would review any other book and gave it 2 stars on goodreads. I know it can be daunting to stay honest, especially when you’re dealing with publishers and generally would hope to be on their reviewers list. Trust me, your negative review on a book will not effect your relationship with the publisher (and if it does, stay true to yourself and write what you feel). I have spoken to publishers about this as well, and for them reviews matter, they don’t want reviewers to just give positive reviews because of a free book. (And again, if they do, you’re better off staying away from such publishers)

Over the next months I reviewed a lot of other books I didn’t like and I think one positive effect this has had is my reviews are expected to be honest and straight forward whether it’s a book I’ve picked myself or a book sent by a major publishing house.

Another thing that I do is I do not DNF books. I’ve realized if I do not like a book and review it, it makes for great conversation and enhances my learning of literature. There is a possibility I missed out on some things while reading it and it gives me a chance to grow.

So that’s it, some of my thoughts on reviewing books, maybe they will help you in developing your own reviewing style. If you have tips to share, please leave in the comments below. We could use insights from everyone 🙂

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Happy Reading!!

Faroukh