Books Reviews

Book Chat and Reviews: June 2021

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve done book reviews on the blog so here is my June 2021 book wrap up.

Blurb: Li grew up in China, her mother suffering from mental illness, and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, an immigrant, a mother – and through it all, she has been sustained by a deep connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Kierkegaard and Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together.

Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live?

A book that didn’t meet my expectations but I genuinely haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

It’s hard to summarise what this book is about and that’s part of its beauty. It’s Li’s literary engagement with her favourite writers, it’s about her mental health struggle, it’s about identity, it’s about the challenges of being a bi-lingual writer and experience of growing up in Communist China.

There were definitely parts of the book that felt obscure, perhaps because I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the writers she admires, but I didn’t find those essays engaging.

However I’ve never seen an author so aptly capture the experience of dealing with a mental illness. Absolutely brilliant!

There’s a lot I’m grappling with a month after reading this memoir and dare I say, it’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Blurb: Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.

When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

This is the end for me with fantasy books that deal with devilish magic.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend this book for Muslim readers because there is a lot that will make you uncomfortable. Inspired by the practice of voodoo, this is the first book in a trilogy and I can comfortably say I won’t be reading the sequels.

There were definitely parts of the story telling that I enjoyed. Fighting scenes were well written, rich African mythology but I genuinely did not care for the protagonist. There’s a moment in the book where Arrah exchanges years of her life for magical powers and I just thought in my Iyanla voice, beloved but who sent you? I’m not sure if the world building wasn’t concrete by that stage but I didn’t care whether their world perished or not. Which defeats the whole point of following along with a story like this. The best part of the book for me was actually Arrah’s mother, a villain with an interesting arc.

Blurb: Hello, Niveus High. It’s me. Who am I? That’s not important. All you need to know is…I’m here to divide and conquer. – Aces

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public.

Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

I am excited by Faridah’s presence in the writing scene! She is super talented and this is a great debut novel.

With that said, a large part of why this book didn’t work for me as I anticipated is because I’m starting to outgrow YA books. I know secondary school Mahmoudat who loved reading Michael Connelly, David Baldacci and Robert Muchamore would have lapped this up!

This novel has the best book description. Gossip Girl meets Get Out captures everything! You’ll have edge of your seat moments, what is this twisted world moments and somebody get me out of here moments reading this book.

Devon’s voice as a protagonist is the highlight of the novel. His sarcastic sense of humour got me hooked from the opening chapter. The ending felt a tad bit too convenient and some events left me with more questions than answers. But overall I enjoyed the book and the epilogue was a nice touch.

I would love to know what books you’ve been enjoying lately? Drop a comment below!


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