Review: Gazelle in the Shadows

Title: Gazelle in the Shadows

Author: Michelle Peach

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: April 26, 2018

Genre: Adult Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

 

 

I was recently sent a copy of Gazelle in Shadows for an honest reviews. It is a debut novel from former diplomat with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Michelle Peach. This is a self-published title which was released April 26 2018.

This is a thoroughly reflective illustration of life in Syria under the governmental unrest of the early 1990s – a brutal regime producing fear, anxiety and rage amongst those caught beneath it. It is a thriller and suspense; definitely not a book that I would ever have picked up browsing in a bookstore, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.

Set in the mid nineties, Gazelle in the Shadows follows the life of a young, and perhaps a bit naiive British college student, Elizabeth Booth who is an Arabic student at Durham University. Like any college language student, she decides to go abroad immerse herself in Arabic language and culture. She finds herself in Damascus. A new world presents itself to her in this ancient city. It is place of humility and generosity, bazaars and street markets, warm air and natural beauty. She easily assimilates, quickly making friends, excelling more than ever in her studies and soon attracts the attention of a young native.
Elizabeth’s naïveté however leads her into danger before she even lands in Damascus. During her flight over Elizabeth makes the acquaintance of a flight attendant, Asim and his friend Hassein. A friendship hastily evolves and results in the two men committing themselves to serving as a sort of body guard for Elizabeth. From here a spiral of events occurs. What starts off as an easy friendship and love affair turns progressively questionable. Incident begin to occur around her as she gets progressively caught up within a mesh of lies, deceit, empty promises, and dangerous political activity in the form of terrorism.

Quite frankly, Elizabeth is a bloody idiot. She commits herself to a study abroad program in a politically unstable country and doesn’t even have the logical sense to find a place to live. Instead, she basically throws herself into the arms of two strangers who could be anyone, like seriously, ANYONE, and entrusts herself in their freaking care. Like, for real?!?!?! That in and of itself is a serious red flag, like, girl, have you know brain? I mean, I’m all for believing the best in people but try to have some sort of boundaries! She makes friends and love interests spark without her ever fully even knowing the crowds in which she is involving herself. This leads to endless trouble for her as her trust and curiosity begin to take a backslide.

The narrative time of the novel is rather short, but in that short period Elizabeth gets mixed up in a lot of evil going ons. The author’s political background definitely manifests itself in the ways in which she so accurately illustrates Syrian politics, history and culture. She paints a beautiful portrait of the troubled Middle Eastern city, offering readers a narrative that parallels so much of the disastrous happenings goin on in Syria even today. By following the life of rather dumb college student, Peach retells Syrian history and in this way, blurs the lines between fiction and reality. I really enjoyed learning so much of Syrian culture through this book and even found the brief diary entries between the chapters riveting, rendering the book “un-put-downable”.

Although the ending was pretty predictable (even from the first page I knew, it wouldn’t end well for Elizabeth), I found it to be an extremely enticing read. So many questions were swimming in my mind as I read: Will Elizabeth make it home from school? Will she even make it to school? Does Hassein even really love her? Who are all these woman Hassein is introducing her to ? Gazelle in the Shadows is a thought provoking tales that keeps readers at the edge of their seats in a new world where nothing is as it seems.

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Goodreads)

Review: An American Marriage

Title: An American Marriage

Author: Tayari Jones

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Genre: Adult Contemporary, Social Rights

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

A sad, tragic love story; a couple so deeply in love but whose timing destroys their lives. An American Marriage is one of the most highly anticipated novels of 2018, earning itself a spot on the Today Show as well as the Oprah list. A novel of love, rage, heartbreak and all that causes and results from it, this is a raw piece of work. Though a work of fiction, if someone was to tell me this was nonfiction I would easily believe them. That is how realistic the plot and characters came across to me. Even the themes discussed – racism, human rights, marriage and family – all growing into deeply debatable issues in today’s progressive society, were explored and intricately opened, welcoming the reader into a global debate. The story was not a happy story, nor were any of the characters happy characters but it gave a deep reflection into everyday life and the issues and risks that come along with just getting out of bed every morning.  Continue reading “Review: An American Marriage”

Review: Norwegian Wood

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami (Translated by Jay Rubin)

Publisher: Vintage Books

Publication Date: September 12, 2000

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

This is going to be my first book review in quite a few months, my last being an ARC review of The Museum of Us close to four months ago, back in March. The reason being, I’ve been traveling and going through some serous personal and academic changes and self discovery, resulting in the majority of my energy being directed to myself and away from the book blogging community. I have been back in Los Angeles for a little over a week now and will remain here for the next couple of weeks before I fly across the country to New York in preparation of a masters program that I will be starting in September. I’ve been settling back into a calm, translucent life in my parents’ home, back in my childhood room of tower-high books and stuffed care bears all around me. It’s a luxury to be able to walk up and down my shelves and choose whatever I am in the mood of reading, unlike during my travels that I read whatever I could manage to get my hands on, or whatever was the cheapest and least had the least ridiculous cover.

I returned to the United States in low and glum spirits and I was a bit hopeless as to figuring out a way to cope as I’ve never been a girl good at coping and have always been rather hopeless at hoping. Books have always been my way of momentarily caging my sadness or sorrow which is exactly what I fell back on this time around. With the joy that I could finally for the first time in over a year pick a book off of my own shelf I chose a novel from my favorite contemporary author, Norwegian Wood by the legendary Haruki Murakami, and here is what I thought…  Continue reading “Review: Norwegian Wood”

Review: The Sun is Also a Star | Blinded by this Sunny Star

Title: The Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: November 01, 2016

Genre: YA

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

This book is an outpouring of tears and everything that any girl looks for in romance – affection, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, hopefulness. The Sun is Also a Star is a book on race, immigration, young love, hope, family – everything and anything that can be connected with love. Just like in Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon effortlessly brings together romance and culture by bringing together two young people from different worlds, representing love not only as a union between two people but also an understanding of dreams and differences between worlds and how these worlds affect dreams (wow, that was a riddle in an of itself!). Continue reading “Review: The Sun is Also a Star | Blinded by this Sunny Star”