ARC Review | The Age of Light

Title: The Age of Light

Author: Whitney Scharer

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Expected Publication Date: February 05, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

I was recently sent an ARC of The Age of Light by the publicists at Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review. This work of historical fiction by Whitney Scharer is expected to be published on February 05, 2019.

The Age of Light is a captivating and exhilarating narrative that keeps readers emotionally invested up to the very last page. Masquerading as historical fiction, the novel recounts the life of Vogue model turned photographer, Lee Miller and her relationship with Man Ray, one of the most influential figures of the Dada and Surrealists movements ensuing Paris in the 1930s.  Continue reading “ARC Review | The Age of Light”

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)

2019 Releases That I’m Looking Forward To…

Ever since I started interning for ELLE Magazine, in the Book Features department I have been adding countless titles to my To-Read Goodreads shelf. Although I do try to aim my reviews specifically towards YA and mental health specifically, not all from this shelf fall under either category so I’m sure there is even something for the posh literary enthusiast roaming around out there between Balzac and Hemingway. I have been coming across some amazing adult fiction, literary fiction, and even a couple plays here and there. It’s awe-inspiring all of the books that are being published in the coming year. What with 2019 just around the corner, I thought what better way to look towards a fantastic new year of of drop diets, women empowerment and new hairdos than with a new Goodreads reading list for readers ?


Continue reading “2019 Releases That I’m Looking Forward To…”

ARC Review: The Hawkman

Title: The Hawkman

Author: Jane RosenBerg LaForge

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 3 Stars

I received and ARC copy of The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for this advanced reader copy which was released on June 5, 2018.

Dear fellow Babblers,

This book, just shy of 300 pages was gruesomely painful for me to get through, and I’m using the kindest words possible to explain how treacherous a trek this read was for me. It took me a whole four months, probably the longest I’ve ever spent reading a single novel. If it takes you this long to read a rather short book there is either a serious problem with your comprehension or you simply prefer to be happy than to put yourself through the pain of 280 pages filled with a story you simply, no matter how hard you try, cannot get absorbed into.

I was intrigued by The Hawkman by the cover art to be quite honest, with mystical creatures and alluring fonts. Even the synopsis, promising a tale of the world during the Great War, infused with a fairy tale imagination seemed promising of an instant classic. However, despite some interesting parts hear and there, The Hawkman proved to be a disappointing and tedious read for me.  Continue reading “ARC Review: The Hawkman”

Books To Remind You How To Never Stop Being Sad

Dear fellow Babblers,

There are several coping mechanisms and treatments out there whose sole purpose is to ease people out of their pain, suffering, sadness – all the pessimism infesting their lives one way or another. There is electric shock waves for the most extreme cases and some Hershey’s Kisses for the light, blue devil tears. One morning feeling like fresh sunny D and by evening aching for that cigarette ? Absolutely. That is what Power Yoga is for. And for those whose sadness turns to seething, rippling anger ? There is that $150 Equinox membership. For the poor souls grieving a loved one comes group therapy. And for the unlucky ones, unfortunate enough to crawl through life in a hazy blur of their own tears, day in and day out there is Prozac, Fluoxetine, medical Marijuana – the whole nine yards. Everything comes to how to be happy. How to live the most fulfilling life possible, hurting the least amount of people in the process of flying ourselves towards self fulfillment.

Sadness has existed in multiple forms and has been addressed and dealt with in countless ways,regardless of how one’s culture may choose to address and identify it. As a book blogger, my main area of interest and concern is on the treatment of mental illness by authors and how they use characters as victims of this serious, yet somehow overlooked illness, how plot is used to unravel and explore all the little yet detrimental symptoms of a mental illness and the ways in which an author’s writing and descriptions of their characters speaks, in and of itself, on mental illness.

As a blogger, writer, editor, academic, active reader, I have met and had several relationships with characters and have, throughout the years have been left with the scars, marks and, in conclusion, love and a certain intimacy with certain characters, their stories and the voices from which they were told. Here below I’m sharing with my readers not the books that I feel are therapeutical and relieve readers of their gloom. Instead these books are what I like to call “How To’s On How To Never Stop Being Sad.” Each and every one has touched my heart in one way or another, never fulfilling it, more often than not emptying it bit by bit. No one is ever in search of sadness but when they, or at least I, find it in between pages it is not a sort of sadness that breaks but rather one that bends, making the heart all the more stronger.  Continue reading “Books To Remind You How To Never Stop Being Sad”

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”

Top 10 Tuesday: Sensory Reading Memories

Dear fellow Babblers,

Hello there and happity-dappity Tuesday! Today has been a wonderfully humid day here in New York but that is not to say that it has not been a day filled with wonders, blessings and hope. I moved here less than twenty four hours ago, having arrived at JFK Sunday evening, heading straight to Upper Manhattan. Between then and now I have visited the greater half of Brooklyn, Harlem, Queens and much of Manhattan in search of an apartment. Being a first timer in New York the areas and neighborhoods as listed online meant nothing to me. It wasn’t until I found myself sitting in the subway watching the turns, entries, and exits through different parts of the city that the anxiety and suddenly realization would kick in that I had absolutely no idea where I was going and where I would end up. Just when I was at my wits end, pulling my hair out, screaming in my pillow, very near tears last night I found my new home. I moved into my cozy little room early this morning and since then have gotten to know my neighborhood and even found a job not even a two minute walk from my bedroom window.

Officially now living here in New York, thinking back to a little over a year ago when I graduated from UCLA and everything that I have seen, done and felt since then feels like many moons backwards. Between getting through emotional hardships, making difficult career decisions and living out of a suitcase, as of lately I have been reminiscing upon my life: childhood, adolescence and early adult and while all that I have mentioned peeks into my mind, I can’t help but also connect many of my memories to some titles that I have read whose story continues to live on within me. And that is why today I am here, after this very long introduction to take part in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which discusses all things bookish, bringing together book bloggers from all over the world. I usually don’t do these memes as I like to keep each of my posts original and just, you know, stick with my own vibes as my writing always reflects what is going on in my mind and life regardless of it is a book review or life update. However, feeling the way I am at the moment, nostalgic and dozing off to another time, this week’s topic seems just what I need.

The purpose of today’s Top Ten Tuesday is to bring back to conscious those special titles that gave you all the feels, evoking your sensory emotions, becoming a part of who you are, keeping a special place in your heart. Whether it be books read repeatedly during adolescence, those you read once during a road trip but made you feel a way you never had before, or even those you read during an airplane ride thinking you were just trying to escape the blabber mouth lady sitting next to you. Whatever the time, place and reason, these books are, in and of themselves proof of the life a book can take in each and every one of us.
Continue reading “Top 10 Tuesday: Sensory Reading Memories”