Book Review: One True Loves

Title: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 331 pages; 8 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Emma Blair married her childhood sweetheart, Jesse, in her twenties. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Years later, after much grief, Emma falls in love with an old childhood friend, Sam and soon gets engaged. However, Jesse is found alive, and what kept him through all these years was trying to get back to Emma. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves

Review:

What is true love?

Are we able to love as boldly as we did after being hurt?

This was a beautiful story about the power of love, and the notion that we have soul mates (instead of only one soul mate). The division of the book between “before Emily got engaged to Sam”, and “after her husband who was believed to be dead returns” was clear and engaging. It was also a lovely listen as an audiobook.

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Legacy of Orïsha Series

Title: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: (High) Fantasy, Young Adult, Yoruba mythology

Pages: 544 pages; 18 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, Maji (folks with magic) were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Review:

Wow! Wow! Wow! This book was excellent. Nothing about it was predictable – each event/turning point was a surprise. The plot was straightforward, creative, and critical.

As a Nigerian and a Yoruba, it was heartwarming to have the language embedded throughout the novel. I was also very excited about how Yoruba mythology was embedded in the book. In addition, the characters were authentic, empowering and relatable.

The novel was also pretty political, highlighting the dangers of discrimination and the need for people to unite to fight injustices.

I highly recommend it!

Title: Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Pages: 404 pages; 13 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review:

(Screaming!!) Another cliffhanger! Honestly, that is the only ‘bad’ part about this book. It was engaging, and all the twists and turns were very unexpected. Tomi Adeyemi does an excellent job of surprising readers. It was not as exciting as the first book, but it was not too far behind. I truly enjoyed reading it.

I wanted to wait for the third book before writing a book review about the series. However, it’s been too long, and I still think the series deserves to be read. Nevertheless, I will warn that with the third book nowhere in sight, it might be best just to read the first book and put the second book on hold until after the third book comes out (as the cliffhanger might gravely annoy you).

Book Review: Warlight

Title: Warlight

Author: Michael Ondaatje

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 290 pages; 9 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

A vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time.

Review:

The author deserves credit for experimenting with this writing style that reads like a memoir. The main character speaks of significant events in his life and the lives of those close to him, often imagining how things would have been – but yet telling the readers what had happened because he is the narrator.

However, it was not that engaging. I got bored a few times and wanted to stop reading/for it to end. I think it might be because the plot was relatively flat. There was not much development. We as readers aren’t incentivized to find out more about what happened to various characters in the book, for which Nathaniel is investigating because we don’t get to build much of a connection nor understanding of said characters.

TW: Death

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Death on the Nile

Title: Death on the Nile

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 333 pages

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Linnet Ridgeway, a young, stylish and beautiful girl has been shot through the head during a cruise along the Nile. The passengers are all close acquaintances of hers, so who is the murderer?

Review:

This was my first time reading Agatha Christie’s book even though I have watched and enjoyed several of her movies (including the adaptation of this book). However, the book was quite disappointing. I could guess the murder, although I was not sure how they did it. In addition, the other characters were not as interesting (and as such their motive in the murder was not as clear nor believable). Nevertheless, I will definitely pick up another of her books! 

You may get the book here!

Book Review: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

Title: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

Author: Akwaeke Emezi

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 288 pages; 10 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

It has been five year since the accident that killed the love of Feyi Adekola life’s, and she is re-learning what it means to be alive. However, what about giving love a second chance?

Review:

I went into this book without reading the synopsis; it was a great decision! I recommend you do the same!

Akwaeke Emezi has this unique ability to write books that make you (or maybe just me) deeply uncomfortable yet enjoy greatly. The story plot was chaotic and a little stressful, yet engaging and unpredictable. I was hooked even though I was worried about what would happen next. The book questions the assumptions around true love and age differences in relationships. I can’t entirely say that I found the relationship between the main characters endearing/heart warmly; however, the book made me root for them.

TW: Death, Trauma, Blood

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Wish You Were Here

Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 310 pages; 12 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

What has supposed to be a romantic getaway to the Galápagos for Diana and her boyfriend Finn – days before her 30th birthday does not go as planned. Finn, a surgical resident, must stay back in New York because it’s all hand on deck after the Covid-19 outbreak. However, he encourages and reassures Diana to go by herself since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. Unfortunately, Diana’s luggage is lost on her way to the Galápagos, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent on the Island, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole Island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen.

Review:

In the book’s first part, I was a little disappointed by how the female lead ended up on the Island. I felt it was a little too convenient as a plot. However, by the book’s second part, that thought was knocked right out of me. Jodi Picoult is brilliant at engaging a reader and challenging all situations. At that point, I was reminded again why she is (one of my) favourite writer(s).

The themes in the novel about the pandemic were handled well and fully stretched despite being a relatively short book set in a complex time (and written at the earlier stages of the pandemic).

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Portrait of a Thief

Title: Portrait of a Thief

Author: Grace D. Li

Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

Pages: 384 pages; 11 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

A cultural heist, an examination of Chinese American identity, and a necessary cri­tique of the lingering effects of colonialism.

Review:

I’m giving this book a four-star for the literary, emotional and critical commentary rather than the actual heists. They were very faulty, quite convenient plans – definitely full of holes. Thus how they managed to execute them as novices was a suspension in disbelief.

The book is a feel-good about a possible situation where one can earn a tremendous amount of money to remove the burden of responsibilities and obligations while doing something meaningful and morally sound.

A running theme in the novel is the pressure of being an immigrant, more specifically, a second-generation Chinese in America trying to perform to the expectations of parents who believe in the American dream.

The critical commentary on imperialism (from both perspectives), colonialism, violence, and power were well woven into the story.

You may get the book here!

Academic Book Review – Feminism For The 99%: A Manifesto

Re-envisioning Feminism

In the book, Feminism For The 99%: A Manifesto, the authors Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, and Nancy Fraser discuss an intersectional, radical, anti-capitalist, decolonial, and anti-imperialist feminism that is inclusive of all, especially marginalised women called ‘Feminism for the 99%’. With organising principles and action strategies that ensure no group is sacrificed over another and that “anti-racists, environmentalists, and labour and migrant right activists” (Arruzza et al. 5) work together, ‘Feminism for the 99%’ protects the powerless and provides hope for effective change. Hence, re-envisioning feminism and the way it has been practised. This is further evident from the theses the authors discussed in the Manifesto, particularly theses 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8. 

Thesis 1 of the Manifesto states, “A new feminist wave is reinventing the strike” (Arruzza et al. 6). This refers to how ‘Feminism for the 99%’ reformed strikes, which were a form of protest only in the context of waged work, into a state of protest that withdraws labour along with housework, smiles, and sex (8). This form of protest is much more accessible to everyone from all sectors and regions. It allows for a global movement that requires little effort but has a significant impact primarily because we live in a capitalist world where labour is key to survival. By including actions related to unpaid emotional labour – housework, smiles, and sex, “the indispensable role played by gendered, unpaid work” (8) in a capitalist society, for which the system benefits but does not pay, is brought to light consequently. This deliberate attack against all types of exploitative labour is significant as it highlights that ‘Feminism for the 99%’ is radical and anti-capitalist. 

Thesis 3 of the Manifesto states, “We need an anti-capitalist feminism – a feminism for the 99%” (13). This statement is linked to how feminism today, rooted in capitalism, sacrifices the well-being of the many for the freedom of the few. For example, there has been an increased push for women to get into powerful positions, obtain a high income and establish wealth to be on the same playing fields as their male counterparts. However, this sort of feminism emphasises the individual. It assumes that a woman in power would be able to change the systemic problems that affect the lives of marginalised women worldwide. Unfortunately, that assumption is untrue as those systemic problems result from ill-capitalism. ‘Feminism for the 99%’ instead aims to work with “every movement that fights for the 99 per cent”, be it for environmental justice, “free high-quality education, generous public services, low-cost housing, labour rights, free universal health care”, anti-racism or world peace (15) to dismantle capitalism and thus tackle social justice issues from their root. Hence, once against presenting how ‘Feminism for the 99%’ is anti-capitalist. 

Thesis 4 of the Manifesto states, “What we are living through is a crisis of society as a whole – and its root cause is capitalism” (16). This means capitalism destroys anything it uses, such as nature, public goods, and human beings. As such, the political, economic, ecological, and social justice issues the world is facing are caused by capitalism. One example is the refugee crisis – marginalised folks are displaced daily due to war, violent conflicts, and environmental disasters. These circumstances that result in the displacement of marginalised folks are rooted in ill-capitalism, such as how companies pollute the air and water sources at the expense of people for profit, and similarly, how countries export arms to volatile regions for the sack of profit. Canada is one country that profits from the violent conflicts that cause displacement. Yet, Canada believes itself to be a country that practices “humanitarian exceptionalism” because it presents itself as a haven for displaced people and is more benevolent than the United States regarding accepting refugees. However, Canada predominately takes exceptional refugees, such as community organisers and activists. Furthermore, it employs immigration laws that discriminate against refugees based on race, sexuality, and ability (Phu et al. 29). Unfortunately, Canada’s performative action is also rooted in ill-capitalism, as the nation is driven by its desire to push an international and local political narrative of an “international leader in human rights and democratic freedom” (29) at the expense of vulnerable human beings. Hence, ‘Feminism for the 99%’ argues that by eliminating capitalism based on exploiting others, we can efficiently work on putting an end to the problems facing our Earth.

Thesis 6 of the manifesto states, “Gender violence takes many forms, all of them entangle with capitalist social relations. We vow to fight them all.” (Arruzza et al. 25). Capitalist social relations refer to the social links that occur under capitalism, between an employee and an employer or between intimate partners. In addition, due to the different aspects of private and work life, women are subjected to violations both at the hands of family and personal intimates and at the hands of “capital’s enforcers and enablers” (28). One example of a capitalist social relationship where gender violence is present and common is between women migrant workers and their employers. Although borders are not fixed and thoroughly ideological, they produce “hard workers” (Anderson et al. 7). This is because immigrants must work hard to keep their status in the country, which their employers have over them as citizens. The power that citizens have over migrants puts these female migrant workers in vulnerable and dangerous situations, such as when their bosses or managers in factories, for example, “use serial rape, verbal abuse, and humiliating body searches to increase productively and discourage labour organising” (Arruzza et al. 32) because they endure the mistreatment for fear of being deported. Borders, and consequentially, nationalised identities, which are colonial as most settlers do not have rights to the land they claim, are “a key strategy in dividing and subordinating labour” (Anderson et al. 13). Thus, ‘Feminism for the 99%’ which aims to fight all forms of gender violence, such as those that occur due to the construction of borders, is anti-colonial. 

Thesis 8 of the manifesto states, “Capitalism was born from racist and colonial violence. Feminism for the 99 per cent is anti-racist and anti-imperialist” (Arruzza et al. 40). This means that the foundation of capitalism is racism and colonialism. Thus any feminism that does not actively dismantles capitalism would be enabling racism and colonialism. Unfortunately, this failure was present in the first, second, and third wave feminisms. First-wave feminism was liberal feminism and focused on getting women the vote. However, Black women and their needs were excluded in the process. White chosen stead choose to dissociate themselves from white men and argued that racism was “endemic to white male patriarchy” and that they could not be “held responsible for racist oppression” (“Chapter 4: Racism and Feminism: The Issue of Accountability”). Consequentially, this ignorance from white women during the first wave of feminism birthed Black Feminism, a philosophy that “motivated black feminists to work against their multilayered oppression” and to challenge “white feminists to acknowledge their exclusion of women of colour and working-class women in the feminist movement” (“The Combahee River Collective Statement (1977)”). This effort to include racialised and working-class women is also present in ‘Feminism for the 99%’. On the other hand, second-wave feminism, which was radical and concerned about racism, failed to include transgender and non-binary people in the conversation. Lastly, third-wave feminism, which is post-modern feminism, was focused on social media, digital space, and the representation of women. Although it began being more inclusive, it supported ill-capitalism by encouraging women to obtain high positions,

Overall, ‘Feminism for the 99%’ attempts to re-envision feminism. It is intersectional, radical, anti-capitalist, decolonial, anti-imperialist, and inclusive, especially for marginalised women. It challenges all that we have been accustomed to when we discuss and engage with feminism by enforcing organising principles and action strategies that emphasise no group is sacrificed over another, that all activist and community organisers need to work together, and that capitalism has to be dismantled for long-standing effective change to happen. While this is one way to re-envision feminism and its movements, as a manifesto, it oversimplifies the severe hostility against feminists and feminism, especially today.

You may get the book here!

Work Cited

Arruzza, Cinzia, et al. Feminism for The 99%: A Manifesto. Verso, 2019. 

Anderson, Bridget, et al. “Editorial: Why No Borders?” Refuge, vol. 26, no. 2, 1 Jan. 2009, pp. 5–18., doi: https://doi.org/10.25071/1920-7336.32074. 

“Chapter 4: Racism and Feminism: The Issue of Accountability.” Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, by Bell Hooks, Routledge, 2015, pp. 119–158. 

Phu, Thy, Vinh Nguyen, et al. “STATES OF REFUGE: KEYWORDS FOR CRITICAL REFUGEE STUDIES.” Sept. 2019. “The Combahee River Collective Statement (1977).” Available Means: An Anthology of Women’s Rhetoric(s), by Joy S. Ritchie and Kate Ronald, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001, pp. 291–300.

Book Review: Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1)

Title: Wicked Fox

Author: Kat Cho

Genre: (Korean) Mythology, Low Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 429 pages; 12 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Gu Miyoung is an 18-year-old gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men to survive. One night, she stumbles upon and saves Jihoon from being attacked by a globin deep in the forest. However, this action violates the rules of survival and puts her at risk.

Review:

I think this book would have been better read than listened to. In addition, the narrator spoke in a sad, gloomy manner, which I don’t think was a good fit for the novel.

The plot was engaging and there were quite a few surprise twists. However, I felt like it was missing something. Maybe there was not enough time spent between the main characters for there to be as deep of a love to be formed and depicted – they were willing to die for each other. In addition, there is a lot of trauma between the two characters, and I am usually not a fan when characters bond because of the trauma they face.

Unfortunately, I will not be continuing with the series. The bridge to the next book did not make me excited. Instead, it made me sad for the female main character and thus unwilling to see her endure even more pain.

TW: Death, Murder

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Ugly Love

Title: Ugly Love

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 324 pages; 9 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Tate and Miles agree to a low-stakes relationship because of their personal circumstance. However, things take a turn for the unexpected…or did it?

Review:

This book should come with the warning “when someone tells who they are, you better believe them”. I know it’s fiction, but it paints the picture that one can get into a relationship by disregarding boundaries…and believing the idea that one can “change” a man…

The trauma that the male lead went through, while very saddening, felt artificial. It was like the incident was put there for the shock factor…to explain his aloofness yet excuse his behaviour towards the female lead. This was the case because there was little to no elaboration of why the incident had happened and the immediate effects of that incident (I’m being general here to prevent spoilers).

I did enjoy the shifting point of view, especially how Tate’s pov was in the present and Miles’ was always in the past. It emphasised that he was stuck in the past. Furthermore, Miles’ pov is read in the present only after the resolution between the lead characters. This was a nice touch in the book.

You may get the book here!