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

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).

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 rather 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.

I think it was pretty engaging in the plot, 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

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.

Book Review: Ayesha at Last

Title: Ayesha at Last

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Retellings

Pages: 349

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid…As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; and was set on leaving his love life in the hands of his mother until he met Ayesha.

Review:

This book is a Muslim romance comedy. There was good character development, real tension between the two lead characters and a beautifully written and smartly executed resolution. There was suspense, surprise, and shenanigans. The plot was engaging, the issues addressed in the book were given great justice, and the humour was appropriate. In addition, it is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice! It was so good that I read it in one sitting. I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Lovely War

Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, Romance, Young Adult

Pages: 471 pages; 13 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Two couples. Hazel, a classical pianist from London and James, a British would-be architect-turned soldier. Colette, a Belgian orphan with serious emotional scars that fail to hide behind her beautiful voice, and Aubrey, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S Army. Their love story is told in first-person perspective and by goddess Aphrodite as she faces judgement on Mount Olympus for her interference with mortal love.

Review:

Romance, History and Mythology – a wonderful intersection! This is one of the best historical fiction I have ‘read’; it was funny, honest, hopeful and historically accurate. A beautiful tale that reveals that though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of true love. I highly recommend listening to it as an audiobook. It is quite an immersive experience with different voices for different characters and the music the characters play in the background.

Book Reviews: May 2022 Reads*

by Asian Authors

*(3 stars or more)

Book Review: Verity

Verity: Hoover, Colleen: 9781791392796: Books - Amazon.ca

Title: Verity

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Romantic Thriller, Adult Fiction

Pages: 324 pages

Level of difficulty: 2/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Lowen Ashleigh is a writer who gets a big break when the husband of a severely injured author, Verity Crawford, seeks her to help continue the author’s beloved thriller book series. Lowen, struggling financially, accepts the opportunity and goes to their house with their husband, Jeremy, to read over Verity’s manuscripts. However, she ends up stumbling upon an unfinished autobiography that paints Verity in a terrible light. As Lowen realises that Verity is evil and grows suspicious of the author’s current medical condition, all while developing feelings for Jeremy, she battles with what to do.

Favourite Quote:

N/A

Review:

Unfortunately, this thriller had so much potential but failed to deliver.

At the very beginning of the novel, Lowen and Jeremy meet in a traumatic manner, but the weight of that incident is brushed upon, which seems very unrealistic (despite the impression that since they both have had the worst traumatic experiences, they could look past the one that had happened in the beginning scene). This situation is very concerning since it’s a romance that grows on the foundation of (unresolved) trauma.

Furthermore, the romance that brewed between Lowen and Jeremy seemed very instant-love. There wasn’t any significant reason why Lowen liked Jeremy so much, apart from the fact that he was nice to her (which I would argue is a low standard). Considering Jeremy’s situation and the other issues in his family, I was surprised that Lowen was not even a bit concerned about a healthy relationship with Jeremy (until towards the end of the novel) and thus began questioning her feelings just lust or infatuation.

Regarding the thriller aspect of the novel, Hoover tried hard to add every stereotypical element for a thriller novel without genuinely exploring them. Many deaths, toxic relationships, and mental health issues could have been better analysed. Sadly, the medical condition that Verity was in and Lowen’s suspicion of it was severely tackled.

In addition, Jeremy’s lack of first-person narration made him quite an unrealistic character. There were many questions left unanswered about him, especially how he was dealing with all the tragic events happening to him and his family.

Hoover added a chapter that turned the whole novel/storyline on its head. While there is nothing wrong with such an element in a novel, it left a bad taste in my mouth with the nature of the story and its issues. In addition, it felt solely for shock value and thus very unnecessary.

Nevertheless, Colleen Hoover is a beloved romance writer, and while I might not pick up another thriller by her, I would definitely give one of her romance novels a chance.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 389

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Evelyn Hugo is a big-time Hollywood actress who has not been in the spotlight for a long time. However, now that she is older, she is about to do a tell-all (especially about her 7 marriages) alongside an auction of 7 of her most famous gowns for charity. However, she has chosen an unknown journalist Monique Grant to do the interview.

Favourite Quote:

“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

Pg. 41

Review:

Why this journalist? Why did she get married 7 times? Did she love all her husbands? These are all the burning questions that push readers to pick up the book. The author explains the dynamics between Hugo and her husband: why she felt compelled to get married and how the marriages came to their end. Yet, at the same time, while we are learning all of these and trying to understand the complex individual that Hugo is, the author ignites our curiosity about why Monique Grant is the reporter for the interview. Furthermore, there were many exciting twists and turns in the book (even though I guessed most of them).

Waterfront Station

The fact that you were late
and the way you dressed were a disappointment

I didn’t want you to hold my hand at all
The idea made me feel an uneasiness like never before
Your hands brushing against mine
Caused me to put my hand in my pocket the whole time

My innocent demeanour made you call yourself a ‘rebel’ but your attempt to impress cracked your act
Your insecurity was like a giant shadow that towered you
Your inability to talk about yourself removed the maturity from your years
Your questions were bullets I used my laughter to dodge

The fact that you had no plan made me want to cry
The accent you tried to pull off made me want to turn back around
The constant attack at yourself and your values made me feel sorry for you
The mere thought back to the moment makes me sick in the stomach and I wonder if I shall ever laugh at the experience

However, this was a two player game
I wonder if you saw a reflection of yourself in me
I wonder if your awkward attempt at saying hi when our eyes locked was a reflection of your disappointment
I wonder if you heard the frustration in my voice and shot questions as a shield
I wonder if you mistook my laughter as encouragement

I can’t lie and say I don’t feel guilty
There is a little part of me that feels bad for giving you hope, but
There is a bigger part of me that knows you can’t see the full picture of a jigsaw puzzle by just picking up two of its pieces