Book review: Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, by Salman Rushdie

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse. Goodreads.

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Book review: The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice. Goodreads

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Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton

..children betrayed their parents by becoming their own people.

A story so strange it is about a girl born with wings from a mother who have a strong sense of smell and a twin brother who refuses to speak if not for only important matters. They live in a house said to be haunted by the spirit of a young Portuguese girl together with their grandmother who can see her dead siblings, all carrying the pain of love. Is it a story about love, or the loss of it? Is it a story about a family? Is it a horror story masquerading as  a tragedy? One must read it to find out.

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Book review: The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned–always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola? (Goodreads)

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The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Magic

So, I’ve been seeing this book figuratively everywhere (since I don’t go out very much, and places that I’ve been to are limited to classes and bookstores, not to mention internet) and many have been giving such great reviews of this book, I figure I would give it a try myself. Then I saw the synopsis of the book and got a bit disinterested because (at that time) what I understand about this book was that it is strictly about the love story between Celia and Marco. But, fear not, for when I went to a bookstore and literally see this book on the shelf and that was the only copy available in the whole entire book store, I figured that was a sign that I should at least give this book a try.

First thing I noticed about this book were the words! The author really knows how to weave words and made it into a great story. I really could not put this book down; I think my biggest distraction with this book was the fact that RAM came to Seoul and I want to make the best use of his five days here. Second best thing about this book were the characters and the conversation that were overflowing between them. It’s like a spell that binds my eyes that I can’t stop reading it, all I ever want it was to keep the story going and never leave it, much like the people who went to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Everything in this book is just simply marvelous! The words, the characters, the conversations, and THE CIRCUS ITSELF (including the many creations that were created as part of the competition between Celia and Marco). All the characters in this book were entwined in some twisted ways but it does not feel like the author was forcing it, it simply seems like it happened naturally (or maybe I was already spellbound?) More than anything, I really want to see Le Cirque des Rêves, I really want it so bad and I’m pretty sure those who have read this book share the same sentiment with me.

Even though I was very pretty  bummed that the book end, I was then brought back to life again by how Widget ends the story in the book. It felt like a loop, definitely endless if that is how I want it (and that is exactly how I want it). The closing was definitely as amazing as the first sentence of the book, it’s like a promise of great adventures laid before your eyes. Would totally recommend this book to those who are a big fan of anything fantastical and engaging!

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Magic

Anyone can betray anyone. It’s a saying as old as the world itself, but somehow people still overlook it at times. Just as we share the same cause and the same hatred, we assume we are bound for life as a team, like there’s no possibility for betrayal in between. This book brought the notion over and over again, stating that anyone can betray anyone. I like this book a lot for that particular reason, the concept of betrayal and of life is as grey as the world itself. You can’t stand in one side and think that you share the same feeling as those standing with you, there will always be betrayal.

At first it was very hard to like Mare Barrow as the main character of this book. There was so much in her that I could see in other female characters in other YA dystopian novel; the angst, the feeling of being less than her sibling, the feeling of being cheated by a system out of reach. But as the story progresses, you see that although the resemblance never leave her, Mare on her own was a unique character that gets to you after several times. Her frustration and her confusion is frustrating for me almost all the time, but be in her shoes and you can understand her. She was literally a poor girl with zero skills, except for pickpocketing which is not a very admirable trait in a main character.

Halfway through the book, things get even more tense and I literally can’t put my book down. I didn’t even care that I was in a formal conference when I decided to just keep on reading. The relationship progress between Mare and Maven was very interesting, and even though I ruined my own experience with this book by googling and knowing that Maven would eventually betrayed Mare, I still like Maven. He was a different kind of evil character. Even after he betrayed a whole lot of people, his brother, his father, and Mare, I can still manage to root for him. Maven was definitely a character I didn’t expect to like, much less root for.

I also thought about it after finishing this book and looking through some comments people posted about the characters, and I’m going to say it again here. I don’t think Maven is an equivalent of Joffrey; Joffrey is in another class of demented and evil all on his own (although this was not by choice, he was a product of incest which might explain his demented demeanor). Maven is also not a Mama’s boy. True, he did work on behalf of his mother and by the guidance of his mother, but if you read the scene where Maven came down the dungeon to meet Cal and Mare before they were sent for execution, you can see that above all, he did what he did out of jealousy. He only wanted proof that he can outshine his big brother, and to prove that he can do something to his Father. And I don’t think Maven’s act was driven by the fact that he thinks Mare chooses Cal over him, I think this particular aspect came later on after the plan progresses; I don’t think this was in any way one of the reason why he did what he did.

If Mare thinks she was no more than a pawn, be it for the Silvers or the Scarlet Guards, Maven was also no more than Pawn used by his own Mother to gain what she wants. She is a Whisper, she could get into Maven’s head from when he was so young to understand his weakness and use it to her heart’s content in gaining what she wants, might be the throne, might be something else, or simply just to avenge the fact that the King didn’t choose his wife through Queenstrial but simply chooses Cal’s mother out of love. And now I’m going to have to wait for another year! Gah! I hate this feeling. In the mean time, I’m just going to root for Maven.