Book Review

The Henna Artist Book Review

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. Receiving diverse books from publishers makes my heart soar.

I was six years old the first time I had Mehndi (henna) placed on my hands. I was in Pakistan at the time with my parents, and we were watching a henna ceremony from the lobby in our hotel. I was mesmerized by all the dancing, singing and by all the girls running around with henna on their hands. I begged my mother to go ask them if I could get henna done on my hands as well. It was the henna artist that caught my eye and saw me pulling my mom towards the ceremony. She walked up to us holding her tube of henna and asked me if I wanted a design on my hand. My mom loves to tell me how I let go of her hand and followed the henna artist into the ceremony as if I was an invited guest. While I don’t remember the exact design she drew, I do remember being fascinated by the end product. My mom’s favourite part of the story is how I created such a scene because I was so excited that the bride herself invited us to the wedding two days later.

Reading “The Henna Artist” by Alka Joshi reminded me of this memory. I have loved Henna from that moment twenty-six years ago. I knew I needed this book in my life just by reading the synopsis. This story transported me to 1950’s India as we follow a woman’s quest at an independent life through her art.

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(photo from @khanlibrary)

Synopsis:

Lakshmi was seventeen-years-old when she escaped an abusive marriage and set off on a journey alone from her 1950’s village to the city of Jaipur. She begins a decade long career of adorning wealthy women’s hands and bodies with henna. Lakshmi becomes well known for her beautiful designs and slowly begins building towards her dream of an independent life. Everything comes crashing down when her husband tracks her down with a thirteen-year-old sister she never knew she had. The story follows Lakshmi and Radha as they both navigate their new relationship.

This was such an incredible book to read around International Women’s Day. Lakshmi was a character I rooted for from the very beginning, even when she was making choices that I did not agree with. The author made her so human, which means she was flawed but also living under the weight of a painful past, a difficult present and often times what felt like an impossible future. Her dream of being financially independent and living in a house built from her hard work was admirable and it was a dream that felt so fragile, like a house of cards that a small gust of wind could topple over. “The Gossip-Eaters” as the author calls them had such a huge role in the book. I think the author did a phenomenal job in portraying how people’s words could have a lasting effect on a person’s life. The author also did a great job in depicting the hardships of different caste members, of the poor and unmarried women at the time.

The Characters:

The characters felt so real to me. The author did a great job in humanizing many of the characters, including the ones I wanted to hate. She excelled at showing the driving factors that can lead people to make bad decisions, which left my feeling sympathy for many of them. Lakshmi and Radha’s relationship was both beautiful and complex. These sisters really grew together, and while there were times when I felt the just as protective and frustrated with Radha, I began to understand her and how vulnerable those teenage years can be. Malik was by far one of my favourite characters. I smiled every time he called Lakshmi “Auntie-boss”.

Final thoughts:

Overall this book is immersed in culture, history and female empowerment. I always talk about how diversity is important in the publishing world and I’m really happy that books like these are being published. There is so much you can learn from this book and I have a feeling you will end up wanting to get henna done right after. I know I’m thinking about it right now.

Happy reading bookworms!

 

Book Review

Undercover Bromance Book Review

“Who are we?” Mack said, standing all. “We’re the Bromance-Fucking-Book-Club.”

I received this highly anticipated book at 5pm yesterday and finished it that same night. It was that kind of book…you know the kind that pulls you into this vortex where nothing else but you and the book exist.

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(Picture from @khanlibrary)

Synopsis:
Liv is a sous chef at one of Nashville’s top restaurants. But when she witnesses her boss taking advantage of a coworker she is both fired and blacklisted from the culinary world. She vows to expose her boss by herself, but Braden Mack has other plans. Mack, the founder of the Bromance Bookclub, jumps on board to help Liv whether she likes it or not.

This book brings to light the importance of the #metoo moment with the heart wrenching moments with the survivors. It also has many laugh out loud moments including a particular scene involving a rooster attack that had me howling with laughter. It’s the perfect balance!

“Whatever was broken in that person, it was their wound. You don’t have to carry the scar of it for them anymore. You’re allowed to let it go, Liv. All of it. Let yourself be loved and let it go” – Lyssa Kay Adams

I did not like Liv in the first book so I was worried about reading her book. I was surprised when I started liking her by page 50. The character growth is impeccable. Here we have a character who sees the world in black and white, but slowly learns to see the shades of grey. Her anger bubbles to the surface when she sees social injustice and privileged men taking advantage of women and getting away with it. Her anger blinds her into seeing things as simply as exposing the predator no matter what the cost. The real growth is when she puts herself in the victim’s shoes and understands what it is like to go up against someone with power. Liv wants to do things her way, mainly due to her trust issues, and I loved seeing her realize that it takes a village and watching her shed her armour and accept the help. I realize a lot of people may still find Liv irritating, but I’m here to remind you that in real life people are often just as complex if not more.

“You shouldn’t have to care about a woman to recognize that the sexual degradation of all women is a problem. You should recognize that it’s wrong simply because they’re humans” – Lyssa Kay Adams.

Braden Freaking Mack.
This guy….
Where do I begin?
When you read about good-looking rich athletes what comes to mind?
I imagine you would think of a macho hero with a touch of arrogance, a lot of charm and a bad boy image. Well, this might be a part of who Mack is but it is not the whole story. Mack is the founder of the Bromance Bookclub and loves romance thrillers. He is the guy who is not ashamed of his love for romance books and openly discusses how those books became his love manuals. He is a walking textbook on the dangers of toxic masculinity. While I really liked the development of his relationship with Liv, I think I enjoyed his friendship with the bromance bookclub bros even more. I love how those bookclub meetings are their safe space where they can talk and be vulnerable without any judgement.

This book was so much fun to read. The banter, message and character development was very well done. I’m excited for the third book of this bromance club!

Happy Reading!

Book Review

The Authenticity Project

“Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead? The one thing that defines you, that makes everything else about you fall into place? Not on the internet, but with those real people around you?”-Clare Pooley

I love it when a random book catches my attention and surprises me in the most unexpected ways. The Authenticity Project completely surprised me and left me feeling all kinds of emotions. I absolutely love character driven stories, and this book introduces us to a whole group of characters that I became deeply invested in towards the end. The themes of mental health and authenticity were really well explored through these characters.

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This is a story about a green notebook that brings a group of six strangers together. A word that kept coming to my mind when I was reading this story was serendipity. There were so many cute moments that took place all thanks to a notebook that asked readers to be brave and put their real self forward. It is not hard to imagine that such serendipitous moments could actually happen in real life if we all shared our authentic selves with the world.

I have to say that I absolutely loved each one of these flawed characters. I must also confess that every time I read Monica’s chapter I could not help but imagine the Monica from Friends. Did that happen to anyone else? The author really created an interesting character with Monica. The story she wrote in the green notebook about wishing for her own happily ever after lead to such an incredible chain reaction of events. Through Alice’s story we see the flip side of how the grass may not always be greener on the other side and sometimes happily ever after can look very different from what we imagine.

Hazard was such a complex and interesting character to read about. I’ll admit that I did not much like him in the beginning of the book but he really grew on me by the end. The same could be said about sweet old Julian. His story particularly gutted me and left me wanting to know more. A special shout out to Mrs. Wu and Lizzie. Those two characters were just the cherry on top of this sundae.

My only complaint about this book is that it had to end. I was so invested in all these character’s stories that I just wanted to know more about what happened to them down the line. I was hoping the ending could have given us a sneak peak into the future, but that is just my curiosity and inability to let this story end. I’m really impressed by the overall delivery of the story. It takes a talented writer to pull off having so many characters introduced in the story and making them all memorable. 

Happy Reading!