March 2015 Book Reviews | Facades and Nuances: March 2015 Book Reviews

Monday, April 6, 2015

March 2015 Book Reviews

I read some amazing books this March and I think I am starting to discover that I enjoy contemporary and historical fiction novels - but I do enjoy the occasional thriller. Here are the books that I liked or disliked in the month of March.

Henna House by Nomi Eve
I actually read this book awhile ago, but I forgot to include it in my February Book Reviews. It took me awhile to get through this book since every time I read it, I was also learning. The book follows the life of Adela, a Yemenite Jew, from her childhood in Yemen in the 1920s to her eventual arrival in Israel after World War II.   I was obviously drawn to this book based on the title - I love henna and a book about Henna? Of course! I didn't know about the history of Yemen during this time period and this book taught me a lot. Nomi Eve did her research. The descriptions of henna and it's relation to the experience of the women was beautifully depicted. I feel like I need to reread this  book to fully appreciate its complexity. When I read it, I was more focused on understanding it and finding out what happened. On that same note, I was a little disappointed with the end. The premise and the build-up had lead me to believe something bigger would happen. Still, it was a good read.

The verdict: Read it and learn about the world. And take time to appreciate the writing while sipping on a cup of tea.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I wanted to like this book and I loved it. And yes, this is author whose TED talk was featured in Beyonce's "Flawless". The novel follows the stories of two secondary school sweethearts - Ifelemu as she travels from Nigeria to the United States, and then decided to return to Nigeria  and Obinze as he tries to live as an undocumented immigrant and London and how he returns years earlier. Now, I normally don't like love stories - they bore me. But Adiche is a masterful storyteller - so much so that I actually tried to read a romance after reading this (and then got bored so I thankfully gave up on that idea).

But this is not only a love story - this is a story about being black in America as told through the eyes of an African woman who had never even thought of herself as black. It is also a story of the immigrant experience and surviving. This novel also brilliantly tackles race politics in America head-on and it's refreshing and informative.

In terms of pacing, the novel is a little slow in the beginning but it quickly picks up on its rhythm a few chapters in. And that is when I couldn't put it down. 

The verdict: Highly recommended - one of the best books I've ever read. Read it anywhere you can.

The word that comes to mind when trying to describe this book is lovely.The premise of this novel is simple as it follows psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe goes above and beyond to understand why his patient, Robert Oliver, a renowned painter, attacked a painting in the National Gallery of Art. But in doing so, it weaves back and forth into the past and present, through multiples perspectives, and the beautiful world of art and artists. This is a fairly large book and it is also moves quite slowly. I have seen reviews in which people have expressed frustration that nothing happens in the book. This isn't a thriller - it's a mystery that unfolds slowly, layer by layer. The resolution isn't particularly earth-shattering, but it fits and I found it to be a satisfying between art, artists, and the relationships between them.  

Verdict: Highly recommended to be read on lazy Sunday mornings in bed with a warm beverage of your choice.

The idea is intriguing. Primatologist Jenny Lowe is forced to flee from the Congo due to a civil war which leaves another scientist dead and his daughter Lucy orphaned. Jenny ends up adopting Lucy only to find out that she is the result of a scientific experiment and she is half-human and half-bonobo. The premise is interesting, seems fairly scientifically sound in theory, and raises many moral questions. But the novel was so simplified. Every interaction only functioned to emphasize Lucy's bonobo or human characteristics. The opposition and the "bad guys" of the story were so cliché. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. I wouldn't have finished this book, but it was the only thing I had with me one day and so I read/skimmed it.

Verdict: Not my cup of tea

Oh, this book was good. I haven't seen the movie but I figured that with all the hype it was probably overrated. But my best friend insisted that I read it and I am so glad I did. and so I read it.  The book was gripping and fascinating and I finished it in two days. The story begins on Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing. As the media, police, and people in their town start investigating these odd circumstances, things start getting suspicious. The characters are incredibly messed up, but Gillian Flynn is able to not only make you relate to these characters, but also care for them.  I honestly don't know how she does it. I think the best part of the novel is that it never loses that tone from beginning to end. Even the ending is ambiguous and ominous as the book was.

Verdict: Highly Recommended to be read at night in one sitting

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