Book Review: Three Daughters of Eve

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

Published – December 5th, 2017

I enjoy Elif Shafak’s books and this is the third book of Elif Shafak that I read after her two bestselling works of fiction – The Bastard of Istanbul and The Architecht’s Apprentice. I really enjoyed The Bastard of Istanbul but The Archutect’s Apprentice fell flat for me as I just couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot line. So I went into this book with almost no expectations.

Book Summary from Goodreads:

Peri, a married, wealthy, beautiful Turkish woman, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground — an old polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past — and a love — Peri had tried desperately to forget.

Three Daughters of Eve is set over an evening in contemporary Istanbul, as Peri arrives at the party and navigates the tensions that simmer in this crossroads country between East and West, religious and secular, rich and poor. Over the course of the dinner, and amidst an opulence that is surely ill-begotten, terrorist attacks occur across the city. Competing in Peri’s mind however are the memories invoked by her almost-lost polaroid, of the time years earlier when she was sent abroad for the first time, to attend Oxford University. As a young woman there, she had become friends with the charming, adventurous Shirin, a fully assimilated Iranian girl, and Mona, a devout Egyptian-American. Their arguments about Islam and feminism find focus in the charismatic but controversial Professor Azur, who teaches divinity, but in unorthodox ways. As the terrorist attacks come ever closer, Peri is moved to recall the scandal that tore them all apart.

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What I liked about this book,

When reading a book set in a different country or culture I am always delighted to know more about the social aspects and cultural nitty-gritties within that region and this book delivered that delight for me. Like in all Elif Shafak’s book this book touches upon some of the important cultural aspects of Istanbul. Although, she doesn’t go into detail on any of these subjects there is mention of marital rape, men and women interacting separately in social gatherings, crazy traffic within Istanbul and virginity tests.

I enjoyed the relationship between Peri and her teenage daughter. It wasn’t perfect and they didn’t get along as Peri would have like but it was I really enjoyed reading about.

The first half of the book was very well written. I was completely engrossed into the book to know Peri’s past and understand why she wanted to forget her past. I wanted to know the story of young Peri.

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What I didn’t like about this book,

The second half fell flat for me, as I went deeper into Peri’s past I didn’t enjoy it as much. I also didn’t understand Professor Azur’s character who teaches God and divinity at all. I found myself skipping passages which describe the descriptions of these classes because I just didn’t get it.

Peri had two friends in college – Mona and Shirin. All of them were not compatible with each other. Mona and Shirin always argued. But their friendship was intriguing and as soon I started liking the bond that these girls were forming and wanted to see how this progresses it was over. There was hardly an depth to it rather it again went back to Professor Azur.

Peri’s character started off very strong. She was a good daughter, willing to take risks and wanted to travel the world but when I found out the ultimate reason why she quit Oxford and wanted to forget her past I felt meh and didn’t understand the point of it all. Peri ultimately became a confused women who I didn’t like at all.

Overall, I gave this book 3 stars. It was not a bad book, for the most part I enjoyed reading it and went through it pretty fast. But I didn’t enjoy the plot line as much as I thought I would when I started out.

Rating – ♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Published – April 26th 2016

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I don’t think there will be anyone who will read this book and not know Nike as a brand. This book is a journey behind the man who created the brand. I feel like whatever I say will not be enough to depict the emotions I felt while reading/listening to this book. This is easily one of my favorite books of all time.

I usually read WW2 stories a lot. All of them very deep and emotional and I end up with a book hangover but this is the book where I teared up. It was such a well written masterpiece that you feel like you are a part of Buck’s (Phil Knight) journey.

The book was very well written, just read the introduction chapter “Dawn” and I am sure you will be hooked. I loved the way the chapters are structured. The title of the chapters are years years of Phil’s life (starting with 1962) with an emphasis on his learning more than stating the facts.

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Phil Knight was not extraordinary or he didn’t believe that he was born to succeed. His success can be attributed to his crazy passion and his willingness to take risks. He didn’t have the perfect plan laid out in fact he had no plans at all. What Phil did was he took a risk and started a company initially called “Blue Ribbon” and nourished it like his baby (he refers to Nike as his third son, multiple times in the book). I believe that the other contributor to the success of this journey were the key people who were part of this journey from the beginning. I don’t think it would be fair to discount their contribution as without them I don’t think the company would be where it is today. One man can’t do it all and Phil understood that in the beginning of his journey itself. The excerpt of the book quoted below summarizes the relationship of the co-founders,


Knight details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream—along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls the formative relationships with his first partners and employees, a ragtag group of misfits and seekers who became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything.

The memoir was a reminder of why you should take risks and that it is okay to fail. If you don’t like your current job, if you are thinking of a career change, if you want to start something on your own or if you simply want to be inspired then I highly recommend this book. I convinced my husband to read this book, he started it a day back and is half way through it, he loves it too.

Rating – ♥♥♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: Madonna in a Fur Coat

Madonna in a Fur Coat

Published – May 5th 2016

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This book was a translated work of a best selling Turkish classic which is set in 1920s and majority of the plot unfolds in Berlin.

Goodreads excerpt,

A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade and discover life in 1920s Berlin. There, amidst the city’s bustling streets, elegant museums, passionate politics, and infamous cabarets, a chance meeting with a beautiful half-Jewish artist transforms him forever. Caught between his desire for freedom from tradition and his yearning to belong, he struggles to hold on to the new life he has found with the woman he loves.

It is a very easy to read and short book with less than 200 pages so you go through the book relatively fast. The story is sort of divided into two parts the present and the past. The past mainly involves the love story of Raif Efendi. Now, as a character I hated Raif. I hated the fact that he was so weak-willed. In the first few pages it self it is clear that Raif Effendi is insignificant at his workplace, takes in whatever shit people or life throw at him and has no zeal for life. Even his family shows no respect for him and Raif Effendi is okay with that. Yes, there is a reason for the way he behaves and he has a story but personally for me those reasons were not good enough and I rolled my eyes multiple times while reading this book.

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The story is narrated from the perspective of another young gentleman who just joins the same company as Raif Effendi. He was another character who took more interest in Raif Effendi’s life than his own. Another weak character whose presence irritated me. His only purpose in life was to find out why Raif effendi was the way he was. This guy loses his current job and struggles to find work and has no direction in his life but wants to dig deep into someone else’s story. A good 20 pages were dedicated to how this guy struggles because of losing a job and how he ends up at the same firm as Raif but I didn’t understand how any of that was related to the main plot.

Out of all the characters in the book, I liked Madonna’s character the most. She was strong willed was consistent throughout the narration. I don’t want to talk more as I feel like I might giveaway details of the plot which could be borderline spoilers.

There were some aspects of the book which I felt were well written but didn’t make a lasting impact on me. It could have been just me, I don’t enjoy love stories and hence I could have failed to connect to it or it could be that some of the emotions were lost in translation. At this point I don’t fully understand why I couldn’t connect to the story as much as I expected to or thought I would.

Overall, I gave the book a 3 star rating because it was well written/translated. It wasn’t a horrible book but it wasn’t for me. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys touching romance reads because it is possible you would connect with the plot line a lot more compared to me. But if you were looking for Turkish literature then maybe this isn’t the book for you as most of the book was in Berlin.

Side note: I am also sad that fall is over, it is raining heavily here in Seattle

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Rating – ♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Published – February 2nd, 2016

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October has been a great reading month for me. I finished 8 books in total. I am super happy about this, although I couldn’t have achieved this without making a few changes. I will talk more about them in my October reading wrap up.

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When I started reading this book I only knew that it was a book set during World War 2, I usually enjoy reading WW2 fiction so I jumped in without must hesitation and boy I was not disappointed. This is an excerpt from Goodreads for those of you who are not familiar with the book,

Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating yet unknown tragedies.
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the “Wilhelm Gustloff.” Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people adults and children alike aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

This book was a great work of fiction which was inspired by true events. I wasn’t aware of the maritime casualties that happen during WW2 and from an historical stand point it compelled me to use Google (everyone’s best friend when they need information) to get more details.

The story is about how three people affected by war, come together and find strength in each others company to achieve a common end goal. Ruta Sepetys takes us through their journey, the emotions they feel and the sacrifices they had to make. Each one of them has a different story and different motives which keep them going during such difficult times. Ruta Sepetys does an awesome job in character building, I empathized with them, liked how strong they were and adored their will to fight (a fight to stay alive).

I loved the author’s writing style too, the story is described through the eyes of Joana, Emilia and Florian. So the reader gets a multiple perspectives on the same situation which immerses you into the tale even more.

If you are into Historic Fiction then this is a book I would highly recommend. It is an emotionally satisfying, easy to read and fast paced work of fiction. The last 100 pages took the longest time for me as I didn’t want the book to end and that happens rarely to me.

There are some excellent quotes which I loved from this book,

I became good at pretending. I became so good that after a while the lines blurred between my truth and fiction. And sometimes, when I did a really good job of pretending, I even fooled myself.

What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?

Killers aren’t always assassins. Sometimes, they don’t even have blood on their hands.

The Wilhelm Gustloff was pregnant with lost souls conceived of war. They would crowd into her belly and she would give birth to their freedom.

Rating – ♥♥♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published – February 28th, 2017

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Young Adult books are not my go to in any cases. However, after repeatedly listening to reviews about this book on BookTube I decided it was time I picked it up. I wanted to understand what the hype was all about.

*Spoiler alert* People of all ages (teens and above) should read this book. It was awesome.

I have a full time job and I am dead by the time I am back home, so most of my reading these days is either in the form of audio books or happens over the weekends. I finished this book in 3 working days. I came back everyday from work, breezed through the daily chores and added all the YouTube videos I had to watch from that day to “Watch Later” on YouTube and sat down reading this book.

Most of the times this is how I read my book, I am in my PJs and there is coffee in my hand? How do you like to read?

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I usually enjoy historic fiction books because they give you context and details about a time which you can live through books and the fiction aspect helps me collect my thoughts and remember facts (I need to feed my imagination as I have just about 128MB of memory and I am not exaggerating). This book didn’t talk about anything we don’t know, it rather touches key aspects such as race which are very much relevant in today’s world. It makes you stop and think. It makes you think about what is actually important.

The story is told from the perspective of sixteen year old teen Starr and is a very light easy to read. But it grips you from the beginning to finish. Apart from the importance of the topics touched upon in this book the narration it self is captivating. Apart from wanting to know if Khalid will get justice at the end I also kept playing what would happen next in my head. So this book fed my imagination and stimulated my brain in so many different ways.

It was funny, it made me emotional, I had to put down the book from time to time just to think – What would you do if you were in a similar situation?, What makes a person really bad?

If you need an easy yet gripping but important read pick this book up. What are you waiting for?

Rating – ♥♥♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Published – August 11th 2017

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When I received this book as part of my BOTM package, I was intimidated by the size of it. It is a huge book which had almost 600 pages. Now, I had two issues which I had to tackle (more like third world problems) – 1) How do I carry this huge book when I go out? (I usually always have the book I am reading with me), 2) What if this book is not what I expected and turns out to be a bore?

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But I wasn’t disappointed at all and I am glad I picked it up sooner than later. I enjoyed reading this book a lot. More than I thought I would.

Now, there are two factors which influence how much I enjoy reading a book – 1) Strong characters I can respect or connect to and 2) Subject/theme of the book I can relate to. Now the characters itself do not have to be perfect but they definitely need to be consistent. If they are flawed, then that should be consistent as well.

This book had some themes which I could not relate to at all. But I still enjoyed this book, it was very well written. I am going to be stalking John Boyne after reading this book as I am hooked to his writing style now. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was my absolute favorite and I had high expectations for this book from the beginning and I wasn’t disappointed at all.

 

The book highlights the changes in society and the perceptions in Ireland from 1940 onward. In many ways, the main characters of this book challenge the existing norms and the book depicts their suffering in a very real and heart warming way. There is also some element of anticipation which builds up through the novel. As a reader, you are waiting to see how other characters would react when exposed to a certain truth of their life (trying really hard not to reveal any spoilers).

I felt like I was introduced to a world which I knew nothing/very little. A lot of political aspects were touched in the book. It talks about how hypocrites can cause suffering to hundreds and thousands of people. Overall, it has all the qualities that I look for in a historical fiction book and I would highly recommend everyone to read this book. There is so much to learn from the characters, their journeys, the context and the world that the book is set in.

Rating – ♥♥♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Published – February 2nd 2017

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Is it weird that I read “Winter Garden” in summer? Haha

The first book I read by this author was “The Nightingale” and it is one of my all time favorite books. I had high expectations for this book and was not disappointed. It has all the qualities which make a book more enjoyable to me. The two key things which are super important to me and have a direct relation to how much I enjoy a book are: 1) I should be able to relate at least broadly to the topics/issues which are being discussed in the book or the broad theme. 2) The characters in the books need to be strong for me to love and adore them. I love historic fiction and world war related book and naturally reading this book was a delight.

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Goodreads Excerpt,

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

I love how all three characters – Anya (mother), Meredith & Nina (sisters) are all different in some ways but so similar in other ways. The story is beautiful and will move most readers emotionally. I had to put down the book multiple time to process it all.

The book has a unique format. it jumps between the fairy tale told by Anya to her daughters and the way she connects with her daughters as the story progress. There is also this suspense element because the readers do not know who is Anya Whitson is the fairy tale for a long time. Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden is a well-written emotional tale which not only covers the suffering of thousands of people in a remote town in Leningrad during WW2 but also captures the emotional impact war could have on people years later. Every human copes with grief differently and has different tolerance levels, Anya’s story taught has helped me look at grief through a new lens and helped me really think about what really matters to me in life.

 This would be one of the books I will re-read after a few years just to see if I feel any differently about all topics touched upon in the book.

Rating – ♥♥♥♥♥ / 5

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Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn

Published: May 12th 2015

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This past week, I’ve been in Mexico City for work. It was my first time in Mexico, but I haven’t been able to do any sightseeing. But I did enjoy the awesome Mexican food here. I will come back to this city at least to eat :)But before I do, I promised my self that I’d learn some Spanish.

Everyday after coming back from office, eating good food and reading this book was my routine. However tired I was I made it a point to read at least one or two chapters of this book. It was an easy read and helped me relax a lot.

This book was a page tur Continue reading “Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn”

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

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Published – June 13th 2017

This book is set in the 1950s and takes you through the journey of a sensational but scandalous Hollywood star – Evelyn Hugo. This was my first Book of the Month (BOTM) pick and I was skeptical while I was choosing but I am glad I did. If you haven’t yet subscribed to BOTM then I highly recommend you do, it is one of the oldest and best book subscription box in USA. It is affordable and also gives you the flexibility to pick multiple books and skip when you do not like the selection available for that month.

Now back to Evelyn Hugo and why I loved her story. Although Evelyn Hugo is a fictional character, the book is so well written that I feel like I’ve read a memoir. The newspaper articles in between the narration added to the drama and the feel of the book. Even if I forget the nitty gritty details of the plot of a book I read, I always remember strong characters from the book from whom I could learn a thing or two. Evelyn taught me to Continue reading “Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”

Book Review: The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

The Architect’s Apprentice By Elif Shafak

(Goodreads | Amazon)

Published – March 31st 2015

The Bastard of Istanbul was the first book I read that was written by Elif Shafak and I loved it. It was a complete page turner for me, I could totally relate to the characters in one way or the other. So I jumped into this book with high expectations.

I wouldn’t say that book disappointed Continue reading “Book Review: The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak”