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 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 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”

Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Published – June 7th 2016

I picked up this book as part of my birthday book haul after hearing so any great reviews of this book from booktube, blogs I follow and bookstagram. After 2 days of buying this book I came across a read along on Instagram and instantly I thought that it was a sign. A sign to help me pick my next read. I love discussing books with others and that was one of the reasons why Continue reading “Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi”

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne 

Published – September 12th 2006

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a book set in Berlin 1942, and follows a 8 year old boy Bruno. It is a powerful story which outlines how war has changed Bruno’s life. I finish reading this book in a day and it is made its way into my all time favorite list very easily. The story highlights a very innocent friendship between Bruno (German) and Shmuel (Jew) and will leave you in tears. Continue reading “Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne”

Book Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Published – April 1st 2008

This is one of the popular and well liked books by Jhumpa Lahiri. This is the second book I read of Jhumpa Lahiri. The Namesake was the first book I read and felt like it was an over hyped book. So, I started reading this book without reading any comments or reviews online as I wanted to just jump into it without any influence. Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of short stories where the central theme was to highlight the variation in experiences of Indians who moved to USA in their adulthood and of their next of kin who were bought up in USA.

Continue reading “Book Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri”