Book Review | Out of Granada by Ben Fine

out of granada coverFocusing on protagonist Miguel, Out of Granada relays the story of a Jewish family, who despite their conversion to Catholicism, must flee Spain for their safety. The book details Miguel’s education in Italy and subsequent training and work in the Italian Wars. It follows as Miguel leads a party of converted families from Granada to Malaga and then over sea to the New World. Battles, pirates and a hint of romance keep the story interesting.

Readers interested in an immersive experience fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the 1500’s will enjoy this accessible novel. There are frequent chapter breaks, making the text fairly quick reading. The author is repetitive at times and sometimes overly descriptive. It seems several edits were made and a final proofreading could have helped to eliminate some of the superfluous text. That said, the book is still a good read. Unfortunately, there are currently no library holdings for this book.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

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Book Review | How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

how to stop time cover.jpgImagine living for hundreds of years, but aging very, very slowly. Haig’s most recent novel, How to Stop Time, presents a protagonist and members of the supporting cast with such a condition. Although the rule for people with ‘anageria’ is not to fall in love, Tom Hazard finds the love of his life and fathers a daughter who shares his condition. Forced to leave her behind in dangerous times, Tom then spends several lifetimes searching for her and reliving memories of interactions with Shakespeare, a witch hunter and Captain Cook to name a few.

This book is interesting from the beginning. Interwoven historical flashbacks are very entertaining and mesh well to tell a story that has been happening for centuries. This thought provoking read keeps a good clip going, with a surprisingly small cast. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and mild fantasy. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of How to Stop Time, may be interested in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

Book Review | The Wasting of Borneo by Alex Shoumatoff

wasting of borneo cover.jpgPalm oil is the devil. This is one of the clear take away messages from Shoumatoff’s latest book The Wasting of Borneo. This accessible read offers a clear picture of the devastation that has been occurring in the rain forest of Borneo and its far reaching implications. Sharing wisdom from field experts, the book uses both scientific data and real life anecdotes to educate readers about an important, but lesser known calamity that is impacting indigenous people, animals and the environment.

I approached this book with no previous knowledge of the topic. More than just educating me, Shoumatoff’s writing drew me in and explained to me why the wasting of Borneo’s rain forest is a catastrophe, and also how it concerns me as a consumer on a personal level. It’s scary to learn that just because certain processes are being labeled sustainable, that doesn’t mean they really adhere to strictly sustainable standards. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the topic for any readers who care about the environment and man’s negative impact on it. Check it out from a library near youI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of The Wasting of Borneo may be interested in Songs of the Baka and Other Discoveries by Dennis James (2017). 

Book Review | The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

coincidence makers cover.jpgSomewhat surreal, The Coincidence Makers is a fictional fantasy where what seems to be happening by chance is actually carefully planned. Protagonists Guy and Emily have gone through training together and work as coincidence makers who receive special projects that they must enact. Whether making a piano fall from a window unto a passerby or sparking the urge in an accountant to write poetry, the coincidences they create are often life altering. A romantic undercurrent helps drive the novel forward.

Blum has penned a quick and enjoyable read. His relatable characters and relaxed tone make the book easy to get into and maintain the reader’s interest. Some of the concepts he’s developed are a little complicated or convoluted, but the text flows well and the story comes out a winner. This book would be great for fans of surreal fiction or those interested in the inner workings of the universe. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance readers’ edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of The Coincidence Makers, may be interested in The Room by Jonas Karlsson.

Book Review | Points North : Stories by Howard Frank Mosher

points north cover.jpgSet in Kingdom Common, an area in Vermont bordering Canada, Mosher’s Points North shares stories of the Kinneson family. These tales, taking place over the course of a century, focus on various family members at different points in their lives. Themes include men searching for their lost loves, relatives at odds, family business, religion and nature, among others.

Published posthumously, this final book by Mosher will be enjoyed by many fans. For those new to the Northeast Kingdom chronicles, this may not serve as the best introduction. New readers may have trouble keeping track of the many Kinneson family members. The first story is hard to break into, but the tales do improve as the book continues. These non-chronological stories amble along, with a relaxed pace making it easier to put the book down at points than to continue reading. Points North will appeal to those interested in small town slice of life stories, family sagas, and general Mosher fans. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

futures cover.jpgProtagonists Evan and Julia meet while attending Yale and then decide to move to New York City together after graduation. Previously a star on the hockey team, Evan has some adjustments to make to fit into his finance job at a prestigious hedge fund. Julia comes from a well-off family in Boston and with their connections lands a job as an assistant at a non-profit. She struggles to fill her time while Evan works increasingly long hours, and can’t quite manage to keep herself out of trouble.

Pitoniak’s first novel is quite impressive. The writing style fosters an intimate relationship between the reader and the protagonists. With chapters alternating point of view between Julia and Evan, it is easy to understand the how and why of what they are each feeling. Revealing scenes from alternating view points also help the story to flow successfully without bias. In addition to following on their relationship, another major focus of the book is the business deal that Evan negotiates in his hedge fund work. Fortunately, this is handled in an accessible manner that will allow all readers to remain interested, even those with no financial background or interests. Highly recommended for those interested in reading about interpersonal relationships of twenty-somethings in New York City. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Héctor García & Francesc Miralles

ikigai cover.jpgFor those interested in longevity with happiness and keys to living a longer life, this book will certainly be interesting and thought-provoking.

Ikigai is a quick read broken into digestible chapters covering topics including longevity, diet, movement, resilience, finding your flow, and more. Written for all audiences, the authors have provided insights based on interviews with Okinawan centenarians, observations of their lifestyle and other applicable philosophical scientific information. The book aims to help the reader find the intersection of passion, mission, profession and vocation, also known as Ikigai. Further, the reader will be able to apply the topical introductions and logical observations immediately in every day living. Any reader will be able to take something of this value from this text. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Ikigai, may be interested in the film How to Life Forever by Mark Wexler.