In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

* Picture from Amazon*

Format read: Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 6 out of 10

Plot: Miri Ammerman is a normal teenager until her world is turned upside down by a series of plane crashes that happened over the course of a few months in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  As the town tries to figure out how to cope with the series of tragedies, the lives of those around Miri are changed in ways that they didn’t expect.

Opinion: I loved reading Judy Blume books, both the children’s ones and the adult ones, so I had high hopes when I saw that she had written a new book.  I am not sure if it was because the book was told from so many perspectives or what, but I had a hard time getting into it.  I kind of felt like the plot was dragging and if it wasn’t for the plane crashes, there wouldn’t have been anything really to keep me going.  I was really disappointed with this book.

Next book: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Bengali Girls don’t by L.A. Sherman

* Picture from Amazon*

Format read: Paperback

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 5 out of 10

Plot: This is the story of Luky, a Bangladeshi girl born during the War of Independence from Pakistan.  Luky grows up mainly in England where she rebels against the strict rules set by her parents.  When Luky’s rebellion pushes her parents too far, they decide it’s time for her to get married: they trick her into visiting Bangladesh under the premises she’s visiting a dying uncle while in reality, it’s for her marriage.  She spends the next couple of years feeling trapped in a place where she’s supposed to behave as a traditional Bengali wife.

Opinion: I thought the first part of this book was interesting, but when it got to the part where she moved to Bangladesh, it got weird.  First, there were the parts written in italics where it was almost like she was talking to a therapist about her life.  Second, the whole book aside from the italic conversations where written in third person, which is a very awkward way to read a memoir and it made it difficult to connect with the author.  Third, the author unexpectedly fast forwards to her living in the United States and being divorced with no satisfying explanation about what happened to her marriage or really how she ended up in the U.S.  I think there’s so many good memoirs out there about South Asian women that it’s better to just skip this one.

Next book: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Life of the Prophet in Makkah by Zakaria Bashier

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Format read: Paperback

Genre: Islamic

Rating: 7 out of 10

Plot: This is a book of Seerah that covers the time period from right before the birth of the Prophet (s.a.w.) right up until the hijrah.

Opinion: I thought the author did a decent job of covering the topic.  My biggest problem with the book is that there were a few times in which he went on tangents.  Still, I thought that overall the author did a good job in covering the material in a way in which someone who isn’t as familiar with Islam could understand.  Even more, I liked that this book was well edited and did not contain a lot of the grammatical errors common to English Islamic books.

Next book: Bengali Girls don’t by L.A. Sherman

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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Format read: Paperback

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 7 out of 10

Plot: Dr. Mukherjee is a beginning oncology resident when he decides to delve into the history of cancer itself. He explores the written history and then goes into the modern age where attempts are made to both treat and understand cancer. The book ends where we all know it will end: although we’ve made a lot of improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, not everyone survives.

Opinion: The book begins how I was expecting, which is to tell the story of how medical practitioners viewed cancer throughout history. My problem with this book begins with the point in which scientists and doctors begin to look for ways to treat and understand cancer in a modern medical setting. My problem is that suddenly he starts using very complicated and technical language. I was a Biology major so I was able to follow a lot of it, but not easily. It’s almost like up until that point the book was written for a layman, but after that point it was written for his colleagues. If this book had been presented as a textbook, it would’ve been a great one, but it was not. I would recommend this book for someone interested in learning more about the history of cancer and its treatment, but I would recommend it with caution due to the technical language that takes over.

Next book: Life of the Prophet in Makkah by Zakaria Bashier

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marilliar

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Format read: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 6 out of 10

Plot: For years, Jena and her sisters travel each Full Moon through a portal in their castle to a magical land of fairies and other magical creatures.  When their father becomes ill, their domineering cousin takes over their lives determined to destroy the enchanted forest that he believes is responsible for his brother’s death.

Opinion: The Twelve Dancing Princesses was my favorite fairy tale growing up, so any retelling of this tale had high standards to live up to.  While I was initially drawn into the story, I thought that the plot slowed down in the middle and by the end, I was just ready for the story to be finished.  I had a hard time relating to the main character, who just seemed two dimensional at best.  Plus, I really thought the ending was a cop-out; it seemed like the author was in a hurry to give a happy ending to all of her characters and it just didn’t seem like a satisfying ending to me.

Next book: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

 

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Format read: Paperback

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 6 out of 10

Plot: Rachel decides that she is going to live a year as closely to the principles and laws of the Bible as she can. She focuses on a different trait in Proverbs 31 as possible.

Opinion: I was intrigued by this book but then I found myself annoyed in parts. First, I didn’t realize that instead of living a consistent lifestyle throughout the year, she focuses on one area in each month and then goes to the extreme in that area. To me, this approach seemed rather disingenuous. Second, despite saying this was all biblical, she chose to do things in the name of the experiment that even she said was not found in the Bible such as camping out in her yard when she was on her period because she read it in the book, The Red Tent. Overall, while the book was interesting, it was rather gimmicky and as the author pointed out repeatedly, this was all done for the sole purpose of writing a book rather than out of a true spiritual quest.

Next book: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marilliar

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

** I actually finished this book a while ago but haven’t had time to post my review. **

* Picture from Amazon*

Format read: Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 7 out of 10

Plot: Agnes Magnesdottir has been sentenced to death for the murder of one of her former employees. While she is awaiting her punishment, she is sent to a remote farm where she slowly reveals her story and earns the trust and support of the family.

Opinion: I thought this was a pretty good book, although it was slow at times.  Also, I never really felt connected to the main character, which made it hard to empathize with her.   I learned about a historical event that I knew nothing about prior, and that’s always a plus for me when I’m reading historical fiction.

Next book: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Song of Susannah by Stephen King

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Format read: Mass Market Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 6 out of 10

Plot: Roland and his friends continue on their quest to the Dark Tower.  They are in a race to save the Dark Tower before the last of the beams holding up the universe fall.  In addition to their quest to save the Dark Tower, they must also save their friend and fellow gunslinger from herself and the creature she is pregnant with.

Opinion: I thought this one was better than the previous volume of this book, but I think that parts of the book were slow and hard to get through.  One thing that I really didn’t like was how Stephen King inserted himself into the story, which I think took away from the story and so far seems like a pointless diversion.  I am going to continue though because there’s one more book and if anything, this book raised more questions than it answered.

Next book: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

My Pet Virus by Shawn Decker

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Format read: Paperback

Genre: Memior

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Plot: Sean is a hemophiliac who contracted HIV in the 1980s when he was 11.  This story is his struggle to come to terms with having HIV.  It is also the story of how he met and fell in love with his wife, who accepted him in spite of his illness.

Opinion: I thought this was an easy read.  Even with my limited free time, I managed to finish this in a week because it was so engrossing.  However, I was annoyed at parts with Sean and his behavior, particularly his refusal to take medication to treat his illness until the point where it developed into full-blown AIDS almost killing him.  I also was not happy to read about how when he was a teenager he had sex with someone without telling them about his status, which I think is not only irresponsible but unfair to his partner.

Next book: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Abridged Biography Of Prophet Muhammad (S) by Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab At-Tamini

Abridged Biography of Prophet Muhammad (S)

* Picture from dar-us-salam.com*

Format read: Hardback

Genre: Islamic

Rating: 6 out of 10

Plot: This is a book of seerah, which is the biography of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  It covers the period from right before he was born until the last of the Sahabah, or Companions (r.a.a.) died.

Opinion: While I am glad this book didn’t have the egregious typos that are common to translated Islamic books, I wasn’t impressed with it overall.  First, I understand that as an abridged book it wasn’t going to be as long or go into as much detail as a book that is not abridged.  However, I felt that so much detail was left out of some parts that it was confusing.  I’m fairly familiar with the Seerah, but I think that someone who had not read Seerah before would be totally confused.  Also, while I appreciate covering some of the important events in Islam after the death of the Prophet (s.a.w.), I felt that that section was too long (about a third of the book).  I think it would’ve been better to spend more time focusing on the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) than incidents after he died.  For anyone interested in reading a good book of Seerah, I recommend either The Sealed Nectar or When the Moon Split (which is about as long as this book).  I think both of those books are better written and easier to understand.

Next book:  My Pet Virus by Shawn Decker

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