During the past couple of weeks I’ve accumulated a handful of books from publishers. A couple of which I requested and a some were sent to me for review. I always find it an honor when international publishers sends me an email approving my requests or requesting me to review their books as it’s not easy to send packages across the globe. As much as possible though I tend to be more critical with the books that I request or agree to review. I make sure that I’ll be able to read each book in an acceptable time frame or I really like what the books are all about.
Majority of the books in this haul are from independent book publishers and I would really like to make it an advocacy that by next year, I’ll read more of their books. And what better way to support them than posting honest reviews of the books. 🙂 I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the publishers who put their belief on my blog. And if you also notice, the books in these haul are very diverse. I really would like to be more diverse with the books that I will read by next year. I want to be introduced to different cultures and visit different places by reading books set in different parts of the world and books written by authors from around the globe. So you’re probably be looking at the books that will populate my blog by next year. 😉
I don’t trust my self that I’ll be able to give justice in what the books are all about so I’ll leave it to Goodreads to give you each book’s synopsis. 😀
The Loved Ones
by Sonya Chung
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 18th 2016 by Relegation Books
SYNOPSIS: In this masterful novel of inheritance and loss, Sonya Chung (”Long for This World”) proves herself a worthy heir to Marguerite Duras, Hwang Sun-won, and James Salter. Spanning generations and divergent cultures, The Loved Ones maps the intimate politics of unlikely attractions, illicit love, and costly reconciliations.
Charles Lee, the young African American patriarch of a biracial family, seeks to remedy his fatherless childhood in Washington, DC, by making an honorable choice when his chance arrives. Years later in the mid-1980s, uneasy and stymied in his marriage to Alice, he finds a connection with Hannah Lee, the teenage Korean American caregiver whose parents’ transgressive flight from tradition and war has left them shrouded in a cloud of secrets and muted passion.
A shocking and senseless death will test every familial bond and force all who are touched by the tragedy to reexamine who their loved ones truly are–the very meaning of the words. Haunting, elliptical, and powerful, The Loved Ones deconstructs the world we think we know and shows us the one we inhabit. (Goodreads)
A Single Happened Thing
by Daniel Paisner
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Relegation Books
SYNOPSIS: It’s the late Nineties on the Upper West Side and book publicist David Felb (née Felber, née Felberstein) can sense his world shrinking. He is stuck in the slow lane at ”a venerable second-tier publishing house” and feeling the encroaching changes technology will bring as he struggles to maintain a bond with his wife and three young daughters. Into the void steps Fred ”Sure Shot” Dunlap, a tweed-clad, waxed-mustached nineteenth-century baseball legend with still impeccable timing who died penniless and obscure and seems to need something from Felb. Or is it the other way around? Felb dutifully goes to weekly psychiatrist appointments at his wife’s insistence, but when his hard-to-reach baseball-mad teenage daughter develops her own fascination, he can feel a chance to recapture something lost.
Daniel Paisner’s enchanting new novel about neurosis, intimacy, and balancing familial needs while juggling two careers and the demands of modern life is also a charming and memorable parable about losing your mind and finding yourself in the age of anxiety. (Goodreads)
On Bittersweet Place
by Ronna Wineberg
Paperback, 265 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Relegation Books (first published September 1st 2014)
SYNOPSIS: On Bittersweet Place is the powerful coming-of-age story of Lena Czernitski, a young Russian Jew whose family flees their homeland in the Ukraine after the October Revolution. The story unfolds in Chicago during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, where Lena’s impoverished family has settled and where she must traverse the early years of adolescence. Lena’s new world is large and beautiful and full of promise, but it is also cold and unwelcoming and laden with danger. Ronna Wineberg delivers a moving, universal story of family, self-discovery, young love, and the always relevant experience of the immigrant, the refugee, the outsider struggling to create a new home and a better life in an unfamiliar place. (Goodreads)
Kingdom of Ashes (Nightfall #1)
by Elena May (Author), Nadica Boskovska (Illustrator)
Paperback, 540 pages
Published October 30th 2016 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
SYNOPSIS: Myra never witnessed the Nightfall. She has only heard stories from the eldest among them; tales of the Old World and of the scientists who invented the WeatherWizard—a technological innovation that controls the weather. Unfortunately, the device also gave an ambitious vampire prince the means to cover the world in impenetrable clouds, allowing his armies to crawl out of their caves and conquer all.
Vampires rule over the New World, breeding humans for food. After fifty years of guerrilla warfare, the Resistance is fading, its supplies dwindling. They must rally and succeed—and soon—or all hope of restoring human civilization will be lost.
When Myra goes on a desperate mission to help the Resistance, she ends up a captive in the vampires’ palace. With time running out, she must find a way to stop Prince Vladimir, and every wrong step leads to the death of innocents. Her battle abilities prove useless, but Myra discovers she has another skill that can give her an edge over her captors. Now, Myra must defeat the vampire leader at a power game he has been playing for almost two millennia. (Goodreads)
Dates on My Fingers
by Muhsin Al-Ramli (Author), Luke Leafgren (Translation)
Paperback, 193 pages
Published June 30th 2014 by American University in Cairo Press (first published 2009)
SYNOPSIS: Saleem, fed up with all the violence, religiosity, and strict family hierarchies of his Iraqi village, flees to Spain to establish a new life for himself. But his lonely exile is turned upside down when he encounters his father, Noah, in a Madrid nightclub after not seeing him in more than a decade. Noah looks and acts like a new man, and Saleem sets out to discover the mystery of his father’s presence in Spain and his altered life. In doing so, he recalls formative moments in Iraq of familial love, war, and the haunting accidental death of his cousin Aliya, Saleem’s partner in the hesitant, tender exploration of sexuality. When the renewed relationship with his father erupts in a violent conflict, Saleem is forced to rediscover his sense of self and the hard-won stability of his life. Through Saleem’s experiences and reflections, the fast-paced narrative carries the reader between Spain and Iraq to a surprising resolution. (Goodreads)
by Mohammad Rabie (Author), Robin Moger (Translation)
Paperback, 1st, 352 pages
Published October 1st 2016 by Hoopoe, an imprint of American University in Cairo Press (first published November 1st 2014)
SYNOPSIS: Ahmed Otared is a Cairene police officer and trained sniper. When the country is invaded and occupied by a force of foreign mercenaries he joins the underground resistance, embarking on a new bloodthirsty career.
As the violence he encounters and participates in intensifies, a terrifying reality, bubbling below the surface of ‘normal’ life, is revealed to him, and he finds himself in a fantasia of torture and torment, a hellscape from which there is no deliverance.
This unflinching and grisly tale is made vivid through Mohammed Rabie’s brutally beautiful writing. (Goodreads)
The Longing of the Dervish
by Hammour Ziada (Author), Jonathan Wright (Translation)
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 15th 2016 by American University in Cairo Press
SYNOPSIS: At the close of the nineteenth century, freed slave Bakhit is let out of prison with the overthrow of the Mahdist state in Sudan. On the brink of death, the memory of his beloved Theodora is all that has sustained him through seven years of grim incarceration-that and his vow to avenge her killing.
Set against a backdrop of war, religious fervor, and the monumental social and political upheavals of the time, The Longing of the Dervish is a love story in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Lyrical and evocative, Hammour Ziada’s masterfully crafted novel is about sorrow, hope, and the cruelty of fate. (Goodreads)
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
by Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translation)
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Harvill Secker (first published 2011)
SYNOPSIS: A deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author and his close friend, the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Haruki Murakami’s passion for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and from The Beatles’ Norwegian Wood to Franz Liszt’s Years of Pilgrimage, the aesthetic and emotional power of music permeates every one of his much-loved books. Now, in Absolutely on Music, Murakami fulfills a personal dream, sitting down with his friend, acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa, to talk, over a period of two years, about their shared interest. Transcribed from lengthy conversations about the nature of music and writing, here they discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from record collecting to pop-up orchestras, and much more. Ultimately this book gives readers an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of the two maestros. It is essential reading for book and music lovers everywhere. (Goodreads) (CHECK MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE.)
No Knives in the Kitchens of This City
by Khaled Khalifa (Author), Leri Price (Translation)
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 15th 2016 by American University in Cairo Press
SYNOPSIS: In the once beautiful city of Aleppo, one Syrian family collapses into tragedy and ruin. The mother, abandoned by her husband, struggles to raise her children alone. Her daughter Sawsan flirts with the militias, the ruling party, and finally religion, seeking but never finding salvation.
All are slowly choked in the fog of violence and decay, as their lives are plundered and their dreams wrecked by the brutal Assad regime.
Set between the 1960s and 2000s, No Knives in the Kitchens of this City is a graceful and profound depiction of life under tyranny. Through the story of a single family, we read the disintegration of a whole society over half a century. This novel teaches us about grief, fear, and the end of beauty. (Goodreads)
The Woman from Tantoura
by Radwa Ashour, Kay Heikkinen (Translation)
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 15th 2014 by American University in Cairo Press (first published 2010)
SYNOPSIS: Palestine. For most of us, the word brings to mind a series of confused images and disjointed associations-massacres, refugee camps, UN resolutions, settlements, terrorist attacks, war, occupation, checkered kouffiyehs and suicide bombers, a seemingly endless cycle of death and destruction. This novel does not shy away from such painful images, but it is first and foremost a powerful human story, following the life of a young girl from her days in the village of al-Tantoura in Palestine up to the dawn of the new century. We participate in events as they unfold, seeing them through the uneducated but sharply intelligent mind of Ruqayya, as she tries to make sense of all that has happened to her and her family. With her, we live her love of her land and of her people; we feel the repeated pain of loss, of diaspora and of cross-generational misunderstanding; and above all, we come to know her indomitable human spirit. As we read we discover that we have become part of Ruqayya’s family, and her voice will remain with us long after we have closed the book. (Goodreads)
The Final Bet
by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, Jonathan Smolin (Translation)
Paperback, 156 pages
SYNOPSIS: Published September 15th 2016 by American University in Cairo Press (first published May 1st 2008)
When young and handsome Othman married Sofia-sophisticated, French, rich, and forty years his senior-he found his ticket out of a life of desperate poverty in the slums of Casablanca.
But when Sofia is brutally murdered, the police quickly zero in on Othman as the prime suspect.
With his mistress, the love of his life, waiting in the wings he certainly has motive. But is he guilty? Or has he been framed by an overzealous, corrupt police force? (Goodreads)
Are You Here For What I’m Here For?
by Brian Booker
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Bellevue Literary Press
SYNOPSIS: The suspense creeps in and takes hold in seven stories about troubled characters grappling with rare illnesses, menacing chance encounters, sexual awakening, impending natural disasters, and New Age cults.
Within these pages, the everyday meets the uncanny as two high school friends go out for one unforgettable night. A boy, haunted by dreams of a catastrophic flood, becomes swept up in an encephalitis epidemic. A hypochondriac awaits her diagnosis at a Caribbean health resort. A disease researcher meets his nemesis on a train. A father searches for his missing son in a remote mountain lodge where nothing is quite as it seems. An elderly pharmacist protects his adopted nephew, who found a mermaid in a bottle, from a coastal village gripped by hysteria. A teenager is sent to a “therapeutic” boarding school with disturbing methods and is reunited with a staff member years later.
Even at its most surreal, this polished and lyrical debut remains grounded in the emotional lives of people teetering atop widening chasms of confusion and doubt. (Goodreads)
by Richard Wiley
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Bellevue Literary Press
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Ruby Okada meets a charming man with a Scottish accent in the elevator of her psychiatric hospital. Unaware that he is an escaping patient, she falls under his spell, and her life and his are changed forever by the time they get to the street.
Who is the mysterious man? Is he Archie B. Billingsly, suffering from dissociative identity disorder and subject to brilliant flights of fancy and bizarre, violent fits? Or is he the reincarnation of Robert Louis Stevenson, back to haunt New York as Long John Silver and Mr. Edward Hyde? Her career compromised, Ruby soon learns that her future and that of her unborn child depend on finding the key to his identity.
With compelling psychological descriptions and terrifying, ineffable transformations, Bob Stevenson is an ingenious tale featuring a quirky cast of characters drawn together by mutual fascination, need, and finally, love. (Goodreads)
A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State
by Meredith Tax
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Bellevue Literary Press (first published July 12th 2016)
SYNOPSIS: In war-torn northern Syria, a democratic society—based on secularism, ethnic inclusiveness, and gender equality—has won significant victories against the Islamic State, or Daesh, with women on the front lines as fierce warriors and leaders.
A Road Unforeseen recounts the dramatic, underreported history of the Rojava Kurds, whose all-women militia was instrumental in the perilous mountaintop rescue of tens of thousands of civilians besieged in Iraq. Up to that point, the Islamic State had seemed invincible. Yet these women helped vanquish them, bringing the first half of the refugees to safety within twenty-four hours.
Who are the revolutionary women of Rojava and what lessons can we learn from their heroic story? How does their political philosophy differ from that of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Islamic State, and Turkey? And will the politics of the twenty-first century be shaped by the opposition between these political models? (Goodreads)
The Second Winter
by Craig Larsen
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Other Press
SYNOPSIS: Set in Denmark in the darkest days of World War II, THE SECOND WINTER is a cinematic novel that, in its vivid portrayal of a family struggling to survive the German occupation, both captures a savage moment in history and exposes the violence and want inherent in a father’s love.
It is 1941. In occupied Denmark, an uneasy relationship between the Danish government and the Germans allows the country to function under the protection of Hitler’s army, while Danish resistance fighters wage a bloody, covert battle against the Nazis. Fredrik Gregersen, a brutish, tormented caretaker of a small farm in Jutland laboring to keep his son and daughter fed, profits from helping Jewish fugitives cross the border into Sweden. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, Polina, a young refugee from Krakow, finds herself impressed into prostitution by Germans and Danes alike. When Fredrik steals a precious necklace from a helpless family of Jews, his own family’s fate becomes intertwined with Polina’s, triggering a ripple effect that will take decades and the fall of the Berlin Wall to culminate. (Goodreads)
Among the Living
by Jonathan Rabb
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Other Press
SYNOPSIS: In late summer 1947, thirty-one-year-old Yitzhak Goldah, a camp survivor, arrives in Savannah to live with his only remaining relatives. They are Abe and Pearl Jesler, older, childless, and an integral part of the thriving Jewish community that has been in Georgia since the founding of the colony. There, Yitzhak discovers a fractured world, where Reform and Conservative Jews live separate lives–distinctions, to him, that are meaningless given what he has been through. He further complicates things when, much to the Jeslers’ dismay, he falls in love with Eva, a young widow within the Reform community. When a woman from Yitzhak’s past suddenly appears–one who is even more shattered than he is–Yitzhak must choose between a dark and tortured familiarity and the promise of a bright new life.
Set amid the backdrop of America’s postwar south, Among the Living grapples with questions of identity and belonging, and steps beyond the Jewish experience as it situates Yitzhak’s story during the last gasp of the Jim Crow era. Yitzhak begins to find echoes of his own experience in the lives of the black family who work for the Jeslers–an affinity he does not share with the Jeslers themselves. This realization both surprises and convinces Yitzhak that his choices are not as clear-cut as he might have thought. (Goodreads)
by Peter Stamm, John Cullen (Translation)
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Other Press (first published August 1st 1998)
SYNOPSIS: “Write a story about me,” Agnes said to her lover, “so I know that you think of me.” So he started to write the story of everything that had happened to them from the moment they met.
At first, he works with Agnes to create a narrative that is most true to life, but as time passes and he grows more enamored with the narrative he has begun, he continues writing on his own, imagining a future for them after he reaches the present. Happy couples do not necessarily make for compelling reading, and as Agnes sees the unexpected plot he has planned for her, the line between fiction and reality begins to blur.
In this unforgettable and haunting novel Stamm incisively examines the power of storytelling to influence thought and behavior, reaching a chilling conclusion. (Goodreads)
The Wangs vs. the World
by Jade Chang
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Houghton Mifflin
SYNOPSIS: Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.
Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.
Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could. (Goodreads) (CHECK MY REVIEW OF THE BOOK HERE.)
What books in this lot have you already read? Any books that piqued your interest and you would want me to read first? What’s the last book that you hauled? Let me know your thoughts down below? 🙂