A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen // A Lovely Work of Modern Drama

Sunday, 30 April 2017 0 comments
A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen
Publication: December 1879, by Hard Press
Genre: Fiction, Play, Drama
Pages: 122
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

A Doll's House (1879), is a masterpiece of theatrical craft which, for the first time portrayed the tragic hypocrisy of Victorian middle class marriage on stage. The play ushered in a new social era and "exploded like a bomb into contemporary life".

My Thoughts: 

A Doll's House was one of the three plays I was fortunate to read for English class this year, and I must say that it was just absolutely stunning and alluring. I have read about ten pieces of drama and this is one of the best for its different style of writing and subject matter. How often are we readers fortunate to read about a couple's crisis in the Victorian era in Norway? Never. Ever. After reading Ibsen's work, I feel more captivated to look into his other plays and see what he has in store for us. This can definitely be classified as modern drama, but it gives us the perspective of 1800s Europe before all of the violence and wars began. This was more about a couple's struggle in the sense of their marriage and social status.

We spent about a week reading this relatively short play and analyzing it in my class and I didn't want to miss a second of it. In the beginning of the play, we are introduced to Nora and her husband Thorvald who are a well-off couple living in a Norwegian town. The whole play takes place in a span of a couple of days, and it is so raw and real. Ibsen was definitely not influenced by any of the modern topics (like technology) that we are surrounded with, so he told us a different story about a couple that we haven't been surrounded with before. 

The characters were absolutely my favourite part of the play. Everyone, including Nora, Thorvald, Mrs. Linde etc. etc. are so well planned-out and amazing. Each of them has their own emotions and qualities that they are specifically known for in the play. We feel their pains, their struggles, their desires... and this is the reason why I appreciate drama so much compared to novels. There are only a few books that actually have the ability to create this raw feeling. A Doll's House did that. And it's so creative too; just look at the title. Occasionally we find these basic titles that are pretty much meaningless for the whole novel/play. In this case, IT BRINGS OUT SO MANY THEMES that can be discussed for decades and millenniums.... and forever.

The only thing I want is for a greater sense of background information in Thorvald and Nora's relationship. AND THE KIDS. AND THE MAID. We just need a sequel play, okay?

A Doll's House is lovely. It's a work that I would want to come back to all the time and analyze the themes over and over again. In addition to Shakespeare and Hamilton and all of THOSE lovely plays, read this. NOW. 

What are some other brilliant modern plays?

Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat // Heart-Wrenching and Memorable

Saturday, 29 April 2017 0 comments
Prisoner of Tehran, by Marina Nemat
Publication: May 6, 2008, by Free Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

What would you give up to protect your loved ones? Your life?

In her heartbreaking, triumphant, and elegantly written memoir, Prisoner of Tehran, Marina Nemat tells the heart-pounding story of her life as a young girl in Iran during the early days of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal Islamic Revolution.

In January 1982, Marina Nemat, then just sixteen years old, was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death for political crimes. Until then, her life in Tehran had centered around school, summer parties at the lake, and her crush on Andre, the young man she had met at church. But when math and history were subordinated to the study of the Koran and political propaganda, Marina protested. Her teacher replied, "If you don't like it, leave." She did, and, to her surprise, other students followed.

Soon she was arrested with hundreds of other youths who had dared to speak out, and they were taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Two guards interrogated her. One beat her into unconsciousness; the other, Ali, fell in love with her.

Sentenced to death for refusing to give up the names of her friends, she was minutes from being executed when Ali, using his family connections to Ayatollah Khomeini, plucked her from the firing squad and had her sentence reduced to life in prison. But he exacted a shocking price for saving her life -- with a dizzying combination of terror and tenderness, he asked her to marry him and abandon her Christian faith for Islam. If she didn't, he would see to it that her family was harmed. She spent the next two years as a prisoner of the state, and of the man who held her life, and her family's lives, in his hands.

Lyrical, passionate, and suffused throughout with grace and sensitivity, Marina Nemat's memoir is like no other. Her search for emotional redemption envelops her jailers, her husband and his family, and the country of her birth -- each of whom she grants the greatest gift of all: forgiveness.

My Thoughts:

Prisoner of Tehran is one of those books that I will just never forget. I read it A LONG time ago (not kidding; it was November 2016) but it is so raw that I feel like I just read it last night. This was one of my English class' required reads, and I expected to like it less because (A) I watched a movie about someone escaping Iran, which was AMAZING, but I didn't want to experience the same kind of storyline again and (B) the cover is definitely not the prettiest. Nevertheless, I adored it and I couldn't wait for all of my friends who had English class after me to pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did. Marina Nemat is a lovely writer who writes like she experienced all of this not too long ago. It has been quite a while, but you can feel the pain and sorrow in every word she writes. 

I actually was fortunate to "meet" Marina (she came to speak at our school) and it was a perfect experience since I can hear the thoughts of the brilliant author who changed my life. Everything she told us was life-changing. She spoke about inclusion and diversity, and how we (this generation) are the key-life-changers of the world. When she spoke, she made it seem like we are able to conquer anything. It was amazing to see her in real life and (sadly) see how affected she still is after all of her traumatizing experiences in Iran.

Prisoner of Tehran starts off pretty normally. We readers feel the tension because we know that there are going to be (many) rough moments throughout this story, but we first learn about Marina's life before the Islamic Revolution... before things changed and got her into prison. I'm going to make a generalization here: we constantly think that people who take big risks in life are only in the movies, or are one of a kind and come along once every few generations. Marina showed that she thinks she is an ordinary person though took a risk to speak up. Because of speaking up, Marina ends up in the notorious Evin Prison and her life changes from there. She has a life sentence, but she occasionally feels that death is the best way out of her troubling life. Ali, one of the prison guards who beat her, begins to come into her life more and more, and we see that the tensions between the relationship of a captor and captive become clear and kind of... interesting.

The people who Marina talks about are characters, in reality, as this is a novel, but we have to keep in mind that this story is as real as ever. It's a beautiful story that moved my whole class and I, and a story that told us about someone's life in somewhere across the world. Marina now lives in Canada, half an hour from where I live, and it's amazing to see how successful she has become. She was first successful with having courage to do what she did, but she is now even more courageous to tell her story. I felt such a connection to this book like never before and I seriously am so thankful that I was able to analyze it and pinpoint every literary device Marina uses because why not? She is a writer who easily told her story but left some important messages in between the lines.

This is such a lovely story and I wish that Marina would make a film based on her story. She is such an influential woman who mastered the art of writing with this memoir. I never knew much about the Islamic Regime in Iran, and in the midst of learning about this woman's life story, I learned so much about that. 

What are some other books about the Iranian Revolution that you know of?

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker // A Quite Interesting Read

Monday, 24 April 2017 0 comments
All is Not Forgotten, by Wendy Walker
Publication: July 12, 2016, by St. Martin's Press
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 310
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.
Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.
As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

My Thoughts:

All is Not Forgotten is a novel that I would normally want to pick up and devour instantly. It definitely is "my kind of read," especially because it is a psychological thriller slash mystery. There are so many good things about this genre that I usually am unable to imagine anything horrible about it. However, this time around, I feel pretty confused or mixed-feelings-like about this novel, and I feel quite upset over the fact that I am writing this review NOW, maybe seven months after I first read it. 

This was basically the best book gone wrong. I had so much hope for it because I expected a read that would be more about the actual mystery instead of the aftermath of this all. In a few words, I would describe this as a PTSD book. It's heartbreaking to read stories like these when you know that they have the capability of being so good or enjoyable. 

I honestly am not able to remember what this book is even about. What I can tell you is that it was readable—I was able to enjoy some of it and pick up on some of the important/captivating parts where I couldn't stop reading, but there were other points of time where I just felt like saying "meh." That is the best way to describe this whole book. 

This definitely incorporates some graphic violence so I would keep my eye out for that if you're not into stories that are really depressing and difficult to endure. All Is Not Forgotten is an average mystery novel that hits you a little, but leaves you shocked because you completely expected more. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is a new adult book about domestic violence?

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash // An Unexpected DNF

Sunday, 23 April 2017 0 comments
We Know It Was You (Strange Truth #1), by Maggie Thrash
Publication: October 4, 2016, by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.
Just like that, she’s gone.
Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

My Thoughts:

 DNF @ 200 pages

This review is going to be short and (bitter) sweet because I was completely disappointed with the outcome of We Know It Was You. This was supposed to be an overwhelmingly pleasing book that reminded me of other things that Maggie Thrash has written. But sadly, it was not pleasing, but more overwhelming on the negative side of things. I cannot even tell you what this novel is all about because it was completely scattered, and I sadly do not recommend it.

I think this is the longest it took me to read a book. If I had finished it, I would have gone into a huge reading slump and my life would've turned completely, right there. MY LOVE OF READING WOULD FALL IN A DRAIN, JUST LIKE THE SALT SHAKER ON THE COVER OF THIS BOOK. There were too many characters, too many things to remember that honestly? It just progressed into a boring, dull read. Read other reviews about this novel on Goodreads and you will find the same reactions. This was a pretty-hyped read and I couldn't wait to fall in love with it because everyone called it the new Pretty Little Liars. That was completely false. :(

This novel was nothing special and in fact, completely disappointing. That's the verdict and complete truth. I would say that instead, we should all read Maggie Thrash's memoir. That was written gorgeously.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the recent most disappointing book you read?

Othello by William Shakespeare // My Favourite Shakespeare Play

Monday, 10 April 2017 0 comments
Othello, by William Shakespeare
Publication: January 1, 2004, by Simon and Schuster
Genre: Play, Fiction
Pages: 314
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

In Othello, Shakespeare creates a powerful drama of a marriage that begins with fascination (between the exotic Moor Othello and the Venetian lady Desdemona), with elopement, and with intense mutual devotion and that ends precipitately with jealous rage and violent deaths. He sets this story in the romantic world of the Mediterranean, moving the action from Venice to the island of Cyprus and giving it an even more exotic coloring with stories of Othello's African past. Shakespeare builds so many differences into his hero and heroine—differences of race, of age, of cultural background—that one should not, perhaps, be surprised that the marriage ends disastrously. But most people who see or read the play feel that the love that the play presents between Othello and Desdemona is so strong that it would have overcome all these differences were it not for the words and actions of Othello's standard-bearer, Iago, who hates Othello and sets out to destroy him by destroying his love for Desdemona. As Othello succumbs to Iago's insinuations that Desdemona is unfaithful, fascination—which dominates the early acts of the play—turns to horror, especially for the audience. We are confronted by spectacles of a generous and trusting Othello in the grip of Iago's schemes; of an innocent Desdemona, who has given herself up entirely to her love for Othello only to be subjected to his horrifying verbal and physical assaults, the outcome of Othello's mistaken convictions about her faithlessness.

My Thoughts:

Othello is the third Shakespearean play I have read, and I must say that it was the best out of the three. Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth all stunned me, but this was something special and interesting. Even though Shakespeare lived SO many years ago, his talents of writing about racial prejudices, stereotypes that still live to this day, jealousy and romance shine in this gorgeous play. I read this play for school, and as with every Shakespearean play, we spent a long time examining this work and learning about its purpose and setting. I adored all of the characters in this stunning play and the whole underlying message. PLUS IAGO WAS THE BEST. Even though I despise villains in most books/plays, I kind of wanted Iago's ultimate plan to succeed. Towards the end of the play, my class was required to give this HUGE 15%-worth presentation on the play, and I talked about Iago's reasoning for doing what he did. 

READ THIS PLAY. If you are not able to understand some of the phrases and scenes, which I don't blame you for, you can totally go onto Sparknotes and read it all. It'll help so much. The romance here is deep and meaningful—you can't go wrong with reading Shakespeare and seeing how different and special it is. 

GO READ THIS PLAY RIGHT NOW. It'll change your life in so many ways and you'll want to become a Shakespeare hoarder. I believe many people hoard his plays like obsessed (cool) freaks. :)

What is your favourite Shakespeare play? What are some other issues he covers?

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak // The Best of 2016. Literally.

Sunday, 9 April 2017 0 comments
The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak
Publication: January 17, 2017, by Little Brown
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Julia and Evan falls in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a Canadian logging town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia—blonde, beautiful and rich—fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan takes a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, who has only known a life of privilege, feels unmoored and increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.
With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in an increasingly high-stakes deal at work—a deal that, despite the assurance of his Machiavellian boss, begins to feel more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of life. As Evan and Julia spin apart into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more—good and bad—that they’d ever dreamed, and that betrayal is easier than they ever imagined.
Rich with suspense and insight, Pitoniak’s thrilling debut reveals the fragile yet enduring nature of our connections to one another and to ourselves. THE FUTURES is a glittering story of a couple coming of age and a tender, searing portrait of what it’s like to be young and full of hope in a city that often seems determined to break us down—but ultimately may be the very thing that saves us.

My Thoughts:

I feel SO SO SO embarrassed that I am writing a review for this beautiful, amazing, gorgeous book (I CAN'T HELP BUT RAVE ABOUT IT) right now, but I guess better late than never, right? Anna Pitoniak's The Futures is a memorable book that I urge so many overachievers like myself to purchase. Why overachievers, you ask? BECAUSE THIS IS AN ADULT BOOK ABOUT A COUPLE WHO ARE IN LOVE BUT ARE TRYING TO GET THEIR LIVES TOGETHER. This book is my dream book and life: I desire to live in New York City, to attend an Ivy League college, to make myself proud and fall in love. This book basically is the remnants of that. We have two characters who are partially similar and partially different. Julia and Evan both hold qualities that I can personally relate to, and I loved reading their two perspectives, sneaking peeks on what they think of each other.

The amazing thing about this book is that it is so damn real. It expresses the problems of growing up so well (even though I have personally never experienced these troubles yet). As I hold this book in my hands right now, I slowly am dying inside because I want to live all of those emotions again. I felt so much sadness, happiness, frustration—literally the hugest mix of emotions possible while reading. I literally want all of the writing pieces that Anna Pitoniak has produced in my hands. NOW. She made this whole story so descriptive and lively that I felt that I was actually living in New York City. I have visited the city of dreams twice and it IS the city of my dreams. It was described so elegantly, making me want to catch a plane and fly there instantly.

"What kept everyone going was the dream: store windows on Madison Avenue, brownstones lit golden in the night, town cars gliding across the park. Imagining what it would be like when you got there, someday. Manhattan felt like a dazzling life-size diorama. A motivation to work harder, stay later, wake earlier" (4).

This amazing piece of art (this is a hundred percent artistic work) is all about a couple who fell in love at Yale—Julia and Evan. Julia is from a rich family and has dreams that are immediately decided for her when her husband, Evan, decides to move them to New York City so he could work for a hedge fund. Immediately, his once-calm life is taken away from him and he has to live with long days and short amounts of time at home with Julia. 

THIS BOOK HURT ME SO MUCH BECAUSE I FELT SO BAD FOR JULIA. She had such a boring life for the majority of the book and she was BOUND to be happy again. Thankfully, I must say that the ending was pretty fabulous if you ask me. THIS WHOLE BOOK WAS PRETTY FABULOUS. I loved the pacing, plot, setting, romance—EVERYTHING. This does contain adult subject matter, but any YA contemporary lover would surely fall in love with Evan and all of this.

The Futures is the perfect read for a millennial. Reading about a couple's life in New York City really makes us appreciate the beauty of the city, though it also makes us become scared of the future. Many of us constantly wish for our lives to 'get together' faster, but in this case, moving on is quite scary as hey—WE'RE ALL ALONE. I'm in love with this beautiful read, and I'm sure everyone else will too.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thanks so much!*

What are some "millennial" style reads? What are some other books set in New York City?

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure BLOG TOUR Review

Monday, 3 April 2017 2 comments

But Then I Came Back, by Estelle Laure
Publication: April 4, 2017, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Eden: As far as coma patients go, Eden’s lucky. She woke up. But still, she can’t shake the feeling that she might have dragged something back from the near-afterlife.
Joe: Joe visits the hospital every day, hoping that Jaz, his lifelong friend, will wake up. More than anything, he wants to hear her voice again. But he’s not sure anyone can reach her.
Eden & Joe: Even though she knows it sounds crazy, Eden tells Joe that they might be able to talk to Jaz. Opening themselves up to the great unknown—and each other—Eden and Joe experience life: mysterious and scary, beautiful and bright.

My Thoughts:

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure, yes, has aspects in it that remind me of Gayle Forman's If I Stay, but it is absolutely its own novel that I JUST CAN'T STOP FREAKING OUT ABOUT. I have not read Laure's This Raging Light just yet (due to my horrifyingly busy schedule and buckets of homework), though I know that I will enjoy it SO much because this beautiful story just made me go crazy and become obsessed with contemporary romances all over again. I feel like such a tween again, agh! (But this book's subjects are not fully for tweens either as the whole coma situation is pretty influential and emotional to readers!) 

The title was definitely the first thing that intrigued me. It makes this book sound so drastic and interesting since BOOM the protagonist comes out of her near-death experience and begins to live her life normally again. Eden really made me feel as if I were in that hospital room, watching her journey unfold as she began to understand more about her situation and how she was trying to discover what happened to her. MY MOST FAVOURITE PART was seeing how Eden was trying to discover what exactly happened to her when she hit her head and immediately went into a coma.

Of course—the romance was absolutely amazing and delightful and *insert every possible positive adjective* I LOVED JOEY. The two both had a relationship that literally all of the Nicholas Sparks movies would highlight. THIS IS LIKE GREY'S ANATOMY APPROVED. OR JOHN GREEN APPROVED. I really don't know, but I think we can definitely say that all teens will enjoy this read.

I found the plot to be moving quite quickly. The story begins with the first part of Eden's story—where we learn about the events occurring during Eden's experience, during and the aftermath. I loved this format and how it split the book up. I kept feeling this anticipation that something CRAZY would occur that would make the whole book fall apart. I was unable to stop reading. 

This lovely read is releasing in stores TOMORROW (April 4th) so I urge you to go and grab a copy. I felt like there were a few minor issues, like Eden's character development, but I enjoyed this so much that I am unable to state anything negative. You will adore the romance, the subject matter—everything. I cannot wait to read more of Estelle Laure's writing that is so deep, touching and (occasionally) overwhelming with emotions.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*


Hi everyone! I was fortunate to ask Estelle a question for this blog tour, SO HERE IT IS!

Hi Estelle! Was the writing process different for But Then I Came Back compared to This Raging Light? Which novel was easier to tackle?

Hi! Thanks for having me! Hmmm, I wouldn’t say either was easy. Maybe someday I will get to write an easy book, but so far it’s a pretty excruciating process. For This Raging Light I had infinite time and no pressure except what was self-imposed. But I was also in the midst of a personal crisis where everything in my life was changing, so the external circumstances affected the time I could spend and how much I enjoyed it. With But Then I Came Back I was writing not only under contract, so with some real performance expectations, but also from grief, so the external was pretty okay while internally I was a mess. Maybe third time’s the charm?

What are some other books that feature a protagonist who has undergone a coma?