Maybe the title should have clued me in…

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, Balli Kaur Jaswal

Published June 13th 2017 by William Morrow
Hardcover, 304 pages
Source: Library!
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Every woman has a secret life . . .Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

I’m pretty positive the delightful Reading with Hippos pointed me to this book.  The title is amazing – but really it should have tipped me off that that there were actual – you know EROTIC STORIES.  I was expecting the family dynamics, marital stress, the complicated lives of immigrants living in London.  I wasn’t shocked by the racism experienced, the religious bias, or even the question of possible murder.  But some of those stories – whoa were those a surprise!
Yes things got a bit cheesy or moved too quickly maybe – but overall this was just a fun read with more depth than you’d expect to go with the erotic stories.  When you need a book that will make you laugh and reconsider all the produce in your fridge check this out.
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Overdue Review: Among the Ruins

Among the Ruins,  (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #3) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Published February 14th 2017 by Minotaur Books

Hardcover, 368 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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On leave from Canada’s Community Policing department, Esa Khattak is traveling in Iran, reconnecting with his cultural heritage and seeking peace in the country’s beautiful mosques and gardens. But Khattak’s supposed break from work is cut short when he’s approached by a Canadian government agent in Iran, asking him to look into the death of renowned Canadian-Iranian filmmaker Zahra Sobhani. Zahra was murdered at Iran’s notorious Evin prison, where she’d been seeking the release of a well-known political prisoner. Khattak quickly finds himself embroiled in Iran’s tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the regime, but when the trail leads back to Zahra’s family in Canada, Khattak calls on his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help.

Rachel uncovers a conspiracy linked to the Shah of Iran and the decades-old murders of a group of Iran’s most famous dissidents. Historic letters, a connection to the Royal Ontario Museum, and a smuggling operation on the Caspian Sea are just some of the threads Rachel and Khattak begin unraveling, while the list of suspects stretches from Tehran to Toronto. But as Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran’s political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra’s murder may not have been a political crime at all.

It is not easy to try to review a series from the middle so I will mostly just tell you that if you like mysteries and haven’t read these books YOU SHOULD START!  Book one of Esa and Rachel’s partnership, The Unquiet Dead, blew me away and The Language of Secrets was a worthy follow-up.  Now Esa has found his way into a new mystery while vacationing in Iran and Rachel tries to help as best she can from home in Canada.   As they had to work to communicate I found myself uncomfortably tense with worry about what would happen.  I was also 9 months pregnant when reading this – I might recommend against combination on reflection.  Too much anxiety!  We had deeply corrupt government figures, international drama, possibly stolen royal jewels and then family dramas – all wrapped up with murder.   

I have of course found myself emotionally caught up by characters in mysteries, even tearful (Flavia  de Luce I’m looking at you).  But I can’t think of a mystery book or series that gets me so caught up in the real fate of a group of people or nation or really just what the fuck is wrong with humanity sometimes.  Khan had me terrified and sad for the plight of prisoners in Iran – so much so I’d never want to go there- and at the same time longing to see the sights she described. Thankfully she started posting pictures on Facebook and saved me the searching time!  What a beautifully sad place.  

I’m also currently reading Khan’s foray into fantasy, The Bloodprint, and I’m really enjoying it.  Definitely getting flashbacks to the setting for Among the Ruins which is cool and different. 

Are you reading this series?  Any other good mysteries I should pick-up?  I think that’s the mood I’m heading into for fall.

Thank you Minotaur Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review! 

It’s Monday What Are You Reading? 

How is July half way over? I’m finding myself thinking about back to school reading which is insane!  I just put A Wrinkle in Time on hold at the library- cross your fingers that my First Grade queen of the Rainbow Fairies series will read something else!

I’m reading Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin which I am loving. Next up are library books Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire and after hearing about Prey of the Gods from Michelle at That’s What She Read I had to check that out.

I’m on a mission to read off my own shelf so I also am going middle grade and trying The Sixty Eight Rooms about my beloved Art Institute of Chicago.

Phew that’s a lot. What are you reading this week? Thanks to The Book Date for this check-in!

Overdue Reviews: The Dragon Behind the Glass

The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish, Emily Voigt

Published May 24th 2016 by Scribner

Hardcover, 336 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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A journalist’s quest to find a wild Asian arowana — the world’s most expensive aquarium fish—takes her on a global tour through the bizarre realm of ornamental fish hobbyists to some of the most remote jungles on the planet.

A young man is murdered for his prized pet fish. An Asian tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. Delving into an outlandish world of obsession, paranoia, and criminality, The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other. Treasured as a status symbol believed to bring good luck, the Asian arowana, or “dragon fish,” is a dramatic example of a modern paradox: the mass-produced endangered species. While hundreds of thousands are bred in captivity, the wild fish has become a near-mythical creature. From the South Bronx to Borneo and beyond, journalist Emily Voigt follows the trail of the arowana to learn its fate in nature.

With a captivating blend of personal reporting, history, and science, Voigt traces our fascination with aquarium fish back to the era of exploration when intrepid naturalists stood on the cutting edge of modern science, discovering new species around the globe. In an age when freshwater fish now comprise one of the most rapidly vanishing groups of animals, she unearths a surprising truth behind the arowana’s rise to fame—one that calls into question how we protect the world’s rarest species.

An elegant examination of the human conquest of nature, The Dragon Behind the Glass revels in the sheer wonder of life’s diversity and lays bare our deepest desire—to hold on to what is wild.

When I read the above blurb – a pet fish that people commit murder over! –  I knew I had to read this book.  What with life and babies and all I didn’t read this right away, but when I read mention of an arowana getting plastic surgery in Rich People Problems it sparked my memory and I knew I had to read the Dragon Behind the Glass soon.  And I learned Kevin Kwan didn’t make it up – people really are that extreme about the Asian Arowana!  

Once I started reading I was hooked!  (Also I’m clearly hilarious)  What started as one story in New York let Voigt into places that very few people travel to try to find the story of the wild arowana.   She follows both the collectors who want the fish for the prosperity it can bring and the scientists trying to study a possible new strain.   I know I am not such an explorer so it was fascinating reading how far the quest to see something new and wild would take Voigt and the biologists that she worked with.  I know I wouldn’t try to get into Burma just to catch a glimpse of a fish in its native environment! Especially for such an odd looking fish.  Fish conventions, fish nicknames, fish theft – quite a world out there.

Voigt also left me thinking more deeply than I expected about how we treat endangered or threatened species and how those animals end up on the list in the first place.  While I fear without an endangered list we would drive even more species to extinction she has me wondering if instead we do even more harm than good.  When my daughter and I took our usual turn around the fish department at the local pet store last week I definitely was looking at all those tanks differently.  

Thank you Scribner and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? 

Thanks to Kathryn from Book Date for this check in!

I finished my reread of Nevernight – and I still loved it- and am now bouncing between some very different books!

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Still Roxane Gay – who OMG I AM GOING TO SEE TONIGHT!!!! Difficult Women is amazing but slow for me.

For a library book after reading Burntown (a total disappointment,) I started Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Found – which is going to be delightfully fascinating. I apologize in advance to everyone I’m about to share severed head facts with, it’s a compulsion to tell people all about my nonfiction reads.

For lighter reading I started Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt. Teen angst + mafia style families dealing with selling organs seems right up my alley this week.

What are you reading this week? Anyone else catching the amazing Roxane on tour?

Maternity Leave Reading

Well instead of doing all my reading I’ve been busy with something else…

Things have been busy to say the least.  But oh so happy with two little girls to read to in my house!  Thankfully I’ve figured out how to hold a nursing baby while also holding a kindle and I’ve finally been reading as much as possible.  I’ve been doing some YA reading – Throne of Glass – and lots of light romance because honestly I don’t know how long I’m awake at any one period.  I am almost done with my leave and I am hoping to find time in the awake hours to talk books again soon.

I am LOVING Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan.  If you haven’t read Crazy Rich Asians yet get on it! You have time before this third book comes out.

I’m determined to read Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs and Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham.  I’m hoping this baby girl naps in her own bed long enough for me to try to review some books that I loved including Nevernight and Three Dark Crowns.  I also need to do a giveaway of the sweet summer read It Started With Goodbye!

I have a ton of blogs to catch up on and books to find out about.  What have I missed? Any great books I need to check out?

Happy Spring!

 

 

What to do when comfort reading isn’t comforting?

Hello from a long absence.  I wish I’d been buried in a book for the last month or like my beloved Thursday Next trapped in the book world itself.  Instead, Holly and I lost our dad at the beginning of December.  That I won’t go into but to say that he was the absolute best in every way and nothing is going to feel quite right for a long time. He’s half the reason we’re both the readers that we are and absolutely the reason I love fantasy.

So time has passed, even though it feels like everyone should be frozen in grief and I keep finding myself at a loss for what to do with myself.  Immersion in a new book is always my comfort – but I just don’t care.  I don’t want to admit how many hours of Food Network I’ve watched rather than find anything that makes me actually think.   I’ve read some smutty romances but even those are kind of meh.

I’m afraid to pick up a book that I want to love because I don’t want my whole mood to color the experience. Babycakes has actually found a new series WORSE than the Rainbow Fairies – it involves Royal Ponies.  Maybe I’ll read with her so I can get my hate reading out and move on to something of my own…

I think I started out wanting to ask for a magic book that would make me feel better and lighter and ready to read anything I want and think about anything without being sad.  Too bad I know there’s no such thing.    So instead I’ll just say that we’ll be back eventually.