The Last Watchman of Old Cairo – Book Review

 

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

ISBN: 0525511946

Published in Paperback on: July 2, 2018

Length: 288 Pages


Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending me this copy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts my opinion. 

In this spellbinding novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.

Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One day, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the tangled history that binds the two sides of his family. For generations, the men of the al-Raqb family have served as watchmen of the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Joseph learns of his ancestor Ali, a Muslim orphan who nearly a thousand years earlier was entrusted as the first watchman of the synagogue and became enchanted by its legendary–perhaps magical–Ezra Scroll. The story of Joseph’s family is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their hallowed Cambridge halls on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue.

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a moving page-turner of a novel from acclaimed storyteller Michael David Lukas. This tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces–potent magic, forbidden love–that boldly attempt to bridge that divide.


My Thoughts: This book was beyond beautiful. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but at the end I came out feeling like something was added within my heart. The story is told from three different points of view, and they’re somewhat loosely related to one another, you discover in the end how it all ties together nicely.

Out of the three points of view my least favourite was actually Joseph. It felt like he was holding everything and everyone an arms length away, and because this is how he comes across, it was hard to connect to him. I really loved Ali’s point of view. It was engaging and beautiful. His was the story that really grabbed me and made me fall in love with the story and setting.

This book is beautiful but it also feels a bit rushed. An idea of this nature feels like it should be really fleshed out, and it really could have been. Maybe then I would have liked Joseph and the sisters points of view a little more. The writing was lovely, but again missing just a little spark to really hook the reader.

I would still recommend this book to any historical fiction lovers. It’s now available in paperback internationally.

I gave this four out of five metal horns!

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War and Peace Rant

 

Every pseudo-intellectual is about to roll their eyes so hard at me, but I don’t care.

I posted recently about more positivity in the book community, and writing a rant about War and Peace seems a little counteractive to that idea, but this book really bothered me.

I read all kinds of books, including young adult novels because ONE they are the category in which I would like to one day be published in and TWO they are fun imaginative rides from start to finish. I bring this up because a lot of young women and men within the book community get older men just spewing dumb comments at them because apparently to them if you only read young adult novels, you’re dumb, and I am here to stand up for all young men and women who choose to read what they enjoy.

Classics are not all they’re cracked up to be. I don’t know how many old white dudes tell us to read more classics. I decided I needed to make up my own mind about classics. War and Peace is not the first classic novel I decided to read, nor will it be the last. It is, on the other hand, one of my least favorite books I have EVER FUCKING READ in my life.

I would describe it as Gossip Girl mixed with Russian history. Honestly, you people make fun of young adult novels but this entire book is about people loving this person after a day, but oh wait JUST FUCKING KIDDING they love that other person now…Oh, and by the way Napoleon is a fucking asshole…oh another drama about who loves who and who wants to die in a war. I know it seems like I am simplifying a very complex book, but this book isn’t actually complex at all. It’s massive and boring. It took me MONTHS to finish, and I will honestly never read it again. War and Peace could totally be given the Disney treatment because the instalove is REAL in this book.

At 1200 pages, I would say this thing could have been cut in half.

As historical fiction goes, it’s absolute shit. I recommend it to NO ONE.

If you want to read an epic Historical Fiction then I recommend The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. If you’ve been contemplating reading War and Peace, then do so if you must but be warned this book did not age well, and it will make you roll your eyes right into the back of your head.

Don’t ever feel pressured to read classics like this because if you don’t then you’re not considered intelligent, because anyone who thinks this is a beacon of intelligence needs their head checked.

Peace and Love!

Using SCRIBD

 

I read A LOT. I don’t think this comes as a surprise, but also last year I really got into listening to Audiobooks. I first did the Audible thing, and that was good, but I wanted to try something new this year.

That’s when I came across Scribd.

I signed up and received one month free, and I am loving it!

The way it works is every month you will get billed $8.99. And now you can listen to an unlimited amount of audiobooks and read an unlimited amount of ebooks!! It’s basically like Netflix for BOOKS!!! 

They used to have a credit system where you received 3 ebook credits and 1 audiobook credit. Then there were the unlimited library choices that didn’t require any credits. Usually, many new releases though required credits. NOT ANYMORE!! IT’S ALL UNLIMITED!! They got rid of the credit system and I am so excited!

I’ve found that this is really working out better for me than Audible. At least here I can also grab some ebooks.

It’s also been helping on my journey to read War and Peace. I’ve been going back and forth between my physical copy and the audiobook on Scribd. Which is great! I typically like using audiobooks for dense classics or Non-Fiction, and there are A LOT of options for both on Scribd.

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I highly recommend you check Scribd out! If you use my link you can get up to 2 months for free, and in the interest of full disclosure, if you sign up I get one free month! Right now as I am in the midst of launching my own business that would really help me, and I would be forever grateful! I also just think it’s a great service. Their library has grown quite a lot, and they get new stuff all the time! Check it out! You can cancel at any time!

Click Here to Get 2 Free months of

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper – Book Review

 

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Review: When this book first came out there was A LOT of hype around it. Sometimes this makes me a little skeptical because I’ve had some bad experiences with overhyped books. Stalking Jack the Ripper just worked! It’s not perfection, but it was such a fun and entertaining read. It was extremely gruesome, bloody, and insane–everything you would expect from a story that features Jack the Ripper.

The writing was imaginative and taking bits of history to make this story made it that more interesting to read. It wasn’t a five star read for me because the big reveal wasn’t that big for me. I guessed it pretty much at the beginning of the book. I also found the main character a little dumb for someone who’s supposed to be quite intelligent she seemed bitterly clueless until the end.

Still, I loved the fact that she was going against the norm, and what of what was expected of her as a lady at that time. Mind, this takes place in 1800’s London. A lady of somewhat high birth shouldn’t be sneaking around learning about dead bodies, but she did it anyway. Her curiosity was contagious.

I think this is a well written fun YA novel, and if you’re looking for a somewhat creepy and thrilling read for the fall or halloween season, then this could very well be it.

I gave it 4 out of 5 metal horns!

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Hunted – Book Review

 

I have said it before and I will probably say it once again, but I am a little tired of the fairy tale retelling trend in Young Adult. Mostly because I think sometimes the books have NOTHING in common with the original fairy tales :: cough :: A Court of Thorns and Roses :: Cough:: I have been disappointed one too many times and thought I was completely over the retelling craze. Then I heard about Hunted by Meagan Spooner. I haven’t read anything else by Meagan Spooner, but this had me intrigued. Hunted felt closer to the real Beauty and the Beast fairy tale than any others I have checked out, so I decided to get it and read it.

I was so pleasantly surprised. I for one loved the fact that the main character Yeva, or as she’s also known in the story as Beauty, was incredibly close with her sisters. It was a nice change of pace to not see every female character at each other’s throats all the time. When their father goes missing in the woods, Yeva takes it upon herself to set off into a forest that she knows deep within her bones has secrets and possibly even magic. Sticking true to the tale of Beauty and the Beast, she becomes the Beast’s prisoner…or does she? She begins to question many things, including the beast’s intentions.

That was part of the magic that made me love this story so much. Anyone who loves the original will have an idea or glimpse into what happens next on Yeva’s journey, but Spooner was able to give it a twist of her own, and it had me hooked right away. Meagan Spooner also has a wonderful way with words. Hunted is the Beauty and the Beast retelling I have been waiting for.

I highly recommend this novel if you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling to read.

I gave this one four out of five Metal Horns.

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Grit – Book Review

GRIT

I received this book from the publisher, this in no way impacted my opinion of the novel. 

Grit by Gillian French follows Darcy as she deals with an “easy girl” reputation and the aftermath of the fact that her ex-best friend Rhiannon went missing the previous year. The story follows Darcy as she works the fields with her sister and cousin raking blue berries. Within this story line comes an interesting message because the owners of the fields always hire foreigners and outside help, which Darcy’s aunt seems to have an issue with when someone states that the migrants need the money:

“So do the people of this town. People who live here year round and pay their taxes.”

“You see about as many year round residents turning out for berry raking as you do ditch digging. It’s hard work, and most people don’t want to do it.” 

This made me smile, because it is the most true statement I have seen in a YA novel in a while. While the book had a few “hell yeah!” moments, something about French’s writing kind of muddled the important messages within the book. The plot felt a bit disconnected  at certain points, not just disconnected but it felt like there was A LOT happening with a lot of different characters which made me unfocused.

The writing was good, but I think some more editing could have been involved to make it better. Still I would say the story is a good mystery and I enjoyed it for the most part.

This book will be released on May 16th. I gave it three out of five metal horns!

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Exit West – Book Review

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Summary: In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Review: The relevance of this book is why I decided to read it, and I kept reading because of the beautiful story. It’s poetic in a way I have never seen before. Exit West has an element that feels a bit like magical realism, but what was gripping was following Saeed and Nadia through their journey. Journey feels like too light of a word to use here though. The book isn’t very long and I flew through it. It’s heartbreaking, horrific, and motivating all in one go. The talks about refugees are so prevalent right now, especially here in Europe, and I have felt empathy beyond words for everything that’s been happening, but this book opened the flood gates. It may be a fictional story, but good fiction will further open our eyes to the truth that surrounds us.

This book got four out of five metal horns!

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