#30Authors: Rafia Zakaria reviews Look by Solmaz Sharif

#30Authors: Rafia Zakaria reviews Look by Solmaz Sharif

September 17, 2016 Guest posts, Poetry 3

Today, as part of The Book Wheel’s annual 30 Authors blog event, I’m hosting Rafia Zakaria, who will be reviewing Solmaz Sharif’s “Look”. #30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit www.thebookwheelblog.com/30authors or follow along on Twitter @30Authors. Review The Watched and the Conquered: Solmaz Sharif’s “Look” By Rafia Zakaria “Whereas it could take as long as 16 seconds between the trigger pulled in Las Vegas and the Hellfire missile landing in Mazar-e-Sharif, after which they will ask ”Did we hit a child: No A Dog” they will answer themselves. So goes a line in “Look” the title poem in Solmaz Sharif’s collection of the same name.  Raw and searing, it is just one among many in the that take apart… Read more »


When history repeats itself

When history repeats itself

September 14, 2016 Thoughts & Opinions 8

You know what they say about New Year’s resolutions, is that we never keep them. I, for one am quite sure of that, because even when I decided to make some I started off my post with “Although I’m usually oppose to having resolutions, because I never stick to them, I am most confident in my intentions in sticking to the ones I’ve made for this year”.    Not only did I contradict myself with that, I also did not stick to my intentions. With that being said, I might be exaggerating, because after reading this post again, I have unknowingly kept some of them.  I’ve brought up a topic that not many people have known about me: having an anxiety disorder. Which I’ve mostly left untreated, but when life happens and you can’t cope then things need to change. I take some prescribed medication when it all becomes a bit too much and I’ve also learned to not tap into negativity like I used to. That being said, I’m a much happier person. I’ve done only one re-read, so that might not count as having kept that resolution. However this past weekend when I was visiting my parents, I… Read more »


The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

September 2, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 6

I got completely lost in the detail while reading The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.  Sara de Vos is the first Dutch woman painter in the Dutch golden age.  Her painting, called ‘At the Edge of a Wood’ is considered the last known painting of Sara de Vos and has been owned by Marty de Groot’s family for over three centuries. The story pans over two centuries, in which we explore Sara’s life in the 17th century. As an artist, the only way she could paint or sell her paintings was to be admitted to the Guild of St Luke in Holland, but as a female painter she also had other restrictions put on her – the fact that women couldn’t paint landscapes as they weren’t allowed to be outside. However, ‘At the Edge of a Wood’ is a landscape painting.  The painting itself is a dark and somber picture which was hugely inspired by the loss of her daughter and captures her grief. In 1958, a struggling art student called Ellie Shipley was commissioned to forge At the Edge of a Wood. Against all better judgement, she masterfully forged Sara’s painting. Marty, the current owner seems to believe… Read more »


The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline

August 17, 2016 Adult Fiction, Fiction 8

The Girls is the story of Evie Boyd, told in two time periods: her as a teenager and her as a grown up looking back onto that summer in 1969 when she joined ‘the cult’. Evie Boyd was a 14 year old girl who grew up in a broken home. Her parents got divorced and she was living with her mother, however her mother’s attention has been divided as she starts dating again. Evie is feeling lost, especially since she has fallen out with her best friend and happens to meet Suzanne quite by chance.  Suzanne is a few years older than her, but Evie is completely intrigued by her. The girl with the long black hair and carefree attitude and style of dress. She finds herself not being able to stop thinking about this girl, but then she runs into Suzanne again, who introduces her to her group of friends. She finds that Suzanne’s friends are different, but despite the warning signs, Evie spends time with them, because she finally feels like she belongs somewhere. What she finds is that this group of friends is more of a cult than anything else.  The leader of the group, Russell has… Read more »


Instagram (bookstagram): A time wasting effort?

Instagram (bookstagram): A time wasting effort?

July 27, 2016 Tools & Social Media 23

A while ago, or more accurately, a year ago I wrote about social media on my blog. About how to save time on social media, twitter specifically, by using lists.  I am still bad at social media, I still haven’t tried out pinterest or snapchat and most likely won’t ever. But I’m here to tell you that having lists has saved me massive amounts of time, by being able to control what I see on twitter and making sure that the people whose tweets I most want to see, are always just a click away. Sometimes I missed so many good tweets and content, because they simply just disappear on my timeline, but with the lists, it’s helped me a lot by connecting with my peers, timeously. I have had an Instagram account for almost TWO years. Yes, two years.  I’ve never used it, so about a month ago I decided to just try it out and see if Instagram could be used as a nice social media tool to drive traffic to my blog and hopefully give my reviews more visibility.   Correction: I haven’t used the Instagram since October 2014! Wow — Melinda (@thebookmusings) June 29, 2016 The… Read more »


The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo

The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo

July 21, 2016 South African Fiction 2

The Yearning is the debut novel of South African author, Mohale Mashigo. It tells the story of Marubini,  a young African girl who is living a beautiful  and fulfilled life, working at a prestigious wine farm, living in beautiful Cape Town (the most beautiful city in SA, please don’t argue with me) and is involved in a steady relationship with her French restaurateur boyfriend. Her life sounds perfect, until the past she didn’t know about starts affecting her present. Mohale gives us insight into Marubini’s life by telling not only her present story, but stories of her childhood in flashback chapters. Of her relationship with her father and grandfather, who has passed when she was young and still feels the loss of them greatly in her present life.  Her tight knit relationship with her grandmother are also being explored as the only woman in her life who was prepared to be honest with her about her past/heritage. “Grief is so elusive, just when you think the worst is over, it comes back again to remind you how empty your life is without the person you lost” – page 45 Marubini starts suffering from nightmares and seizures, episodes that leaves her to… Read more »


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes {book and movie review}

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes {book and movie review}

July 1, 2016 Fiction, Movie Reviews 18

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is that book that everyone swears you have to read. I’m always wary of the book hype, as I’m scared I’ll be disappointed. I have a friend who likes movie-date ultimatums: “You can’t watch the movie with me if you haven’t read the book!”. This happened with The Hunger Games, The Count of Monte Cristo and various other books. So when she said the book had her in tears, I agreed to read it, because I needed a good cry.   The Book: I read the book and got really into it about a quarter way into the book and couldn’t put it down. I finished it on a Sunday morning at 3am sobbing. The book broke my heart and I got the much needed good cry I needed. Normally I would describe what the book is about and give my opinion when I write a review, but then thought “Who doesn’t know what this book is about?”. Everyone I know has read it, but if you haven’t and still want to read the book before you see the movie (which I recommend you do), please don’t read the next paragraph, because it will… Read more »


A Perfumer’s Secret by Adria J.Cimino

A Perfumer’s Secret by Adria J.Cimino

May 16, 2016 Adult Fiction, Fiction 6

There are two things in this world that I love and that brings me so much joy in life and that is books and fragrance. Give me both in one, like Adria did with A Perfumer’s Secret and I’m a happy person. Her latest novel is a tale of family secrets, betrayal, love and a heavy dose of fragrant descriptions that will delight and awaken the senses even of a person who aren’t as passionate about fragrance as I am. Zoe is a young perfumer; living in New York, who finds out that she has inherited something of ‘olfactory significance’ from a family she thought didn’t exist.  Her mother has passed away when she was only a teenager, who told her that they had no family left. Of course, because of curiosity she travels to Grasse, France to learn more about this family, but the biggest drawing factor for her, as a perfumer, was the mention of the inheritance. She also learns, not exactly surprisingly, that she is from a well-known perfumer family. Zoe finds that the inheritance is the formula of a fragrance that her mother has worn for years, every day of her life. But the formula was… Read more »


The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

May 9, 2016 Adult Fiction, Fiction 4

I first learned about The Winter People from Allison, whose review really made me want to read the book, but I completely forgot about it, until she posted her top 5 mystery novels. It was the first week where we had a little bit of cold weather (rain!) and I was looking for a ghost story that would provide just enough creep to satisfy my craving for such a novel, without going too deep into the horror territory. The Winter People was just that. It’s not a horror story, but it’s definitely creepy. It plays off in two time periods, a century apart. Sara first learned about sleepers (dead people brought back to life) when she was nine years old and because of her inquisitive nature she asked her ‘Auntie’ about it, who promised to tell her everything she knows about sleepers, but she only needs to use this information when she really needs it. Present time we have Ruthie, who lives with her little sister and mother, Alice, in Sara’s old house. When her mother goes missing and they are on a quest looking for her, Ruthie chances upon Sara’s diary.  Sara who died a few months after her daughter… Read more »


5 WWII historical fiction novels that’s worth a read

5 WWII historical fiction novels that’s worth a read

May 4, 2016 Historical Fiction, Uncategorized 28

  There is no doubt that I’m a fan of historical fiction around war-time and most of what I’ve read is WWII centered.  I’m always looking for new recommendation on the genre and whenever a novel’s blurb says “WWII”, I’m almost 90% likely to read it (including films).  Here are 5 of the WWII novels I’ve read and enjoyed (link to review in titles) Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay The novel tells the story of Sarah Starzynski as a  young girl who got arrested with her family in July 1942 during the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup where thousands of Jews (including children) were arrested and kept at a velodrome before being deported to Auschwitz. It’s a dual time narrative, where parts of the story also plays off in 2002 while a journalist is researching this harrowing event in French history and takes a special interest in what has become of Sarah. This book had me in a puddle of tears and I highly recommend it. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak The Book Thief is a story set in Nazi Germany during World War II and tells the story from German people’s perspective. What makes the story unique is the… Read more »