[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Our Book Recommendations February 2022 are here.

 

Two Sisters by Asne Seierstad

Published by Virago Press, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group

Reviewed by Feige

 

In a Nutshell

In 2013, teenage sister Ayan and Leila Juma left their family home in Oslo, Norway. Later that day they sent an email to their parents, confessing they were on their way to Syria – a trip they had secretly been planning for months.

 

In this book, Asne Seierstad, working closely with their family uncovers the story.

 

Book Club Notes

What first drew me to pick up this book was the author’s name – Asne. Asne was the name of my late grandmother and is not a name I see often. When I flipped it over and read the summary, my impression was that the story would be gripping but disturbing and that’s exactly what it was.

 

Right before picking up this book I had read The Spymaster of Baghdad (which made Zissy’s best books of 2021 list). It gave me similar vibes but whereas that book was inspiring and about heroes, this one showed a different and disturbing side. If you find this topic interesting, it is a complimentary read.

 

What caused two girls to turn their backs on their families and good lives and flee to join the Syrian Jihad? What Asne Seierstad sets out to do in this book is provide the most accurate account of their lives and the timeline in which these events happened and rather than tell the reader what to think, through her unbiased storytelling, she allows the reader to think deeply arrive at their own answers.

 

The Survivors by Adam P. Frankel

Published by Harper an imprint of Harper Collins

Reviewed by Zissy

 

The Survivors by Adam P. FrankelIn a Nutshell

The Survivors is a memoir of family, the Holocaust, trauma and identity. Adam P. Frankel is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and through this book he seeks to understand the science of trauma and how it is passed down through the generations. In doing so he examines his life and the history of his family and his troubled mother. He shares the stories and moments that shaped him – how his grandparents survived the Holocaust and built new lives with new names, his mothers mental health and a family secret that would alter his life and identity forever.

 

He navigates his most painful moments to find answers to the questions that haunt him – what makes us how we are? What defines a family’s bonds? What do we inherit from those who came before us? What do we pass on to our own children? At the end he realises that while past trauma affects future generations we can choose to turn away from it or confront it in the hopes that we can move on and prevent that same trauma inflicting future generations.

 

Book Club Notes

The Survivors being a well written book is no surprise, Adam P. Frankel was one of Obama’s speech writers. What was a surprise, to me at least, was the openness in which he spoke of his family, their secrets and trauma. At times it read like a memoir, but mostly it read as a therapy session following Frankel’s yearning to better understand his mother, his family’s past and himself. While the book veers from his original intention of sharing stories of the history of his grandparents, he still manages to share their stories and give over the incredible love and stability both sets of grandparents provided him with. The Survivors provides an interesting look inside intergenerational trauma, identity and the importance of confronting and healing the past so as not to inflict that trauma onto future generations.

 

A line that Stuck with Me

They had not only passed on their scars and sorrows, I understood at last. They had also passed on their sense of hope – defiant and unbounded. They had not only passed on their trauma. They had also passed on something else. Their resilience.

 

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

Published by Mantle an imprint of  Pan Macmillan

Reviewed by Feige

 

The Burning Chambers by Kate MosseIn a Nutshell

Set in 1562 as the wars of religion begin to take hold, a young courageous Catholic woman and passionate Huguenot believer find themselves united on a mission to save people and priceless relic. Crossing between France, Carcassonne and Toulouse, the story and secrets of Minou and Piet are slowly unravelled, all the while bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life.

 

Book Club Notes

I read the sequel to this book, The city of Tears in March last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. In my review I had written “I did not read the first but not having that backstory did not take away from this book”. Although I still hold that to be true, reading this filled in many (important) gaps. If you intend to read these as a series, definitely start with the Burning Chambers so as not to ruin endings – although I didn’t know how things would sequence, I knew how they’d end.

 

Much like its sequel, Kate Mosse has created an amazingly vibrant and rich backdrop to a dazzling story with intriguing characters, that grips you from start to finish.

 

If you’re a fan of historical novels, this series comes highly recommended – it’s especially great as a holiday/beach read – the thickness will keep you occupied all vacation long.

 

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Published by Pan Macmillan

Reviewed by Zissy

 

The-Atlas-Six-newIn a Nutshell

Touted as the runaway Tik-Tok must-read fantasy novel of the year, the Atlas Six is the first in a trilogy of books that follows six magicians who are invited to compete for an incredible prize – a place within the secretive Alexandrian Society. There’s Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, inseparable enemies who control matter with their minds; Parisa Kamali, a stunning telepath who can read your deepest secrets; Reina Mori, a naturalist who can make nature grow with her mind; Callum Nova an empath with the ability to manipulate your desires; and Tristan Caine who sees through everything. They’re recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely and travel to the society’s London headquarters where they live together and study together in an attempt to prove themselves worthy of a spot in the society. If they can prove themselves, they’ll survive and if not…

 

Book Club Notes

Fantasy is not a genre I gravitate towards, in fact I usually stay away from it. However, there was a curiosity I couldn’t shake when reading about this book – it was originally self-published and went viral with over 11 million mentions on TikTok, sparking a bidding war won by TOR publishers. The updated version (out in March 2022) comes with illustrations and maps. I was intrigued and had to read it for myself, which I did and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. While there were parts I found hard to follow, overall it is an excellent, thrilling read which will leave you racing through the pages to find out who survives and who doesn’t. If you love fantasy, it’s an obvious choice. If you, like me, aren’t naturally drawn to fantasy it’s a good introduction and a great option if you want to read something different from your usual go to. There’s something to be said for giving a different genre of books a chance and straying from your normal reads. Would I read the next in the series? Yes, I very much would.

 

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

Published by Quercus Books

Reviewed by Zissy

 

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache WilliamsIn a Nutshell

Anna Delvey made headlines when she was caught and put on trial for defrauding banks, hotels and friends out of millions. Russian born, and German raised – Anna Sorkin moved to New York and pretended to be a wealthy German heiress named Anna Delvey. She quickly established herself on the social scene, conning people and businesses along her way. My friend Anna is written by one of the people, a “close” friend, she conned – Rachel DeLoache. After meeting through mutual friends, Rachel and Anna fast become “best friends”, living it up in New York City. Things took a dark turn after Anna invited Rachel to come with her on an all-expenses luxury trip to Marrakech. Anna’s cards mysteriously declined and Rachel was left paying for the flights, luxury accommodation, shopping and entertainment. Back home, when Anna kept putting off repayment, Rachel started uncovering a web of lies that led her to the biggest deceit of her life. Her best friend wasn’t who she thought she was, she was a con-artist and she had been conned. Desperately trying to recover from her debt, Rachel helped bring Anna down.

 

Book Club Notes

I picked up this book, because I had remembered reading about New York’s most notorious heiress years back and found myself curious enough to want to know more, to read about how she managed to con banks, hotels and friends. My friend Anna gives insight into how con artists work and how people get caught up in their web of lies. It was an interesting read in a “fly on the wall” voyeuristic kind of way. While at times I wondered how Rachel didn’t click earlier that something was amiss (the signs, the signs!), everything is clearer in hindsight and from the outside looking in. it was the reading equivalent of watching a car crash, knowing it’s going to happen but being unable to look away or stop it. If you heard about this you’ll most likely find this read interesting and if you’ve been a victim of fraud you’ll feel seen.

 

Shop Our Book Recommendations February 2022

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