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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

A Will to Kill / My Beijing / To all the Boys I've Loved Before | Thoughts

Over the past couple of months, I've read a few books that I didn't get a chance to review yet. These were all enjoyable in different ways and are recommended reads.

A Will to Kill by R. V. Raman

I've been looking for an Indian mystery for a while now. So when I came across A Will to Kill in Netgalley set in one of my favorite places in India (also close to my home town), I just had to request it. In so many ways, this is a typical Agatha Christie type mystery - there's a death (in an isolated mansion, no less) and the investigator/detective tries to solve the mystery. Harith Athreya is visiting the owner of the mansion, Bhaskar Fernandez, where a small gathering has been planned for the owner's relatives and friends. Bhaskar has written two wills - and how he dies will determine which will goes into effect. That night, there is a murder and Athreya spends the next few days trying to find the culprit.

I generally enjoy the Agatha Christie class of murder mysteries. They are more crime focused and the thrill is in the solving of the crime and the unmasking of the villain. The writing and characters are usually not as emphasized. This book was no different - the mystery got complicated with each page and I absolutely loved that. That said, I do think the writing could be better. For someone who seems to have solved several crimes, Athreya's behavior occasionally came across as a very junior investigator. There was also too much structure to the scene when the murder is discovered and far less terror. These didn't however take away my enjoyment of the book.

* I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Beijing by Nie Jun

When I saw My Beijing in my library's Overdrive catalog, I wasn't sure if this was a children's book, a middle-grade title, or adult fiction. Now that I finished it, I would say that this is a book that translates well to both the middle-grade and adult audiences - there is a lot of fantasy and allegory in here and they are designed to enrich your reading experience, not confuse. You could read the stories as they are or imagine what could be. 

The four stories in this book focus on the relationship between Yu'er and her grandfather as they go by their daily lives and interact with their neighbors in their hutong. Yu'er is unable to walk without assistance and it is through her lens that we see her world. Her grandfather goes to great lengths to make her comfortable - designing a carrier from a tree to help her practice swimming and being her cheerleader no matter what challenge she is facing.

This is a very fast read, though no less enjoyable. I loved the illustrations - there's a playful touch to them, similar to the comics I had read as a kid. There is some magic and some apparent time travel in the stories and while their mechanics aren't explained, I found I enjoyed these elements. I would definitely recommend this book if you're looking for a quick read that's also refreshing.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before (1 & 2) by Jenny Han

It's been a while since I've read a YA book. I truly miss not reading them but I often find myself cringing or rolling my eyes. I've certainly let myself get too old. It's funny that I can read picture books and middle grade books without any problem. 

So I don't know how or why I picked this book up but I did and found that I could actually read it without finding it cheesy. If reading one book wasn't enough, I even read the second book in this trilogy. And then I tried to watch the movie to see how far my ability to read/watch YA has changed and I'm sorry to report that there I didn't last past the first 15 minutes.

This is a YA romance - sort of a triangle between Lara Jean and two boys she had a crush on. It all starts when the letters that Lara Jean wrote addressed to them but not to send them (more like a Dear Diary) actually gets sent out to the recipients. Some of these were written years ago so she is quite embarrassed that they even got sent out.

I have to say this was a fun read. The romance isn't cheesy (mind you, this is from the perspective of a thirty-something reader), the misunderstandings are hilarious, and yes, while there are your typical cliques calling the shots, there are some good people in here too.