REVIEW: The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

Title: The Last Watchman of Old Cairo
Author: Michael David Lukas
Publication Date: March 13th 2018
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Penguin)
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin Random House International (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: 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.
“Any meaning the Ezra scroll might possess wasn’t in the scroll itself. It wasn’t in the parchment or the letters or even the hand that formed them. The magic of the Ezra Scroll, if there was any, resided in its possibility, in the constellation of stories circling around it.

And the beating heart of any story was an unanswerable question.

The minute I read the synopsis of this book, I WAS INTIGUED, to say the least. I’ve been trying to diversify the kinds of books I read, and not only did The Last Watchman Of Old Cairo sound stunning, it was also from the historical fiction genre I feel like I read too little off.

I finished this book earlier today, and I have LOTS OF THOUGHTS:

-- THIS BOOK WAS VERY SLOW PACED. It took over 130 pages for me to get into the story, and even then, it didn’t really pick up. I liked the three different viewpoints, but especially that of Yusuf/ Joseph Al-Raqb. He was emotionally vulnerable in a way that neither the sisters, nor Ali Al-Raqb and I really loved the way he was written.

-- I also LOVED the setting. I adored Cairo and the magic you could feel through Michael David Lukas’ writing through the centuries. I loved the descriptions of the people, the places and the Synagogue. I loved listening to the stories that were inevitably always being told within this story – I loved it all!

-- The PLOT is where it gets hazy for me. Despite this being a multi-generational story, I felt like there was no real plot behind the book. It felt more like a love letter to Cairo the city, rather that the plot driven, magic filled promise the premise delivered.

-- This is probably the only reason I am rating this book three stars – there is a lack of something substantial in this book. I loved the Ali Al-Raqb and the Ezra Scroll connected to what the twins were searching for in the 1800’s with the help of another Al-Raqb descendant to Joseph, who came back to Cairo after his father’s death to connect with the city he loved but there was NOTHING PLOT-TWISTING or MIND-BLOWING THAT KEPT ME AT THE EDGE OF MY SEAT, AND THAT MADE ME SAD.

In conclusion, this was a book with fantastic writing and brilliant characters that, unfortunately, lacked a solid plot and any kind of twist that I thought was always around the corner, but never surfaced. 
Michael David LukasMichael David Lukas has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a late-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv, and a Rotary Scholar in Tunisia. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland, his writing has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, National Geographic Traveler, and the Georgia Review. He has received scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. When he isn’t writing, he teaches creative writing to third and fourth graders.

What are some of your favourite historical fiction books with a touch of magic in them?
I'm always looking for more recommendations, so please do hit me up!

Stacking the Shelves #41 - The One With A Lot Books, After A Lot Of Time!

Hello Everyone!

I've been struggling to keep my head up above the never ending piles of college work (and part-time/ freelance work work) and I feel like I've neglected my blog a little. Please know that all of you lovelies reading this are SO SO important to me, and I try to blog/ or read to blog about something any chance I get!

I got a few pieces of bookmail in the last month, since my last #StackingTheShelves and I thought I'd quickly do up a post!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely folks over at Tyga's Reviews and is all about the books you buy and receive for your shelf over a week!


LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike, #1)1. Lifelike by Jay Kristoff: Jay Kristoff is one of my absolute favourite authors and I am SO EXCITED for Lifelike! I'm actually honestly a little scared to dive in, because I'm extremely familiar with Jay's love for torturing characters, but this has been one of my anticipated reads of the year and I can't wait to dive in. ALSO, THE UK COVER IS LIFE. 
The Book of M2. The Book of M by Peng Sheperd: Although I've heard that this is a slow paced book, it has CAUGHT MY ATTENTION. Not only does it look gorgeous, but the story sounds stunning and I can't wait to pick up this blue and pink monster. This is also a DEBUT novel that's been making some noise and I can't wait to see what it has in store for me!
These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1)3. These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch: I only read the first book of Sara Raasch's previous trilogy, and I honestly didn't like it enough to continue. The world building confused me, but I am very excited for this new trilogy. I think it's about pirates, but at this time, I honestly couldn't tell you. This came to me as a complete surprise and I can't wait to dive in!
Hold4. Hold by Michael Donkor: Here is a part of the blurb: "Moving between Ghana and London, Hold is an intimate, moving, powerful coming-of-age novel. It’s a story of friendship and family, shame and forgiveness; of learning what we should cling to, and when we need to let go." and it sounds ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

1. Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen: I DID NOT EXPECT TO GET THIS IN THE MAIL, but it showed up and I was ABSOLUTELY OVERJOYED. There's just something magical about holding a book you've been waiting for for MONTHS in your hands, that's different from having the e-version of it, and I picked this book up almost immediately. I'm in shock and awe of Scott Rankin's brilliant writing and plot development and character and world building and I can't wait for the final book in this trilogy where I'm sure I'll sob my eyes out. READ MY REVIEW HERE:

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2)2. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: A FAT GIRL AS A PROTAGONIST? I don't need to know more about the story - I'm already in. I absolutely loved the Love Simon movie, even though I haven't read the book (don't hate me) but I am EVEN MORE EXCITED FOR LEAH. I loved Upside of Unrequited and I can't wait to dive into this one. 

Fight Like A Girl1. Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford: I don't typically read non-fiction, but this highly praised FEMINIST MANIFESTO caught my eye, and now it's sitting on my TBR pile, all thanks to Oneworld Publications pure awesomeness. I honestly cannot wait to dive into this book, and I sincerely hope it blows my mind. 

1. Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar: I honestly just got this book yesterday, and I hope to pick it up something this week. It sounds quite stunning:
In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle.
But it turns out he isn't the one joining. Anjali's mother is. And with this change comes many more adjustments designed to improve their country and use "ahimsa"—non-violent resistance—to stand up to the British government. First the family must trade in their fine foreign-made clothes for homespun cotton, so Anjali has to give up her prettiest belongings. Then her mother decides to reach out to the Dalit community, the "untouchables" of society. Anjali is forced to get over her past prejudices as her family becomes increasingly involved in the movement.
When Anjali's mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother's work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.
Inspired by her great-grandmother's experience working with Gandhi, New Visions Award winner Supriya Kelkar shines a light on the Indian freedom movement in this poignant debut. 
What books have you stacked onto your shelves over the last week
Have you read any of my new books/ are you excited for any of them?
I'd ABSOLUTELY love to hear from you!

ARC REVIEW: Almost Impossible by Nicole Wlliams

Title: Almost Impossible
Author: Nicole Williams
Publication Date: June 19th 2018
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: PRH International (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han will delight as the fireworks spark and the secrets fly in this delicious summer romance from a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.
When Jade decided to spend the summer with her aunt in California, she thought she knew what she was getting into. But nothing could have prepared her for Quentin. Jade hasn't been in suburbia long and even she knows her annoying (and annoyingly cute) next-door neighbor spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. 
And when Quentin learns Jade plans to spend her first American summer hiding out reading books, he refuses to be ignored. Sneaking out, staying up, and even a midnight swim, Quentin is determined to give Jade days--and nights--worth remembering.
But despite their storybook-perfect romance, every time Jade moves closer, Quentin pulls away. And when rumors of a jilted ex-girlfriend come to light, Jade knows Quentin is hiding a secret--and she's determined to find out what it is.


I love reading the occasional feel good high school contemporary romance. They’re easy to get through, fun, cute and well, they’re this kind of silly pleasure I indulge in once in a while. 

Almost Impossible started off rather slowly. I struggled to connect with Jade and the kind of live she lived. It was just this description of things that she had experienced, but there were no real emotions behind anything, even with things like ‘Oh, I’ve travelled the world,’ and ‘My mom is in a world famous brand.’ 

Jade also wanted to spend a summer as a normal teenager with family, but family was barely involved in the story. She wanted to know the rules, but then when her aunt and uncle imposed restrictions on her, she was annoyed that they thought they could. I guess I didn’t really like her much, or even understand her. She didn’t seem overly invested in anything – her job, family or anything at all, except her OWN spur of the moment decisions. 

I also figured out the biggest twist in this book very early. In fact, the first time I met a certain someone, I pretty much knew.

It was the thing I liked the most about this book, in fact. I loved that, for ONCE, we saw a teenage boy who was responsible enough, and cared enough to stick around and be a parent.
 I loved that he was worried for her, and he was trying whatever he could to make things work. 

Honestly, I didn’t like Quentin and Jade as much as I liked the representation of a teenage father. I wish there was more to Jade's story than just Quentin (because, let’s be honest, that’s all it really was) like her family, her mom and even her co-worker friend and just MORE ABOUT JADE AS A PERSON, FEELING THINGS. 

3 stars.

Nicole  Williams
I'm a wife, a mom, a writer. I started writing because I loved it and I'm still writing because I love it. I write romance because I still believe in true love, kindred spirits, and happy endings. 

Nicole loves hearing from her readers. You can connect with her on:

Facebook: Author Nicole Williams
Instagram: author_nicole_williams
Twitter: nwilliamsbooks
Have you read Almost Impossible? What did you think of it?
What are some high-school// summer romances that make your FAVOURITES list?
I'd love to hear from you!

An Adorable Graphic Novel // REVIEW: Uncool: Fights. Camera. Action by Jane De Suza

Title: Uncool: Fights. Camera. Action!
Author: Jane De Souza
Publication Date: June 15th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1 of the Uncool series
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Infibeam || Flipkart
Blurb Description: So, I’m DD and I’m going to be rich and famous because I’m making a film on (hold the phone still, will ya?) high school life. All the secrets, fights, crazy exam pressure, brainiacs and show offs (not you, not you!). Only, everyone wants to be the star (hey you, get out off the frame!). It’s got drama and hysterics, historics, sorry, histrionics. And my mom’s got Mr Horns. And I still haven’t got a boyfriend or a dog. And then, the lurker appears. And it all gets super scary. And he’s coming closer – so I’ve gotta run. Fast. Bye! See ya inside! The first book of the bitingly funny UNCOOL series – a rib-tickling tackling of teen issues!






A)     DD: DD is an absolutely amazing main character. At thirteen, and at the start to her teens, I loved the drama, her slight naivety, her clear and slightly snarky way of looking at the world and the fact that she was so self-confident and ambitious. She was a hilarious narrator, especially as she spoke about her sister and mother and I honestly wish I had her spunk and talent when I was her age.

B)      THE ILLUSTRATIONS: The illustrations in this book really brought it all together! I LOVED the Holiday Checklist, the Comparison of Heels and A Guide to Silly Ramp Walks. They all made me smile, and just the small touches to each page by Tasneem Amiruddin were so well thought out and executed!

And that’s it, you know. I don’t want to bore you by droning on for forever, but this book was a quick, cute, diverse read that made me smile and shake my head in adoration.

Definitely a recommended read for the Indian pre-teen to teen age group! 4.5 stars. 

Image result for jane de suza
Jane De Suza is a leading humour writer and columnist. Her books, which have a habit of hitting bestseller charts, include the SuperZero series for kids, Happily Never After and The Spy who lost her Head. She is a management grad, storyteller, advertising Creative Director and now lives between India and Singapore, which is definitely uncool (being 1 degree North of the Equator).

What are some of your favourite graphic novels?
Have you been seeing more representation on book covers in recent years? What #DiverseBook cover are you most in love with?!

DNF Rant-Review: The Accidental Bad Girl by Mazine Kaplan

Title: The Accidental Bad Girl
Author: Maxine Kaplan
Publication Date: May 15th 2018
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Books
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: A&CB International
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: After getting caught hooking up with her best friend’s ex on the last day of junior year, Kendall starts senior year friendless and ostracized. She plans to keep her head down until she graduates. But after discovering her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing from a dealer, Kendall is drawn into a tenuous partnership with the mastermind of a drug ring lurking in the shadows of her Brooklyn private school. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to decide who she really is—and own it. The longer she plays the role of “bad girl,” the more she becomes her new reputation. Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers—no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall. 
DNF on page 163 (49%)

When I initially read the synopsis for this book, I thought it sounded like The Accidental Bad Girl would be a really interesting read. A good girl turning bad and… liking it? After she slept with her best friend’s boyfriend? It seemed like a fun, different read and I was all for it
It took me a while to pick it up from my TBR, but when I did, I immediately took a disliking to it.
It was a lot of small reasons that added themselves together, and suddenly, I found me forcing myself to read on just BECAUSE it was a review copy, which just seemed so silly to me when I realised – what is the point in attempting to recommend a book that I was forcing myself to read? – that I put it down. 


1.       The Main Character, Kendall: I mean. She was sad, but not about her friend and betraying her friend’s trust, but about being ostracized. The whole concept was so strange. If the trigger to all the bad events in Kendall’s life was her BEST FRIEND, and then she didn’t really CARE about the best friend, what was the plot even?
Image result for the accidental bad girl
ARCs from the Author's Twitter
2.       AUDREY: This is the best friend, by the way, and I ABSOLUTELY HATED HER GUTS. She was rude, RUDE and even the even ruder. I didn’t understand the things she was trying to do, from the perspective of a friend.

I guess, more than the both of them individually, I HATED WHO THEY WERE AS FRIENDS TO EACH OTHER. In fact, using the word friend to describe them is probably stretching it. For Kendall, there was no remorse. Also, WHY WOULD YOU GO AFTER YOUR BEST FRIEND’S EX-BOYFRIEND? Haven’t you heard of the GIRL CODE// THE BEST FRIEND CODE? And for Audrey, she was pissed off with Kendall just because Kendall had stolen something – not someone – that she used to have. That’s it.

3.       THE PARENTING: The interactions and reactions between Kendall and her parents were so incredulous and unbelievable that I cringed EVERY TIME. THIS IS NOT HOW PARENTS TALK TO CHILDREN. Also, if you never returned homw because you’d passed out DRUNK of the school steps (or that’s what your parents knew) ARE YOUR PARENTS FIRST REACTION GOING TO BE ‘You are not expelling my daughter, she’s done nothing wrong.’ Or actually PARENT THE CHILD and not call her a day later saying ‘I think you’re grounded.’

Honestly, I was forcing myself to read this so much, I flipped to the end to see if there was any point in continuing and HONESTLY, I WAS SO ANNOYED AT THE WAY EVERYTHING ENDED.

Would I recommend this book? No. I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. 1 star. 
Maxine KaplanMaxine Kaplan was born in Washington, DC. She and her twin sister spent their early childhoods trotting behind their journalist parents as they traveled around the world, eventually settling in Brooklyn, NY. Maxine graduated from Oberlin College in 2007. Following a long stint in the world of publishing, she has worked as a private investigator since 2009. She lives in her adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her lovely husband and complex cat. THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL is her debut novel. Follow Maxine on Twitter @MaxineGKaplan
What was the last book you thought you'd like, but didn't?
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

The Definition of a PERFECT, Jaw-Dropping Sequel // REVIEW: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (Nyxia Triad #2)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publication Date: July 17th 2018
Publisher: Crown Books (US) // Michael Joseph (UK)
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2 on 3 of the Nyxia Triad
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”
Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.
Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.
But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late? 

“We’re weapons. They made us this way.And we’re coming for them.

I READ Nyxia Unleashed IN ONE SITTING. I started this book just yesterday, got invested again on page 2, and LOOKED UP FOUR HOURS LATER, on page 400, HAVING TURNED THE LAST PAGE, DONE WITH THIS MARVEL AND DESPERATELY WANTING MORE.

THIS BOOK WAS THE DEFINITION OF A PERFECT SEQUEL, WITH HIGH STAKES, A BRILLIANT, EVER-EVOLVING PLOT AND STELLAR WRITING. I am BLOWN AWAY by how Scott Reintgen’s ability to write and to keep changing the game and always keep me at the edge of my seat. Nyxia Unleashed was everything I hoped it would be and more, and I NEED the next book in my life.


1.       The World-Building: This was SUCH a crucial element to me, because Nyxia, book one, ended with the winners of Babel’s ‘competition’ hurtling down towards a new planet. I LOVED the descriptions of the Adamites (or the Imago), the planet Eden itself, the Sevenset, the creatures (especially the Century) within and even the people and their customs. There was this particular scene in a restaurant in the Sixth Ring, with such vivid descriptions to the cuisine that I absolutely loved! It was all these small details that made me feel like I was learning about an alien planet like I was actually there and it was brilliant.

2.       The Genesis: We learn later in the book that Imago call the humans the Genesis. I feel like I didn’t know enough about the crew on Genesis 12 during the last book, and I struggled to remember the names of the ten kids IN the original Genesis 11 before Genesis 12, but I loved how Scott Reintgen wrote them all as complex characters, each with a different storyline and I TRULY enjoyed getting to know each of them. I absolutely ADORE Anton, Parvin, Omar, Katsu, Longwei (strangely enough) and, of course, Morning and Emmett right now.

3.       Morning, the Genius Leader and Plotter: I have some SERIOUS respect for Morning. I couldn’t like her because she was (sort of) the enemy in the previous book, but I TRULY TRULY grew to love her in Nyxia Unleashed. I loved her fierce loyalty, her cunning mind and her skill.

4.       ALL THE TWISTS AND TURNS: I couldn’t attempt to predict this book and this series, even if I tried my level best. The game kept evolving, the stakes kept rising, there was so many bonds being made and broken, and so many truth coming to light that I found it IMPOSSIBLE to tear myself away from it all. It was truly a riveting read.

At the end of my review of Nyxia, I distinctly remember calling Scott Reintgen an ‘evil genius.’ After finishing Nyxia Unleashed, I’ll amend that statement and just call him a genius because THIS BOOK AND THIS SERIES AND THESE CHARACTERS AND ALL THEY GO THROUGH, FIGHTING BETWEEN TWO POWERFUL FORCES, AND THE STAKES AND THE PLANS AND THE PLOT TWISTS ARE JUST SO PERFECT, AND MIND BOGGLING THAT I’M IN AWE.

Basically, I’m obsessed. I will now return to by bookworm shell until book three is in my hands. Goodbye. 
Scott ReintgenScott Reintgen grew up in North Carolina, and took full advantage of the fact that he lived on the same street as fourteen of his cousins. It could be a little crowded, but he threw a few elbows and carved out a space for himself as the family storyteller. He enjoyed the role so much that he decided to spend most of college and graduate school investing in the world of literature. This led to a career teaching English and Creative Writing in the great state of North Carolina, where he currently lives with his wife and family. 

To his great delight, the demand for stories and storytellers is alive and well. As such, he can often be found at local coffee shops laboring over stories that he hopes his family, and fans, will love.

Have you read either of Scott Reintgen's books?! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THEM?
What are some of your favourite space/ sci-fi books?
What books in this genre do I NEED to read?