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Masks

Masks by [Restokian, Nataly]

Masks by Nataly Restokian is salacious from the very beginning. We’re brought into the story where two relative strangers are having a one-night stand, one married woman with a lover on the side! It may appear to be an adult erotica novel at first, but keep reading, this is only one of the many layers to the plot that got me hooked and kept me flipping pages.

The protagonist is a fiery but spirited female named Anna that is surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the television industry. She is beautiful and successful, with her own show that sets her up to be an icon to woman in her country. The background setting gives the story a more visceral feel as one goes through the story. Anna is confident, daring, unstoppable and vivacious, but she is also hurting, bitter and cynical. She puts on her masks, as props to keep up appearances, lest others take advantage of her. The story evolves quickly and picks up speed from the risque beginning. Anna’s pursuit of happiness takes the reader on an emotional ride through the dark side of fame and fortune.

The story takes place in different cities throughout the middle-east which give you the same globe trotting feeling that Anna must have felt. I’ve never visited any of these places so this all seemed magically exotic to me. The settings are genuine and natural and lend to the emotional turmoil of the story.

There is a fresh feel in the author’s approach as she has been a keen observer of the societal nuances of the region, and is able to express it in terms that I felt were original and thought provoking. People from the west are inundated with reports everyday in the media and news channels about the region’s political and economic turmoil and forgets completely about the people, as individuals, living their lives. Hoping for a better future, like Anna. That’s what I like most about this story, that it’s a human story that I could relate to, because sometimes we too wear masks. I admire this story because it casts the region and culture in a different light, one that is not a hot spot for terror but instead brings forth the spirit of resilience. The spirit that makes people persevere in the face of difficulties and yet still have a passion for life. People that are scarred by their past, but not a prisoner of it. I feel that Anna embodies this spirit. I was intrigued by the exotic setting, Anna’s complex character, and the twists and turns that the story took as she risked it all in her quest for love and acceptance. I highly recommend this book.

Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07BB6RMDS

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Liars

Liars

Liars by Steven Gillis is a page turner up until the very end. Jaded by his own marriage breakdown, a writer struggling to capture lightning in a bottle twice spies a couple in the supermarket and becomes fixated on them. Eric McManus is the author who has branched out into owning a recording studio, but still chases the dream of again capturing the success that was had with his first book.

I loved this book. I was immediately hooked from the first chapter. The first person narrative style has appealed to me since I devoured Gone Girl, and it’s been rare for me to find a book that I can devour as quickly as I did that one. Liars is well on its way to becoming this.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that the writer doesn’t try to justify how shitty the main character is. He simply paints the character as he is, flaws and all, and leaves you as the reader to deal with it.

This book also brings forth some very interesting ideas about enlightenment as a concept. My favourite quote is from the main character’s live in lover but not girlfriend Gloria, where she explains to McManus that she doesn’t think enlightenment is that great anyway as it only ends up with people being hurt. It’s good that the main character has people who disagree with him and show him alternate views as it becomes very clear that he gets fixated on things and tries to destroy them.

The fixation on the couple in the supermarket only grows throughout the novel, as McManus inserts himself into their relationship by contacting where the female works and getting her to help him with his back garden. I’m glad that the creepiness of this was addressed again by Gloria, because it made me a bit uncomfortable to read this. McManus’ almost compulsive need to destroy this couple and expose their happiness as a ‘lie’, as the title suggests, gets more and more obvious throughout the book. This is especially shown through the passages where McManus says ‘years on, I will write’. It’s almost as if he is using their relationship as an idea for his book because he is stunted and annoyed at his own lack of creative growth.

The book also brings up interesting ideals about love. While McManus is still obviously hurting from the breakdown in his marriage and his tried and failed attempt at having an open relationship with his partner, it’s interesting to read a book that explores this more commonplace idea. I have always been a bit interested in the dynamics of open relationships, and it’s interesting to see whether or not people can put aside their jealousy and truly engage in an open relationship. McManus also mentions that he had sex with women without his wife’s consent, which is another way that open relationships engage. It’s nice that he’s at least a little bit self aware, otherwise this novel would be very difficult to read indeed. I loved reading this book!

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B075F32YR1

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