January 15, 2018

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware


In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room....

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

I've resisted the pull of this book for awhile now but then in a fit of curiosity, I decided to read the first few pages ... which turned into a one-day reading fest. The comparison to Girl on a Train has some merit. Both novels have narrators not wholly reliable. Something terrible happens during a weekend reunion of old friends. But our protagonist wakes up the next morning in the hospital, unable to remember what exactly happened, just with a terrible feeling that she was somehow responsible for it.  I suppose it's kind of a cheat to use your narrator's amnesia to ramp up the suspense - just trying to find out what happened is prolonged, never mind whodunit. Another narrative device that Ware uses is to withhold information from the reader. For most of the novel, we know that SOMETHING TERRIBLE happened over ten years ago to our heroine but for some reason it is never elaborated upon until the last quarter of the book.  It just hangs over the uneasy weekend get together, foreshadowing TRAGEDY.

If I am a bit liberal with the snark, it's not because I enjoyed In a Dark, Dark Wood.  On the contrary, it was a literal page-turner for me. However, I am not blind to its faults. Let's just say it falls under the category of - would all of this hullabaloo even be possible if two people decided to communicate at a critical juncture?

The best thing I can say about In a Dark, Dark Wood is it pulled me out of a month-long reading slump (a truly awful thing for a self-proclaimed bookworm). 

January 8, 2018

Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

#1 New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. 

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look. 

 To be honest, I think I've come across countless parodies of this book of poems before I ever decided to pick up the book itself. Mind you, I did have to clear my mind of any expectations and just be open to whatever lay between the covers. The poems are divided into four sections: "the hurting", "the loving", "the breaking" and "the healing." Female empowerment is the overarching theme. How parents uplift or scar their daughters, how partners can wound the feminine psyche. Multiple poems address violations and humiliations of the female body (you point to the spot/ between its legs the one/ he fingered out of you/ like a confession). Most of the poems are short and simple, some are accompanied by a sketch. 


 
Kaur has a gift - some of her poems were like punches to the gut, raw and unnerving. She has a bit of Plath and Sexton in her confessional style. However, many of the poems read as brief diary journals, written in the heated moment of anger or pain after a break-up. As I was reading the Kindle version, it was interesting to see the most highlighted poems. If I had to guess, I would say that Milk and Honey probably resonates the most with teenagers and twenty-somethings. A tome to be read and re-read in the height of a love affair and in the aftermath its break, especially if one were seeking positive affirmations. As for me, once was enough, an exercise in curiosity rather than something that spoke to the deepest recesses of my heart and soul.

January 1, 2018

2017: My Year in Books



I was rather disappointed in myself reading-wise at the end of 2016, having only read 40 books, that I set a reading goal of 52 books for 2017. For the first half of the year, I was well ahead of my goal. But then summer struck, home improvement projects devoured my time, and then I dove into the black hole that is Netflix during a particularly dry stretch where nothing enticed me and before I knew it, I was way behind. 

In December, Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood ended my reading drought and I rallied - or rather I decided to turn to graphic novels in a race to beat my deadline and meet my goal. I spent the last day of 2017 baking, cooking, eating and finishing my last 2 graphic novels.  Not a bad way to finish off the year.

Looking forward to 2018, I will keep my goal of 52 books - with an eye to exceeding it.  My family has gifted me two books from my wishlist and I am eager to dive into them. What new  reading discoveries await me?!

January

1. I See You by Clare Mackintosh (V)
2. The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley (L)
3. Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens *(NG)
4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (V)
5. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (L)
6. The Ex by Alafair Burke (L)

February

7. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater* (L)
8. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater *(L)
9. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater *(L)
10. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (L)
11. The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova* (NG)

March

12. Baby Doll by Hollie Overton *(NG)
13. Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes (L)
14. Miss You by Kate Eberlen (V)
15. Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (V)
16. The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury

April

17. The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz (L)
18. The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed by Julie Barlow and Jean Benoit Nadeau  (L)
19. Bonjour Kale by Kristen Beddard (L)
20. The Woodcutter by Kate Danley *

May

21. The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett *
22. Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram *
23. Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee*
24. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey *(L)
25. The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase (V)
26. The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
27. Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown *(L)
28. Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke *(L)

June

29. The Only Child by Andrew Pyper (L)
30. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (L)
31. The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman (L)*
32. Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (L)*

July

33. Red Rising by Pierce Brown (L)
34. Golden Son by Pierce Brown (L)
35. Morning Star by Pierce Brown (L)
36. A Paris Year by Janice MacLeod (L)
37. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess *(L)

August

38. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Book Store by Matthew Sullivan (L)
39. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (V)
40. The Walls by Hollie Overton (V)
41. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (L)*

October

42. L’Appart: the Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz (V)
43. The Portrait by Antoine Laurain (L)
44. I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll *

November

45. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (L)

December

46. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (L)
47. Extinct by Ike Hamill *
48. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur *
49. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (L)
50. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (L)
51. Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (L)
52. Sandman: Overture (L)