Category Archives: drama

NY Bestseller

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First up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a New York Times Bestseller. I’ve seen this book everywhere lately and have been dying to read it. And, according to the cover the book was an instant NY Bestseller. That novel is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

From the description, it’s supposed to be very much like Gone Girl but with it’s own twist. The teasers on the flap definitely drew me in. I can’t wait to find out what’s hidden in Ani’s past and how that past might jeopardize her future. I’ve been trying to avoid reading any reviews online so as to avoid spoilers. This seems like one of those books where the twist ending pulls the whole plot together.

Stay tuned for the full review of Luckiest Girl Alive. Happy reading!

The Nightingale

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When I first started reading The Nightingale I was immediately reminded of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Both novels are very similar, in some respects. They both take place in France during WWII and deal with the German occupation of the country. Both are tragic tales about the courage of ordinary people who become extraordinary.

The Nightingale is a novel about family. Two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, have been torn apart by the tragic death of their mother and their father’s inability to take care of them. As they grow older the rift continues to deepen. Vianne marries early and starts a family as her way of coping with the loss, while Isabelle escapes from various boarding schools making her way back to their father in Paris before being sent out again.

The war brings the two sisters together again in their family home in Carriveau. Isabelle is determined to stand out and help the French Resistance, while Vianne is determine to hide in the background and take care of her young daughter. But naturally, nothing goes as planned in war.

The sisters soon find themselves doing things they never thought they would to protect those they love and find the glory they wish to achieve. They realize things about each other and themselves that they had refused to see before. And find out that maybe the other sisters’ way of thinking may not be so wrong after all.

Isabelle becomes further and further involved in the Resistance, earning the name The Nightingale. Vianne becomes a force herself trying to protect the children of Carriveau and surrounding areas.

I don’t want to say too much however. This is a novel that you must experience for yourself. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I did indeed cry for about the last quarter of the novel. There is so much tragedy that is all the more heartbreaking because it happened. People’s capacity for hope is an amazing thing. Even in the bleakest of times there is something to strive for.

Rating: 5/5

Stay tuned for the next, and last, installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

A Re-Return

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel that I started reading but didn’t finish. There aren’t many novels that I start and don’t finish simply because I have a compulsive need to finish every novel even if I don’t particularly care for it. In this case, I just couldn’t read the novel fast enough. I checked Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale out from the library many moons ago and started to read it but couldn’t finish in time before I had to return the novel. I’ve placed a hold on the novel and have finally got it back so that I can finish it.

I can’t wait to finish the novel and see what happens to each of the characters. I have a feeling that this is one novel that will bring me to tears. The other Hannah novel I read for this challenge, The Winter Garden, had me crying and I feel this novel will be very similar.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Nightingale. Happy reading!

In a Dark, Dark Wood

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“In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house. And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room. And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard. And in the dark, dark cupboard there was a dark, dark shelf. And on the dark, dark shelf there was a dark, dark box. And in the dark, dark box there was…”(Alvin Schwartz).

Sometime not completely unexpected but surprising nonetheless.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is Ruth Ware’s first novel. In the beginning, this novel reminded me so much of Agatha Christie’s Endless Night. There’s a house in the middle of the woods cursed by the townspeople for it’s very existence. A young woman about to be married, in this case throwing a hen party, and suffering through a series of “tricks” that will test her psychological stamina.

I loved how Ware created the creepy and suspenseful ambience in the novel. The house was terrifying. Full of windows that give the characters the feeling that they are a spectacle meant to be watched. Actors on the stage of a play they haven’t been given the lines for.

The main character, Nora, is a writer who left her hometown under mysterious circumstances and has yet gotten over it. She’s suddenly invited to her high school best friend’s hen party out of the blue and on a whim decides to go. Once there, she and the rest of the hen party, are in for quite a surprise.

This novel did pack some twists and turns but I have to say that I was a little let down by the big reveal. The foreshadowing in the beginning of the novel was amazing but kind of faltered in the middle and never was quite able to match the suspense of the beginning.

I did like how Ware used her red herring in the novel. It definitely threw me off the scent for a while.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. I liked a nod to the Classic Mystery genre, and one of Agatha Chritie’s lesser known novels. I’m excited to see what Ware’s next book will be and whether she will continue in the mystery genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

 

The Bottom of the Pile

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book on the bottom of my to read pile. Since I’ve been doing this challenge, my list of books to read has narrowed and narrowed. I don’t have many books from which to choose for this category anymore. Ultimately, I decided upon Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood. This book was published this year and hasn’t been on my list long. However, since I’ve started this book challenge, I’ve bumped this novel from many other categories it could have fallen into. I was going to read it for the crime novel but decided against it. Then I was going to read In a Dark, Dark Wood as an author I’ve never read before and bumped it again.

Finally I bumped the novel to this category, a perfect fit. From the back, this novel sounds like it’s going to be a nice cozy type mystery. Women get together after many years for a hen party that goes tragically awry. I can’t wait to see what twist awaits me in this mystery.

Stay tuned for the full review of In a Dark, Dark Wood. Happy reading!

Into the Wild

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“I now walk into the wild” are the last words that Chris McCandless sent his friend Wayne Westerberg before trekking into the Alaskan wilderness. It’s hard not to be touched in some way by McCandless’s story. Yes he was impetuous, naive, and heedless of the dangers he was facing, but he was also an idealist searching for some kind of meaning in life. Like many people before him, John Muir most notably, he was searching for an answer in nature. Being young myself, I can identify a lot with McCandless. Death seems so remote you don’t even consider it. There’s no way anything bad could ever happen to you. You’re young and have everything ahead of you.

I’m sure in some ways this was McCandless’s thought pattern as well. He was so convinced of his own intellect and knew that he could make it. He had never failed at anything he had tried before and had always been praised for his intelligence and unwavering beliefs. He was a self made outcast. He shed society’s layers as best as he could only to realize that “happiness is best when shared.” I’m a firm believer that it’s the people around us that help us lead a full and satisfying life. It’s people that push us to grow and change in ways that we might not left to our own devices.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel was how thoroughly Krakauer looked into the history of travelers like McCandless. I couldn’t believe that so many people have walked into the wild never to walk out again. There are tales of teens disappearing in the desert, a climber vanishing in the mountains of Alaska, and British soldiers from the 1800’s dying in the arctic. I think in some way everyone is interested in what’s out there. That’s why we travel to other places to discover new things, people, and cultures. Most of us just travel from city to city instead of into the wilds. But we’re all bitten by some kind of wanderlust, an interest in things outside of ourselves.

There are many decisions that McCandless made heedlessly, as many before him had done. Yet, he was not one of the lucky ones. He didn’t survive his trek into the wild. The odds were stacked against him. Yet he made an impact on the world through what he left behind. After reading Krakauer’s novel I feel like I got to personally know McCandless and see a bit into his heart.

Rating: 5/5 Such a compelling, albeit tragic, story.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015.

Never Let Me Go

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All great love stories must end in tragedy. I’m not sure where this thought originated but Shakespeare definitely drove the point home in Romeo and Juliet. “For never was a story of more woe. Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Tragedy can make even the most ordinary love stories into epic ones. I think it’s the counterbalance of the idea that love is forever with the idea that life is fleeting. Never Let Me Go is definitely one of these tragic love stories.

The novel begins in the present with Cathy looking back on her life at the boarding school Halisham in England. She presents her memories, from her point of view, on her life and what shaped it. In the present, Cathy is known as a carer, a person who works in hospitals helping donors through their donation periods. But she spends a good portion of the time thinking about Halisham and her friendships with Ruth and Tommy.

The story takes awhile to get going and you do have to slog through a bit of the beginning but it’s worth it. The further you get into the story the more you realize how important the beginning is to set up the events that will unfold. The beginning is almost the ending in a way. It holds the key to the story that you don’t get to unlock until the end. It fills in the missing pieces so that you can see the big picture. And the big picture is terrifying. The author poses so many questions about science and humanity. Whether it’s better to have known something bad all along or only find out in the end. And the negative effects of scientific discovery.

The whole story becomes a lot more foreboding once you realize exactly what’s happening. Especially in contrast to the beautiful love story that begins to form. Again, it takes some time for the love triangle to truly show itself. There’s a lot of backstory to the triangle and the relationships between the three people, Ruth, Tommy, and Cathy. Tommy and Cathy have always had a special kind of relationship where they feel free to talk about whatever is troubling them. Yet, Tommy begins to date Ruth, a beautiful and manipulative person. Ruth represents the basis of Halisham for me. How people have come to form a facade of the real world that the kids take to heart. They then begin to form their own facades and backstories, especially Ruth.

The whole time I was really rooting for Cathy and Tommy. They just seem destined to be together. But Ruth stands in the way for a good portion of the novel. Yet, the caveat is true here. All good love stories must end in tragedy of some kind. And this one does. Perhaps a bit more tragic than most. Every outside force has come against them from birth. The love was doomed from the get go and perhaps that’s why it’s so touching. The greatest loves often involve the greatest sacrifices.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!