Title: Sharp Objects Author: Gillian Flynn Publisher: Broadway Books Publication Date: July 31, 2007 Genre: Adult Fiction, Murder Mystery, Psychological Thriller Rating: 4.5 Stars A dark, disturbing, internal-demon-producing novel by the infamous Gillian Flynn. Sharp… More
A subtly crafted novel about disenchantment and the innocent sense of wanderlust that incite our rashest decisions, Chloe Aridjis has poetically recreated the world of the estranged and the isolated in her new novel, Sea Monsters, set to be released on February 05, 2019 by Catapult. Author of Asunder and Book of Clouds, Aridjis carries readers into magical landscapes of suppressed fears. Sea Monsters is a hypnotic exploration of an overcast youth entrapped in the dusty and nostalgic traces of the past. Mexican history and childish imagination come together to following a young girl’s quest for the unknown, and for herself.
Arranged by the publicity team at Catapult, I spoke to Chloe about the effects of history on identity in the novel, the decadence of youth, and the intoxicating curiosity that surrounds art. Characterized as a narrative “out of a central episode of my adolescence,” ahead, Aridijis brings readers into the poetically mysterious, romantically transcendent world of Sea Monsters. Continue reading “Novelist Chloe Aridjis on Losing Adolescence and Retaining Imagination”
Title: The Vegetarian
Author: Han Kang
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Publication Date: February 02, 2016
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars
The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a “kafkaesque”story of one woman’s ordinary life and how the onset of her mental illness leads to her becoming a societal outcast. It is a cerebral work of literary fiction that explores one woman’s suffering from the perspective of those that watch her suffer, sympathize with her, but who fail to understand her.
Yeong-hye and her husband were a very basic, middle class couple who expected nothing of the world but the bare necessities. Neither had hopes, nor dreams of achieving the unreachable. This was all before the nightmare: the bizarre, twisted dream that would change Yeong-hye’s life. The nightmare is dark, but splitting; mysterious, yet intriguing. We, nor the characters ever find out what the dream actually is. All we know is that it leads to Yeong-hye cutting animal products from her diet. What follows is a horrific chain of events that manifests itself into a plague driven by eroticism, emotional and physical abuse, and self-starvation.
Yeong-hyes new way of life shocks her husband, her family, and all those who come across her decaying body. Desperate for her to snap out of this bizarre new fetish, Yeong-hye’s husband attempts multiple methods to get his wife to eat meat and even goes as far as literally raping her. Her father’s disaproval comes in the form of force feeding meat down her throat, to which Yeong-hye resists by getting a hold a knife and slitting her own wrist. This is the turning point of the novel away from Yeon-hye’s lifestyle being simply a concept of food. It has now grown into an obsessive disorder that damages and kills her inside out as the nightmare continues to invade and feed upon every aspect of her life.
The story is told from the perspective of Yeong-Hye’s husband, up to the point that he divorces her, to which the perspective changes to her sister, In-Hye’s husband. He is a deeply disturbed artist whose strange obsession with Yeong-Hye and her “Mongolian mark” leads to his own form of self-destruction. His artistic vision for Yeong-Hye recreates Yeong-Hye’s body into a work of art, and temporarily becomes a reprieve for Yeong-Hye from her nightmares. With a series of flowers painted over her naked body, she feels protected and stronger. The artwork’s pornographic turn is drastic and compelling. In-Hye’s husband’s part of the novel left me feeling deeply unsettled and conscious, more than ever of my own body, its limits, and the control that I have over it.
I found the last third of the novel to be the most bitter and hearbreaking. It is told in In-Hye’s voice, who, despite the utmost care she has for her sister, still fails to understand and soothe her. In-Hye desperately tries to hold onto Yeong-Hye’s life. She begins having her own form of nightmares, and often finds herself carried years back to her childhood with her sister. She is reminded of all of Yeong-Hye’s quirks and strange tendencies, only then coming to the realization that all of these little things Yeong-Hye had did or said, if they could have been addressed, or prevented, Yeong-Hye may have been saved.
The readers nor the three major characters are ever able to get inside of Yeong-Hye’s mind. All that is certain is that there was a dream and this dream grew into a monster having a life of it’s own, infecting each and every aspect of the lives of Yeong-Hye and those around her. The Vegetarian is doubtlessly an alienating novel that managed to leave a lasting impression on me.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)
Title: Gazelle in the Shadows
Author: Michelle Peach
Publication Date: April 26, 2018
Genre: Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
I was recently sent a copy of Gazelle in Shadows for an honest reviews. It is a debut novel from former diplomat with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Michelle Peach. This is a self-published title which was released April 26 2018.
This is a thoroughly reflective illustration of life in Syria under the governmental unrest of the early 1990s – a brutal regime producing fear, anxiety and rage amongst those caught beneath it. It is a thriller and suspense; definitely not a book that I would ever have picked up browsing in a bookstore, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.
Set in the mid nineties, Gazelle in the Shadows follows the life of a young, and perhaps a bit naiive British college student, Elizabeth Booth who is an Arabic student at Durham University. Like any college language student, she decides to go abroad immerse herself in Arabic language and culture. She finds herself in Damascus. A new world presents itself to her in this ancient city. It is place of humility and generosity, bazaars and street markets, warm air and natural beauty. She easily assimilates, quickly making friends, excelling more than ever in her studies and soon attracts the attention of a young native.
Elizabeth’s naïveté however leads her into danger before she even lands in Damascus. During her flight over Elizabeth makes the acquaintance of a flight attendant, Asim and his friend Hassein. A friendship hastily evolves and results in the two men committing themselves to serving as a sort of body guard for Elizabeth. From here a spiral of events occurs. What starts off as an easy friendship and love affair turns progressively questionable. Incident begin to occur around her as she gets progressively caught up within a mesh of lies, deceit, empty promises, and dangerous political activity in the form of terrorism.
Quite frankly, Elizabeth is a bloody idiot. She commits herself to a study abroad program in a politically unstable country and doesn’t even have the logical sense to find a place to live. Instead, she basically throws herself into the arms of two strangers who could be anyone, like seriously, ANYONE, and entrusts herself in their freaking care. Like, for real?!?!?! That in and of itself is a serious red flag, like, girl, have you know brain? I mean, I’m all for believing the best in people but try to have some sort of boundaries! She makes friends and love interests spark without her ever fully even knowing the crowds in which she is involving herself. This leads to endless trouble for her as her trust and curiosity begin to take a backslide.
The narrative time of the novel is rather short, but in that short period Elizabeth gets mixed up in a lot of evil going ons. The author’s political background definitely manifests itself in the ways in which she so accurately illustrates Syrian politics, history and culture. She paints a beautiful portrait of the troubled Middle Eastern city, offering readers a narrative that parallels so much of the disastrous happenings goin on in Syria even today. By following the life of rather dumb college student, Peach retells Syrian history and in this way, blurs the lines between fiction and reality. I really enjoyed learning so much of Syrian culture through this book and even found the brief diary entries between the chapters riveting, rendering the book “un-put-downable”.
Although the ending was pretty predictable (even from the first page I knew, it wouldn’t end well for Elizabeth), I found it to be an extremely enticing read. So many questions were swimming in my mind as I read: Will Elizabeth make it home from school? Will she even make it to school? Does Hassein even really love her? Who are all these woman Hassein is introducing her to ? Gazelle in the Shadows is a thought provoking tales that keeps readers at the edge of their seats in a new world where nothing is as it seems.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)
I recently published my very first article for elle.com. As a Young Adult reader/fan girl/enthusiast, I follow trends and enjoy anticipating new releases both from The New York Times Book Review, Goodreads, as well as from some of my favorite book bloggers. Continue reading “12 Books Like The Hate U Give | elle.com”
Ever since I started interning for ELLE Magazine, in the Book Features department I have been adding countless titles to my To-Read Goodreads shelf. Although I do try to aim my reviews specifically towards YA and mental health specifically, not all from this shelf fall under either category so I’m sure there is even something for the posh literary enthusiast roaming around out there between Balzac and Hemingway. I have been coming across some amazing adult fiction, literary fiction, and even a couple plays here and there. It’s awe-inspiring all of the books that are being published in the coming year. What with 2019 just around the corner, I thought what better way to look towards a fantastic new year of of drop diets, women empowerment and new hairdos than with a new Goodreads reading list for readers ?
Since Trump has taken office, close to two years ago now, our world, the world of the next generation has undergone changes that we, as a nation, had believed we’d already passed. In a nation pretty much developed from immigrants, Trump wasted no time in closing the US border to entrants from several nations, most being majority-Muslim nations in the midst of their own revolutions. White supremacy and issues of racism that we thought we have overcome have suddenly reemerged, no doubt having some correlation with the leader of our nation. Our youth, the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers and supreme court justices are growing up in a time of change and societal unrest. And we are not the only ones affected or who care about this. I may not be a teenager, but I still read Young Adult books, but it is not how I remember it. YA as a genre has changed and is now a reflection of school shootings, racial inequality, gender inequality, sexual abuse, political corruption, internet privacy – everything that we have grown so accustomed to to the point that we look at it as the new norm in our nation. Continue reading “YA Under Trump”
Title: All the Lives We Never Lived
Author: Anuradha Roy
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2018
Genre: Adult Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars
All the Lives We Never Lived is a stunning achievement of Anuradha Roy, being his fourth novel. It is a beautiful overlapping history that explores love, secrecy and the definition of family. This book, about halfway through began to remind me of Donna Tartt’s, The Goldfinch in the way that the story of a mother who is really only briefly actually present in either of the books is told by their sons, sick with longing ofr their presence and their maternal love. Continue reading “Review: All the Lives We Never Lived”
Title: The Hawkman
Author: Jane RosenBerg LaForge
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 3 Stars
I received and ARC copy of The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LaForge in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley and Amberjack Publishing for this advanced reader copy which was released on June 5, 2018.
Dear fellow Babblers,
This book, just shy of 300 pages was gruesomely painful for me to get through, and I’m using the kindest words possible to explain how treacherous a trek this read was for me. It took me a whole four months, probably the longest I’ve ever spent reading a single novel. If it takes you this long to read a rather short book there is either a serious problem with your comprehension or you simply prefer to be happy than to put yourself through the pain of 280 pages filled with a story you simply, no matter how hard you try, cannot get absorbed into.
I was intrigued by The Hawkman by the cover art to be quite honest, with mystical creatures and alluring fonts. Even the synopsis, promising a tale of the world during the Great War, infused with a fairy tale imagination seemed promising of an instant classic. However, despite some interesting parts hear and there, The Hawkman proved to be a disappointing and tedious read for me. Continue reading “ARC Review: The Hawkman”