[720]: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby
by Cynthia Bond


This was such a difficult book to read and even harder to decipher. On the surface, it’s the story of a woman scorned for being a daughter of a black woman and a white man. Her beauty became the scourge that she carried most of her life; the source of her strength and frailties. The torment that had brought her insanity in her later life.

From the very young age, she’s known indescribable abuse. Her mother left her to escape the same abuse Ruby would be subjected to growing up. At 10, she was sold to a madam who would sell her every night to men of despicable character. At 13, she would lose her child who would torment her for the rest of her life. In 1950, she would escape to New York only to do the same thing over again.

This book is ripe with the kind of African American history that I never knew existed. In the South where satanism and sexual abuse seemed to go hand-in-hand in the darkest, depraved way possible. It was suffused in magical realism of the religious kind. Where the “power of the Lord” compels men to “train” girls of such young age to “hone their craft”. Is it any wonder Ruby lost her mind? A screeching, half-naked woman who carries with her the souls of dead children; forever haunted by a being who would never let her rest.

 In the midst of the overall depressing history was a slight ray of hope in the person of Ephram Jennings. He ignored ridicule and the scorn of everyone in town, including that of his sister whom he called, “mama”. They, too, came from a home who’ve seen the worst abuses from the hands of their father. In this effect, you can say that it’s love story. A love story in the simplest of form; one that had the ability to save a person from oneself.

Ruby is a heavy read – heavier than I’ve anticipated. I read it at a time when I was feeling a little lost myself so my initial rating was a little low. I remember being furious at the townspeople who have judged Ruby and the men who took advantage of someone who was not in their full mental capacity. Filthy or not, they came to her for sex regardless if she’s covered in weeks’ worth of grime. I was mad at Ruby for pushing Ephram away and I was mad at Ephram for not standing up to Ruby. This book was a real story of survival, of madness and of love. It was more often difficult but with a clearer mind, you’ll find the beauty of Ms. Bond’s words.

[719]: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Everyone Brave is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave


I’ve read my fair share of World War II novels. And one thing that’s glaringly missing is the presence of coloured people in the story. For whatever reason, there just doesn’t seem to be a place in the story for them. Like they weren’t even around in that particular part of history. This is, of course, only based on the books I’ve read.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, however, changed that perspective for me. Because this book dealt with a woman who, despite her family’s and friend’s wishes, defied odds to help an African American child who soon lost his only parent to the war. You could also say that this boy saved her in turn at some point in her life. Because in war, you grab on to the only family you could find.

But that’s only part of the story.

This also had an inconvenient romance, not only because the world was at war, but because our heroine was already practically engaged to another man when she met another. And considering she was setting him up for her best friend, the dynamics of their relationship was not only inconvenient, it was also complicated.

Mary North is a privileged daughter of an MP who decided to enlist soon after war was declared. The only job she could get was a teaching position. She wasn’t enthusiastic about it at first but soon realized that it was her niche. But it was a tumultuous time when the threat of a bombing was almost always imminent. When the order came down to relocate the schools to the country, her superiors thought it best for her to stay in the city. Leaving her jobless and feeling inept.

Then she met the head of school administrators to demand a job. Tom Shaw didn’t know what hit him. Mary was determined, headstrong and didn’t leave Tom any choice but to “make up a position” because she wasn’t taking no for an answer. She was responsible for the kids that were remaining that mostly had learning disabilities and coloured kids. So at the time when Hitler was terrorizing much of Europe, England was dealing with racism in their own backyard. Probably not as brutal as they did in America where lynching and separatists ruled the South but subtle or not, it was something that black people dealt with everywhere.

Among other things, this book is about the blitz bombings England suffered during WWII. The constant displacement of people, the lack of food, the deaths and in the midst of it all, the people’s attempts to find some normalcy through the horrors. It’s also about what life was like to the soldiers serving in Malta. When they dealt with practically the same lack of resources and the constant bombings. They find camaraderie, comfort, and compassion even towards their enemies. Because in war, everyone is a victim in one way or another.

Chris Cleave crafted a story that covers a wide range of topics. There was a romance loosely based on how his grandparents got together; there’s racism that affected children who lost their parents to the war. It’s an account of survival in any way shape or form; of not losing hope no matter how easy it would be to give in. And many times, I thought the characters would for sure succumed to the weight of their troubles. But no one gave up. The dialogues were light even if the circumstances were not. Cleave found a way to infuse humour even at moments when things were dire.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 205

 


American War by Omar El Akkad | Into The Water by Paula Hawkins | The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr


 It saddens me that the last thing I posted on the blog was also a book haul. But what can I say? I’m currently struggling to write book reviews and there’s nothing I could do about it. I used to have discussion posts on the ready for when I’m running behind with book reviews but unfortunately, the creative well is currently dry. So yeah. As much as I want to post something else other than a book haul and an update, I got nothing. You can’t bleed a stone, you know what I mean? Sigh.

I got three books from Penguin Random House Canada that I thought I’d share with you all. I still haven’t bought any physical books as of late. It’s not for the lack of trying, mind you. On Saturday, I went to the bookstore and had three books on hand when I had an accident. I was trying to reach for a copy of A List of Cages when it fell on my face. Let’s just say there was a blood bath as I got a deep gash on my nose because of it. I’m so mad, y’all. I didn’t even have any intentions of going to the bookstore in the first place but hubby so sweetly nudged me to go. I think it’s the bookstore’s way of expressing their disappointment in me for being away for so long. So yeah. I didn’t buy anything this weekend again.

R  E  A  D    L  A  S  T    W  E  E  K

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I’ve been meaning to read this since I got it. I’m a huge fan of books set in WWII so this fits the bill perfectly. It was very interesting. I was kept in constant suspense in a way that the fate/lives of the characters were always hanging in the balance.

 

At Attention
by Annabeth Albert
Publication Date: April 10th, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I have enjoyed a few of Ms. Albert’s books so I had to request this one on NG as soon I saw it crop up on blogs. It was to be expected. I enjoyed it and will be looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

 

 

The DILF
by London Hale
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


*Snorts* I had to get it. You know what’s weird? I didn’t notice the age difference between them. Ms. Hale didn’t really put that much focus on that aspect of their relationship so I wasn’t mortified as I was with the title. Lol.
 

 

This is it for me. I’ve got so much book reviews to write but I really don’t know where to begin. We still have another day off so here’s hoping I’ll be able to write or at least read.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 204

 


Yesterday by Felicia Yap | Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones | The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney | Missing by Kelley Armstrong

Hiya!

Can you believe that my last Hoarders post was about a month or so ago? I haven’t bought a physical book in a long time to the greatest relief of my floor joists and my husband! Haha. However, I haven’t stopped stocking up on e-books that are entirely inappropriate for the younger audience. Hehehe. Anyway, I griped and complained about the lack of book mail in my house lately then, all of a sudden I get several packages all at once all thanks to the wonderful people of Simon & Schuster Canada, Penguin Random House Canada, and HBG Canada. I’m so excited to read these!

Last Week

 

Ruby
by Cynthia Bond

Publication Date: Feb 10th, 2015
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I had a tough time with this book. I was not in the right frame of mind when I read it so my judgment may be a little unfair. Honestly? It’s a tough book to read, to begin with. Couple that with my maudlin mood and it only made my experience worse. Ruby’s story filled me with so much misery that I couldn’t appreciate the beautiful writing. I might attempt to review this at some point.

 

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This was also another weird book. But I like how Mr. Hamid gave us a different perspective on the refugee crisis. Some would accuse him of being naive and careless with such a relevant and real global problem but I liked his take on it. Exit West is full of hope in a future when we can live in a world where accepting refugees in our homes is a normal thing.

 

Daddy’s Best Friend
by London Hale
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Confession: I unlink my social media accounts in Goodreads anytime I read and rate a book with a cringe-worthy title. This way, my family, and friends wouldn’t know the extent of my depravity. Want to know what the title of the next book to this series? DILF. DILF, yo. Lol. Incidentally, it came out yesterday but I’ve yet to read it. Anyway, it was fun. Lots of smexy times.

RAMBLING ON…AND ON… AND ON…

  • I’m slowly getting used to my husband’s new hours at work (he works the graveyard shift now and I FUCKING HATE IT).
  • Keanu Reeves walked by me yesterday (he was filming a movie in our hotel) and I didn’t have my camera with me.
  • I’m thinking of joining this FITBODY BOOTCAMP.
  • Movies I recently saw: The Wall (Matt Damon) and Maximum Ride (James Patterson YA series).  BARRY (A movie about Barrack Obama’s struggle with his ‘lack of blackness’ as a young man.)
  • Food I’m currently obsessing over: Cherry tomatoes.

Have a great week, everyone! Catch ya later.

[718]: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid


Some writers can magically turn the most disturbing scenes into the most evocative, animated landscapes. Mohsin Hamid simply has a way with words – achingly beautiful, lyrically sublime prose. He tackled the refugee crisis in a way that could be misconstrued as “making light” of a difficult situation. And I’ll explain why.

The novel tells the story of Nadia and Saeed. In an unknown country on the brink of war, they meet and fall in love. It’s an inopportune time; a very dangerous one at that. As the bombs start dropping and their country is ripped to shred by a civil war, they hear about doors that can offer them escape. Where these doors lead to, however, would not be revealed until they cross the threshold.

What if I tell you that this book is a story about refugees told with a hint of magical realism? Science Fiction, even. The doors are like wormholes and parallel universes. It has echoes of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  And yet, in spite of it all, the novel remained realistic somewhat.

We’ve all heard about how harrowing it’s been for refugees to flee their war-torn countries. A lot of people have drowned trying to escape Syria. A lot have also been turned away by other countries. It’s a problem that’s been politicized and sensationalized in the present day. Here, Mr. Hamid tackled the crisis in a way that’s wholly unexpected. From a couple of characters who are more liberal for people living in a Muslim country; to the way they escaped and lived the life that waited for them on the other side of the doors, Exit West is an ingenious and wildly imaginative tale of romance, religion, and strife.

Nadia is an independent woman who doesn’t pray but has taken to wearing a black robe. As soon as she reached the majority age, she moved out of her home. She worked for an insurance company and rode a motorcycle. She was a breath of fresh air as far as Saeed was concerned. Saeed for his part barely practices his religion. He wears a beard but only to the barest minimum. He seldom does his evening prayers.

If you’re not careful, you might get a little confused with the way the characters are transported from one place to another. There was one in particular that had my heartbeat tripping. It played out like a sinister scene in a movie wherein a sleeping woman, married but alone, seemed like she was about to be violated by an intruder. I was confused because I never heard about the woman again. But I realized later on that the man was just another refugee who found himself in someone’s house. He was not there to harm the woman. He was just there. 

The world that the refugees wake up was surreal. More often they find themselves in somebody’s house but the owners go about their days nonchalantly. As if it wasn’t weird that their house was suddenly occupied by foreigners. There’s gotta be some hidden message that I wasn’t getting.

But this book is full of hope; of wishing that the world could be a bit more accepting and kinder to those who needed it the most. To open our homes to the refugees who only wanted to escape the chaos, the blood-shedding and the destruction brought on by war.

[717]: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Waking Gods
by Sylvain Neuvel


Ten years after the end of Sleeping Giants, Themis finds herself in the company of one of her kind. The giant robot appeared in London; dauntingly unmoving and ominously observing. If the scientists, led by Dr. Rose Franklin, concluded that Themis was left behind to protect mankind, this visitor immediately proved it was there for a wholly different reason. After it pulverized the greater part of London, Earth Defense Corps scrambles to find a way to defeat what’s coming. Especially when they appear almost simultaneously in densely populated cities all over the world.

Easily one of my favorite reads in 2017, y’all. I don’t know what to say. It was just as riveting as Sleeping Giants, if not more so. The narrative style remained consistent and though it may seem a bit verbose at times, it was far from dry. Suffused with light humor and an uncannily matter-of-fact style of story-telling, Neuvel once again presents a Sci-Fi story “for the masses”.

If you haven’t read Sleeping Giants, I should tell you that the books are written in an interview format; a dialogue of sorts between characters and an unknown interviewer. It’s how we become acquainted with the characters; get a first-hand account of the nuances of the story, and how we discover all the mysteries of the alien robots that once roamed the Earth. The author was a fan of the epistolary style of writing even at a tender age when he first read Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The story of how his debut novel exploded is actually quite spectacular. From not being able to find a publisher to having a few film companies on a bidding war for the film rights in a span of a month, his’ was a Cinderella story for the ages.

In this installment, we find out that the unearthing of Themis was a summoning of sorts and have more or less gave credence to what we’ve known about Themis’ role as the humankind’s protectors. Themis mightily stood against the aggressors for a price. As in any epic battles, there were victories and losses. The weapons these robots unleashed were catastrophic and somewhat of a learning lesson for Themis’ minders.

Waking Gods was an exhilarating installment. The author is not a fan of cliff changers and unneccessary prolonging the series for devious reasons. He answers all the questions and ends a book in a way that doesn’t leave his readers sleepless for nights on end. In fact, he presented us with a batch of new questions in Waking Gods, answered them and gave us a closure of sorts. As for what’s coming in the third book, let’s just say we’re headed to the final frontier. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

On the Night Table [48]: Slowly

 


I can’t even remember the last time I made a trip to the bookstore, y’all. To tell you the truth, don’t miss it that much. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a book nerd. I’ve been going through my shelves and reading whatever I want. I don’t know what’s going on but the books I’ve requested from a few publishers hasn’t arrived. It’s been weeks now! Not that I’m not enjoying the careless ways with which I picked my reads but I’m wondering why none of the books are getting to my mailbox. Perhaps I keep missing out since requests are on a first come, first serve basis? Things that make you go…WTF.

R   E   A   D   L A S T   W   E   E   K

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files, #2
Published: April 4th, 2017
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Bruh. This series is so awesome. If you haven’t read Sleeping Giants yet, I suggest you remedy that, stat. You know I’m not a fan of Sci-Fi but man, Mssr. Neuvel converted me. I haven’t written a review but I might re-read it again before writing one. Yes. Again. Because I read this twice already!

 

 

A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands
Series: Argeneau, #1
Published: October 25th, 2005
Rating 3 out of 3 Stars

I wanted to get my curiousity out of the way so I decided to give this one a whirl. Unfortunately, I’m one and done. I don’t think I’ll continue. This was a long read and there’s not much action to speak of. The family of vamps is interesting, though. But not interesting enough to incite the desire to continue.

 

 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Published: October 22nd, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Another long, arduous read but so worth it. The young Theo tugged at my heartstrings. The adolescent Theo had me pulling my hair. The man that Theo had become did not learn from the mistakes of his past. Annoyed as I was, The Goldfinch is worth all the accolades it had gotten since publication.

 

 

I don’t have much going on this week blogging-wise. I’ve been so obsessed with thrifting lately that I’ve spent most of my weekends dragging my husband to thrift shops and flea markets. I’m thinking about doing a weekly post of my vintage finds, actually. I don’t know if you guys will go for that. Let me know! In the meantime, here’s a sample of what I’ve picked up on my thrifting adventures.

 

 

 

I’m not gonna lie, my house has seen some chaotic changes lately but I’ve finally picked a theme which is a mix of bohemian chic and mid-century modern. I’m enjoying finding some pretty cool vintage pieces. So much so that I’m thinking about opening up an online store to sell my finds. I’ll see how it goes.

Thanks so much for reading, everyone! Have a great week.

Waiting on Wednesday [14]: May Releases

It’s going to be a great month for book releases – which means bad news for my wallet. These are just some of the books that are coming out this month that I want to get. Let me know which of these will be worth breaking the budget for!


A Court of Wings and Ruin
by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 2nd

Be honest, y’all. How many of you have already read this? Or made a special trip to the bookstore yesterday just to pick up a copy? For the first time in a long time, I might just be able to complete a freaking series.

 

 

 

The Boy on the Bridge
by M.R. Carey
Release date: May 2nd

I had the chance to watch The Girl with All the Gifts a month or so ago and have enjoyed it. I also read the book when it came out. This boy seems to have come out of nowhere to the delight of Melanie’s fans. I’m dying to get my hands on a copy if only to see if it will be just as scary.

 

 

Sons of Ares
by Pierce Brown
Release Date: May 10th

If I knew how to insert a GIF, I would have Stephen Colbert reaching out and begging you to give it to me.

From Goodreads: See how a forbidden love will set the course of events for the future and lead to the formation of the formidable Sons of Ares! 

 

 

The Names They Gave Us
by Emery Lord
Release Date: May 16th

I don’t remember ever reading her recent book but I do remember feeling a little disillusioned with the one before that. I’ve become wary of her books since but I’ve already seen a couple of great reviews from trusted friends so giving her another chance. Wish me luck.

 

 

In a Perfect World
by Trish Doller
Release Date: May 23rd

I used to be a big fan but Where the Stars Still Shine, though I enjoyed it, left a not-so-pleasant feeling afterwards. She forced me to like an otherwise unlikable character. So now I’m wary. I didn’t even bother picking up the book before this one. We’ll see what happens.

 

 

Lord of Shadows
by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: May 23rd

Yassssss.

This tops the list of books I need to get this month. Shut it, haters. Readers gonna read.

 

 

 

Rich People Problems
by Kevin Kwan
Release Date: May 23rd

I swear to God, if Astrid and Charlie didn’t get back together in this installment, heads will fucking roll. I’m excited and anxious in equal measure, y’all. This family tends to drive me to drink and going by the synopsis, it sounds like same old, same old. Gah.

 

 

When Dimples Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
Release Date: May 30th

Blessed are thou who have read thee; for thou may know the greatness of thee.

[716]: Blood Vow by JR Ward

Blood Vow
by JR Ward


I’m writing this review after a second reading and it’s not because the book was THAT good. It’s the opposite, actually. There are times when books are just not meaty enough to leave a remarkable impression regardless of whether or not one had an enjoyable time reading it. And that’s exactly how I felt about this one. I can’t say it was bad but more like status quo, you know? More of the same. Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.

One of the reasons why this didn’t leave a lasting impression is that it felt more like a continuation of The Beast instead of a story that focuses on the next trainee, Axwell. I mean, there are other subplots that vied for my attention, too, of course, but this series was supposed to drum up lovin’ feelings fans had of the BDB series. Unfortunately, JR Ward just can’t help herself. After all these years of reading Ms. Ward’s books, I should be used to it by now, right? The fact that she chooses to not have a focal character in every book she writes has become her M.O. since the beginning of time. So I shouldn’t expect any less.

Because I was more invested in reading about Rhage & Mary’s journey towards parenthood, Axwell and Elise’s story took a back seat. The definitive crux of my problem with this book lies in my disappointment stated above. That it was an extension of The Beast rather than a thorough introspection of Axwell’s storyline.

In any rate, I still enjoyed it. Axwell came from a poor family with no prospects whatsoever (besides enrolling in the BDB Training program, that is). He’s virtually an orphan since he lost his father to the raids. His mother had long since abandoned them before then. He’s carried a guilt with him for ignoring his father’s call on the night he was killed. He’s angry at himself and at the world – more particularly to the members of the Glymera. His mother took off to become the mistress of one of those people so he doesn’t really have a good opinion about them. (You can practically smell the romantic twist from a mile away, don’t you?) He ended up being employed by one as a personal security detail. And yes, you guessed it, to Elise – whose life has gotten even more restrictive since the murder of her cousin.

As for Mary & Rhage, if you’re following the series, you’d know that they were in the process of adopting a girl whose mother just recently died. Bitty has seen the worst kind of abuse at the hands of her father. It took Bit a while to get used to being loved and cared for. She was very wary at first but soon warmed up to the idea that she, too, deserves some good in her life. But all the physical abuse her body has suffered also left her with some permanent damage that if not treated might leave her invalid after her transition. Reading about the way Havers tried to correct the break in her bones had my eyes smarting in tears. Bit was allergic to any kind of anesthetics, so you can just imagine the torture this kid went through. We also learn that the uncle she was talking about was not imaginary at all which had Mary and Rhage going crazy for the uncertainty of losing Bitty.

 Verdict

I have a complicated relationship with JR Ward’s books. Yet no matter how I complain, I end up going back to her year in and year out. It’s like being in a bad relationship sometimes. No matter how bad it gets, I’m the weak one who keeps giving the bastard the second chance.

Life Lately


Hey, all!

Am I glad to be writing a post again! It’s been soooo long. I’m sorry for the disappearing act once again. The Spring cleaning that I’ve started a couple of weeks back turned into little projects that kept me away from my blogging duties. But I’m back now and hoping to sustain this little burst of momentum that will keep me on track for the next few months. Lol. At some point, I’ll try and share with you what I’ve been doing on my break. But for now, I have an April recap of sorts.

April By the Numbers

All in all, I read 18 books in April and a good amount of romance novels. I started the Dark Carpathia series by Christine Feehan but after the first book, I don’t know if I should continue. Maybe I’ll give it another go and then make my decision from there. I read the Wedding Belles series by Lauren Layne. And have only managed to read one non-fiction for the month (Alter Egos by Mark Landler). I finally read a book that’s been on my wishlist since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, The Improbability of Love started out great and petered out into a huge disappointment. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett was ho-hum awesome. Easily my favourite read of the month. Here’s the rest of the list:

  • Promises to Keep by Genevieve Graham 4/5 stars
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 5/5 Stars
  • The Chosen by JR Ward 4/5 Stars
  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson 1/5 Stars
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston 3/5 Stars
  • The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild 3/5 Stars
  • Alter Egos by Mark Landler 3/5 Stars
  • Mister Moneybags by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward 4/5 Stars
  • Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett 5/5 Stars
  • The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winaker 5 /5 Stars
  • Mr. President by Katy Evans 3/5 Stars
  • Commander in Chief by Katy Evans 3/5 Stars
  • Time Was by Nora Roberts 3/5 Stars
  • Times Change by Nora Roberts 3/5 Stars
  • To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne 3/5 Stars
  • Dark Prince by Christine Feehan 3/5 Stars
  • For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne 3/5 Stars
  • To Love and To Cherish by Lauren Layne 3/5 Stars

A barrage of 3-star-ratings, as you can see. I did have a couple of 5-star-reads, though, so that more than makes up for what would otherwise have been an unremarkable reading month.

That’s been my April. How was yours?