The Turn of the Key — Ruth Ware

  • Read Date: September 17, 2019
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Format: Print Book — Book of the Month Edition

When Perfect Nanny Rowan Caine stumbles upon a residential position caring for four girls with an outrageously generous salary, she is *very* interested. She knows that this family has gone through four nannies in a very short amount of time, but surely there’s an explanation, and she, Rowan, was older and more experienced than those other girls, so surely she’d have nothing to worry about! And yet…

Architect couple Bill and Sandra Elincourt live in a grand Victorian mansion in Scotland that has been updated with all the latest technological fixin’s, both the necessary and the unnecessary. After accepting the Elincourt position, Rowan discovers that Bill and Sandra are immediately called away for business, leaving her alone in this strange new home with a new set of charges to look after. As she gets to know the other staff, stories of the house’s perplexing history arise, and she begins witnessing some unsettling things…. things only she is experiencing.

Chilling and captivating from the very first sentence, The Turn of the Key is an auspicious retelling of the Henry James classic The Turn of the Screw. Ware has intelligently and creepily (in the good way!) injected so many 21st century technological norms into the narrative and very effectively manipulated them to emphasize the maximum creepiness of Heatherbrae House and Rowan’s ominous experiences. Twists and turns abound through to the very last page, and every cliffhanger and tactfully divulged piece of new information will keep readers hooked throughout!

Find The Turn of the Key here or at your local library, and leave your thoughts below! Happy reading!

Xx.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Things to Eat and Drink

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday post, and I think it’s VERY fitting that it should be favorite things to eat and drink while reading, because, like most bookworms, I am a *total* snacker! Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I am almost always working, rehearsing something, or travelling between those two things, so most of my reading gets done at lunch and dinner!

I’ve also done two previous posts that sort of relate to this TTT prompt, so check out What Book Should You Pair With Your Favorite Girl Scout Cookie? and What Book Should You Pair With Your Morning Coffee? for other reading and munching ideas!

Thanks to That Artsy Reader Girl for this challenge and super fun prompt, and away we go!

Coffee

I have been a coffee drinker since early high school, and there’s just something so comforting about a really full mug of steaming coffee– or a cappuccino 🙂 — and a good book. Bonus points if it’s also raining!

Wine

A nice glass of red wine and a cozy reading are also a given! This is one of the easiest ways for me to just relax while feeling totally pampered and luxurious. If I’m having wine with my book, I’m most likely on my couch with an incredibly soft blanket and a few candles around as well.

Charcuterie

A super tasty meat and cheese board I had last week at a GREAT Spanish tapas place near me!
*insert heart eyes emoji here*

This one is a little weird, but I am a FIEND for a solid charcuterie board! I love discovering new and interesting meats and cheeses, and it’s such a treat to create different flavor combinations with everything you’re given. Charcuterie is a totally indulgent grown-up Lunchable, and I love everything about it.

Tacos

I know what you’re thinking: how on EARTH does one use both hands to eat a taco while still keeping one’s book open and not losing one’s spot and also not spilling the inside of one’s taco all over the place? Yes, this is a more advanced endeavor, but, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve recently become something of a pro at eating while reading, and I have been on a *major* fish taco kick lately.

What does everyone else eat and drink while reading? Leave your thoughts below!

Xx.

Short Novels to Help Your Reading Challenge

If you’re like 80% of people I know, you just might have had a far busier year this year than you usually do, and as a resort, you just might be behind on your reading challenge. And, if you find yourself in this predicament, you might be starting to get a little nervous when you realize we are only three and a half months away from 2020! I know I personally have 23 books to read in that time….

If any of these things apply to you and you’re looking for a few quick reads to help you tackle the rest of your challenge, here are a few options to choose from!

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 120 pgs.

Everyone in town knows a murder is going to take place, yet nobody makes any effort to prevent it. Years after the murder, a man returns to this town to investigate the murder and everyone’s silent collusion.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson, 111 pgs.

A man investigates the strange relationship between his dear friend Dr. Henry Jekyll and the sinister Edward Hyde in a tale of character and the dichotomy of good and evil.

The House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisneros, 110 pgs.

A beloved coming of age tale told in a series of vignettes that examine the way different people live and make their lives.

Black Klansman

Ron Stallworth, 208 pgs.

A fascinating look at a black man who heads an undercover operation inside the KKK in late 70s Colorado.

Convenience Store Woman

Sayaka Murata, 163 pgs.

Quirky, weird, and a bit dark, this is a story of a woman who was always considered a strange child and her endeavors as an employee of a local convenience store.

Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck, 103 pgs.

The classic tale of George and Lennie traveling the countryside in search of work and dreaming of lands of their own. Also a bit dark.

The Four Loves

C.S. Lewis, 192 pgs.

An examination of four different kinds of love: affection, friendship, passionate love, and charity. Insightful and inspirational, and a book from which more is gleaned with each read..

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Agatha Christie, 121 pgs.

The first in the Poirot series, we meet the little Belgian detective for the first time and become more enthralled by his little grey cells!

Most of these picks are under 200 pages, but more importantly, they’re all spectacular stories! Hopefully this list has either provided you with some new reads or inspired you to find some of your own! If you know of any other short/quick books to help chip away at the challenge, comment below.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Xx.

A Guide To Spooky Season

Hello, all! Are you looking for the perfect pick to get you into sweater and cider season? Do you prefer chilling, suspenseful reads to outright horror and gore? Are you gearing up for Halloween but also don’t want to have to sleep with your light on? Then this post is for you!

What to read while “Night on Bald Mountain” is playing in the background:

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Perhaps the best of the Queen of Mystery’s novels, And Then There Were None is suspenseful and chilling as, one by one, the visitors to a remote island begin disappearing, in conjunction with a haunting nursery rhyme, no less!

What to read with your cider and donuts:

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

A group of new mothers ventures out for a night on the town for the first time since having their children. That same night, one of their newborns is abducted, and the mothers must band together to ford the media storm this case causes and to help recover the missing baby.

What to read surrounded by falling leaves:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The classic tale of a debonair young man who sells his soul for lasting youth and beauty. Dazzling, eerie, and captivating, this is a perfect way to transition into fall.

What to read with an apple pie in the oven:

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

When an assumed distant relative passes away, young, struggling Hal is slated to inherit some of the estate. She journeys to the family home and finds a world of brand new questions and confusing answers, unsure if she can believe anything she grew up knowing. Reminiscent of Peril at End House, The Death of Mrs Westaway is one of my favorite of Ware’s books to date.

What to read as you wait for trick-or-treaters:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Drawing inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, The Woman in the Window is the story of an agoraphobic woman who witnesses a crime that occurs across the street– or so she believes. The unreliable, home-bound protagonist tries to convince others of what she saw and expose the criminal, but not without some pushback…

What to read in your coziest socks and sweater:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A perfect story for fans of Gothic literature, The Thirteenth Tale is an intriguing tale of two timelines that are enchantingly woven together. This is surely a nice, Victorian-style treat, with parallels and elements hearkening back to a grand literary style of centuries past.

What to read on a hayride:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

“Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…” We all know these iconic words spoken by the three witches– or Weird Sisters– in Shakespeare’s classic, cursed Macbeth. The story Macbeth, Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor, and his and his wife’s plan to acquire the throne of Scotland for Macbeth, the play embodies all the spooky, sinister themes of the season; witches, ghosts, visions, and terror abound in the play’s pages.

What to read when you’ve made it through the corn maze:

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

This is the first in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith, nom de plume of J.K. Rowling. The reader meets the rough-around-the-edges Cormoran as he investigate the sudden death of a widely famous supermodel. Even more chilling than The Cuckoo’s Calling, however, is the series’s second book, The Silkworm.

What to read after Oktoberfest:

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw is a chilling, thrilling ghost story for the ages. Complete with a creepy house *and* creepy children, this is a perfect way to prep for spooky season. What more could one ask for?

What to read when you’re giving thanks:

Still Life by Louise Penny

The first in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, Still Life is a liiitle bit cozy and pastoral, still with a gripping plot and dearly charismatic characters. The same is true for all of the Gamache series (that I’ve read, so far, anyway!), and any would be a great transition into fall!

Do you have a go-to author or series once fall rolls around? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on these or any other autumnal titles you love!

Happy reading! Xx.

20 Questions Book Tag!

I stumbled upon this 20 Questions Book Tag through Sara at The Bibliophagist and figured I’d give it a whirl myself, so away we go!

1. How many books are too many in a series?

Hmm… I tend to prefer a neatly packaged trilogy, but I’ll say I could go up to five books in a series.

2. How do you feel about cliffhanger endings?

LOVE them at the end of chapters, do not like them at the end of books. I am a creature of resolution and closure!

3. Hardcover or paperback?

Paperback. I always end up ripping hardcover dust jackets in some way 😦

4. Favorite book?

Tie: Pachinko, Don Quixote, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. More on that in Six Books That Changed My Life.

5. Least favorite book?

Moby. Dick.

6. Love triangles: yes or no?

No thanks… there’s more creativity in the world!

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella. I enjoy her books in between heavier or darker books just as a pick-me-up or palate cleanser, but this one just took a little bit too long to get to the very predictable resolution. I think I put it down about halfway through.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

9. The last book you recommended?

The Silent Patient by Alex Michealides. SUCH a gripping read!

10. The oldest book you’ve read?

Excluding the Bible– only because I don’t think I’ve actually ever read all of it!– it would be The Odyssey, which I believe dates back circa 8th century, B.C.?

11. The newest book you’ve read?

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner. Published in June of this year, and my book club’s September book.

12. Favorite author?

Too hard to choose one! Gabriel Garcia Marquez and C.S. Lewis are very high up there on the list.

13. Buying books or borrowing?

Borrowing if my expectations for it are moderate, but buying if I think it’s something I’m going to really love! Also, always buying if it’s nonfiction… I’ve been converted to the school of underliners and margin-notetakers!

14. A book that you disliked that everyone else loved?

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. It’s touchy to explain, but details are in my August Wrap-Up post.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

Bookmarks! But my bookmarks are rarely bookmarks and are more frequently business cards, receipts, etc.

16. A book that you always re-read?

The Harry Potter series and The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

Only music without lyrics! It’s also a fun little treat for me sometimes to listen to the Harry Potter movie soundtracks during my rereads of the series 🙂

18. One POV or multiple?

One. I tend to prefer the omniscient narrator– though not exclusively, of course (see The Silent Patient, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for *excellent* first person narrative). Multiple POVs sometimes blend characters’ voices together, but they can also be done really nicely (see: Small Great Things, Home Fire).

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Multiple days. When I worked in retail/food service I could power through a book on my day off and I absolutely loved it, but now with my full-time job and my rehearsals and other commitments for music and theatre gigs, it takes me way longer to finish a book :/

20. Who do you tag?

I’ll tag Katie from Melting Pages and Brittany from Bookaholic Brittany! I hope you two enjoy this tag as well, and don’t forget to tag me when you do it 🙂

Thanks for reading, and if you feel so moved to do the tag as well, by all means, do so and drop a comment below!

Happy reading! Xx.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society — Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Date Read: September 4, 2019
Rating: 3.5/5
Format: Audiobook/E-book

Author and journalist Juliet Ashton has just returned from a book tour of her largely successful Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War when she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams with a request, which turns into correspondence, which turns into correspondence between Juliet and almost the entirety of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

An epistolary novel, each character revisits WWII and the German occupation of Guernsey within his or her letters to another character, and the aftershocks of the war are, if not always clearly stated, certainly implied and not hidden. The visibility of these effects throughout the characters are also on their recovery and rebuilding of themselves and their society gives Guernsey a respectable depth that is sometimes missing in historical fiction. My only critique of the novel’s composition is that the letter writing provided an excellent opportunity for each character’s distinct voice to be exhibited, but this only seemed successful in a few cases; many of the supporting characters’ voices tended to blend together.

I *adored* Juliet. Her strength of character, her quirks, her spunk, her determination, etc. remind me of Anne Shirley in the fondest way. She does not shy away from bold opinions, and her turns of phrase are equally delightful. This was a protagonist I am so pleased to have known, and one of the few characters I encounter that really make me think, “I would LOVE to sit down for a cup of coffee with this person.”

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is thoroughly enjoyable, charming, cozy, and whole host of other warm and fulfilling descriptors. This was a wonderful read to bridge into autumn and cooler temperatures, as the perfect pairing for Guernsey would be a nice cup of cocoa, a comfy chair, and a warm blanket.

Get The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society here or at your local library, and, as always, happy reading!

Xx.

Mrs. Everything — Jennifer Weiner

Read Date: September 1, 2019
Rating: 2/5
Format: Audiobook

Buckle up, everyone. I really did not like this book.

The story of Bethy and Jo Kaufmann from their youth in the 1940s up to present day, Mrs. Everything is LGBTQ+ feminist fiction for people who have no interest in LGBTQ+ feminist fiction. This book is laden with unlikeable characters, superficial glimpses at gender roles and sexual identity, and, yes, I’ll say it: errors.

As a resident of metro-Detroit, I was so excited for the first few parts of the book to take place in an area I grew up knowing so well, and was so disappointed with the slew of factual errors. An example: the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel does *not*, in fact, run underneath Lake Erie. Another example: when Bethy is in South Pacific at her high school, the narrator refers to a moment in rehearsal in which Bethy is singing about how ‘the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye’, which is from Oklahoma!, NOT South Pacific. I know that these things seem minute and pedantic, but this is a Simon & Schuster book. A New York Times bestseller. How did this happen?

Every character is a stereotype and none is likable, save two characters, one of whom is made out to be a bad guy. No one in this book does anything to further equality or progress in the identity, gender, and sexuality efforts, they just regurgitate what we already know. Pushing 500 pages, I felt like this book could’ve ended about four times. In short, this book didn’t really need to be written.

I know that this was harsh, and I know that this is just an opinion, so by all means, if you enjoyed this book, enjoy it! Ignore me, and keep on keeping on! But I just found it gratuitous and unnecessary, and for such a highly lauded book from such a prominent publisher, these editing problems were pretty much unforgivable to me.

Posting negative reviews always makes me uncomfortable, but my gosh I did not like this book. If it weren’t my book club book I would’ve DNF-ed it about five chapters in. At the end of the day, though, not every book can be a winner, and the beauty of reading is that there is always another shot! So, onto the next!

Happy reading, all. Xx.