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Recently Read: March

After a very slow reading month in February (I only read one book!), I finally found my groove again and got through 6 books in March, and I attribute a lot of the de-slumpness to Ruth Ware, as I read two of her novels and wanted to devour so many more.

recently read, what I'm reading, books I've read, books, reviews, the woman in cabin 10, the death of mrs. westaway, ruth ware, birdbox, josh malerman, the room on rue ameile, Mata Hari

recently read, what I'm reading, books I've read, books, reviews, the woman in cabin 10, the death of mrs. westaway, ruth ware, birdbox, josh malerman, the room on rue ameile, Mata Hari

recently read, what I'm reading, books I've read, books, reviews, the woman in cabin 10, the death of mrs. westaway, ruth ware, birdbox, josh malerman, the room on rue ameile, Mata Hari

The Woman in Cabin 10: 4/5
I've quickly become a huge fan of Ruth Ware, and have read all of her books now (considering her latest comes out in May and I've already read it--reviewed below--I'll probably be waiting quite a while for her next one). Her writing style is reminiscent of Agatha Christie, but with modern twists, and they're some of the most engaging stories in the thriller genre, in my opinion.

The Woman in Cabin 10 was reminiscent to In A Dark Dark Wood, insofar as it's a closed circuit crime scene, so if you liked that novel, then I think you'll really enjoy this. It begins with a group of eccentric characters boarding the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise ship, whilst being introduced one by one a la Agatha Christie style. A crime seemingly takes place on the first night of the cruise, but no one on the ship believes what Lo saw, and attributes her claim to the excessive amount of alcohol she consumed. Throughout the course of the novel, Lo attempts to prove what she saw and alienates herself from other passengers.

While I love Ware's writing, I think you do need to suspend disbelief when going into her novels. There are twists and turns galore, and a very large one near the end of the book that was a bit farfetched. There was also quite a few red herrings in the book that was very annoying and didn't necessarily add to the value of the novel.

I think Ware's books are great escapists though. Although the storylines are repetitive, I love how quick they are to read, and I find the implausible storylines are just what I'm looking for when I need to get out of a slump.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway: 4/5
I won't go on about my love of Ruth Ware again, but I will say this book was one of the most far-fetched and somehow most enjoyable. It starts with Hal Westaway, fending for herself as a Tarot card reader after her mother's sudden death three years earlier. After falling behind on rent and bills, she turns to a loan shark for help, but despite having paid him back three-fold, he is still looking for more money when an unexpected letter arrives saying the grandmother she never met has passed away and bequeathed her money. While Hal know's that she isn't her biological granddaughter after doing some quick research into her mother's records, she attempts to con the family out of enough money to pay off her debt.

As the novel progresses and Hal meets her unknown family while spending time at the Westwood Estate, Trespassen, she discovers things about her mother that she never knew, and uncovers the lengths that families will go to protect each other.

While I recognize that the loan shark element of the story was necessary to explain Hal's actions, I felt like it wasn't well written. After arriving at Trespassen, that part of the storyline essentially died out and was never resolved. I also found the writing to be very repetitive (you could take a shot every time Ware wrote "suddenly" and be drunk a few chapters in). The family dynamic and family tree were also very far fetched. Yet, despite all these glaring problems, I really enjoyed this book. It's a very quick read and I didn't actually see the ending coming (although there were multiple twists). I also appreciated that it wasn't just another alcoholic unrelatable narrator, yet a strong-willed female who was trying her best to make a life on her own.

Bird Box: 4/5
Wow, just wow. I've heard so many BookTubers rave about this book, and it's been sitting on my shelf for a while before I finally gave it a go. I'll start by saying that I don't read a lot of science fiction, so this apocalyptic style book took me for a bit of a ride. News travels fast around the world as people begin killing themselves and others after seeing "something" outside. People begin to lock themselves in houses, covering all blinds and doors and must learn to adapt to this new world where seeing could kill you.

While I love the premise of this book, I thought there were a few things that were tied up too neatly for my liking, and some elements of the story were just too convenient. For example, what are the odds that both Malorie and Olympia would enter the safe house pregnant and be due around the same time? What are the odds that Malorie and some of the others could have found their way to the house and to grocery stores and other places while blindfolded? Unless you knew the area like the back of your hand, which admittedly Malorie didn't, then it would be a near-impossible feat. Especially when they tried driving there. The housemates did attempt to calculate steps and distances based on a map they had, but I wonder how accurate that actually would have been.

There were also a series of events near the end of the book that I won't mention for spoiler reasons that seemed to tie everything up too quickly for my liking. It left me feeling unsatisfied and even more confused than I was with the rest of the book.

All those negatives aside, I really did enjoy the book, and it's one that has stayed with me long after reading it. I've been telling friends and family all about it and questioning how I would react in a similar situation. Would I turn violent like some of the people? Would I be able to adapt to the new world? Or would I have just decided I didn't want to live in a world where you had to stay hidden and blindfolded at almost all costs? I think the sign of a good book is when you start questioning your own role in it, and this book did not disappoint in that regard.

The Less you Know, the Sounder you Sleep: 5/5
I have so many thoughts on this book that I'm going to share in a stand-alone post, coming soon!

The Room on Rue Amelie: 3.5/5
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. As you can probably tell from previous reading roundups, I'm a huge fan of historical fiction but I felt like this book was a bit too repetitive for my liking. It tells the story of an American woman, British RAF pilot and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in German-occupied Paris during World War II.

I really enjoyed following each of the three main characters storylines. I think they were three unique perspectives, and the interconnection between them and the sacrifices they made during were remarkable. I love how the novel showed the effect war had on people of different ages and ethnicities as well, and particularly loved the strength of Charlotte, the 11-year-old Jewish neighbour to Ruby and the bond they developed. The story of what her family went through and the disbelief her community felt were some of the most heartbreaking scenes in the novel.

And while I did absolutely love the first half to two-thirds of the novel, I found it got very repetitive towards the end. The same events happened multiple times, whether to different or the same characters, and it felt like it cheapened the novel a bit. And for these reasons, I felt like it dragged on too much. It could have told an equally compelling story by taking out a hundred or so pages and keeping it quicker paced and more engaging. I also found the romance to be a bit too much in this book, where every character needed to find a romantic partner to help them through the horrors of the war, whereas I would have liked to see the focus remain on friendship for some of the characters.

Mata Hari's Last Dance: 2/5
I feel bad giving this book such a negative review, especially as someone loaned it to me, but if you don't like it, then you don't like it, right? Mata Hari is sold as a captivating novel about the infamous exotic dancer, and possible spy Mata Hari. The description talks about her sitting in a cell in 1917 in Paris, after being charged with treason leading to the death of thousands of French soldiers.

However, and this is a big however, there was next to nothing about her being a spy in the novel. I think the first reference was about 180 so pages in. It primarily focused on her role as an exotic dancer, the men she slept with and the woman she wooed to work her way up the social ladder. She always seemed too willing to create this new life for her self and would do almost anything to get what she wanted, including leaving her children behind. Ultimately, I found she came across as desperate. The flashback scenes to her abusive husband did provide some sympathetic moments and explained, to a degree, her eagerness and urgers to begin a new life. I found this novel to be like a historical fiction version of Pretty Woman, where there were certain rich suitors who wanted to help this poor, beautiful woman and bring her from rags to riches through her provocative dancing.

I think had the description of the novel been different, and it not been sold as her being a spy, then I would have enjoyed it more. But I went into it expecting a brave heroine like in The Alice Network and was left with a woman who spent more time on her back than fighting for her country.

What have you been reading lately? I'm just about to start Three Things About Elsie after hearing Simon from SavidgeReads rave about it.

xoxo K