Ruth Ware – The Death of Mrs. Westaway – Thoughts

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I’ve been a fan of Ruth Ware since her first book ‘In A Dark, Dark Wood’, and I think she gets better with every new book she releases.
In her latest, ‘The Death of Mrs. Westaway’ we are immersed in a mystery, gothic novel. The protagonist is young Harriet Westaway, or more simply Hal, a tarot reader who struggles to survive all alone after the sudden death of her mother, with not enough money to buy her proper food. One day, she receives a letter that will change the rest of her life. Apparently, a recently deceased grandmother has mentioned her name in her will, and she is summoned to the family estate to find out what exactly she was left. The only problem is, Hal knows this is a mistake, they have sent the letter to the wrong person. But, giving her current situation is desperate, Hal decides she will lie, and try to take home whatever her “grandmother” has left her. Little Hal knows, she will set a chain of events that will soon derail, as lie after lie Hal will soon find out that she’s not the only one who’s lying, who’s keeping secrets.
Ruth Ware has this gift of creating characters and stories that absorb the reader’s attention and won’t let it go. This book is once again a true page-turner, as all Ware’s previous ones. I found myself up at 2 am still unable to put it down.
This mystery has gothic elements to it that make it creepy in a delicious way. A big, desolate house, Hal’s room with a door that has bolts just on the outside, a group of people who are supposed to be family, but who hide secrets from one another, and one old, creepy housekeeper who scares Hal every time she has a chance to. This book has all the elements to be captivating and entertaining.

“Whatever she looked on the surface, inside, deep in the core of her, she was not a mouse, but something quite different; a rat – small, dark, tenacious and dogged.”

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Annie Dillard – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Thoughts

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I have never read a book like Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek before.
Dillard meditates on nature, the seasons, animals, life, time.
It is a very meditative read, it infuses calm and tranquility on the reader.
I found some parts quite difficult to follow at times, but that hasn’t diminished the enjoyment of reading this book.
I especially loved the chapter in which Dillard reflects on colors, light, where she explains what happens to people who gain the ability to see, what happens to their brain, how they learn to recognize spaces, distances, shapes.
There are beautiful quotes spread throughout all the book, and here are my favorites:

“In flat country I watch every sunset in hope of seeing the green ray. The green ray is a seldom-seen streak of light that rises from the sun like a spurting fountain at the moment of sunset; it throbs into the sky for two seconds and disappears.”

“Catch it if you can. The present is an invisible electron; its lightning path traced faintly on a blackened screen is fleet, and fleeing, and gone”.

“Time is a live creek bearing changing lights”.

Ellery Adams – The Secret, Book and Scone Society – Thoughts

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If I had to describe Ellery Adams’ ‘The Secret, Book and Scone Society’ in one word, it would be cozy. There’s a sense of coziness and softness throughout all of it, which makes it for an enjoyable read.
Four women with troubled pasts meet and form a friendship that will help them heal from their both physical and emotional injuries, and in the meantime solve a murder and a mystery.
The beauty of the story lies in the relationship between the four women, how they learn to rely on and trust one another, how they let each of them into secrets they haven’t shared with anyone.
The novel is also filled with beautiful quotes, and the fact that the main character, Nora, owns a bookstore certainly helps in filling the book with that magic you only find inside a good book, and inside bookstores and libraries.
The mystery itself is not a big one, it is easily guessed, but that’s not the point of the story. It’s not about solving the mystery, but about how it is solved, and about the characters.

“Our ages, skin colors, and backgrounds didn’t matter one iota. We were just women with a common purpose. Period. It felt good to connect like that.”

 

Fran Drescher – Cancer Schmancer – Thoughts

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I knew I had to start Fran Drescher’s second book, Cancer Schmancer, right after I finished reading her first ‘Enter Whining’. And as for the first book, I finished this one in two days.
The style of this second book reminded me very much of the first – direct, honest. The subject is totally different in this case, though. Here Fran takes us on a journey, her journey fighting cancer.
I was so surprised at how she is direct and open, sharing her experience without holding back the most difficult moments. I hope that other women going through the same can find solace and help in Fran’s words.
She shares the ups and downs, and the chapter dedicated to her dog Chester moved me especially, as it did the poem she dedicated to him.
It was an intense read, and it ended before I knew it, luckily ending with Fran being free from cancer. The last chapter is beautiful, I loved to read her writing: “I now know who I am. I’m comfortable by myself. And that makes all the difference.”
And I loved that she ended the book with one of my favorite poems, Emily Dickinson’s ‘Hope’.

Fran Drescher – Enter Whining – Thoughts

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I grew up with The Nanny. It’s always been one of my favorite shows because it’s that kind of show that never fails to put a smile on my face, and it makes my mind forget everything that’s wrong, and concentrate only on the funny and adorable stories of the flashy girl from Flushing.
The Nanny named Fran has always been a character I felt a deep affection for. Who wouldn’t want such an amazing woman as their friend??
One day I stumbled upon an interview with Fran Drescher, in which she talks about The Nanny and many other things I didn’t know about her. I found myself thinking that, indeed, I knew so little about this actress who played a character that kept me so much company. So I bought her book ‘Enter Whining’. I started it one night, before going to sleep, with the idea of reading just a few pages, to see how it was. Ended up forcing myself to close the book on page 78.
Fran has such a direct, honest way of writing, it feels as if she’s right next to you reading along with you. Some parts are absolutely amazing and I found myself laughing with tears in my eyes. Other parts tell stories that made me feel such a deep respect. Fran is a warrior and an amazing person.
I finished the book in two days. Unfortunately. I would have loved for it to be longer. But her second book is right here beside me, waiting for me.
I cannot recommend ‘Enter Whining’ enough. One of my favorite quotes from the book is at the end of it:

“I’ll tell ya, over the many years in my career, as well as in my relationship with Peter, we’ve been poor and we’ve been rich, we’ve gone from agony to ecstasy, we’ve been to hell and back, and it’s taught us to cherish life for all its simplicity as well as its grandeur.”

Simone St. James – The Broken Girls – Thoughts

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a captivating mystery I literally devoured.
The story of a woman named Fiona, who is trying to close a painful chapter in her life, is interwoven with the one of four girls who, many years before have formed a solid friendship, and when one of them goes missing, their quest to find the truth will bring their path to an unexpected conclusion.
St. James was able to build a solid, intriguing, moving story about love and friendship, about courage and loss.
You will not be able to put this book down very easily, and the end will leave you with a sense of profound satisfaction.

 

Laura Thompson – Agatha Christie – Thoughts

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I have always enjoyed reading an Agatha Christie’s novel from time to time, and I finally decided I wanted to know more about this woman who wrote some pretty great mysteries. She is known to be the writer who brought to life Poirot and Miss Marple, but who was Agatha?
I stumbled upon this book a few months ago, and I finally had the time to read it.
This is a monumental work, you can really tell that Thompson spent a huge amount of time researching. The result is an incredibly detailed biography, thanks to which I found out things about Agatha I didn’t know. That she never went to school, that she learned to read by herself. This is probably the aspect that fascinated me the most. How a person who never received a formal education, could become one of the most acclaimed artists the world has known. It’s fascinating and empowering.
The chapter dedicated to her disappearance was especially intriguing, a mystery in a mystery.
There were some chapters, though, that were probably even too focused on details. I would have skipped all those references about her income and the taxes she had to pay and so on and so forth.
It is undoubtedly a great work and insight about a woman who had an amazing and unique mind.

“The next day Agatha went to Cook’s and changed her tickets. She would take the Orient Express to Stamboul, then go on to Damascus in Syria and finally to Baghdad. Carlo expressed concerns – the East, a woman, unaccompanied? – but for the first time in more than two years Agatha felt alive again. She would travel alone to new worlds. She would dare. Her course was set.”

“She arrived at her structure rather in the manner of a bird building a nest: taking this, reject that, recognizing what was needed when she saw it, by some means ending up with a smooth and watertight whole.”