Reviews

Gather the Daughters // Jennie Melamed

GatherWhoa.

Please tell me at least one of you thought of Joey Lawrence.

If a book can be said to be both dreadful and wonderful at the same time, then Gather the Daughters is one such book. Set in a unknown period after a fire destroys civilization, an island community is formed by ten men desiring a deeply patriarchical society. These men, now known as the ancestors, made a list of things a person shalt not do and those are the rules that govern their small society. Now the men farm, or carve, or labor outside the home, while the women keep house. Females submit to their father until they are married, and then they submit to their husbands. When their child has a child, they take their final draught. The shalt-nots are never questioned, and if women were to question them, well, bleeding out is very common in childbirth.

Janey, Amanda, Caitlin, and Vanessa are four girls living in this rustic island community. Desperate to avoid coming of age, but yearning to get away from their fathers, each girl feels trapped and helpless. They begin to question the rules that govern their lives, and that is a very, very dangerous thing to do. When one of the girls is murdered for her desire for something better for her own daughter, the girls begin a resistance.

Eerie, bleak, and full of dread, Jennie Melamed’s debut novel is excellent. Her beautiful prose balances the grim existence of the characters, and the multiple narrators works to flesh out life on the island. For those who enjoy dystopian fiction, this will be my go-to recommendation of the summer.

(Also, that cover.)

*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Reviews

The White Road // Sarah Lotz

The White RoadHow has it been so long since I’ve hit publish?

Simon, once a troubled youth turn adventure seeker, is now a barista trying to get a spooky website off the ground. The cofounder, Thierry, sends Simon spelunking in search of three bodies left behind in a cave, Cwm Pot. Guided by the unbalanced Ed, they find the bodies, just as a flash flood traps him with the bones. The intense cold and darkness, along with Ed’s corpse, terrorize Simon, but he makes it out alive with his film footage intact. The footage goes viral, against Simon’s wishes, leaving Thierry wondering how to top it. He decides on a literal approach, and sends Simon to climb Mt. Everest to film the climbers who perished in the attempt. Once there, Simon realizes he didn’t escape the cave alone, nor is he the only one haunted.

“I met the man who would save my life twice—and ultimately destroy it—on a potholed road in the arse-end of the Welsh countryside.”

With an opening line that foreboding, I was hooked. Sarah Lotz’s latest novel, The White Road, tells the tale of a doomed Simon, his ill-fated exploits, and the true weight of guilt. Lotz’s prose, though standard, is visceral and compulsory, and she absolutely nails the claustrophobic atmosphere. Both the beginning and end of the novel are excellent, and though it lags in the middle, it’s worth the journey to complete the whole thing. If you’re looking for an easy page turner* with an ending that will haunt you, give The White Road a try.

*You really do have to overlook how heinously underqualified Simon is to be climbing Everest.
**I received a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion, thank you Mulholland!

Miscellanea

The Slap // Six Degrees of Separation

The SlapWe are now 21 days into the month of May. Chris Cornell has died. Trump is still in office. It snowed, a lot. I wish I could say I have something to offer to cheer you (meaning me) up, but blogging seems a bit like talking into a vast void – and it’s practically my only adult conversation as of late. Because, trust me, talking to library patrons, despite their right to vote and serve in the military, is not the same thing*. Often good, but not the same. So, in lieu of a witty, scintillating post – which I’m honestly not sure I have in me – I offer you a chain of books. Kevin Bacon style. Stephen King makes an appearance, as does Jane Eyre (in passing), I even mention W. Somerset Maugham. What more could you want?!

(Could you possibly want Anne of Green Gables set to Soundgarden and Audioslave? Because I totally did that.)

The month begins with The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I have not read it, but I do enjoy the simplicity of the title. The “noun”. When trying to think of a comparably abrupt title, Brian Doyle’s The Plover came to mind.

The Plover chronicles Declan O’Donnell’s voyage across the Pacific, and while I didn’t love it, it was beautifully written. A novel I did enjoy that also chronicles a man named Declan is Karina Halle’s The Darkhouse, but instead of an ocean voyage, Halle’s Declan chases ghosts.

If we’re discussing novels that attempt to frighten you, it’s not a stretch to jump from The Darkhouse to The Dark Half. The latter is by Stephen King, and one of his more enjoyable works. It’s about a writer – who else? – who cannot escape the darker side of himself, despite his best efforts.

Jane, in Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele suffers from much the same issue. No matter how far she runs, or how good she tries to be, she just can’t manage not to murder those who cross her. Murders aside, Jane Steele is a wonderful retelling of Jane Eyre. It’s fun, fresh, with the right amount of levity.

Jennifer McVeigh’s The Fever Tree was not a retelling, but it reminded me – in the best way – of The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham. I enjoyed McVeigh’s writing and have yet to read her new release The Leopard at the Door, but I hope to get to it soon.

Care to join in?

*A patron accidentally cut off limbs to their conifer tree. They wanted advice on how to reattach them.

Mixtapes

Literary Mixtape | Anne of Green Gables

Mixtape Anne of Green Gables

The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.

Chris Cornell provided much of the soundtrack to my teenage years, and my adult years too, quite honestly. Soundgarden, Audioslave, solo, original or cover, I enjoyed it all. This morning, after I heard the news, I started thinking of all of the songs I particularly loved, and as it happens, I am currently reading Anne of Green Gables (in honor of Anne with an E). Somehow they just wove themselves together. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s better than I expected.

01. Doesn’t Remind Me // Audioslave. “Anne finished up with another sigh, of relief this time. Evidently she did not like talking about her experiences in a world that had not wanted her.”

02. Be Yourself // Audioslave. “There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”

03. Can’t Change Me // Chris Cornell. “I’m not a bit changed–not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out. The real ME–back here–is just the same.”

04. Black Hole Sun // Soundgarden. “Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it.”

05. Fell on Black Days // Soundgarden. “It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”

06. Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart // Chris Cornell. “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

07. Like a Stone // Audioslave. “It was November – the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”

08. Heavy is the Head // Zac Brown Band feat. Chris Cornell. “We pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self denial, anxiety and discouragement.”

09. Nothing Compares 2 U (cover) // Chris Cornell. “It has always seemed to me, ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, i was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond – only a glimpse-but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

10. I am the Highway // Audioslave. “When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend…”

Is this combination just completely inappropriate? Or weirdly suited?

Personal

Lately

SequoiaMaking: Hopefully nothing! Maybe my husband will cook.
Drinking: Water. I’m fancy like that.
Reading: I just finished Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorn and Roses trilogy and really enjoyed it, which surprised me.
Organizing: This year’s travel plans. Still. Though airfare has been purchased. I may have mentioned that I over plan when it comes to these things.
Coveting: Despite the baby being over five months old, I’m still not entirely back to where I’d like to be (from both a health and size standpoint). So I’m currently coveting a new wardrobe, but realistically I’d just like to fit into what I own.
Listening: The Dead South // I’ll Be in Good Company
Watching: The White Princess, though I’m worried it’s going to ruin the history for me.
Smelling: Books. I’m on a break at work. In my next working life, I’m choosing a job that requires few weekends.
Wishing: For my hair to grow! I got a really unfortunate haircut the other day, now to wait for it to regrow.
Loving: Starting and hopefully finishing productive projects, especially in the house and yard.
Adoring: Being a mother. I genuinely love it, even when they drive me crazy. I’m also forever thankful to have fellow night owl children who do not get up early.
Accomplishing: As we approach the end of another school year, I will enjoy the fact that my children have yet to be late. It’s the little things.
Needing: Home repair. A hail storm (with near baseball sized hail), went through my neighborhood and seriously damaged my house and car.
Feeling: Exhausted!
Wanting: These shoes. Please and thank you (maybe a tad out of my normal price range).
Wondering: How much longer Sean Spicer can last. I mean, honestly…
Thinking: How costly being a homeowner is. Still. This thought has been on repeat for the last several months.
Celebrating: Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who celebrates it, and a hug for everyone who struggles with this day.

Amazing image found here.

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