All posts filed under: Review

Review: White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

“I am a haenyeo. Like my mother, and her mother before her, like my sister will be one day, her daughters too – I was never anything but a woman of the sea. Neither you nor any man can make me less than that.” This novel captivated me in a way I really wasn’t expecting. I had been looking for some more Korean-based WWII lit since I my disappointing affair with Pachinko left me gasping for a story I could connect with more easily. If you had similar feelings towards Pachinko, read on my friend, because White Chrysanthemum could end up being the story you’ve been searching for. ______________ It’s 1943 on Jeju island. The occupying forces of the Japanese imperial army do not stop sisters Hana and Emi from joining their mother at the beach every single morning. She is a haenyeo, one of many generations of Korean women who dive down to the depths of the sea each day to gather mussels, seaweed, octopuses and anything else they can get their hands on. …

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees. […] The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.” This book should be required reading. Not for schools, for everyone. The premise is simple but powerful, the characters are every day people but they are excellently written. The message is one we’ve heard a million times before but we still haven’t heard it enough. The story follows sixteen-year-old Starr, a private-school student who has always felt out of place. At school, she is one of the few black students. Back in her neighbourhood, she is mocked for going to school outside the area – with white people nonetheless. Although she feels like she lives in two different worlds, she’s determined to prove to herself that both of her lives can co-exist. One night, Starr gets a lift home from her childhood friend Khalil. They get pulled over by a policeman. The whole encounter is over in barely a minute, and it ends …

Review: Brave by Rose McGowan

I’ve always enjoyed Rose McGowan for the fiery individual she appeared to be on screen. Even though she states in her memoir, “for those who knew me as an actress, I must inform you I was never that person”, she’s still a damn queen, I know it. Her fire comes across from the very first page. Her words are fierce, they demand attention, and damn right. For a survivor of abuse to come forward and tell her story, I would expect nothing less. “I was told I had to have long hair, otherwise the men doing the hiring in Hollywood wouldn’t want to fuck me, and if they didn’t want to fuck me, they wouldn’t hire me. I was told this by my female agent, which is tragic on so many levels.” Brave is less of a memoir, more of a social commentary with McGowan’s own experiences as the starting point. It’s a story about women and the abuse of women; it’s a painful and, yes, fairly triggering account, but it’s the kind of book …

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

“Life in the bush is hard work, but you can’t beat the taste of salmon you caught in the morning, drizzled with butter you churned from your own fresh cream. Up here, there’s no one to tell you what to do or how to do it. We each survive our own way. If you’re tough enough, it’s heaven on earth.” This little slice of magic really did tick my boxes. Survivalism against a glorious Alaskan backdrop with intense family drama and characters that made the heart melt? I am all over that. Kristin Hannah is best known for her award-winning WWII family drama The Nightingale, a book that still lingers on my to-read pile but not for much longer. Perhaps those who enjoyed The Nightingale for its family dynamics in a high-stakes setting will also find appeal in The Great Alone. It’s hard-core, it’s emotional and it’s exciting. But most of all its core character drama packs an immense punch and I do not say that lightly. I can count on one hand the number …

Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I like a grim(m) fairy-tale retelling as much as the next person, and a dark, modern re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland sounds fab, does it not? And yes, for the first third of The Hazel Wood, I was excited. Engrossed, even. The premise is mysterious and enticing: Alice, our teenage protagonist, has been moving from place to place her entire life, her mum her only constant. She’s never really known why her mum keeps packing them off different places, but best she can tell it’s to escape the vicious “bad luck” they can’t help but encounter. “But I still saw the shadow of the bad luck: a woman who trailed me through a used bookstore, whispered something obscene in my ear as she picked my phone from my pocket. Streetlights winking out over my head, one by one, as I walked down the street after midnight. The same busker showing up with his guitar on every train I rode for a week, singing “Go Ask Alice” in his spooky tenor.” There’s something creepy about the …