For quite a while now, I've been trying to be more supportive of bookshops rather than Amazon. There are few independent bookshops in my area, so I have to settle for chains such as Waterstones, but I've also taken advantages of a weekly second hand market stall.
The Dead House Dawn Kurtagich Genre(s): Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult Published: August 6th 2015 Pages:440 Rating:4 stars “Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . . Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers. Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?” This was a re-read with Ashleigh from A Frolic Through Fiction, Molly from Molly's Book Nook, and Aimee from Lovely Book Loves I've never read a book written in such a unique way as The Dead House. The story of Carly and Kaitlyn is told through diary entries, snippets of police reports, transcripts of therapy sessions, and just about anything else you can think of. It's a massive jumble of thoughts and emotions that leaves you confused and on the edge of your seat, but somehow it works.
From the very beginning, psychology and mental illness takes a big part in Carly's and Kaitlyn's lives. It's hinted at that Carly has an eating disorder (or poor eating habits, at least) and that Kaitlyn is the result of trauma and Dissociative Identity Disorder. While I am fond of this idea and the inclusion of mental health, it's never confirmed one way or another, and from my own research into disorders it seems unlikely. That only acts as a way of opening many, many more doors, however.
There's an element of religion, thanks to Carly's best friend, Naida, which makes you wonder if there are supernatural elements at play. So much of the book is shrouded in mystery that nothing is unlikely, and things only start to get creepier and more unnerving. I wish the Mala had been explained in more detail, or just substituted for spiritual practises that already exist, as it felt a little underdone and thrown in at the last minute. Nevertheless, I did still enjoy the creepy element the runes and charms and chants provided.
The best part of this book is also it's weakest point, and that's that it lets you come up with your own answers. My biggest problem with this, despite how fantastic the story telling is, is that there isn't a sense of resolution and finality with the ending. Yes, our time with the girls is over, but it doesn't feel as if we have all the answers. Things are left open to interpretation and are incredibly vague and ambiguous. Great, if you enjoy deciding what happens for yourself, but I wanted some definitive answers.
My personal theory, however, is that Kaitlyn is the 'true', unwell, self and Carly was a product of trauma and psychosis, and that Kaitlyn was vulnerable to the supernatural. Or maybe I'm completely wrong. Who knows?
milk and honey Rupi Kaur Genre(s): Feminism, Non-fiction, Poetry Published: November 24th 2014 Pages:204 Rating:3 stars “milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.” A copy of this book was provided by the SocialBookCo in exchange for an honest review. This in no way has influenced by thoughts.
I've heard a lot of praise - but also a lot of criticism - for milk and honey and have been wanting to see what all the fuss is about for a while, despite it being a poetry collection and my aversion to anything that isn't prose. Thanks to the SocialBookCo, I got the chance to finally form my own opinion on this book that seems to have divided bookworms.
It's no secret that I find books with darker, taboo themes the most compelling, and milk and honey doesn't fail to deliver on this front. The main focuses of it are violence and abuse, but there's also a smattering of hope, survival, and feminism. Overall, a good mix with a nice sense of resolution and growth, and Kaur manages to convey so much emotion and provoke so many thoughts using such simple language and short poems. I liked the lack of flowery language - the simplicity was very stark and often harrowing, really getting the point across and making you see the reality of the situation and that it wasn't perfect by any means, despite all efforts to make it seem that way.
My favourite of the four parts was the first, the hurting. It set the tone very nicely and you immediately got a sense of what Kaur had been through. It is one of the shorter sections of the book, which was a shame, as I found there were some real gems in it and a lot of the poems gave a good message.
The illustrations throughout the book were a surprise, but a very nice touch. While they weren't exactly to my artistic taste, I liked that they added an extra insight into Kaur's mind and made me feel a lot closer to her and what she dealt with. Even though they were only simple doodles, they really made an impact and enhanced what the words were telling us. There were a few that I found to be a bit vulgar, but seeing as how this deals heavily with sex and abuse, I thought they were fitting, if a little uncomfortable to look at.
While I did enjoy this, I couldn't help but want more. An odd thing for a poetry hater to say, but I enjoyed the style and flew through the entire book extremely quickly. While I did appreciate the shortness of the poems, I did feel like one line was a bit too short and wished some had been that little bit longer, as many of the pages only had a few lines of text which felt a bit... lacking. Nevertheless, a nice little collection. Maybe not up to all the hype, but enjoyable all the same.
The SocialBookCo is a book comparison website. They compare the prices of ebooks, audiobooks, textbooks, and everything in between so that you don't have to. Thanks to their book review programme, I was able to read and review this book, and even earn a small commission from any sales made through this link.