Tag: bookreview

Book Review: Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly).

Lilac Girls

– Martha Hall Kelly.

This is a book I have been meaning to read for a while but it wasn’t easy to find. Finally, I read it and it was worth the wait. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is set in the time before, during, and after World War II. The story of this novel is based on a true account of Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York who helped the Polish women of Ravensbruck camp. The story of Lilac Girls focuses on three main characters – Kasia, Caroline, and Herta who come from different backgrounds and countries but their lives intersect. Caroline helps the medical experiment survivors from Ravensbruck by bringing them for treatment to America almost a decade after the war is over.

Caroline is an ex-actress who comes from a wealthy family and volunteers at the French Consulate in New York City before the war. Caroline and her family have a strong sense of their French roots and enjoy many traditions of their culture. It is also the reason Caroline works dedicatedly at the consulate. Kasia is an 18-year-old girl living happily with her family and friends in Lublin, Poland until Nazi Germany invades Poland on 1st September in 1939 and her life is turned upside down. Herta is studying medicine in Nazi Germany and dreams of being a surgeon but there are restrictions for women in the medical field under the Reich. She is ambitious and determined from the very beginning and has complete faith in Hitler’s vision for her country.

The story is pretty straightforward in terms of timelines and events. The novel is divided into three parts. The first part gives an insight into the background of the characters and this really helped me understand the motivations and personalities of these women. The second part was difficult to read because the main focus of this is the course of their lives during the war. It is not outwardly described in a gory or violent way but it is more about the emotional reactions which get to you. The third part of the story is Caroline, Kasia, and Herta’s life after the war ends.

The characters in the book are what make this novel unique. Caroline does everything in her power to help French children during the war. She does so at a personal cost at times and even when things turn hopeless she keeps doing what she does because she knows this is the least she can do to help. Kasia is a rebellious girl but she wants to help change the situation in Poland. She starts helping the Polish underground in Lublin with the help of her friend and her crush Pietrik. One day she is followed by a German officer after doing an assignment she begs Pietrik for and is arrested. Kasia’s mother and sister Zuzzana, Pietrik, and his sister Luiza who have come to collect the envelope from Kasia are all arrested along with her.

Ravensbruck is where Kasia ends up with her sister and mother, a labor camp in Germany for women. I didn’t know much about this camp and the medical experiments conducted there until I read this book. These women stick together, helping each other stay safe that too at a personal cost. It’s heartwarming to see them help each other this way in a situation where one wrong move meant your death. The experiments were inhumane and the way is written makes us understand the gravity of it. It is at the camp that Kasia’s mother, Halina, is taken under Herta’s wing as a nurse and where Halina dies. This is the only time Herta shows some emotion. Herta is not a fictional character and is based on a camp doctor in Ravensbruck. She believes in what she is doing and it seems like she doesn’t care but somewhere deep down she feels a little remorse for her actions. Most of the time though she is detached and cold focusing only on her medical research with no thought of the human cost.

Caroline has a personal connection to France during the war, a married actor she falls in love with named Paul who is also taken to a camp when France is invaded but survives. Kasia comes back with her sister to Lublin where their father still lives and has trouble adjusting to normal life. She finds Pietrik and he is having a hard time too but Kasia is trying to forget but her guilt about her mother makes her angrier and angrier. Pietrik and Kasia get married and have a daughter who is named Halina after her mother but Kasia doesn’t want her to be named Halina. She snaps at everyone about the tiniest things but slowly realizes she needs to let go. With Caroline’s insistence, Kasia goes to Germany to confront Herta who was released early from prison. Once she confronts Herta and finds out what happened to her mother at the camp that she is finally able to move on with her life and leave all the darkness behind.

Martha Hall Kelly has been able to give a lot of heart to the story through her characters. Kasia and her family are the fictional characters but the story revolves around them in a way and, they are instrumental in telling the story of those Polish women who suffered at Ravensbruck during the war and treated unjustly after the war. It is a beautiful and inspiring story yet it is so sad and heartbreaking.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens).

A Tale of Two Cities

-Charles Dickens.


I finally finished reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. There are a lot of things happening in the story with various themes and metaphors; it is a heavy read. I will try my best to explain the story and the literary aspects of it properly as much as I can. The story is set in the two cities of London and Paris during the times of the French Revolution.

The story starts with the release of Dr. Manette from prison after 18 years and is reunited with his daughter Lucie. Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are two men who are mesmerized by Lucie. Charles and Lucie end up getting married and eventually also have a daughter. Lucie is an innocent and devoted person. She maintains the good in her throughout the story even if the historical and political scenario of the times were ruthless. Dr. Manette has descended into madness during his prison sentence and he finds himself again with his daughter’s devotion towards him. There is an intriguing history to his character but towards the end, he is shown to have lost himself again. His character has faced tragic times, he gets better but then you can never completely escape your past.


Charles Darnay is Charles Evremonde has abandoned his position in the nobility of the French and fled to London. He doesn’t agree morally with the way his family operates and treats people. He does have a strong sense of responsibility and is liberal in his outlook especially considering the time period. Sydney Carton has wasted in youth and is a drunk lawyer who no one has much faith in except Lucie. In the end, he does sacrifice himself to save Lucie and Charles which completes his transformation as a character.


The French Revolution is the main setting of the novel. After years of repression and ill-treatment by French aristocracy, the common people have rebelled. There is never a complete separation of chaos and tyranny from the revolution and that theme plays an important role throughout the story. Through characters like Madame Defarge, Dickens shows that even revolutionists use oppression and violence to meet their goals and that ends up creating a tyrannical situation that they wanted to escape in the first place. The principles of the French Revolution were liberty, equality, and fraternity which were forgotten by the people as the revolution progressed.


The element of sacrifice is also woven throughout the plot. The sacrifice in some cases is personal and in some cases is for the good of the nation. Dr. Manette sacrifices his freedom, Charles sacrifices his wealth and titles but I feel that the ultimate sacrifice comes from Sydney Carton. He sacrifices his life for his love for Lucie which helps Lucie and her family escape from Paris. A Tale of Two Cities doesn’t shy away from the violent and horror elements of this revolution. Dickens has written the novel beautifully and his descriptions vary from beauty to violence effortlessly.


After reading this novel, I realized I had somewhat of a rosy picture of the French Revolution. I was unaware of the extent and gravity of the situation until I read this story. This novel has so many themes and symbols that I haven’t covered here; it is heavy in terms of depth, themes, and even language. The first line of the novel itself is apt about the story “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Even the themes of resurrection and redemption are prevalent throughout the story and different characters represent different elements that add up together in the end.


I liked reading this novel. The historical setting was one of the things that intrigued me about this book and I got a completely new perspective about that particular time in history. It kept me interested but the language at times was a bit heavy because of its diction so it took me a while to finish it. This is a book that had been on my reading list for years and it is a must-read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: Worth the Risk (Jamie Beck).

Worth the Risk

–  Jamie Beck.

Worth the Risk by Jamie Beck is the third novel of the St. James series. A few months ago, I had read the second novel of the series but I have never read the first one. Not reading the first book didn’t throw me off the plot of this book but I missed some background. This is a story about Jackson and Gabby who fall for each other against all odds.

Jackson decides to take a break from his life and spend six weeks healing in Vermont. Jackson lost his mom a while ago and then his brother moved away; he feels abandoned by his family. He has secrets of his own and adding to that the secrets he knows his brother is hiding from him which starts taking a toll on him. He uses alcohol as a way to escape and somewhere along the line it becomes a habit. Jackson rents a room at a home in Vermont where he is going to spend time recovering. Gabby is his landlord.

Gabby has had it rough. She is a young single mother, her mother left her when she was young and her dad is overprotective. Gabby is down to earth and sweet, she is mature for her age. I liked the way the rapport between Jackson and Gabby developed; it happened organically. Gabby’s mother leaves them because she was addicted to drugs which started with painkillers after an injury. In a way, she carries the guilt and baggage of her mother’s actions.

Jackson is a nice guy who has made bad choices over the last couple of years and he is introspective. He knows that he is an issue with alcohol use and is trying hard to overcome his addiction. Gabby and Jackson are immediately attracted to each other but keep things friendly between them as long as they can. Jackson is honest about his issues with Gabby but her father worries that she is making the same decisions that he made in regards to Gabby’s mother; Gabby is conscious about it too. Gabby’s ex, her son’s father Noah who did the bare minimum to support her over the years suddenly starts taking an interest her.

The main conflict in the story I felt was the struggle of Gabby to try and not compare Jackson with her mom and for Jackson, it is not to let his past overwhelm him. Growing up with a mother with a drug issue, you can sympathize with Gabby when it comes to her reservations but still, she takes a leap of faith. Both characters are flawed, one more than the other. The good part is that they are not oblivious to each other’s problems and how it could affect their relationship. Jackson and Gabby don’t have it easy which is realistic and keeps the story grounded. In the end, both are trying to overcome their obstacles and make it work with each other.

I liked Jackson and Gabby’s characters and their love story was cute and complicated. The writing and pace of the story are engaging, I could barely put it down and finished it in a day. Worth the Risk is an engaging and enjoyable book to read, I loved it.

*Click on the image above to get your own copy.

Book Review: If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)

–   Courtney Cole

This is the first book written by Courtney Cole that I have read.  I found the premise of the book and the title interesting when I added it to my reading list. If You Stay by Courtney Cole is the first novel of the Beautifully Broken Series.

The story focuses on two characters Pax Tate and Mila Hill. Both are different from each other and it is opposites attract situation. Pax is an asshole; he knows it and admits it himself. He is a trust fund kid and there is an element of mystery about his past. Mila is a nice and sweet girl who owns a small shop in town. Their first meeting is less than ideal. Mila finds Pax in his car overdosed on drugs and pills late one night and saves his life.

The story unfolds naturally and doesn’t seem forced at any point. Pax is fascinated by Mila after she comes to check on him in the hospital where he is recovering from the overdose. Pax often refers to Mila as red. He thinks of her as Red Riding Hood and of himself as the Big Bad Wolf. Pax associates all things good about people to Mila and her sweetness draws him in. Mila is understandably cautious about Pax because of the way she first saw him but she is is just as intrigued by him as he is by her.

There are subtle hints from the start about Pax’s past but not much is given away. Mila’s parents have died a few years ago, leaving her and her older sister Maddy alone. She carries baggage from her parents’ death and their toxic relationship with each other. Pax has lost his mother at a young age, he was uprooted from the environment he knew and his dad has pretty much neglected him since his mom’s death.

Pax is self-reflective and is aware that he has problems, he feels empty and he doesn’t know why. He has turned to drugs to feel numb; he has been taking sleeping pills for as long as he can remember. The accidental overdose is a wakeup call for me and then onwards he tries hard to not repeat the same mistakes. I liked the fact that Pax didn’t decide to change himself for Mila but because he realized it wasn’t healthy. Mila reminds him constantly to make changes for himself, not for her sake. They have a very cute relationship and seem right for each other.

The flashback to the circumstances of Pax’s mother’s death was shocking and heartbreaking. A lot of problems Pax has can be traced back to this event which he has somehow blocked from his memory. You can’t help but feel bad for the little kid who went through such a horrific tragedy at the age of 6. It is in a way understandable that Pax spirals after finding out what actually happened and finally knowing why he felt empty.

It was a straightforward love story but it had complex characters which you can’t help but root for. I liked the descriptions of this town on Lake Michigan; it had a community feel to it. The pace of the story doesn’t drop from start to finish which is always a plus. Once I started reading this book, I finished it almost in a day. I enjoyed reading this book.

*Click on the image above to get your own copy from Amazon.

Book Review: Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro).

Never Let Me Go

– Kazuo Ishiguro.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for years. It’s the dystopian element of the novel that intrigued me as well as worried me; I need to be in a certain mindset for them. Finally, I read it this month and I was taken by surprise. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a science fiction/dystopian novel which focuses on three friends Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth.

The story of Never Let Me Go is divided into three parts as it focuses on different periods of the characters’ lives. Kathy is the narrator of the story and everything that unfolds is from her perspective. The first part begins when Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are young kids’ not even teenagers yet at a boarding school called Hailsham. Apart from the first chapter where it seems something might be off about the school, it is pretty idyllic. There are a lot of secretive things happening at Hailsham which all the kids notice but they don’t know why it is the way it is.


In the second part of the story, the three friends have left the school at 16 and now are living at Cottages where they start to really understand about their lives. It is then revealed that all the kids at Hailsham are actually clones, genetically engineered to be organ donors. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth spend time reminiscing about Hailsham while trying to accept their reality. Tommy and Ruth are in a romantic relationship now. Kathy notices the changes in Ruth’s behavior towards her and Tommy but she doesn’t say anything to her directly. Ruth has befriended an older couple there who tell her that if the clones are truly in love and can prove it, they can defer. By the end of this part, Ruth has successfully driven a wedge between Tommy and Kathy. It is after this Kathy signs up to be a carer.


In the third part, Kathy is now working as a carer, Ruth and Tommy have made their first donations. Kathy meets an old classmate from Hailsham who tells her about Ruth and her failing health after the donation. Kathy decides to become her carer. It is Ruth’s idea to go to the lake and she also insists and Tommy joining them. Ruth regrets keeping Tommy and Kathy apart and urges them to defer together. After Ruth’s death, Kathy and Tommy are romantically involved and she is also Tommy’s carer.


The main part of the story that I really liked were the characters. Kathy is empathetic which makes her a good carer; she is also more accepting of her fate. Even at a young age, she notices slight changes in the behavior of the guardians. Ruth can be superficial and difficult at times. She has fantasies and dreams which don’t match her reality and understandably, she lashes out. In the end, though she accepts she kept Tommy and Kathy away from each other and wants them to try and defer. Tommy is sensitive and introspective. As a kid, he is short-tempered but as he becomes older he is calm and thoughtful.


The book is disturbing in a way because you know they are clones and they have been brought up for a purpose but they are also human. Their emotions and reactions are real. They behave like regular kids and teenagers but deep down they know that they are not ‘normal’. They are human in all the ways that it counts but their life has a purpose and that has to be fulfilled. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth want to see if they can change their fate; Ruth dies without knowing the truth about their existence which Kathy and Tommy learn towards the end.


The novel is heartbreaking and disturbing. The way it is written and narrated just takes the story to another level. The themes of expectation versus reality, friendships and relationships, life and death, and humanity are beautifully explored in this novel. This novel put me in a bit of a daze; I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished. It is a must-read.

*Click on the image above to get a copy.

Book Review: An Honest Thief (Short- Story) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

An Honest Thief (Short Story)

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


I have a book of selected short stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky which includes this story An Honest Thief. I have never read anything written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky before so I thought starting with short stories might be a good idea.

An Honest Thief starts with the narrator taking on a lodger named Astafy Ivanovich, an old soldier. Both of them get along well enough. One day, a thief steals the narrator’s coat and Astafy unsuccessfully tries to stop the thief from getting away. It is after this incidence that Astafy tells the narrator a story about a man named Emelyan Ilyitch; an honest thief. The writing is simple and apt; it has depth and layers but it doesn’t become too much to go on.


Astafy and Emelyan know each other from before but one night in a pub Emelyan wants a drink but doesn’t have any money for it. Astafy feels bad about Emelyan’s situation and buys him a drink. Since then Emelyan follows Asrafy around and even moves in with him. Emelyan has problems that are hinted at right from the introduction but then the gravity of his issues starts to set in for Astafy and the readers as the plot progresses. Astafy is working as a tailor and short on money so he decides to sell a pair of riding breeches made for a wealthy customer which he never collected. The breeches are missing and Astafy suspects Emelyan but he denies.


An honest thief uses the narrative technique of a story within a story. It starts in the present time of Astafy’s life and then he recalls his life events to the narrator. The way it has been described and written, it works well for the story though in the beginning it was slightly confusing but that doesn’t last long. Astafy genuinely wants Emelyan to make a change in his life, for him to quit drinking so much and find a job. Emelyan is a sad and troubled soul, he knows his addiction to alcohol is a problem but he doesn’t seem to want to anything about it. He depends a lot on Astafy and his friendship means a lot to him.


This story has more psychological depth than I expected. Emelyan is a drunk and clearly he has given up on his life, there are hints of some tragedy but it is never made explicit. He is troubled and seems to use alcohol as a crutch. He steals the breech which leads to a fallout between him and Astafy. He leaves the apartment and Astafy can’t find him. When Emelyan returns, he is very cold and starved and sick, Astafy knows his time is limited. Emelyan confesses about the theft to Astafy before he dies; the guilt has tormented Emelyan.


An honest thief is a short story that focuses more on the characters I feel. The title itself is an oxymoron but it kind of makes sense by the end of the story. The characters show how the good and evil that exists in all humans and it is morally in the grey zone. You can’t explicitly say this character is evil and this one is not. It is an interesting read.

*Get a copy of Selected Stories by clicking on the image above.

Book Review: Almost Heaven (Judith McNaught).

Almost Heaven

– Judith McNaught.


Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught is a historical romance set in the aristocratic world of the 19th Century in Britain. The story of the novel focuses on Elizabeth Cameron and Ian Thornton’s love story which is adventurous, passionate, and dramatic.


Elizabeth Cameron is introduced to the London society and immediately is a hit among her peers. Ian Thornton is considered an outcast because he doesn’t have any title to his name. From the first time Elizabeth and Ian meet, there is chemistry straight away. Elizabeth doesn’t need to play dumb or hide her opinions and concerns in front of him like she has been taught to do. They are drawn to each other and Elizabeth especially is scared of her pull towards Ian. She is discovered in Ian’s arms and her reputation is blown to pieces and she has been hiding from the world at her home in Havenhurst ever since then.


The history between Elizabeth and Ian is unraveled after the first couple of chapters and it gives you a complete sense of Elizabeth’s side of the story. The story sets a good pace right from the start and keeps you hooked. Elizabeth’s father left her and her half brother Robert is huge debt and after Robert disappears, the burden falls on her. It is revealed in the flashback how the Camerons’ have been struggling financially which is why it was important for Elizabeth to get marriage proposals in the first place. Things have become harder for her since the entire Ian chapter and now she is left at her uncle’s mercy, her guardian, who just wants her to get married to anyone if he can help financially.


Elizabeth and Ian’s attraction to each other is stronger when they meet again but both have their misgivings about each other. Ian is a hard man. He is arrogant, shrewd, handsome, and very intelligent. In the beginning a lot of times, he comes across a little too harsh but then as you get to know about him more, it gets clearer. He has reasons to behave and think the way he does, it is his defense mechanism. Once he decides to be open and vulnerable with Elizabeth, he is the sweetest and the most supportive person in her life. He is almost perfect, I loved him.


The main draw of the story, for me, was the characters. Elizabeth and Ian’s characters are relatable and compelling. Their love story is dramatic and conflict-ridden but the chemistry between them is established since their first meeting. There are so many cute moments that seem to happen naturally in the plot which makes their love story better. The change in narration from Elizabeth’s point of view to Ian helped me understand both the characters and find them endearing. The setting of the story and descriptions are well written. It paints a vivid picture in your head about life in the 19th century. The only complaint I have is that towards the end it seems a little rushed. I don’t agree with the decision Elizabeth makes about Ian under her brother’s influence. All the conflicts are resolved in the end when Elizabeth and Ian talk things out between them.


Almost Heaven is a love story full of passion, betrayal, conflict, and drama. This is the first historical romance novel that I have completely read. Once I started to read the book, I had to finish it soon because I couldn’t wait to find out or even predict what was going to happen next. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and it was a refreshing read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Books Review: Just For Now (Sea Breeze #4).

Just For Now (Sea Breeze #4)

-Abbi Glines.


I read the Vincent Boys series by Abbi Glines. I enjoyed reading those books and then I turned to this series by the author. I didn’t read Just For Now in the order it was intended but it didn’t take me away from the story at all.

Just For Now focuses on the love story of two characters Amanda Hardy and Preston Drake. They come from two completely different backgrounds and his reality is much different than hers. Amanda has a crush on Preston since her teens and he is her brother’s friend. Preston is kind of aware of her innocent crush but makes sure to keep a distance from her. The story begins when Amanda is successful in getting Preston’s attention for one night and it doesn’t end well for her emotionally.


The point of view keeps shifting from Amanda to Preston which works really well because it gave me an insight into the characters. This also went a long way in making the characters likable and relatable I think. Amanda and Preston’s paths cross a few weeks after that one night and this is where the pace of the story picks up. Preston is eluded to be doing something shady from the start but as the story progresses it is made clear. It was unexpected yet hinted at so not a complete surprise. For me, not completely knowing the backgrounds of supporting characters from other books of the series wasn’t an issue. This was Preston and Amanda’s story so it didn’t matter to me.


Amanda’s character can be naïve at times but she makes the right decisions when it matters. Her crush on Preston, in the beginning, is so rosy and idealistic but after how things end the night she finally manages to get his attention are eye-opening. After this, she realizes that Preston is not as perfect as she made him out to be in her imagination and looks at him realistically accepting that he has flaws. Preston is such a different character. There are so many things about him that don’t seem right with his sleeping around, his drinking, his job but he is trying his best to be a better person.


It was sad to find out about Preston’s past with his family and how his mother doesn’t care at all about him. He is responsible for his three younger siblings and is practically taking care of two households at once. Preston purposely keeps Amanda at bay or tries to because he knows she is going to leave when she finds out what his “job” is but it doesn’t go according to plan. Amanda starts to discover things about Preston’s family life and supports him through tough situations. They have a good relationship except for his lying part which he is constantly guilty about but still, he does lie.


Their love story is cute, dramatic, and different than I expected it will be. The relationship between them develops naturally and they open up to each other slowly. The part where Amanda’s brother finds out is slightly dramatic but it doesn’t seem unnecessary to the plot. Preston and Amanda have good chemistry from the start so when for a brief period towards the end they are not together anymore makes you feel their hurt over its end. The characters go through changes slowly but steadily as the story moves ahead and this makes the conclusion satisfying. It has a happy ending.


I read the first couple of chapters and then kept it aside while I finished A Streetcar Named Desire. Once I picked it up again, I finished it in 24 hours. It is an engaging, fun, cute, and steamy romance novel. I loved reading this book. This book was exactly the kind of novel I needed to read during this lockdown period because it cheered me up. I might add this book to the re-reading list, I enjoyed it.

*Get a copy for yourself. Click on the image above.

Book Review: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams).

A Streetcar Named Desire.

–   Tennessee Williams.

A Streetcar Named Desire has been on my reading wishlist since I studied American Literature for my Masters. Finally, I started reading it and it was worth it. This play was written by Tennessee Williams after World War II.

The story begins when Blanche DuBois decides to stay with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. From the beginning, as a reader, you can tell that Blanche is hiding something that she is not okay. The signs that she has anxiety are seen from the get-go especially reading now when there is awareness about mental health issues. Stella is careful around Blanche and she knows her sister sensitive. Stanley Kowalski is Stella’s husband. The first impression of his character for me was that he is practical but that changed later.

Blanche and Stella come from an aristocratic Southern family and lived in a big house called the Belle Reve. Stella leaves the house after she falls in love with Stanley and this leaves Blanche responsible for the estate. Blanche is upset when Stella asks about Belle Reve and admits that the house is lost to creditors and now she has nothing. It does seem like she blames Stella a little bit for leaving everything behind for Stanley. When she finds out that Stella is pregnant, she is overjoyed for her sister.

Blanche and Stanley tolerate each other because of Stella but are constantly at odds with each other. Blanche is rude in the beginning about Stanley’s origins being different than theirs and later simply starts thinking of him as a brute. Stanley goes out of his way to poke at her and make her lose her fragile mental balance, he provokes her. Blanche is constantly on edge and slowly is starts unraveling the things that she has been through. She thinks highly of herself that’s evident but she is also vulnerable and scared most of the time. Mitch is Stanley’s friend who Blanche looks at as a potential suitor because she has always sought the protection of men. Mitch leaves her when he finds out things about her past and even tries to force her.

The characters of Blanche, Stella, Stanley, and Mitch all have their unique characterizations that add to the story. Blanche has a tragic past with her husband Trevor who killed himself after she found out about his homosexuality. It definitely indicates that Blanche feels responsible for his death because it follows the confrontation she has with Trevor. She is considered promiscuous by people in the town of Laurel because she seeks men’s company and that’s the reason she comes to New Orleans. Stanley defines the typical masculinity of the age with his behavior. He gets violent when he drinks and even hits Stella but at times she is the only one he is tender to and it is disturbing to read and understand.

The story of the play, the characters, and the setting come together really well. Even the musical cues while reading play a part in the plot though it might be more effective on stage. She is worried about her age and later she stops going out in daylight so people won’t realize her true age. Blanche is taken to a mental institution in the end but the decline of her mental health is evident as the story progresses; when Stanley rapes her it is in a way the last straw for her. Her understanding of reality and her fantasies blend together and she can’t tell the difference anymore. Stella is distraught when Blanche is taken away and regrets agreeing to it. The end is heartbreaking.

I loved reading this play and it is classic for a reason. The symbolism and the themes are subtly interwoven throughout the play which enhances the reading experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this play but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a must-read.

*Get you own copy from Amazon by clicking on the cover image above.

Book Review: Black Hills (Nora Roberts).

Black Hills

– Nora Roberts.


I have read many books written by Nora Roberts over the years. The writing of the story might seem similar in her book; sequentially I mean but she manages to keep things fresh with the characters and settings.


A story about an ambitious girl Lil Chance befriends Cooper Sullivan when they are kids; the first summer Cooper spends with his grandparents. He comes back every year regularly for the next few years. Lil and Cooper are close and as they grow up their feelings change and they end up in a romantic relationship. Cooper breaks Lil’s heart and she throws herself into following her career ambitions. Cooper moves to his grandparents’ farm after his grandfather has an accident; this brings Lil and Cooper in each others lives again.


The book begins when Lil and Cooper are kids and it focuses on their relationship with their family and with each other. This part is a little slow plot-wise because not much is happening but it is necessary to establish the bond that Lil and Cooper have. The setting of the story, the Black Hills in South Dakota plays a major part in the story as it is an important place for the characters, especially for Lil. Lil is a wildlife biologist and sets up a sanctuary for animals on her family’s land just as she wanted while Cooper struggled a bit on what he wanted versus his father’s expectations. I liked the cute, innocent love story they have in the beginning and even when they reconnect the bond between them seems completely natural.


The story becomes suspense when Lil is stalked by someone who is threatening the life she has build for herself. Cooper is an ex-cop and he is adamant about helping her and keeping her safe till the person is caught. This is where the story picks up its pace and scary things start happening around Lil because of a man and his beliefs. I liked Lil’s characterization. She knows from a very young age which direction she wants to go in and she sticks to it which is in contrast to Cooper. She has made her dreams come true and she loves her work and life. She is bitter about how things ended with Cooper 12 years back but that because she believed that they meant to be.


The first introduction of Cooper makes you a little sad with the things going on with his parents and the way he acts like an adult even though he is 11. He struggles with his family issues throughout the story and with himself too. The explanation he gives Lil about breaking up with her back then makes sense in a way but still not completely so Lil is right to be mad about it. The point of view of the stalker/murderer is downright creepy at times but intriguing because it made me want to find out who he was and it wasn’t an obvious choice.


I have to say this is not my favorite Nora Roberts book and like some of her other works I might not read this one again. I liked the love story and the suspense element of the book and the characters. The pacing was a little slow and for me; even though the setting is important I could never completely get into it or imagine it which disappointed me a little bit. In my opinion, overall it is a good book but it didn’t match some of the other works by Roberts which I have read. It was a good escapist read for this weekend.

*Get you own copy on Amazon by clicking on the book cover above.