Tuesday, November 15, 2016


We Need to Talk About KevinWe Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a dark and disturbing novel that is also unputdownable. Eva Khatchadourian is trying to come to terms with the murders her son commits in a school massacre. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is an epistolary novel with a narrative composed of letters written by Eva to Kevin's father. Why did Kevin murder those people? Was it because Eva was a bad mother? Questions that will gnaw at you even after you finish the novel, especially after you realize that Eva is an unreliable narrator. Superb. Now to watch the Hollywood movie adaptation.

Luckiest Girl AliveLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was just a coincidence that I read this just after "We Need to Talk About Kevin", another novel with the theme of a fictional school massacre. But in "Luckiest Girl Alive", protagonist Ani FaNelli has another secret buried in the past that threatens to destroy her life. Author Jessica Knoll gives readers a flawed heroine and yet we find ourselves rooting for her. Recommended.

Las calles de arenaLas calles de arena by Paco Roca
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Spanish-language graphic novel tells the story of a man who takes a shortcut and ends up getting lost and trapped in a Kafkaesque neighbourhood where he meets strange but interesting characters. There seems to be no escape back to reality but the hombre sin nombre (man without a name) tries his best. The sketches are well done but it's the weird world and its residents that Paco Roca's mind creates with plenty of literary allusions to Kafka, Borges and Poe that make this work unforgettable.

What Is Not Yours Is Not YoursWhat Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Helen Oyeyemi's "What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours" is an interesting collection of short stories rich in narrative detail with a dizzying array of characters. The first story "Books and Roses” happens to be my favourite. I liked the one about student puppeteers the least. Oyeyemi blurs the line between the real and the unreal in all nine stories and her writing has an eerie magical quality. Certainly a young British author to watch out for.

The Secret Life of BeesThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A coming-of-age story set in the segregated America of the 1960s, "The Secret Life of Bees" is not as great as "The Help". Nevertheless, this is a heartwarming story of a 14-year-old teenager and her black nanny who run away from home and find shelter with a trio of beekeeper sisters.

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