[REVIEW] The Distance Between the Heart and the Mind// Eighteen Inches by Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol//

When you are faced with horrors and injustice of the world, what do you do? Do you stand in front of them, boldly, EYE TO EYE – willing them to back down because you never will? Or do you duck your head and keep walking, hoping that the bright and malicious eye of fate won’t notice?

We are made of flaws. Little, big, and in-between. We are also made of passionwhether we know it or not, acknowledge it or not. The poet does. And that’s what got her into the most dangerous trouble of her life.

A passionate nature knows no bounds. It makes you do erratic things – things that you regret under the bright and practical warmth of the sun. The poet wasn’t immune to such regrets either. She was pained and scarred very early on in her life, surprisingly by people just as passionate as her – the only difference lied in the state of their passionhers sprang from love and hurt, theirs sprang from hate and loathing. That was it. And this little difference rocked her world – and not in a good way either.

All she knew was words and they just don’t cut it in a world based on actions. But they are certainly more than enough when all that’s left to do is to convert the years of self-reflection and suffering into art for the whole world to read and cherish.

Mother said I worried her.
She feared I loved too much.
She said,
It worries me that you’ll always feel the need to be the one who loves more. And there is pain in that type of love.”

Have you ever read something so completely different from your point of view and yet SO “YOU” – both at the same time? Well, that’s how reading Eighteen Inches had me feeling. It was peculiar. I felt strangely vulnerable for some reason. Witnessing the poet baring her heart her very soul and mindlike that to a bunch of strangers made me feel vulnerable, made me feel bold. 

At times I became so engulfed in my sadness that I disappointed myself. I knew better; I was expected to know better. I could do better; I was expected to do better.

Such an intensity of feelings – my god, I have never felt like this before. Reading her little reflections on a lost love, her past trauma, her hurt, her pain it was like she had transferred them to me and I was reliving them all over again. My heart felt heavy with her poignant confessions. It was almost as if I would burst out into tears her share of tearsand then maybe, maybe she would feel better, for I WANT her to feel better. That was the power her writing commanded over me. 

I felt dirty. I felt violated. What I didn’t realise was that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do anything to deserve what happened to me. No one deserves to be pinned down and abused.

The journey from seeing herself as a victim as the CAUSE of everything bad that happens to her to a strong woman someone who KNOWS that she is right, she is blameless, and she deserves happiness is always a hard one for a woman. Some go through the most difficult, unfair, and vicious trials while others find themselves pinned down – not by loathsome predators but by judging eyes and scrutinising words. The intensity might be different but it leaves the one on the receiving end feeling insufficient, unprotected, helpless. The poet wasn’t immune to this feeling either. She had to suffer way too much and what’s more? She made herself believe that SHE was at fault. That, somehow, it was HER shame to bear, to hide from the world.

But can you blame her? Because I cannot. I have witnessed way too many people going through a similar dilemmathinking that every little bad thing that happens to them is THEIR fault, that they somehow MADE it happen. THEY invited all the hurt. THEY don’t deserve to have satisfaction of a good relationship because THEY must be lacking in something. 

We are so quick to pin the blame on ourselves, aren’t we? It’s way too easy. Easier than fighting back. Accepting defeat, turning ourselves weak is always easier than gathering up courage to revolt. 

But then, REAL courage is in forgiveness, isn’t it? You get hurt. You are pained. You get justice (sometimes) but you are still haunted by the trauma, by the memories, by the people who gave you those invisible scars – deeper than the physical ones. It’s only by confronting your past and then forgiving it completely – for it made you who you are now: STRONG – that you can be liberated. And the poet has summed this up in her painfully truthful prose. It’s difficult not to first sympathise with her and then applaud her for finally realising that she is invincible – no matter the trials she has faced. She always has been – no matter the temporary hurt. 

When I inhaled you,
it never crossed my mind 
that exhaling you
would be so painful.

Can you FEEL these few lines? Because I can. I can imagine her bursting into silent tears as she wrote this down – lost in “what could have been.” When you are drowning and you find your anchor, you hold on to it tightly, it makes you feel safe, secure. You never want to live without it. But what happens when you are forced to – either due to your own folly or because of cruel circumstances? 

THIS – bursting into tears at random hours, crying yourself to sleep, taking solace in the pain you feel, relishing the memories and then bitter regretting doing so – THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS. And I can feel it, I can feel it ALL in those few lines.

I want to live without the human perception of time.

Can a mortal transcend death without losing themselves in the process? The poet is asking this question and I have no answer. She does, though. Recounting the story of the death of someone who played a major role in her life since childhood up to her teenage years and beyond, she is forcing usmost emotionallyto seek deeper meaning in death.

But can we? Is it even possible to go on living without our loved ones?

I admit even the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. I wonder how much hurt she must have been while baring yet another vulnerable piece of her soul to us. It makes me want to hug everyone I love, let them know that I adore them with all my heart, that they have been a blessing in my life and I cannot even hope to do without them. I just want to hug them and cry and feel the solidity of their living body – knowing that everything is fine and that they will be like this for a long long time. But there is this uneasy feeling in my throat because I know that won’t be the case. And it’s this fragility of human life – this worldly vulnerability that inspires the poet to find the peaceful in her Nana’s death. And I just cannot help but be mesmerised and get emotional about how perfectly she has sculpted these feelings and experiences into the words. I am in love.

I am a collection of stories that I don’t have the power to erase.

Who hasn’t felt this way at some point or other in their lives? I have read and re-read most of the pages in this gorgeously written book and there was always something some feeling, some thought, some implication hidden in between the lines, some realisationthat I could relate to. The beauty of Mirtha’s words is that you can feel them ringing deep inside your heart. I love the way this whole book is structured, written, and expressed.

There is a uniqueness to it that I can’t quite pinpoint and I think I should let it remain that way – this book belongs to you as much as it belong’s to the poet’s heart. 

After having a string of disappointing and hurtful experiencesmost of them that she was left to face alone and quietlythe way she built herself back up again, always bearing in her heart the torch of hope and a brighter and more fulfilled future makes ME feel confident and strong as well! It’s her experience, her willingness to fight back, and her stubbornness to never accept NO for an answer that fills my heart with joy and pride! 

Look at me feeling proud for someone I barely know! But you see, I DO KNOW HER. Anyone who has read her poems, her prose filled with her honest experiences and thoughts can’t help but know – deep within themselves – a part of her soul that she bared, despite it being the most vulnerable of all! 

We develop intimacy with another human being the moment we release fear of judgement and allow space for vulnerability.

Sitting here alone at night, as I record my thoughts, I feel as if I just created a deep connection with someone whom I haven’t even met and maybe never will. It feels mystifying yet completely normal. 

Reading Eighteen Inches is like experiencing different hues of life blended beautifully and yet retaining their originality. No matter how you are feeling right now stuck, unloved, afraid, unhappy, adventurous, mischievous, pitifulthis book is the answer. 

I will go as far as to say that YOU NEED THIS BOOK IN YOUR LIFE. DESPERATELY. IMMEDIATELY.

SO! Are you – my wonderful, wonderful readers – convinced or DO I NEED TO MAKE ANOTHER POST?! Because..I CAN, you know! I CAN TALK ABOUT THIS ONE ALLL DAY!! 😉

TALK TO ME!
Do you like to read poetry?
Your favorite poet? Classic and/or contemporary?
Are you adding Eighteen Inches to your list then?

[REVIEW] ”You are a BAD, BAD mother.”//Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan//

[NOTE: The main character suffers from a serious case of postpartum depression + there are mentions of child abuse. Please keep that in mind before starting the book.]

Once a woman becomes a mother, she is rebornwith her center of life now being her children. Her every waking thought is consumed by anxieties about their well being and her dreams? Filled with hopes for her lovely little ones.

She would do anything to protect them. Anything at all.

And Jess was no different. She was just a mother, trying to protect her childrenfrom those little germs everywhere, from strangers and predators, from unnecessary exertions – but most of all from herself. SHE was her children’s biggest threat, her mental condition irrelevant to anyone else because no one – not even her own husband and her best friend – tried to see past her mask, to actually notice how distressed she had been lately. Everyone pinned it down to her obsession with perfection, her reluctance to place any trust in anyone other than herself. Her anxieties were irrelevant – something shrugged off as overthinking and even a certain kind of childishness.

But what will happen when she’ll be made to choose between protecting one child or keeping her family from falling apart?

What would she do?

SHE will fall apart instead, in her desperate tries to keep her loved ones from harm; to make sure that nobody snatches her children from her. She will break down like never before – subject to people’s scrutinizing eyes, judging stares.

Reading Little Disasters felt like I was thrown into a world where I would NOT have ventured if I knew what I’d be taking on in the long run. Oh my! This book tested my heart’s patience to bear shock way too much. 

A baby has been hurt and her mother is in the line of fire of suspicions from everyone around her. They think the worst of her. 

You are a bad, bad mother.” 

Her thoughts keep playing tricks on her mind and her outer world just reflects more of the same.

And the worst of all? Her best friend – the paediatrician who admits Betsy, Jess’ daughter – is suspicious of her friend as well. Lizthe smart, the quick, the no nonsense doctoris torn between her duties as a friend and her responsibilities as a professional. And the way Sarah has captured her dilemmas is outstanding, worthy of praise. 

I can’t tell you how much I adored the author’s way of weaving a gripping plot around these few but VERY intriguing charactersthe way Liz’s memories entwined with Jess’ present circumstances left me in complete adoration of Sarah’s writing! Not to mention the ease with which she manages the delicate timing of the flashbacks ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL. It added to the grim excitement that surrounded the plot as I flicked page after page, desperate to find out the EXACT relation between these two friends and their circumstancesthe past and the present.

Little Disasters is just as much about motherhood and it’s trials, it’s highs and lows as it is about marriage, the role of a partner, and the need for communication. I was left riddled with a series of scenarios that started and ended with a bold IF ONLY:

If only Jess had shed her fear of being judged and came clean to Ed about her mental state.

If only she hadn’t tried to be so PERFECT and ORGANIZED all the time.

If only Ed had picked up on his wife’s trauma a little bit earlier, and without contempt and horror in his eyes.

When you have lived with someone for more than a decade, you get to know about how they like to do certain things and how best to approach themespecially when they are shelled in and emotionally vulnerable. And the fact that Ed had been too busy with printing money to give his wife and her hard work and struggle at home a good thought was really irritating to me.

But then, so was Jess’ inability to put aside her fears and confess. Much as we’d like them to be, MEN ARE NOT MIND READERS. They usually don’t suspect anything is particularly WRONG unless it’s on a rather HUGE scale OR unless you yourself point them towards the thing that’s been bothering you. We want them to just KNOW but they almost never do. They just tend to train themselves to take things on the face value because its easier and less emotionally taxing to do so. So being OPEN with your partners about what’s been bothering you IS THE BEST THING TO DO.

But of course. for a perfectionist like Jesssomeone who had had a serious case of OCD and Cognitive Personality Disorder (which everyone had been unaware of) – this was difficult to do. And I completely understand! But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this behaviour of hers led her into the extreme circumstances she found herself later onbeing held under suspicions of being the sole cause behind the serious skull fracture of her baby girl.

Her situation made my eyes well up more than once. Her desperation, her sadness, her frustration at not being able to touch her baby girl, to hold her or any of her children was too painful to witness.

Can you imagine? Taking a child away from her mother?

And then the way Liz’s mother’s secrets crept up just in time to escalate the plot and give it even more intensity and meaning left me thrilled AND cold – both at the same time. THE HORROR ON MY FACE WHEN I FOUND ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO HER BABY SISTER CLARE WAS BOTH GENUINE AND VERBAL. I couldn’t cope with a revelation like that! 

And now, I let out a deep sigh, as I finally close the book – feeling as if I have physically endured what Jess and Liz mentally went through. And it’s tiring. And yet, as Galadriel said, hope remains for people who are true and brave of heart. Who come face to face with realisation that forgivenessfor yourself AND for others is the only true way to rise above pain and hurt. 

Look, I didn’t know what I was taking on, how emotionally screwed up I will feel, how utterly helpless in the face of Jess’ confusion and frustration, at the thought of a few months old baby lying in the hospital with her head all but cracked open, from the horrible and pitiful secrets that engulfed Liz’ mother’s past AND present

BUT YOU DO.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE! 

Remember, if you do decide to read Little Disasterswhich, despite all the tears and agony, I still 100% recommend keep in mind that you will be thrown amidst an emotional and psychological storm that will leave you feeling helpless.

And the fun part? You will love it nonetheless. Every single second of that suffering. 

SOO??!?! Have you read Little Disasters yet? Did you like it?! SAYY YESS!!!
What’s your favorite book by Sarah Vaughan?
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – Have I convinced you to read this one?! I hope I have BECAUSE IT IS AWESOMEE! You cannot afford to miss it, I am telling you!

PLEASE DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS ONE?! *puppy dog eyes*

[REVIEW] The Museum of My Cells – Rosie: A Sketch// The Hare by Melanie Finn//

It was worth it. 
It was all worth it.
At the start, in the middle, in the end – that’s all I REALLY want to say about The Hare. 

The beginning was like a dream – a young and boundless dream. But it turned into a nightmare crushing hearts, hopes, and possibilitiesbefore I could even blink and process what was happening! 

At times it felt like Rosie had been dealt a rather unfair hand by life. Unfair because she had already suffered so much as a young child.

Do you like it when I do this?” 

These words will haunt me forever. The malicious grin of an old man, the stupid innocence of a 7 year old child, and the bruise-less scars on her soul ~ Rosie’s hurt had been so intense that I could feel it deep inside me.

Her rage – never expressed.
Her dreams – never took form.
Her hopes – crushed before they were even voiced.

A quite resistance was all she had been reduced to. A reluctant acceptance of the broken mirror which she had been admiring her future self in for so long. Bennett – her escape. But was he? My feelings for him changed again and again.

He was a deep, dark sea of lies and incomprehensible nature.

But I was just as naïve in my wishes about him as Rosie had been. I wanted it to work between them – partially because he seemed to adore Rosie, but mostly because he fit the general idea of every teenager’s dream guy dark, mysterious, carefree

He was going to deliver Rosie from all the endless trauma and loveless days she had endured in her Gran’s house. But little did she know that he himself was a

How could he give her support when he himself was a boat without an anchor? 

Rosie didn’t know. And frankly? Neither did I. Sure, there had been incidents when I sensed a sort of treacherous nature but I brushed them aside because I SO WANTED TO BELIEVE IN HIM. Just like Rosie.

Dear girl! She had to endure so much. Oh so much! 

And now I see. I see why. One must – MUST – come to terms with their own fears, their own concepts of self. The past doesn’t recede into memories. It comes back – haunting your present and threatening your future if you don’t stare it down. You ought to establish authority over it. Over it all. Because should you fail to, it forces it’s own will over you.

That’s what happened with Rosie. Her need to get away from her past – just to run far far away – had been greater than her ability to make the right decisions. At every step of the way, she had been given a choice – and she chose wrong. 

Or did she? 

The fact of the matter is that you must face exactly what you loathe, what you fear to rise above it. To get past it. Rosie had been a meek girl, believing Fate to be some cruel master who only shines on those who keep their heads down and are never “too happy.” Such a belief system had grown in her like cancer – courtesy of her Gran’s twisted ideas of love and life.

Rosie’s whole life had been defined by her past. Her present receding at the back of the line – waiting to reemergelike a nightmare from the depths of your being. And no matter how much she wanted to avoid it – no matter how plainly she lived to avoid the twinkling eye of Fate – it happened. All the lies came tumbling down. 

But she was not a victim anymore. She would never be a victim again – life had taught her that. BENNETT had taught her that. 

The Hare is about Rosie’s life, her survival, her coming to terms with herself and finding courage. It’s art. Art at its truest, rawest, and prettiest. It’s an experience you feel in your bones. It’s something you live. Something you breathe in and exhale. 

But it’s as much an education. If you are a writer, you’ll find yourself in awe of Melanie’s skill of creating a beautiful and intricate world around you. You will highlight sentences upon sentences just so you can come back and relish them later on. If you are a reader, you will explore life’s meaning – the importance of hardships. You will find yourself musing about what it means to be a woman in a man’s world.

 A woman left to fend for herself, alone in the mountains. How will she cope? Abandoned by Bennett, by every human she had ever put her hopes in (even her own child later), Rosie took refuge in the arms of the beautiful nature. Self sufficient. Just as she will have to learn how to be. And she did.

In the end, she emerged a victor. It was a long journey – a bit tiring, a bit suffocating, lots of frustrating – and yet here she isrunning with renewed life and a free spiritedalong the gentle waves of the ocean.

I loved The Hare. I cannot put it any better. I adored it. Got angry at it sometimes. Sighed a few, put it away a few. But in the end, it was all worth it. It was an experience. It was an enlightenmentboth for myself, AND for Rosie. Especially for Rosie.

And anyway, Rosie used to read The Hobbit to Miranda before bedtime. What the fuck was I to do? NOT LIKE HER?
Pfftt.
Get away with you and your outlandish dreams and go get a copy of The Hare by Melanie Finn. Or rather, wait till January, 2021. 

[NOTE: This book contains mentions of paedophilia, child-rape, and sex-change. Just know that before you dive in. :)]

[REVIEW] The Art of Living + Loving //Here at Dawn by Beau Taplin//

I awoke – a bit sleepy, a bit dreamy. Darkness still enveloped everything – inside and out. But I could hear the birds chirping excitedly. I got up from my bed, put the duvet aside, and went to open the window. Ah, the rush of air filled me just as it filled the room. I felt renewed. Sleep went away. I was filled with a certain energy. I had to get out, out of this room, out of this house. Just go outside and marvel at the soft hours before sunrise; watch the stars rushing back to their heavenly abode.

Everything felt so remarkably new, and yet nostalgic. I have been here before, I thought, picking up a twig – twisting it about my finger. 

The grass felt damp beneath my bare feet. I could feel the droplets compressing under every step I took. There was music all around. In the sky, on the earth, on every branch of every tree. There was still an hour before sunrise and I wanted to soak in every moment of this delicious dawn before light exposed the beauty and the magic disappeared. 

I have often walked alone – in the wee hours of morning – and imagined fairies whispering to each other about how the big folk don’t know how full of magic the world really is! I agree with them. I look at the delicate bud, cusp it in my hand with a gentle stroke lest it falls before ever blooming. So beautiful. The leaves dance with the gentle air, as if mocking me, making sure I know that they revel in this magic every day while I, I am just an occasional visitor. I know. *sigh* I know.

This is what Beau Taplin’s Here at Dawn is all about.

Have you ever taken a walk in the garden at 3 am in the morning? Breathing in the magic that hangs densely about you at that time of the day? If you have then you’ll know; you’ll know EXACTLY what he is talking about.

This whole vast world in which we live our tiny, tiny lives – is brimming with miracles. You just have to be able to look for them. 

Look, there it is – in the chirping of the birds.



And there – in the smile of the little girl dancing in the garden.

And wait, WHAT IS THAT? A squirrel. Look at its tiny hands. Isn’t it adorable? Such magnificent detail. Such craftsmanship.

And the couple over there? So lost in each other’s eyes they’d hardly notice if a bomb exploded by their side. Must be such a heavenly feeling – not caring about anything else in the world other than the person in front of you.

Oh my! Look! A bookshop. Let’s go together and browse for hours and hours, lose ourselves in the countless stories. And never come out. Not so soon anyway.

Surely, surely the ability to enjoy these little things – these seemingly mundane and routine things – must be magic at its supreme? 

When you walk down the road – going to the class, grocery shopping, meeting someone, taking a bite – you pass strangers, people of all backgrounds. They don’t know you. You don’t know them. And yet a single kind smile to someone struggling to shush their crying child is a like the wave of a magic wand. If you think you don’t matter to people around you, then think again. You, dear reader, are full of life, of love, or kindness – YOU MATTER. 

Listen to me, “Here at Dawn”, we don’t take people seriously. We regard them magically.

You are a miracle. A force of nature – gentle, loving, caring. You give to others JUST BY BEING, don’t you understand that? Taplin is asking you to take a look in the mirror and see – take a hard look at the person smiling back at you.

THAT person is nature.
Nature IS that person.
YOU are nature.
So mingle with it.
Take pride in it.
Lose yourself in it – in this feeling of belonging.

Taplin’s words sent a rush of creativity through me. I felt – serene – the kind of feeling that you experience watching a sunrise. Fresh. Renewed. He made me see that the world is just waiting for me to wave the magic wand of my attention. If I could just look closely, listen attentively, close my eyes and feel keenly – it’d be plain as day to me that this whole vast universe is a reflection of me, of my inner feelings.

Here at Dawn, sitting alone with my thoughts and the poet’s, I realized how true happiness arises from deep within, knowing YOU ARE ENOUGH. I read his words and they resonated with me like a chord longing to be struck. Until you realize that everything springs from your own self, you will remain unhappy, forever. And it’s this beautiful realization that made my heart swell and jump for joy.

Taplin’s poems made me feel complete again, as I am sure they will have a same effect on you – for these are little truths wrapped inside a handful of words. The medium may change but the core message? Never. 

Sitting there, with this beautiful book in my hand, I felt a surge of gratitude rise and rise and rise within my whole body and stop – suddenly – in my heart. Why did I feel that way though? It’s just the way Taplin talks about goodbyes – the beauty they contain, the lessons. And their necessity. It’s funny really, how we forget to embrace such an inevitable thing, to cherish those last few memories forever, to make the most of them. Well, no more. Because I cannot help but take his words to heart, lock them within until they make a firm impression on it. Never to forget. Never again.

I have sown flowers
deep into the earth of your memory
to remind me that,
even in the most lightless
of places, beautiful things do grow.

The way this whole book vibrates with gentle notes of hope makes for a beautiful experience. Never a page goes by that doesn’t make you feel glad that you are reading it, that fills you with gratitude that you are here – here in this gorgeous world – alive and free and much too childlike – just as you SHOULD BE. 

When the clouds of uncertainty and bad actions reflect upon your sunny dreams, Taplin, encourages you to take responsibility where it is required. You cannot run from it. You cannot hide from it. He wants you to understand that it’s YOU – you who is cause of it all and by accepting that responsibility, you create yet another miracle – of freedom. Freedom from ignorance, from failure.

Here at Dawn, you will understand the beauty of a helping hand – given or received. As Taplin says, 

We only flourish when we lean on each other.
This is how all great things
are grown.

This collection of poetry reinstated the need of companionship, of friendship – of the importance of surrounding yourself with genuine people and giving thanks to those who accept you without any judgement. I never knew it was possible to pack such – non romantic – thoughts into lovable poetry and yet, the poet has achieved this. And I am glad that he did because it is a delight to read, to own, to cherish.

Taplin’s poems are also wise with experience. They contain a knowledge that can’t be faked. They want you to understand them, understand the meaning in between – and as you’ll do so, you will find yourself liberated from every thought and feeling that has been weighing you down.

As I said before, reading these left my heart overfilling with gratitudefor the ghosts of the past, for the candles of the present, and for the dreams of the future. It’s been such a lovely, lovely experience reading these – one that I emerged wiser from, kinder to myself and the world around.

So come, dear reader, dance with the poet in the rain. And forget all your worries. Lose yourself in the magic all around you. You are beautiful. You are your own. You are the world. 

Let him teach you the art of living and loving and living lovingly.
Rise.
Reborn.
Here – in the arms of the beautiful dawn.

[REVIEW] The mute girl, her murderer sister, and the mermaid of the lake //The Cry of the Lake by Charlie Tyler//

I was sitting at my dining table with the book in my hand and my eyes glued to the first page. The door that opens in the hallway was ajar -revealing dark steps and as I continued to read – I felt this rush of warm terror inexplicable but unmissable.

A GIRL IS FUCKING DEAD?!

And that’s how The Cry of The Lake begins. With a shock. And a promise of many more yet to shake you in the process.

The image of a dead girl danced around my eyes as if I was present right there in the room with her lying next to my feet – dead as a fucking nail – blued lips and a creepy stare. And add to it the gritty details and the unsympathetic attitude of Grace in the beginning? The very air that hung around me began to feel cold somehow.

Almost every turn of the page brought with it a rush of excitement and wonder – some character detail that left me gawping at the pages with wide set eyes, or some piece of the puzzle that hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Back to back surprises – so engrossing that I didn’t even move my neck for an hour straight – sticking my nose in my kindle as if reading it from as close as possible would reveal something!

I adored how Tyler throws in JUST THE RIGHT DESCRIPTIONS at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! Handling the timing to keep the reader engrossed is an art, one that the author has mastered! 

The way that characters have been fleshed out is brilliant as well – giving them all an identity of their own – moving back and forth in three point of views – presenting a delicious contrast in nature, thinking, and priorities. Charlie Tyler’s extraordinary way with words painted really vivid and unique image of all the characters. You know what, it hurts me to call them mere characters. They are people in my heart now. Flesh and bone. That’s all they are composed of. Real people with heartbreaking stories – and I don’t think I will ever be able to get over them. I don’t think I even want to. 

The stark and deliberate contrast that the author presents to snap you out and then pull you back in only increases the creepiness factor. The narration is so subtle in introducing bits of horror stricken and disturbed images in your mind that you end up shivering and anticipating the worst at even the most normal and unimportant events. You never really forget Amelie’s body gurgling down to rot at the lake bed and that stinky smell of a rotting body – a fragment of my imagination for sure – but it was present throughout the narrative, even when everyone was all happy and seemed carefree – the power of Charlie Tyler’s words.

I went out after finishing the first chapter – to get some water. It was around 11 pm and the hall was dark and I could feel someone’s dead set eyes on me, the manic eyes of a crazy woman – the very thought sent shivers down my spine! GUESS WHO SLEPT WITH A THIRSTY THROAT THAT NIGHT? ME! Because I JUST COULDN’T make the painfully short journey from my room to the kitchen. THAT was the effect of this book’s beginning events on me.

From the very first page it hooked it’s claws into me, sucking me in  like a dementor – only it didn’t feed on my soul, it fed on my attention. All of it WHOLLY on this gorgeous, haunting, dark story.

The mystery surrounding the two girls keeps on twisting and turning it’s solid body around you – a snake from the depths of the characters’ pasts. Suffocating you. Keeping you captive in between it’s forceful embrace. And you end up liking it, enjoying it even! 

You are the happiest prisoner ever! Stockholm syndrome much? HELL YEAH! 

Secrets lay at the heart of Lily and Grace’s life – the anticipation of which had my insides in a knot. I don’t know why but I was terrified of knowing the truth, of reading on. I think a part of me just didn’t want this story to end. Very selfish too because Lily’s suffering was dependent on the ending but I just couldn’t handle. Yet my curiosity won over my reluctance every single time! 

Lily was made fun of her silence. Even by her sister. Grace’s actions made me loathe her. So much that I just wanted to enter the alternate realm and stab her in the heart – just so she could fucking stop tormenting her sister. I was so engrossed in their lives that I felt like one of them! Lily’s grief, the fact that she was in the cruel clutches of a life that suffocated her – her sadness – desperation – confusion – anger – hopelessness – the author captured it ALL. So broken was this teenager that I just wanted to rip apart the pages and enter her world and soothe her and tell her that everything was going to be OKAY! 😦

In all honesty, I hated Grace from the very beginning. Everything about her irritated me. But man, I didn’t have the SLIGHTEST inkling that my view of her would change so drastically. That, in my eyes at least, she’ll be redeemed by the end. It’d be cruel to let you in on any more details but just know that you won’t come out of this story unchanged. You WILL leave a part of yourself in there – between the pages – wrapped up tightly. But keep it away from Emily. She’ll break it.

But WAIT! WHO IS EMILY?! You’ll find out soon enough.

I sit here – with my eyes just a bit teary, my heart just a bit sad, my kind just a bit relaxed – it’s been a journey. I have been Emily – her rage; I have been Lily – her trauma; I have been Flo – her confusion; I have been Frank – his wickedness; and I have been Gil – with all his loveliness.

I have been them all. And let me tell you, even though learning about their lives destroyed me, I wouldn’t trade one bit of that wonderfully thrilling experience with anything else. Nothing else. 

I had already started reading another book the next day – trying to escape the tide of emotions reading The Cry of The River had set in my gut – but I just couldn’t shake the gloomy feeling of separating myself from these dear dear people.

Yes. I even missed Grace and her erratic and manic ways. It’s amazing how Tyler has forced me to be sensitive and understanding of a girl who has committed cold blooded murder before. You won’t believe the things she has done and yet, she is redeemed. Why though? I couldn’t tell you, despite knowing the contents of her past, I just couldn’t tell you why my heart wants to forgive her so badly. 

And Lily? I don’t wanna part from her. Her confusion, her nightmares, her dilemmas, her hallucinations – I have become addicted to them.

I don’t want to let go. I want to hold on. 

And I want Gil back. I want to hear him say “My lady of the lake, forgive me” one last time. I want to see his golden hair shimmering in the moon light and for once, just once, I want him to hold Em, the way she wanted to be held. 

I think I will be forever be haunted Emily sitting at the edge of the lake, with all the painful memories gnawing  at her heart – wasting away what little sanity she has left- forever waiting for someone who would never arriveher beloved, the mermaid of the lake. 

Ask anyone –
I’ve been gloomy
thinking about the future they might’ve shared –
Gil and Emily,
If not of love, then maybe of family?

And now I MUST ask YOU, dear reader,
to
share in my gloom. 

You will, won’t you?

[REVIEW] Love – with all it’s complexities and imperfections, beauty and transcendence //Our Naked Souls by Justin Wetch//

At first it read like broken sentences, not poetry. But as I made my way through, those little fragments started to make sense, started to rhyme in my heart – as a whole. Every single word written in this book is raw with the kind of love that comes with understanding, with maturity.

I fade away without your love
My colors dim and darken
I fall for you more every day
Without a hint of caution.

This gorgeous little book won’t make you swoon and pine over someone out of your reach; it will gladden your heart for the love that you already have, the kind of love that will stand with you, be your support THROUGH THICK AND THIN – no matter what! Reading such a mature and reasonable take on love – with all it’s flaws and complexities – was such a delightful experience.

And yet, with all the practicalities of the worldly love, you can still find – within the lines – the cosmic importance of it, the fact that such a pure emotion intertwines two souls in a bond that transcends time and all other bondage of this three dimensional world a love that makes you whole, while uplifting you, reinventing you in it’s lovely likenessa love that traps you together with a beautiful thread, while allowing you to roam freely wherever you will.

There is an uncomplicated magic to Justin’s words, as he romanticizes the mundanity of life – turned interesting in the presence of a deep love. 

I refuse to believe that something as perfect
As the meeting of our souls
Could have happened
By accident.

You won’t feel exhilarated while reading it. There won’t be any uncomfortable and fuzzy feeling in your heart. What you WILL feel however is gratitude – gratitude for the quiet and understanding love that you share with your lovergratitude for the simplicity of life. Gratitude for the fact that the REAL magic lies in the simplest but the most heartfelt of acts.

This book, as the poet says, will show you the art of transcendence through the simplest acts of love.

Promise me you’ll tell the truth
And not let me fall hard
If you’re not ready to fall with me.

I’ve been waiting for a girl like you.

Wrapped inside these words are also the seeds of such a passion, that when coupled with maturity and understanding, becomes the most beautiful feeling of them all. This passion will not destroy you, it will widen your horizons, deepen your soul!

These beautiful emotions flow so freely and deeply within the poet’s words that they pulsate with a life of their own – with deep sighs. It is so subtle, so very subtle, that it demands you whole attention or else you’ll miss it. And you’ll be sorry! 

These glorious words also vibrate with the impending fear of separation – one that, although can be delayed, cannot be prevented. You will find yourself feeling just a little bit gloomy, as the poet will paint a picture of the world without your lover. How will you cope? Can’t find the words? Let Wetch put them in your mouth, let him sting your heart with this bittersweet realization that all the time in the world, all the memories that you make, will never be enough – never be enough – for you will still feel the pain when you’ll say goodbye, old age will still arrive – taking a piece of your soul with it – wrapping it delicately, to wait until your time comes as well.

You will find yourself in a state of delightful longing – as you’ll make your way through these poems – longing for the sweet and comfortable embrace of your lover. You won’t wanna let go. And anyway, why would you even want to? 

This book is also about carefree journeys “up to the mountains”, with a desire to lose your being into one another – enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Isn’t that the most magical thing of all?

With fresh eyes I looked at living
She effortlessly changed my point of view
Dear god, let me forever keep loving
La fee qui rend tout jamais vu.

It’s about turning the most ordinary things into adventures – something that only love can achieve. Your heart will expand as you’ll read this – you’ll feel a comfortable stream of emotions flowing through it to illuminate your whole body – as naturally and effortlessly as the sun illuminates the sky. You will find yourself lost in the poet’s experiences, for the have been your experiences as well.

This is not about the outlandishness and grandeur of love – this is about a pure feeling that arises when you hold hands together, 

It’s about those beautiful moments that can only be found when you are not looking – in your every day – just lose yourself in the beauty that is life. It’ll teach you to be grateful for someone who understands you, is foolish with you, a bit childish with you. 

It’ll teach you how to look up at the sky – with wonder in your eyes and love in your heart – as you’ll sit on the terrace at night, holding each other’s hands, knowing that the love you bear in the depths of your beings is meant to be. Why else would the stars shine so brightly? Why else would the cosmos invite you to lose yourself in it – just like darkness loses itself into the night? It’s in these wondrous moments that you’ll realize, your own importance against the vastness of the universe – and you’ll know, you’ll know for sure that it’s because of the presence of love deep within your atoms that the world is suddenly such a happy, such a magical place to live in.

You should look at yourself
With the same wonder
With which you look at the stars;
You, my love, are a miracle.

It will also show you pain – the poet’s and your own – it will guide you through the unexpressed emotions welling inside you, eager to burst outand all will feel calm again.

The fear of losing someone you love so deeply is something that every one of us has experienced and it’s this fear that grips the heart of the poet – you will feel it in your bones as you’ll read through the sunny parts and arrive at the gloomy ones.

Addicted
To the idea 
Of love,
We were like seeds
Which sat in the rain
Expecting to grow
But withering away,
Forgetting the value
Of soil and rain.

The hurt that follows a heartbreak is unbearable and yet, through it emerges a renewed soul, a stronger heart and a desire to love again this time a bit more cautiously but a bit more passionately as well. You may lose the person but the memories remain – a warm reminder of the moments you shared; there is no time to lose and so you give live your all – you take a chance despite everything. That’s how you create something beautiful out of nothing, a phoenix rising out of ashes willing you to live again, to burn again – that’s the beauty of love, you are happy in it’s presence, you are wiser as it leaves – no harm done. In the end, it was all a lesson. 

Our Naked Souls is also about taking pride in what you have, what you meant to each other – never losing the sight of what’s important. Love is all about complacency and the poet is here to teach it to you in the most beautifully simple way possible.

Love is remembering what you have” and then reveling in that remembrance, 

It teaches you the art of a steadiness and passion – urging you to not burn out, but rather burn with each other, keeping yourselves aflame, with the feelings that flow in your body – so pure, so alive, so powerful.

So, dear reader, let the words flow through you and settle in your heart. 
Let the poet teach you how to turn your whole life into art.

[REVIEW] Portrait of a Passionate, Determined, and Unafraid Governess //Jane Eyre BY Charlotte Brontë//

Reading Jane Eyre was like an agonizing fire to my already ablaze heart.
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Even before I opened the book, dear reader, I already knew what these pages held. There was a promise of passion, of struggle, of bravery. And as I began with Jane her journey through her difficult childhood and her challenging life, later on, I was filled with emotions I had only ever reserved for Wuthering Heights.

There is a strange intensity in Charlotte Bronte’s words; I was both inside and outside. I was Jane and she was me. We were one. Her plight was my plight. Her wishes were my wishes. My heart was beating faster and faster as I turned the pages, mad with anticipation for I knew, I knew I was headed towards a most beautiful love. 

Brontë writes in a manner that pulls you into the story. You are there with Jane in the red room, you witness what she witnesses, you feel dread as her heart feels it, you hate who she hates.

Being at the mercy of a writer is most liberating.

You are free of any responsibility thence. You don’t have to do anything but let your gaze fall on the words and let them travel far and true into the deep recesses of your mind, awakening memories that you thought you never had, let them make their way south and tug at your heartstrings like a most insistent child, demanding attention, craving love.

Jane Eyre’s situation, as we begin this story, is most pitiful. You cannot help but feel sorry for her. The oppression she faces is unbearable. Would that I could I’d have snatched that little frightened, beaten girl from these pages and kept her close to me, shushed her and lulled her to a sweet and peaceful sleep. I wanted to do that so badly.

Charlotte Brontë succeeded in making me love her from the very first page and I think that’s a quality these sisters had in common – Emily destroyed me by rendering my heart a passion for her dark hero and his wild lover, and Charlotte gave me Janethis plain and obscure heroine, with her simple tale of woe, with her hopes and dreams and the purest heart.

”No, I was not heroic enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste.”

From the very beginning, if there is one thing we are sure of Jane Eyre is that she knows her mind.

Even as a little girl, when asked whether, if given the chance, she would like to live with her own distant relatives even if they were a bit poor, she declined. Poverty was a degradation in her mind and she did not falter in admitting it.

Her fearless and free-thinking mind painted her in such a vivid image in my mind that I quickly forgot I was reading and began to feel that I was being.

She was never a mere fictional being in my mind. She was a living, breathing personacting out her life in front of my eyes, in my world…or was I in hers? I forget.

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Having a passionate temper was deemed her fault since childhood. Jane said what she believed to be true, she felt intensely, she was not a rebel without a cause and yet, these propensities were labeled as FAULTS against the good nature of children.

How I would like to ask every pathetic little relative and acquaintance of Mrs. reed, was it a fault?

Being keen is a virtue of the highest order because it’s the people who feel deeply that love intensely and without guile, as Jane did all her life. She was virtuous, brave, and much too modest. Such qualities don’t come often in that combination and regarding them as faults is a crime, a crime which was committed much too frequently against Jane Eyre.

The rigidity of the society Jane was brought up in crept upon her understanding soon enough and yet she never gave up her imagination and wishes of a better life.

BRAVE INDEED.

The school she had been sent to – Lowood Institution – was, to her, an absurd sort of place, although it did provide her the means to better herself, to be able to make a name in society. Still, the teachers’ violent behavior towards these little girls left me horrified and Brontë’s casual tone while describing it all renders it even more chilling, which I guess was the point. In any way, I was invested so much in Jane’s circumstances that I just couldn’t help my emotions. They were flying every which way

FLOGGED. BULLIED. DISTRESSED. Such was Jane’s state in Lowood. But she never gave up. She was the kind who starts rebellions against injustice and cruelty. Her friend Helen Burns’ influence humbled her greatly out of such thoughts to quite an extent.

Still, the fire that burnt in her heart never really died. It just waited for the right ammunition.

”By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings.”

The little girl tiptoed, past her bedtime, into the room of the ill and the dying. Finding her best friend lying therewith an air of finality about her she couldn’t conceal her tears. And neither could I. Jane’s little heart couldn’t bear the thought of Helen being taken away from her forever and I grieved for her most intensely, most painfully.

How could you, Miss Brontë? What sort of witchcraft is this? You make your readers coil and writhe with pain with an ease that would rival God himself! How could you do this to us?
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Reading Jane Eyre was certainly not an easy task. It demanded too much from meemotionally, mentally, physicallyfor I was heavily invested in Jane’s story from the very beginning – so much so that I couldn’t bear the thought of being driven away from her without knowing her whole story.

Jane was a wild soul hidden inside a duty-bound body.

She longed to surmount the blue hills across the fields, she wanted to break free of the meager existence she had been subjected to at Lowood. She wanted to traverse the woods, to get lost in them, to seek the treasures of experience.

She wanted to love and be loved.

That was all she wanted. Such was the wish of her lovely heart. Can’t every single one of us relate to her desire? No matter where we are, what we do, the one thing that we want the one thing our heart always desiresis freedom.

And SHE DID FIND IT. Later rather than sooner but she got to taste it nonetheless. And how could she not anyway? For a person with such a tender heart and such strong mind, it’s hardly a surprise.

”It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; they will make it if they cannot find it.”

Jane had always been in a quiet revolt against her circumstances, from the very beginning of her life with Mrs. Reed until the time she went back to Mr. Rochester.

Hers was an unquiet mind and a wandering soul. She could NEVER be contained. Even when she came to work at Thornfield and her situation improved a lot from her previous life, she couldn’t help but feel deprived of all the wondrous people she hadn’t yet met, all the beautiful places she hadn’t yet seen and although hers was a bit of a negative approach, that never stopped her heart from dreaming bigger. Such a combination rendered her intelligent.

”I did not like re-entering Thornfield. To pass its threshold was to stagnation.”

Her first impression of Mr. Rochester was that of someone who had, brought excitement to her stagnant life in those wide and gloomy halls where she was the governess. She longed for activity and for her unfathomable mind, activity, it seemed, had found her at last.

But Jane’s meeting to Mr.Rochester did not strike me as peculiar. It was just the sort of scene a Brontë would want to happen – eerie, mysterious, dark, and a bit exciting. There is not a very striking contrast between the dark and foggy lands that surround Thornfield and the mystical moors where stood the dark abode of Catherine and Heathcliff. And so, the image of their toxic love was kept fresh in my mind even as I followed the events at Thornfield.

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”The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him. I felt at times, as if he were my relation, rather than my master: yet he was imperious sometimes still; but I did not mind that; I saw it was his way. So happy, so gratified did I become with this new interest added to life, that I ceased to pine after kindred: my thin crescent destiny seemed to enlarge; the blanks of existence were filled up; my bodily health improved; I gathered flesh and strength.”

IN SHORT, dear reader, JANE WAS IN LOVE.

Now, having overcome my faint scruples against the match due to something that the brooding master of Thornfield declared in a rushed conversation, something the lines of – “I am old enough to be your father.”I came to understand how well-matched Jane and Rochester were. Jane was not saint-like. She had desires, she dreamt of better circumstances and she wanted to experience all that life could offer.

A tenacious, wandering and clever mind as hers needed someone just as clever.

Someone who could match her temper, who could understand her silent reproaches and dreamy wonders without the need of words. And she had found such a man in Mr. Rochester. And he, in return, wanted to experience all that he could not during his youth. Hiding a most unpleasant and dark secret, he longed to be in the presence of innocence again, to know the pleasures of an unpolluted mind. And who could have been a better fit than Jane?

Her steady and quick remarks kept him on his toes and his broodiness and mystery fed her imagination in a way no-one else ever could.

It is no coincidence when a man finds himself keen on a girl so inexperienced in the ways of the world. A man loves best when he knows he has something to offer that his partner is not in possession of yet.

In Jane, he found such a partner.

He had made Jane his confidante, sharing with her the tales of his misspent youth, this girl who had no idea how such a world worked (despite being a clever person, her mind was still shielded from the vices of the grown-ups). He did this because it made him feel “needed”, “valued” and not as a master, but as a teacher, as an unwilling friend, as a well-wisher. Of such feelings he had been alienated for so long he had quite forgotten the pleasures that they brought.

Rochester and Jane’s love affair was a mere chance. But then which isn’t? It is chance that threw them in each others’ ways, that’s true enough. At this point, they were still just getting to know each other but it was a most ardent love that made it impossible to stay apart.

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Still, this is NOT an account of Mr. Rochester and Jane’s love story, dear reader. But of how Jane dealt with the frequent and distressing blows that life was yet to deal her. Yes, she loved the man, but that’s not the be-all and end off of her story.

It did not begin with Mr. Rochester’s arrival in her life and it certainly doesn’t end with her departure from his gloomy self.

That’s what makes it all the more beautiful. Jane, whose circumstance had made her such a strong womanboth worldly and emotionallywasn’t dependent on anyone to save her from anything. Nothing frightened her as much as being captive. And so she followed her wishes, no matter what and yet had sense enough to not let her character be tarnished by such whimsical fancies as the heart sometimes indulges in.

Her story took a lot out of me. Her journey from being a pitiful (but still not weak) child at Gateshead Hall to being a scared yet determined pupil at Lowood to finding her courage and love in the gloomy and mysterious halls of Thornfield taught me to hope, to be stern where it’s needed, and compassion. 

I have a lot more to say, dear reader, about our heroine and her journey but for now, this will have to do.
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Sooo??
What did you think? Have you read Jane Eyre?
Did my review of her character and her story match your reflections, even if just a little bit?
What did you think of her union with Mr. Rochester?

A BOOK REVIEWER’S Prayer + Promise + Warning.

YOU MUST NOT READ MY REVIEWS for I will let my heart judge the words, without any inhibitions.

When I am holding a book, my mind is no longer the master. For it is my belief that once you let too much reason in, it muddies the effect the story has on you on a much deeper level. 

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Having read a book, I will jump straight into the review with emotions hanging over my head like a sword, threatening to destroy me lest I pour them out on the paper. It pains me to not be able to talk about what I read right away so I will always be very passionate and most insistent while talking about the merits and the faults of a story.

I will not be led by anything other than what my feelings dictate.

There will not be one shred of dishonesty in what I write. Everything will be in strict accordance with the feelings invoked and the thoughts reflected upon during the course of the reading. So you can imagine that it will, sometimes, prove to be a daunting read. And I am okay with that.

When the reader is wholly invested, in a book nothing but a true account of every movement of their mind, owing to the story, will ever give them satisfaction. So that’s what I do. My reviews are much too intense and hold true to only what I thought about the book, not influenced by anyone or anything else. In that way, they will be brutal, and forgiving accordingly.

You must not be in a delusion that you will be told a detailed account of what happened with whom, who did what, and how it all ended for them. No. The only things you will find in my reviews are what moved me, what incited feelings of passionate hate or ardent love, of ignorance and indifference or that of continuous awe. That’s all I can offer you by the medium of my humble writings.

But frankly, why would you want to know anything else anyway?

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Isn’t the real reason why we read book reviews to know what the reader FELT about it? Not what happened, but their REACTIONS to the said events? THAT’S the beauty of every single review out there, isn’t it? Their singularity, their originality.

You must not read my reviews for they will be an honest account of my shattering heart and all the reasons behind it.

They will be raw, overflowing with emotions, and you might then be inclined to suppose that I am blind to the faults of the book. I am not but to think so is your choice.

You must not read my reviews because then, you will HAVE to read the book concerned with as much an open heart and suspended belief as I did, to experience, IN IT’S FULLNESS, the story those pages hold.

YOU MUST NOT READ MY REVIEWS IF YOU ARE UNWILLING TO DO THAT.
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Such are my thoughts on review writing, how they should be and why a reviewer must NEVER be forced to do otherwise. Doing justice to a book, according to our opinions on it, is all we are required to do and THAT’S ALL WE WILL DO.

EVER.

[REVIEW] BEACHCOMBER, BLUE HOUSE & the mystery of the changed name //ROUGH MUSIC – Patrick Gale//

It seems that some of the most beautiful books I own come from a dusty, old bookshop. THAT’S where the magic lies. You go in with wonder in your eyes and excitement in your heart. You don’t know what you are looking for. You don’t know what you’ll find. And that’s half the fun, isn’t it? You just want to get lost in it, for hours..moving from corner to corner, your fingers tracing frayed corners of broken spines, flicking the pages.

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Its one of my favorite things to do. And on that sunny winter day, I was doing exactly this when my eye was captured by a book hiding away between a bunch of bulky hardcovers. On its cover was a little boy, on the beach, looking for something. And I didn’t even have to read what it’ll be about because something in my heart said that whatever story these pages contained, it’ll be worth reading.

And I wasn’t wrong.

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Rough Music is the story of a woman, her husband, and her son. It’s about her fears, her disappointments, and her guilt. It’s about a man always doing the right things and in the process failing to listen to his own heart. it’s also about a boy, a sweet little boy. A boy who lives in books and plays with criminals. A boy whose heart knows the truth but his mind wants to be a grown-up. 

But most of all it’s a story of a family and how it changed during one fine summer.

What happened during that summer? That summer holiday that was supposed to be an escape from the boredom and mundanity of life. That’s what this story is about.

About that fine summer on the beach.

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Patrick Gale is a sly human being. He hooks you in with a promise of a fun holiday and then he shatters your beliefs and your heart by turning it into something you’d never have expected. His lyrical writing captivates you from the instant you read that first sentence – full of desire, confusion, and hope to disappear. And then he forms a smoke-screen for you in the next few chapters to make sure that you believe his faux promise of a fun, loving, exciting family. 

The story follows two timelines and both of them intertwine so completely that it weaves a thick web around you and it continues to do so until you aren’t able to see anything but these beautifully flawed characters. Will – a man drowning in guilt and trying to break free of his conflicted mind, Frances – dealing with the slow but gradual demise of her memory – both good and bad, and John – a man struggling to keep it all together.

It’s amazing how much a story can change you as it changes the lives of the ones it belongs to.

Years ago, something happened in a house overlooking a beautiful beach. It was like a dream come true for little Julian – to be spending his holidays there, this heaven on Earth. And his parents? Well, they were deeply in love, as far as he was concerned. But this truth will soon change for him and when it does, he will be left with nothing but an overwhelming urge to break it all.

As the narrative shifts from Julian to Will to Frances to John, Gale presents a sharp contrast in their voices and although it seems like nothing at first but as you progress through the story, you find out just how much of their characters and their deepest desires is revealed through it. He captures the fantasy-ridden, innocent voice of Julian in such contrast with that of his parents that it’s impossible not to fall in love first, with him, and then with Patrick Gale for doing such an excellent job at bringing this little boy and everyone around him to life. 

The effect of his words is magnetic to the point that before you know it, you find yourself amidst all that is happening, with your senses heightened and your morality questioning every event that transpires.

It’s so well written that I couldn’t see the surprises coming. They kept closing in, all this time, and I was completely unaware. They stealthily caught up on me and in a moment, everything I thought I knew about every single one of them was pronounced false. 

Gale has this extraordinary talent of making things seem irrelevant until they turn into the exact opposite of that. Thrilling, in the most beautiful, lyrical way. His writing reads like elongated poetry, dispelling all the harsh truths and the sunny memories all at the same time, in an uninterrupted dream. 

Julian spent all of his childhood in uncommon vicinity to the prison and its inhabitants. Made friends with them. And it is almost poetic how he ultimately became one. In this way, the events of this story also give off a vague but unmistakable whiff of karma.

Rough Music puts the sanctity of marriage and relationships in bright light too for us to see the cracks that are otherwise impossible to discern. A marriage done solely for the comforts of belonging to someone and a desire to get away from a family of four brothers and a mother who saw her as a disappointment left Frances wanting more after the newness of the first few years wore off. And John? Well, he, bound to his duty as a prison governor and entangled in the web of politeness, never dared voice his deep love for her and it led to such disappointments later on that everything – every year they had spent together- was brought into question.

This story is also about memories.

Some we want to hold on to, others we bury deep inside, never letting them surface.

But what happens when they do?

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When a spiteful daughter concocts a plan to send you to the very place where the dissociation of your seemingly lovely family began? When a desire for the feel of a handsome stranger calls everything you’ve been doing into question? When the guilt of hurting your sister constantly for almost as long as she’s been married drives you to such a point of confusion that you just don’t know what to do anymore? When a sound, a smell, a taste, an event brings back every emotion you’ve been suppressing for as long as you can remember? 

What happens when the past starts to flood your present and there is no anchor to hold on to?

EVERYTHING UNRAVELS.

I was also struck by the stunning contrast between what happened years ago – it’s excitement and the calm composed nature of the present circumstances acquired only after the long-accepted knowledge of those truths. They had made peace with their secrets and what happened at their unveiling and I, on the other hand, was left to the thrill and excitement and the emotional turmoil of it all. 

The unfolding of the events of this book is like the unveiling of a masterpiece – it takes its sweet time. It was less a mere advancement and more a discovery of relationships, their secrets, and the morals and attitudes that guided them – for better or worse – throughout the span of three generations. You will be told about secrets you wish you hadn’t been made privy to, you will be made to pity an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and defend her actions, you will be made to hate or be indifferent towards a daughter who was never really a daughter.

Yes, you will be MADE to do all of these things. You won’t have a choice. The writer is the master here and all you can do is bow down to his genius and let the story live in you, live through you. 

You’ll find that every word on these pages is intensely aware of its existence, the story painfully aware of its liveliness and this awareness will act as a bridge to the very souls of these characters. Only then they won’t just be ‘characters’ anymore. They will become your companions for the time being and beyond.

Rough Music isn’t just a story about a family and how they deal with life’s different blows and the problems in their relationships, it’s a piece of their life which Patrick Gale has entrusted us, the readers, to make sure that it is heard, understood, and reflected upon. 

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How much power does a name hold? It can change lives, memories, even the whole personality.

By the end, you will understand the mystery of a boy’s changed name.

A boy with heaps of guilt stacked on his little shoulders.
A man in love with his wife but ensnared by the silence that fears had imposed on him.
A woman losing her mind, and a loving doting husband losing himself in her.

I have lived their lives. Their forgetful, unforgettable lives. And now, their lives live in me. Maybe forever.
But memory is a fickle thing, isn’t it?

Ask Frances when you meet, in between the pages of Rough Music.

You will, won’t you? ♥

[REVIEW] The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway// 3 Reasons Why You SHOULD Read it + 1 Why You Shouldn’t

(My spirit is coiled. This is one of the gravest reviews I will write.)

The Cellist of Sarajevo leaves in it’s wake a quiet yet powerful remembrance of the men and women who lived their lives in fear and trembling each day during that 4 year siege, doing their best to survive in a war that seemed to be going on and on like a bottomless and hungry creature emerged from the depths of the most malevolent darkness.

It seemed that it’ll only end with the faded hopes of the people of Sarajevo and their will to fight to survive one more day. The lives they left behind, the friends they lost, the memories they buried and all of it for the sake of becoming strong enough to face the harsh truths of war with enough courage in their hearts to stop themselves from giving in to their wobbly knees.

Because they knew that once fallen, they will never be able to stand up again.

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Sarajevo is a city drenched in blood, fear, and shards of reality and its inhabitants have a story to tell.

It’s a story about a loaf of bread, a bucket of water, a mission to protect and a musician who brought the world around him what they needed the most – a drop of hope.

I will present to you why their story must be read by every single human being who possesses the ability to read and one reason why you should steer clear of this book because …well…I’ll tell you later on.
laurels+flowers_0007_Vector Smart ObjectK E N A N

When the city you have spent all your life in turns into a graveyard of broken things and dead meat, you start to question if the place you grew up was ever really there or was it just a figment of your imagination?

What do memories mean anyway? What do they stand for? What are memories worth?
Kenan knows. They can buy you a few kilograms of tomatoes and rice and a few apples maybe.

But memories don’t have a significant place in Kenan’s world now. It hurts too much to close his eyes to relive those joyous moments only to be shaken awake by distant firing and falling buildings. He shouldn’t do that, thinking about running his hands through her wife’s honey brown hair, hearing his children’s laughter as they play with their electric car. Those are the things of the past because the war had thinned his wife beyond recognition and about that car? Well, electricity is a guest that visits only once or twice a month and never stays for more than 3.2 minutes.

He has to get water for his family. He has to make that two-hour-long, perilous journey across the city and the river to get all the bottles refilled before the shelling begins again. THAT’S what matters now. THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS TO HIM.

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A MAN AND HIS BUCKETS

HIS MISSION.

The ONLY one that counts. To keep his family alive. To keep them from dying of thirst. This is his duty. This is what wants and has to do.

And he will. As long as he can. and even beyond.

Because this is a brave man. A man so brave that he admits not wanting to be a soldier. Not wanting to protect his city because nothing represents Sarajevo more to him than his two daughters, his little son and his lovely wife.

Kenan wishes he wasn’t selfish. But in a world where using each other as guinea pigs for the ”men in the hills” is commonplace, what else is there any scope for?

What else can he be?

No, he will be selfish. For himself. For his children. And he will loathe himself for this. But HE WILL CARRY ON because at home there is someone waiting for him.

This journey – one day journey – will leave him a changed man. The shock of witnessing death land and explode inches away from his six immaculately filed and secured water bottles will transform something in him at a deep and almost cathartic level.

He will come to terms with his priorities and will make peace with his life because he has to get up again. to fetch that water.

laurels+flowers_0007_Vector Smart ObjectD R A G A N

With his wife and son safely away from the horrors he witnessed on a daily basis, Dragan is angry.
At everything.
But most of all at himself. Why is it that he couldn’t leave when he had the chance?

He needs to eat. Starving to death is just as bad as dying in the crossfire. Maybe that’s what those snipers waiting in the hills are rooting for? It’s unclear. Maybe we’ll never know what they think. What they feel about all the people they murder?

He needs a loaf of bread. There has never been a more innocent necessity. And yet, war has turned it into luxury. The war that understands only the language of violencethis war that burned countless homes, buried numberless people, burnt numerous stories whose ashes still roam the streets of Sarajevo smelling of burnt paper and with those papers, the stories. This STUPID, STUPID war that’s turning humans into dust for the simple reason of making a statement.

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Yes, Dragan is angry because nothing is as it was, as it should be. Where once used to be fond memories now stand only deserted buildings and in those buildings is a whole lot of nothing. Memories that are long lost now and can never come back again even if, by some miracle, it does go back to the way it was before.

Everything is tainted. With blood and rubble.

But he still needs to get that loaf of bread. It is FREE and he is hungry and there aren’t as many places as the bakery he used to work in left standing now. Is it worth risking his life for though? Maybe. Maybe not.

But Dragan doesn’t careThis siege has made him bitter. It has turned him into a pessimist. He doesn’t believe in things now. He just doesn’t see the point of it all.

Through Dragan we get a full and rare glimpse of fear and disappointment blended immaculately in the hearts of people who actually have to go through the horrors of war. Because it’s not just death that Dragan is afraid of. No. He is far more frightened by the possibility of having to spend his whole life as a captive in his own city. That’s the prospect that is completely unacceptable for him. And it should be. But it gives way to words and actions that would later instill grand amounts of guilt in him.

Behind all his anger and disappointment is FEAR and all it’s different flavors of it and he still doesn’t know how to cope with it. But he will learn, eventually. He must.

laurels+flowers_0007_Vector Smart ObjectA R R O W

She is quick.
She is smart.
She is undeterred.
The men on the hills hate her and so she hates them. She wants each and every single one of them dead. No exceptions. There is nothing complicated about her.

War means that people will be killed and she wants to make sure they die on the right side of the hills surrounding the once-beautiful city of Sarajevo.

Nothing could be simpler.

If only.

War doesn’t only breed terror and loathing, it also breeds self-doubt in the minds of people. One minute they have everything – a loving family,  friends, a life – and the next they are standing with ashes in their hands of everything that they once held dear, everything they were.

What now? What are they now?

For Arrow the simple girl who found joy in every moment and meaning in every act – no matter how little – no longer holds any place in her life as it is now. She knows she must be fast, brutal and unflinching if she is to survive the war. She must be relentless. She must be a weapon. A sniper as skilled as herself can inflict a lot of pain and do a lot of damage to the adversary and so that’s what she will do.

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But her sense of morality and her significance in this war is questioned and challenged when she is given an assignment. She must protect a man. And this she must do for 22 days.

In the process, she must face her past, the girl she used to be. She has to choose and put an end to the dilemma between who she wants to be and who she is.

Arrow needs to remember herself once more. She needs to own her name.

laurels+flowers_0007_Vector Smart ObjectThese three lives.
And on them are dependant dozens more.
How will they find hope again? To keep on carrying on as long as there is breath in their lungs and strength in their legs?

They need to be reminded that the world can be a beautiful place again.

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THE CELLIST

More than five and thirty people stood in the line that day. For a piece of bread to take home with them. Mothers, Wives. Husbands, brothers, granddaughters. Each of them had a single purpose – to make it through the night without an empty stomach.

And then it happened.
A shell landed directly beside them, sending them flying off in each corner, leaving only cries and blood.

The Cellist saw it all.
Saw it happen in front of his own eyes. Saw how several injured with missing limbs and ears were carried off. Witnessed the cruel death of 22 people. And in that tragedy, he found his purpose, his place in the war.

For the next 22 consecutive days, he would play his cello in the street on the site of the blood-bath to honor every single one of those innocent people who lost their lives for a simple desire. He will do that without taking into account the consequences of his actions and what will happen to him.

He won’t care for all that.

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And this simple gesture will awaken in the hearts of all everything that they thought they could never feel or even remember again. He will remind them that they can take away their homes, their loved ones, their will, but they can never take away the goodness that still resides in the city of Sarajevo and which will rise against every adversity.

And when on the last day, at the end of his concert, he will get up, with shaking shoulders and teary eyes, you will know the true meaning of loss in your hearts. You will cry with him. And a part of you will be lost, destroyed the same way his spirit has been tampered with.

I balled like a baby by the end of this book.
And you will too.
There is no way around that.
And in the course of the next few days, you will be randomly reminded of Kenan with his water, Dragan with his friend lying on the street with blood all around her, of Arrow and the sad loss of her own identity.

But by then, you will not be sad for the cellist because you will know that despite the horrors he had witnessed, he managed to light a candle of hope and will in the hearts of them all.

And they will go on.

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If you want to read The Cellist of Sarajevo, read it for Kenan, Dragan, Arrow. They will teach you the true meaning of fear, disappointment, and betrayal and you will grow with them as they will learn to live with it.

But don’t read it for the Cellist. Don’t do that because in only a few pages he will make you fall in love with him and you will always carry that image in your heart – him crying, him playing his cello with his eyes closed and a smile on his face, the sound of his heart shattering as he witnessed the fall of his city.

And that image will haunt you for days to come!