The best of mystery: Ruth Ware

Greetings, Bookworms!

As an adult, my taste in genres has broadened, and I find myself reaching for mystery novels more and more. Lately, my wish list and Goodreads account have consisted of Agatha Christie, the queen of murder and mystery. I also gravitate toward female novelists who are making strides in the genre and write about strong, female protagonists, like Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Kate Morton, and one of my favorites, Ruth Ware. All of these women have kept me up at night and I couldn’t be any more thankful!

I consumed Ruth Ware’s latest novel, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, in less than four days. I closed it wanting more and yearning to revisit her books. When it comes to Ruth Ware’s books, I follow the same ritual: I’d get the novel, open the book, and be entranced finishing them in days rather than weeks, loving every minute of the story.

Because I wanted to revisit her novels, I thought it would be fun to rank her novels and give a few reasons why I love them (without giving away too many spoilers). I have never done anything like this before! Excited!

OK, here goes:

 

westaway

 

Left to fend for herself after her mother passes away, twenty-one-year-old Hal Westaway receives a mysterious letter detailing her grandmother’s death and that she is receiving a substantial inheritance. But there’s a mistake: Hester Westaway is not Hal’s grandmother. Broke and desperate, Hal decides to visit the house anyway and deceive the family and claim the money. Hal then journeys to the house, a sprawling, beautiful English estate, and soon discovers that there is something very wrong about the family…and the inheritance.

What I love about this book:

  • The TAROT: After her mother dies, Hal takes over her tarot reading kiosk on the pier. Weaving tarot into the story creates such a magical and spellbinding element, making it even more mysterious and intriguing.
  • The setting: Trepassen House is old and filled with secrets. The sprawling fields, overgrown maze, rickety boathouse, and creepy, unkept qualities add so much to the story. I found myself wishing Hal explored it more—especially the maze!
  • The sisterhood: There are many moments of sisterhood in this novel. From the love between a mother and daughter to the love between two best friends, this novel is about the importance of love and sacrifice. You’ll see!

 

lying game

When remains of a body are found on a beach in a coastal village, Isla receives a group text message from her high school best friend that she needs help. When her two other friends respond “I’m coming,” she finds herself on a train to help Kate. Once inseparable, the four friends—Kate, Fatima, Thea, and Isla, discover that their well-kept secret isn’t as concealed as they thought. The four close friends must take out a page of their old book, and the Lying Game makes a comeback.

What I love about this book:

  • The nostalgia: Although I do not know the characters, what I love about this book is how relatable the nostalgia can be. Have you ever seen a friend from high school or early college years and relived those memories with them, looking back at the old times? That’s what this book is like—although, their past is a little darker than mine.
  • The unreliable narrator. The unreliable everyone: I used to hate the unreliable narrator…until this book. I loved not knowing what was true and even the uncertainty of the truth. You realize, as the reader, that you are part of the Lying Game. Even when you close the book, you still don’t fully know the truth.
  • The outcome: Oh, you just don’t see it coming. The ending of this book is tremendous, filled with action and lots of heartbreak.

 

dark dark wood

Ware’s debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, follows the story of Lenora, a reclusive writer who finds herself attending her old best friend’s weekend getaway in a creepy glass house. When Nora wakes up in a hospital bed and learns that she might be responsible for a murder, she tries to put the pieces together, revisiting her dark past and trying to find out the truth.

What I love about this book:

  • Again, that idea of the unreliable narrator: Nora, whose memory is altered after the incident, does not know what is real. As she lies in the hospital and eventually revisits the glass house, Nora puts the pieces together and discovers the truth.
  • The Agatha Christie-esque collection of characters. It reminded me a lot of And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express. All of the characters had their own suspicious qualities about them, and you find yourself unable to trust any of them.
  • The planchette: The characters, drunk and wanting to have fun, use a planchette to “break the ice” among the group, and while it’s all fun and games, some characters find what the planchette writes out is a little too close to the truth. So creepy!

 

cabin 10

In The Woman in Cabin 10, Lo, a writer for a travel magazine, boards a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. One night, Lo wakes up to a loud noise and splash. When she looks outside, she notices blood smeared on the glass of cabin 10’s veranda. There was a murder on the boat, and no one believes her. It becomes her mission, then, to discover who is missing from the boat, and boy, does she get in trouble.

What I love about this book:

  • From the minute you open the book, you’re on edge: A life-changing, dangerous incident happens in Lo’s life that sets the tone for the rest of the novel. The thrill is there right from the start!
  • The most suspenseful and unnerving action happens in this novel: Lo certainly goes through a lot to solve this puzzle. Ware definitely tried something new with what happens to Lo—and she succeeds in that hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-standing-up thing.
  • The odd sense of sisterhood: Lo finds herself making a strong connection with the most unlikely of characters, and you end the novel feeling a little sympathetic towards that character and happy with the outcome.

 

This was fun!

Readers: Have you read any of Ruth Ware’s books? How would you rank them?

And Readers: If you haven’t read any of Ware’s novels, what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

Happy National Read a Book Day!

Happy National Read a Book Day! Today is perfect weather for getting bundled up in your favorite blanket on the couch with a steaming mug of tea in one hand and a book in the other.

book heart

The fall semester has officially started, and I am excited to celebrate National Read a Book Day in my Jane Austen class talking about one of my favorite authors! In honor of such a fitting holiday, I thought that I would have a bit of fun and list my top five favorite books (which was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be!):

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


Little Women is the kind of book where you laugh, cry, (happy and sad tears) and finish with a sigh wishing it would never end. Every time I read it, I am excited to watch Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy grow up together. Each sister grows up to be different from one another, and I find that each one possesses qualities that I see in myself: Meg’s values in family, Jo’s sense for adventure, travel, and writing, Beth’s quiet, introverted, kind nature, and Amy’s passion for art, quality of life, and helping others. It’s a wonderful book that exemplifies the importance of family, love, and being true to one’s self.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice has been a favorite of mine for some time (I’m actually reading this book now for class)! Every time I read it, I learn to appreciate Austen as an author for shedding light on the domestic realm in the 18th century—something that male authors at that time could not do! I admire the characters, especially the hilarious Mr. Bennet, who I believe to be my spirit animal, and also admire Elizabeth Bennet for her strong-willed personality and overall character.

 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien


The Hobbit continues to be one of those books that I never tire of reading. Tolkien introduced us to a fantasy world that we all can escape to—from the Shire and its beautiful rolling hills and relaxed, carefree lifestyle to the Misty Mountains and the forest of Mirkwood. While different from our real world, there are similar themes that I resonate with. With all of the darkness in the world, I cling to novels like The Hobbit that share strong messages, including this one: “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

 

The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

I love Harry Potter and the themes that J.K. Rowling expresses in her novels. From her messages revolving around mental illness and the strength that love and friendship hold, I find myself feeling true solace while reading the series. Although I have read the series multiple times, I always find myself enjoying Prisoner of Azkaban a little more than the others. At this point, Harry’s maturing, and the plot begins to shift, giving us more of a background on the Marauders and a front row seat to Harry’s emotions and the demons that haunt him. Not to mention, we meet Sirius Black for the first time (who is one of my favorite Harry Potter characters)!

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

There is so much magic in A Christmas Carol! Every December, I make an effort to reread this book, and I am captivated as I follow Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey from encountering the three spirits to discovering the true meaning of Christmas. I have yet to read anything else by Dickens (and I desperately need to), but I always enjoy picking this one up and reading in front of the Christmas tree with a mug of hot chocolate! I love getting swept up the overwhelming nostalgia and getting into the holiday spirit!

 

What are you reading today on Read a Book Day? What are your favorite books? Share in the comments!

Science is telling us to read more—and we should listen

Bibliophiles, rejoice! Today is National Book Lover’s Day!

For someone like me, every day is National Book Lover’s Day! As I mentioned in my post last June, Why I Read, Why I Write, reading and writing is an escape. Reading brings me solace; it helps me put reality on pause and enter a brand new world. Whether it is jumping on Buckbeak’s back with Harry, Hermione, and Sirius, or dancing in the Netherfield ballroom with Lizzie and Jane, I find peace and calm. Not to mention, in a world filled with screens, it is good to take some time away from the flashing, buzzing, and pinging, and open a book.

Reading is something that everyone should do. In fact, science demands it. Recent studies have found that reading books decreases stress levels, improves memory, and more. Here are five reasons why you should read more:

Reading reduces stress

There is nothing better than coming home from a busy day and sitting down on the couch with a book, blanket, and a hot cup of tea! When you’re feeling stressed, sometimes it’s better to put away your phone and electronic devices and dive into a brand new world. Reading will help calm your mind, shift your focus, and even give you the motivation to tackle those challenging tasks or combat your day-to-day stressors.

Reading stimulates your brain

Every time you pick up a book, you have the opportunity to boost your critical thinking, vision, language, vocabulary, and associated learning. Studies have even found that those who read on a regular basis throughout their lives (and even starting in the middle of their lives) experience slower memory and mental decline. So, the next time you want to get a good workout, try exercising your brain with a book!

Reading helps with your sleep

Shutting down your electronics and diving into a ritual of a hot cup of tea and a book before bed relaxes your mind and gets you into the routine of going to bed. Reading before sleeping will help clear your mind and avert your focus from the day’s stresses or tomorrow’s to-do list.

Reading helps you become more open minded

One of my favorite things about literature is the ability to enter an entirely new world filled with different thoughts, ideas, and experiences. As a reader, you are at the mercy of the narrator and characters, who might expose you to new points of view or events that you might not be aware of. Having the ability to read and accept different perspectives helps you become a more open-minded individual, thus a more successful, productive, and happier person!

Reading gives you a feeling of community

There is nothing better than meeting a fellow bookworm! Like any hobby, readers have plenty of opportunities to join different communities and talk about their love of books. From Goodreads to joining or establishing your own book club, books bring people together!

Happy National Book Lover’s Day! Celebrate by picking up a book!