Hi everyone! It’s time for another Arum Lilea Book Club book review. I have so many incredible recommendations in this post so I hope you find something that tickles your fancy in this list!
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
If you’ve ever been to Madame Zingara, this book is a little literary masterpiece along those lines. Imagine an exquisite, after-dark circus, beautifully decorated in black and white that will leave you spellbound with all the tricks you see and the beautiful labyrinths you will travel through. It really is a feast for your mind’s eye. Celia and Marco were selected as children to compete in a duel that will lead to the ultimate downfall of the other. They are never warned of the other but only told that the day will come when their skills must be better than their competition’s and encouraged to study harder and perfect their performance. Little did either know that their paths would cross in an extravagant night circus that travels the world and lead to an unexpected adventure no one could have predicted.
This book was a delight for my senses. Its beautiful writing is so atmospheric. Rather than focusing on good and evil, it shows us how unanticipated the meeting of two good characters can be. I’d highly recommend this book. It was written by the author of The Starless Sea (which I reviewed here) which is another book I loved because of the atmosphere that was created. This is a 4/5 for me!
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towels
Count Alexander Rostov placed under indefinite house arrest in the Hotel Metropol in Moscow having been deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal. Rather than exiling aristocrats to foreign countries where they are free to live their high society lifestyles, the Bolsheviks believed in keeping their enemies close without the freedom they had previously known. The Count, as we come to know him as, is a true gentleman. He has mastered the art of diplomacy, etiquette and unfaltering manners which you cannot help but love about him. He has also been humbled by circumstance. While was enjoying the luxuries of the grandest rooms in the hotel, he now lives in a tiny servants room on the top floor of the building. Not dismayed by this, he still wishes to be a man of use and offers his services as a waiter in the hotel’s Boyarsky restaurant.
This character-driven story is told in such a way that it feels as though a grandfather is imparting his wisdom on a grandchild. The lessons that the Count shares are eternal and one’s I truly savoured. Topics such as understanding and appreciating different cultures and our relations with one another and withholding judgment are one highlighted throughout this book. I love the passage that reads “[b]y their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory that they deserve not only our consideration but also our reconsideration – and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.” There are so many pearls of wisdom in this book that are relevant in everyday life that I’ve highlighted so many passages of this book. If you’re looking for a book set in a foreign historical setting that will remind you about the true meaning of life, look no further.
Home Before Dark – Riley Sager
Maggie doesn’t remember too much about what happened in her childhood home, but what she does know is that the best selling, non-fiction, horror story that her father wrote about it definitely wasn’t true. After her father passes away she is shocked to find out that he never sold the house and that she has subsequently inherited it. She decides to go back to the house, renovate it and put it on the market. Once she is back in the house, however, she becomes aware that there may have been some truth to her father’s story. Perhaps even more than he divulged in his book. The truth of the story is chilling.
This book is outstanding! I was on the edge of my seat from cover to cover desperate to discover the true story of this house. The entire way through, the reader is on a rollercoaster ride dipping between a horror story and a psychological thriller with an air mystery that has you doubting whether there is or is not an element of the paranormal involved. Family secrets, community secrets and a quest for the truth sums up this book and it scores a much deserved 5/5 from me.
The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell
A family of four well-loved in their town live in an incredible house home thanks to the wealth of the generations that proceed them. After a while, however, it seems that the funds used to support their lifestyle have dramatically declined. The family disappears from society, refuse to answer the telephone or any mail and no one hears from them until police are called to the house to find a ten-month-old baby in her crib and three dead bodies in the kitchen. What happened in this house and where did the baby come from?
This book was a little unnerving for me. I love a good thriller but this book has themes of cult behaviour, abuse and mental instability that made me uncomfortable. In terms of the storyline, however, the twists and turns are brilliant and will keep you guessing right until the final page. It’s very well written and deserves all the praise that it has been given.
Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
Beckford has a horrible history of women dying in the “Drowning Pool”, a rock pool in the area. Some have been suicides and some were pushed off the cliff. Nel Abbott was the latest of women to become a victim of the Drowning Pool soon after its previous victim, a teenage girl that was best friends with her daughter, Lena. Were these deaths related or an unfortunate accident? Lena and her aunt Jules are ready to uncover all the lies and deception the town has endured in order to discover what truly happened to Nel.
This book is littered with characters that in the beginning, it’s quite difficult to keep with who’s who but you quickly figure it out. Each character adds so much value to the story and it gives you such a good view of their interpretation of events as well as their secrets. It’s full of twists and turns that are deeply satisfying and will lead you down unexpected paths.
If you’ve discovered any really good books lately, please share the titles in the comments below. I’m always on the hunt for my next book 🙂