He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker
Hardcover, 352 pages
Please note: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review as part of the book tour.
Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of Maker’s Mark, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.
On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.
This was the first K.A. Tucker book that I have read. I know that Kaley over at Books Etc loves her, so when I had the opportunity to read He Will Be My Ruin for review I took it eagerly!
When Maggie comes back to New York to look after Celine’s things, she gets a glimpse of sides of Celine she never knew. As she digs deeper, she becomes more and more convinced that something isn’t right. There is no way that Celine would have killed herself, and Maggie wants to prove it.
Maggie’s investigation leads her down a dangerous path as she searches for the truth. This thriller explores relationships and secrets. It begs the question, how well can you really know someone? People have so many facets–and some of them they’d do anything to hide.
With twists and turns, thrills and romance, K.A. Tucker weaves a mystery that is entertaining, engrossing, and thought-provoking. It kept me guessing and turning the pages. Although I would have liked a less convoluted ending, this one was still pretty good. If you love a good thriller, give this one a go!
Black Apple by Joan Crate
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Simon & Schuster
The idea of reviewing this book is giving me heebie-jeebies. It covers such a sensitive and complex topic. I must start this by saying my review here is not to be seen as any sort of commentary on this part of Canadian history. That is, other than the fact that it was horrible. These are my thoughts on this book.
I’m not really sure what I expected this book to be, but it’s a thoughtful bildungsroman set in Canada when residential schools were still functioning. It’s the story of a young Blackfoot girl growing up, coming into her own, and finding a place to belong. This story is about humanity and choices. It’s about one girl’s journey to reclaim herself; her search for identity when her own was stripped away from her.
The main character in Black Apple is an indigenous girl named Sinopaki. When she is torn from her family and sent to St. Mark’s Residential School for Girls, her name is changed to Rose Marie. All indigenous names were changed to Christian ones.
During Sinopaki/Rose Marie’s childhood, the tone of the book reminded me of Jane Eyre and Jane’s time at Lowood School for Girls. Here, Rose Marie, much like Jane, is functionally an orphan—though not technically one. The girls are treated in much the same manner—they are abused both physically and psychologically. They are not really treated as humans because they are children. But in addition to this in Rose’s case, she is also treated as less than because she is “Indian.”
In her afterward, Joan Crate says: “I wanted to explore the psychology of those who worked at the schools, often well-meaning individuals whose sense of religious, cultural, and/or racial superiority allowed them to think of their service as a personal sacrifice for the greater good, one for which they were neither adequately compensated by the government nor admired by their charges, the result sometimes being acts of cruelty and depravity of which their younger selves would never have believed their older selves capable.” She does this through Mother Grace, the headmistress of St. Mark’s.
This is not a simple thing. You cannot just point the finger at nuns and be like, the nuns were evil and did this horrible thing and it’s all their fault! This was a system-wide failure. It was the government, it was society, and it was, yes, the Catholic Church. There is, however, no oneparty, no one individual to blame. We all share this blame, and this terrible legacy. And Crate explores this well.
At St. Mark’s, there are many characters who have both good and bad qualities. Ingrained in all those who work there is a superiority that they have been brought up in. They truly think that this is the way to “civilize” the “Indians” and bring them the saving grace of the Lord. They often seem to forget, however, to actually show any grace to these children. Some, of course, do—on occasion. They aren’t all bad. This can be seen in Sister Cilla and, at times, Mother Grace. But they were still a part of a horrible thing and let their own hubris, their own “vocation,” their own sense of worth, keep this travesty going. Many, like Mother Grace, did not want this, their life’s work, to come to nothing. I can feel for them in that. However, there are things that are more important than our own sense of a job well done. Things like kindness and justice.
From my point of view, I felt that Crate gave the issues faced in this book adequate complexity. I liked the way she explored the system behind the schools when she wrote from Mother Grace’s perspective. This is the life Mother Grace knew. This is the job she was given. The nuns at St. Mark’s were cogs in the wheel of this great inhumanity.
I thought it was neat as well how Crate wove in details of Blackfoot beliefs throughout the story. We see in Rose Marie their beliefs in spirits and their approach to the afterlife. I liked the way that Crate brought this element in as something that was actually happening. She did not tell us about it but rather showed us in the ghosts that Rose Marie would see.
There were many things about this book that broke my heart, but one that stuck with me is Rose Marie’s sense of not belonging anywhere. Many people her age go through a similar feeling and seek to “find themselves,” but hers was so much deeper than that. She had a place she belonged, and then she was torn from it. She was given another place to belong, but when she tried it outside the walls of St. Mark’s, she found again that she didn’t fit there either. There was no place left for her. She straddled two cultures, and didn’t seem to belong to either. At the school, they were taught that their culture, their language, their way of life was something to be hated. But they weren’t really given another option. They would be later tossed from the school disillusioned, with no place they fit.
This is a tough thing to talk about. I’m a white Canadian woman. I don’t know the deep hurt that is still felt throughout the indigenous community. I don’t know how those who experience that would feel about this book. I know only what I, and my less-than-adequate knowledge of this time, feel. This novel, while interesting and thought-provoking, is just that—a novel. I must remind myself that this is a sensitive and very real topic with more layers than one novel can provide. It has, however, opened my eyes further to this topic. It has made me want to learn more about this time in Canada’s checkered past. We can’t just whisper about it behind closed doors. That’s how history ends up repeating itself.
It’s important that we don’t hold this book up as something more than it is. This is not a history book toting facts. This is a fictitious tale. For those of us who do not have immediate knowledge of the residential school system, we have to make sure that we don’t count this as a history lesson. For that, it’s only an introduction. This time period is a vessel through which the author explores the human condition and Sinopaki’s search for identity.
As a white Canadian woman without much knowledge of indigenous history or culture, I can’t speak to this book’s accuracy or sensitivity. However, as a human, I found this book to be a compelling coming-of-age story. It broke my heart. Many times.
If you like character-driven bildungsromans in which the coming of age is steeped in adversity and a strong need for identity, check this one out.
For more information on Residential Schools and conversation happening around them today, check out the TRC website.
April is over. May is (way) upon us. Spring has sprung, and all that jazz. Wee!
April was a pretty strange month all around, I’ve gotta say. Weather wise, it was all over the place. One week there was a snow storm and schools were canceled. The next week it was 24 degrees Celsius. And then 3 days later a snow storm again. And rain. Lots of rain. Just… Very Maritime-y. I want to say that the snow is finally done, but I think I jinxed it the last time I said that. I will continue to hold out hope though! We have been getting a lot of sunny days thrown in there too so that’s very nice.
I’ve also decided to move out (finally) and live with a friend! We are in the apartment hunting phase. There have been a few bumps, and I’m sure there will be a few more, but things are mostly exciting on that front. I’m going to become a city girl! Crazy. I can’t wait to decorate!
Book wise, things have been pretty good, too! April was Sexual Assault Awareness month. Because of that, I decided to read some books on that theme. I read Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About it by Kate Harding, SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston. They were all pretty good reads. I especially enjoyed reading Asking For It. Not because the topic is enjoyable, but because it’s a smart, snarky exploration of sexism, feminism, and rape culture that had me highlighting passages and bubbling with righteous indignation. I definitely recommend it and will personally be seeking out similar titles in the future. Education is the first step on the road to change.
I also picked up a few other recent releases. I read the awesome series enders The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater! Obviously I love them. I read No One Knows by J.T. Ellison (review here) for She Reads. It’s a very twisty thriller. It was a fun read, but not the kind of thriller for me. The last book I read in April was another thriller! I read He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker for an upcoming book tour! Check back on the 31st for my full review!
Books Reads: 7
Pages Read: 2472
What did you read in April?
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything. And even when I was posting, it was pretty sporadic. I thought it was about time that we caught up. So, let’s grab a beverage and chat.
I am currently drinking a coffee out of my new Downton Abbey mug. (one cream, one sugar, in case you were wondering). If you didn’t know this about me, I have a thing for mugs. They are great! You can get them with basically anything on them, in a ton of different shapes, and they serve a really great purpose: They hold the coffee.
I just got this mug the other day at HMV. It was on clearance for $5. It took me all of one second to decide that I had to have it. I also got an Outlander mug on clearance. And some Hello Kitty drinking glasses. So. Happy.
Other than the updating my glassware collection…
Life has been pretty good lately. For a while I had been feeling like life had been pretty stagnant. I had this idea of where I wanted my life to be going, but I couldn’t see how to point it in that direction. I tried to stay positive and keep myself busy, but whenever I had some down time and my mind wasn’t being occupied by people or work or whatever, I would get kind of bummed. I had been praying for guidance, but I wasn’t immediately seeing any results (obviously) so, I continued to feel bummed.
But… For the last month or so, things have been really good. Not perfect by any means, but good. I’ve gotten sick of myself and my attitude, so I’ve decided to be happy and content with who I am and where I am right now. It’s stupid and pointless to be like, oh, when I have this, then I’ll be happy. Or, life will be good when this happens.
There is alwaysgoing to be something else. I just try to keep reminding myself of all the awesome things I’ve got going for me in my life. By focusing on those, it’s hard not to be happy really. I have family, friends, Jesus, a job, clothes, food, a home. I mean, what more do I need? I’m super lucky.
Furthermore, there are some exciting job opportunities that are on the horizon right now. They are shining possibilities and they remind me that things aren’t going to be like this forever. Even if none of these current possibilities come to fruition, I have hope that something, someday, will.
Also in the works, I’m moving out of my parents’ house! Eventually! I’m so lucky that they have let me live here, but I’m ready to give adulting a try. Me and a friend have been looking at places in the city, and it’s so much fun. I’m going to have like no money when we eventually find a place, but I’m pretty excited nonetheless.
Things have also been great on the reading front! I haven’t been reading as much as usual (because I’ve been busy), but what I havebeen reading I’ve been loving.
Last month (April) was sexual assault awareness month. To educate myself further and promote awareness, I read some books about sexual assault, and some of them were even non-fiction. I KNOW. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? It kind of sparked this non-fiction kick for me. FEMINIST NON-FICTION, WOOT WOOT.
Right now I’m reading Everyday Sexism and it’s incredibly horrifying but also enlightening and thought-provoking (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen many awesome quotes). This line of reading is pretty different for me, but I’m loving it. It’s been opening doors to great books that I wouldn’t have even really considered reading before. I feel like I’m becoming a bit more well-rounded (pats self on back). It’s pretty interesting too because it has been making me form more solid opinions and find my place as a feminist. If you have any recs, hit me up!
I’ve also been reading a lot of comics lately. It had been a while since I had read any and I’m SUPER into them right now. In the same line as the non-fiction I’ve been reading, many of the comics have been awesome feminist ones.
I’m FINALLY caught up on Saga, Giant Days, and Lumberjanes. I’ve also given Paper Girls a try and am working my way through the Amulet series. Do you have any sweet recs for me? I’m super in the mood for comics right now and am looking for some good feminist stories with rad art (preferably not superhero ones. Not that I don’t love a good superhero story, I’m just not in the mood!).
I’ve also been spending a lot of time on Instagram (fuelledbyfiction) and snapchat (bethkitty182) lately! Add me and/or leave your handle in the comments and I’ll follow back! These are def my fav social media thingies lately.
Speaking of which, I’ve been seeing a ton of pics of people having an awesome time at BEA! I hope everyone had a blast. I was bummed I couldn’t make it this year, but that’s just how things work sometimes. I can’t wait to see everyone’s wrap ups and hauls! Did you go? Link me!
So basically, that’s what has been going on in my life lately. What about you? What’s going on in your life? What kind of reading mood have you been in lately? What your favourite hot beverage? Do you LOVE MUGS TOO?