International Women’s Day Book List

To celebrate international women’s day, I shall share some books that were written by strong females or books that talk about strong females. Most of these I have read, with the exception of one. The books contains themes such as femininity, female sexuality, sisterhood, sexual violence and many other themes that bring about female empowerment. Or opens up discussion about womens experiences and rights. If you are interested in these books, pick them up. They are all great books. So my choices of books for International Women’s Day are:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk and honey

New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Rupi’s collection of poetry is an amazing representation of femininity and what it means to be a woman. Her poems hit hard on topics, such as rape and sexual identity. I fell in love with every piece she put into the book and the strong illustrations Rupi created for each piece.

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

the hunger games

The Hunger Games is a 2008 dystopian novel by the American writer Suzanne Collins. It is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the future, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. This YA novel created a strong, female protagonist in Katniss Everdeen and I admired her when I read the series. I related to her cold demeanour towards strangers and how hard it is to trust. However, she is living in a dystopian society so it is harder to trust people. Katniss’ defiance against President Snow and the totalitarian state of Panem is inspiring and what you need to see every now and again from literature.

 

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

the round house

It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family. The novel focuses on race on an Indian reservation in North Dakota, rape and the aftermath of such a tragic event. It was a powerful read, through the eyes of a child witnessing the aftermath of his mothers rape. This story of vengeance, justice and history is a brilliant book and you should give it a read.

 

The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch by Anne Enright

the pleasures of eliza lynch

Based on the true story of the beautiful Irishwoman Eliza Lynch, who, in the 1860s, became, briefly, the richest woman in the world…In Paris, Eliza is in bed with Francisco Solano Lopez, heir to the untold wealth of Paraguay. The fruit of their congress will send Eliza across the Atlantic, leading a caravan of servants, clothes, jewellery and champagne on a regal voyage down the River Parana to her glorious future in Asuncion. Together with Lopez, Eliza embarks on a series of disastrous wars that define the nation and demonstrate her power – until she discovers the true sweep of her own cruelty. Anne Enright has an amazing talent at writing fascinating women. The character of Eliza Lynch captured my imagination when reading this book. Plus she is an Irish girl, which hits home. Brilliant writing, excellent female protagonist. Give it a read.

 

Asking For It by Louise O’ Neill

asking for it

A story about sexual violence and consent. Louise O’ Neill tells a story of an unlikeable girl who had a horrific thing done to her. This book marked conversation about consent and whose to blame. The book was fascinating, as the main character was deplorable at the beginning of the book. Therefore, when she was raped, people started to claim that she asked for it. She deserved to be raped because she was a horrible person. This book delves into those dark topics that need to be discussed in the world we live today. A world where the rules of consent become blurred, where yes means no, where its okay for this to happen to someone. This will be a tough read, but it is worth picking up.

 

Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts

daughters of the house

Thérèse and Leonie, French and English cousins of the same age, grow up together in Normandy. Intrigued by parents’ and servants’ guilty silences and the broken shrine they find in the woods, the girls weave their own elaborate fantasies, unwittingly revealing the village secret and a deep shame that will haunt them in their adult lives. This book centres on mother-daughter relationships and sisterhood. Moreover, the religious undertones take a feminist view, when Therese goes against the patriarchy of the church. Monsieur Cure represented the patriarchal Church, where he refused to allow Therese speak and called her stupid for seeing the Virgin Mary. Whereas, Therese leads a reformed religious belief with the Virgin Mary by her side. Moreover, the question of the female sexuality and the female body becomes a central theme within the novel. Its a slow-paced one and it jumps between timelines but I highly recommend it.

 

Thats all I have for this post. If you are interested in finding more books by women, about women, check out Our Shared Shelf on Instagram. Its always posting up-coming books and circulates many books by women. Hope you enjoyed this and I shall talk to you in the next post.

 

Killing Stalking: A Review

Here comes another review. However, it isn’t a typical book. This month, I took up a manga that I discovered online, called Killing Stalking. It is a Korean manga and the story is told through visual art. I havent read that much manga, so I decided to try one. I heard about this particular manga through the grapevine on the internet. It was the new upcoming manga that became very popular. So I picked it up and….wow. After reading some of this story, I knew I had to talk about it. So thats what I am doing here.

 

*****DISCLAIMER: This manga contains graphic scenes of violent sex, rape, murder, self-harming and suicide. If you are sensitive to these topics, please dont read this manga*****

 

To avoid any graphic content, I am going to stick to the story and its characters in this review.

killing stalking 1

Plot: Yoon Bum, a scrawny quiet boy, has a crush on one of the most popular and handsome guys in school, Sangwoo. One day, with Yoonbum’s obsession towards Sangwoo reaching its peak, Yoon Bum decides to enter Sangwoo’s home. But what he saw inside was not the Sangwoo he had dreamed of.

After reading the overview of the plot, I wanted to learn more about the characters. Yoon Bum (the stalker) discovers that the person he stalked, Sangwoo is a murderer. Bum becomes Sangwoo’s personal victim, a person for him to enslave and do as he pleases. There is torture, there is murder and there is disturbing sex. To me, the duality of a stalker and a murderer was just too fascinating to pass up. I wanted to see how this twisted relationship goes.

Bum (the stalker) 

killing stalking bum

Bum is the perfect example of an obsessive stalker, and Stockholm syndrome victim. Bum starts the story with the line:

“There’s a guy I like. I follow his social media updates religiously. Isn’t it obvious I’d want to know about the personal life of someone I like? Its nothing to be embarrassed about. But I don’t want him to know.”

“Normally in male-female relationships, they would either date or decide to be just friends. But in my case, neither applies. I am Yoon Bum and I am a male.”

Bum begins the story with the denial of his stalking and encouraging his own unhealthy behaviour. He follows Sangwoo and breaks into his home. He becomes Sangwoo’s victim, which entails torture and mind-games. Moreover, you learn about Bum’s childhood filled with abuse and loneliness. The dark events of his past inform you as a reader and you begin to sympathize with Bum. However, there is no black and white in this story. Bum is no more innocent than his murderous captor, Sangwoo.

Sangwoo (the murderer)

Image result for sangwoo in killing stalking

Sangwoo is the mysterious psychopath and the apple to Bum’s obsession. I love Sangwoo as a character. There is so much mystery and terror surrounding him. One minute, he can be gentle and kind. The next, he will threaten to cut your throat and toss your body away. His main tactic is manipulation. He keeps Bum as a pet, as he is aware of his obsession and he keeps him around for enjoyment. However, his intentions start to blur as the story moves forward. Why does he keep Bum for so long? A psychopath like Sangwoo surely would tire of Bum and find another victim to terrorize. But he keeps Bum around. He takes him to events, allows him to meet his friends. He integrates Bum into his life. This puts a big question mark over Sangwoo’s intentions. What does he want? His change in behaviour puts you on edge throughout the whole story. He is handsome, charismatic, but he is also short-tempered, violent and psychotic. From what I read so far, Sangwoo had a troubled past with his parents. You can see scenes, where Sangwoo’s father dominated over his mother and him. These scenes transfer to his interactions with Bum, which shows he holds onto some trauma in his past. As a reader, I still dont have all the answer surrounding Sangwoo, which makes him all the more intriguing as a character. Why does he kill people? How did he become this? So many questions still!!!

 

Things I love about it:

The artwork

Not only is the story intriguing, the artwork is beautiful. It portrays simple scenes brilliantly, in contrast with the horrifying, violent scenes. The manga artist did an amazing job, capturing the thrilling mood of the story, through their page turners. Each image cut up and spaced out to leave the suspenseful effect on the reader.

killing stalking 2killing stalking 3.png

The Story:

This manga is a suspenseful thriller through and through. Every time I turned a page, I was gripping the edge of my seat. I wanted to know what happened next. Also, the characters are fascinating. There is no black and white. Sangwoo and Bum live in the grey area. For a minute, I think I have figured out Sangwoo. But then the next minute, I am left confused about his intentions and who he is. Neither character is innocent. You are reading a story about a murderer and a stalker. Both of them are pretty bad. But it’s interesting to see the manipulations, the cat-and-mouse games played and the power dynamics between the two.

One thing I dislike about this story is the Detective plot.

killing stalking detective

Yes, this idiot. Detective Yang Seungbae, I really didn’t like him. I understand you needed conflict in the story, besides the impending doom of Sangwoo and Bum’s relationship. And the suspicions Detective Yang had over Sangwoo was interesting, but he was working off little evidence and he was doing everything the wrong way. I dont want to get into spoilers, but he screwed up his investigation of Sangwoo and I wasn’t sad about it. At that point, I was on Sangwoo’s side. I wanted the murderer to get away, which I guess is the point. Nevertheless, I didn’t like the actions of Yang. Also his chapters were boring. I hated it, whenever I just passed an intense scene with Sangwoo and Bum, and I turn the page to find Detective Yang gracing us with his presence. I didn’t like the swapping between storylines. I would have liked it better, if Yang was a smarter character.

Character development: 

Bum and Sangwoo are the driving force to the story, and both are equally compelling. Bum, the cowardly stalker, shows depth in his dire circumstances, asking the questions what would you do if you were in his situation. The amount of times where I sat through another one of Bum’s running thoughts on escape and screaming “why wont you do it?” But he answers that for you. Sangwoo will catch me, overpower me and kill me easily. So he bids his time. He stays. He learns, but he also still obsesses. You cant teach an old dog new tricks. A stalker to Sangwoo for many years, he still remains a victim to Sangwoo’s will. Its tragic, pathetic and intriguing. No matter how pathetic Bum is, I sympathize with this stalker. The same with Sangwoo.

Throughout the story, I fear Sangwoo as much as Bum. However, I sympathize with his moments of weakness, where we dont see a murderous psychopath. This gives the reader a weakness, to believe that there is something human underneath this monster. I dont know if there is any humanity in Sangwoo. I have yet to find out. But finding out is part of the fun. The story develops these characters for you to hate and sympathize with, all at once. The story gets you to love the villains, similar to what the Netflix series, You did. Even though we knew the protagonist was committing horrible crimes, we understood his motives and started to sympathize with him.

You.png

Another thing I am not a big fan of, is the graphic sex scenes in the manga. However, I dont let it bother me, as they do play an interesting part to the manipulation tactics in the story. Each sexual scene portrays Sangwoo and Bum’s dynamics. Who is in control in this scene? Sangwoo always has control over all aspects of Bum, including in a sexual context. However, these sexual scenes can show a change in power relations, as the manga progresses. At the beginning, Sangwoo is dominating and aggressive. He decided what to do and if it was to be done. Whereas, as the story continues, dynamics slightly shift and Bum takes control in sexual aspect. This leaves you wondering how much is Sangwoo in control of Bum? How long would Bum retain that control? And what does it mean for their toxic relationship?

Overall, the manga is an intriguing read and I recommend you read it. However, it is a tough read. As I said in the disclaimer above, the manga holds disturbing, violent scenes that if you are sensitive to content like this, than I advise you not to read it.

Thats all I have for this post this week. Hope you enjoyed it. I wanted to try something different today and I hope it pulled off. If you are interested in reading Killing Stalking, you can find it on the internet to read. It is worth the read, but be warned of the graphic scenes you will see in this manga. Hope you all had a lovely week and Ill talk to you in the next post.