Weekly Wrap-Up 8 – 14 September: An Excellent Reading Week

Hello readers!

As I struggle to keep up with my ARCs, we slowly approach the end of the year! By October I will be reading mostly creepy stuff, then November I will panic realizing I need to read a thousand ARCs and some books in genres I’m sorely lacking, and by December I will half-heartedly attempt to read books I lost interest in since I requested/bought them while eyeing greedily next year’s books. So I am trying to get a bit ahead now in September with some ARCs. Oh, the life of a book blogger.

I’ve been playing around with the block editor and I have *gasp* started to get used to it and even enjoy some aspects – I’ve now created a “Book Review” block so it will be quicker to write my reviews! Do expect some weird-looking posts as I try to decide for a look, especially for the reviews, which I have changed a bit (you’ll see on my review of The Harpy this week!). I quite like to play with new toys. So much for my complaining before. Let me know if you would like a short list of tips for using the block editor as a book blogger. I’m assuming by now most people are quite used to it but just in case that would be actually useful, let me know!

This week I got approved for:

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Resenha: A Falência por Júlia Lopes de Almeida

a falencia julia lopes de almeida

Nota: ★★★★★

Categorias: Ficção Clássica

Bem recebido pela crítica em seu lançamento (em 1901), A Falência destaca-se da produção de obras dessa época. Em um cenário de romances amorosos, Júlia Lopes de Almeida narra com crueza o enredo de uma mulher adúltera em busca de realização, entremeado à derrocada de um exportador de café. Camila, de origem pobre e casada com Francisco Theodoro em virtude da comodidade que a riqueza do marido lhe traz, descobre a paixão tardiamente nos braços do doutor Gervásio. Francisco de nada desconfia, mas terá seu ideal de família perfeita abalado após um mau negócio que o leva à falência. A Falência, segundo biografia ainda não publicada pela filha da autora, levou mais de quinze anos para ser produzido, tornando-se a obra-prima de Júlia Lopes de Almeida, uma das maiores escritoras da literatura brasileira.

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Thoughts on the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 + the Winner Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hello readers!

The Women’s Prize for Fiction winner will be announced tonight! I can’t believe it’s been almost five months since the shortlist has been announced, it seems like a lifetime ago. Two seasons have gone by and I am already reading some books I think have a chance of making it to the longlist for next year.

This year was an incredibly disappointing one for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, remarkably by some brilliant titles that did not make it to the longlist, and the inclusion of others that failed to impress. It’s especially disappointing to me, personally, that the only Latinx book added to the mix had such a lower quality than others that it made me ask myself whether it was there just to be “diverse”, much like what happened with Number 1 Chinese Restaurant last year (which I really liked! It was just not WP material in my opinion). Truly a missed opportunity for diversity, especially on the shortlist.

For a short recap, here are the six shortlisted books, announced all the way back in April 21:

My preferred order for winning is:

  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • The Mirror and the Light
  • Weather
  • Hamnet
  • A Thousand Ships
  • Dominicana

This is not ordered by books I loved the most, but rather by what they would bring to the table as a winner of the prize which is, after all, to celebrate women’s writing, creativity, talent and unique experiences. I think GWO brings something new, fresh and relevant and deserves to win, even though I enjoyed The Mirror and the Light more. And although both Weather and Hamnet left me wanting something different out of them (I wanted more from Weather and less from Hamnet… way less), both of them do something interesting, whereas A Thousand Ships, which I loved, brings absolutely nothing new, especially to this prize, which has seen far too many Greek retellings. Finally, I was disappointed with Dominicana in a way that I just cannot hope for it to win, even if it’s a story that could have touched my heart and done so much by bringing to life the struggles of an immigrant woman and touch on identity, language, agency and so on.

I did not read the entire longlist, but here are the reviews on those I did read:

I also wrote a few posts related to this prize, including a conspiracy theories post and one about the alternative WP longlist a few brilliant bloggers and I put together!

Basically, this blog is 70% reading and reviewing Women’s Prize longlisted or potentially longlisted or should’ve-been-longlisted books and then raving/ranting/creating conspiracy theories about it. The other 30% is me yelling about Latin American literature and Sapphics. We have a grand old time here and my followers always get high-quality educational content (ha!).

[Edit] Thoughts on the Winner: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

The result is out!

Hamnet has won the prize, rather predictably! Okay I didn’t predict it, but most bloggers I follow did, and honestly I am quite disappointed. This is a gorgeous book, written masterfully (although overdone, in my opinion) and with a theme that resonates with a lot of readers right now. The reasons why I am disappointed at the result has nothing to do with Maggie O’Farrell’s talent, in fact I quite enjoyed some parts of the book, despite all my complaining about it, and it’s technically among the best ones of the list for sure.

My main issue with it winning is who I think should’ve won instead:

  • The Mirror and the Light would’ve brought to the forefront a powerful, unique and incredibly executed historical fiction that explores the final years of Cromwell’s life and is an interesting, complicated take on several characters that have been otherwise cartoonishly overrepresented in the genre.
  • Ducks, Newburyport (yes!! I’m bringing this up again) was mysteriously ignored by the prize, despite being a challenging book that had people laughing, crying and holding their breath in expectation. It remains one of the best books I’ll read all my life, with a perfect execution of a very difficult writing style.
  • My Dark Vanessa would’ve brought an insightful, sensitive, complicated look into what it’s like to be groomed by your teacher and struggle with who you are if what you lived for so, so long is not in fact the love story you’ve been telling yourself. A painful but so relevant and so well portrayed read, it’s truly unforgettable.
  • How We Disappeared is a historical fiction for people who don’t like historical fiction: a mystery and a fresh, necessary look into the victims of WWII that we don’t talk enough about, the women who were used as “comfort women” by Japanese troupes.
  • And finally, Girl, Woman, Other was my champion and continues to be, first because it would be an incredible statement to have it win the WP after it had to share the Booker win with Atwood and thus being “the other writer who won the Booker” in several articles, when she was not overlooked altogether. But also this book is such a vibrant look into the lives of twelve people, focused on Black women and so full of heartbreak but also joy.

I am surely missing on several other fantastic, groundbreaking reads, but those were on the top of my head. I am not upset that the win will make people read Hamnet – I think it is quite good and most people will like it. I am however upset at all the books people will NOT pick up instead, all the missed opportunities for showing what women’s writings can do, how unique they can be and to tell the stories of women who have been forgotten or silenced.

Still, I am happy for the author, and just rather freshly upset about GWO not winning, so please take my comments with a grain of salt, I am sure this post would have a milder tone if I’d written it in a couple days, but I wanted to have it done today! I am glad for some of the books I read for the longlist, and I am excited already for the one for next year. At least we have conversations about these books (some of which I’d not have heard about otherwise), and I feel that more and more people are following the WP from early on, and it’s exciting to see people get involved, discuss books and cheer for favorites. Here’s to a more interesting list next year, but also for celebrating women’s books!

Review: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

hamnet maggie ofarrell

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Historical Fiction

A young Latin tutor—penniless and bullied by a violent father—falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

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Weekly Wrap-Up 1 – 7 September: The ARCs start coming and they DON’T STOP COMING

Hello readers!

I went a little bit excitedly into Netgalley and Edelweiss a couple weeks ago and requested 16 books. Last week I got approved for eight and this week for another three, two of which I had no memory of requesting (although I’m very excited for them!). So… I’m in trouble.

I also have gotten the block editor for WordPress and had a mild meltdown on Twitter:

I’m slowly getting used to it but it’s a somewhat frustrating experience. Thankfully I had a bunch of posts ready and took some time on Sunday to learn how to use the editor, I can’t imagine what it’s like if you actually post every day and write your posts the day you post them and suddenly get the new editor blocks. ANYWAY.

My Netgalley haul this week:

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Weekly Wrap Up

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell / 3 stars

I feel like this is objectively a 4-star read but I was incredibly bored during the entire book and I’ve been struggling to write a review – hopefully I have one prepared for tomorrow because on the 9th we have the announcement of the WP winner and I want my review post to be up before that!

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami / Ongoing

I’m halfway through! This is such a great book I’m considering getting a physical copy to re-read it at some point. I loved part 1 and I think part 2 is not as strong but it’s still a great read and I’m having one of those “oh this is why I love reading” moments every time I pick it up, which doesn’t happen all that often.

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea / DNF

I went all the way to 33% and literally all we had was an endless repetition of the 3 facts that we get to know already in the beginning. It took 20% of the book for us to even be introduced to the actual main characters. I am sure this will be an entertaining read once we get past say, half of the book, but I got really bored and lost any curiosity for who the killer might be. I’m also not very happy about the representation of Rory, an autistic girl with OCD and social anxiety, who seems like a Sheldon-like caricature of a quirky genius. I wouldn’t have minded that so much if the story had been actually gripping (although I resent the whole “it’s okay if you’re different/eccentric as long as you’re a genius!!” thing that is so prevalent in thrillers/police TV shows). I do love the whole true crime podcast thing, and that’s what kept me reading for that long in the first place. But then it was all gore and sensationalism and quirky genius girl and slow plot, so I gave up.

a falencia julia lopes de almeida

A Falência por Júlia Lopes de Almeida / Ongoing

I am truly enjoying this??? It’s about a high society married woman who’s having a (ridiculously poorly hidden) affair and one day her husband loses his fortune. Apparently it’s more about the class struggles than the affair (I thought it’d be sort of a Anna Karenina / Madame Bovary book, but not really) I’m around 25% through so far but her writing is GORGEOUS and she’s so sharp, I can’t believe people (men) erased her books.

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What did you read this week?

Sapphic Books Recommendations Part 2

Hello readers!

I was going to take a while longer to post this when I had around 30 books like on Part 1, but it’s Sapphic September and I thought it would be timely to post it now.

I did include in this list some books I decided not to finish or weren’t particularly of my taste, because it occurred to me that these books weren’t for me but could be another reader would actually enjoy them!

You can read other parts of this series here:

Sapphic Books Recommendations Part 1

Other recommendations and lists here:

Upcoming F/F Books On My Radar

February Wrap Up incl. what I read for #FFFeb + March Reading Plans W9/2020

#FFFeb TBR and Recommendations

If you liked this book, try this F/F book!

Top 10 F/F Books on my TBR

My Favorite F/F Book by Genre

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kept animals kate milliken snare lilja sigurdardottir exciting times noise dolan

Kept Animals by Kate Milliken

If you love coming-of-age stories and don’t mind getting your heart broken, this is such a beautiful story of a girl named Rory, whose life is turned upside down when an accident happens, ending in death and so much pain. The lives of everyone in the town are affected by it, and as Rory starts riding her beloved horse competitively and falling in love with Vivian, catastrophic events are set in motion. This was one of the best representations of relationships, love and hurt that I’ve seen, and it was bleak but also warm and beautiful. Continue reading

eARC Review: Hysteria by Jessica Gross

hysteria jessica gross

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

In HYSTERIA, we meet a young woman an hour into yet another alcohol-fueled, masochistic, sexual bender at her local bar. There is a new bartender working this time, one she hasn’t seen before, and who can properly make a drink. He looks familiar, and as she is consumed by shame from her behavior the previous week— hooking up with her parents’ colleague and her roommate’s brother— she also becomes convinced that her Brooklyn bartender is actually Sigmund Freud. They embark on a relationship, and she is forced to confront her past through the prism of their complex, revealing, and sometimes shocking meetings. With the help of Freud—or whoever he is—she begins to untangle her Oedipal leanings, her upbringing, and her desires.

This became immediately one of my most anticipated reads for this year the moment I saw this cover and the synopsis. I adore the “messy woman” trope, dark-toned stories about 20-something women who misbehave wildly, get into a lot of trouble and often don’t get the therapy they so sorely need. It’s just really an enjoyable kind of read for me. Continue reading

Women in Translation Wrap Up

Hello readers!

Women in Translation month is sadly over! I may be biased (I’m totally biased) but this is my favorite readathon of the year. I loved picking up new-to-me books and discovering new favorites, from creepy reads to magical family sagas. My original TBR had a few books more, but it was quite unrealistic to read them all anyway and I am glad for what I read in the end! I also ended up picking up a few I hadn’t planned on at all. There was not a SINGLE flop, they were all brilliant reads!

noite em caracas karina sainz borgoThe House of Spirits Isabel Allende a chave de casa tatiana salem levy

It Would be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo / Review

As I said a few times, this was probably the most important book I’ve read this month – it shines a light on the situation in Venezuela through the story of Adelaida, a woman who’s dealing with grief over her mother’s death, leaving her all alone in a violent country where she isn’t safe and must make a difficult choice to save herself. Continue reading