Every year I try to come up with new reading goals for the year so that I try and read more of the stuff I’d actually like to accomplish, otherwise I just cave in to the hype of books that maybe I would not otherwise really be interested in! For 2020 I had planned to read less but that did NOT work out once the pandemic hit, so for 2021…
1) I’d like to read between 50 and 100 books
For comparison, in 2020 I read 135 books. I want to prioritize other parts of my life, go back to running, socialize (lmao) and so on.
2) Read at least 10 Brazilian books
I read like 7 Brazilian books this year, which is SO little. And yet, they shone really bright and I found a few favorites, and so I’m really looking forward to picking up more! Above are some that I already own and would really like to get to soon.
As usual, some books were really hard to categorize as one thing or another, and some categories were so difficult to narrow down to 3 books! I read dozens of thrillers and mysteries, whereas classic fiction I read maybe 5 a year, so it’s much easier to choose only 3. I also change the categories every year a little bit, in order to reflect my reading trends of that particular year – for example, if I read a bunch of new authors (more than 1 book by them, that is), I like to include a Best New-To-Me Authors, which I didn’t do this year, but I did include a Best Brazilian Books & Best Translated Fiction, since I’ve been reading lots of both this year, and also added more Non-Fiction categories.
Funnily enough, none of the books below were 5 star reads, but they were still favorites that I LOVED and want to re-read. Also they all broke my heart. Breasts and Eggs was witty, smart and insightful into the lives of women in Japan; Little Gods made me fall in love with the main character just to break my heart; and My Dark Vanessa is one of the most complicated, dark books out there and deserves recognition for all the nuance and sensitivity with which the author wrote about its heavy themes.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell / Review
A really strong year for historical fiction! I loved all three books below, although I admit they’re mostly bleak stuff, all three are wonderfully written. How We Disappeared shines a light on the fate of Singaporean women who were kidnapped and forced to serve as “comfort women” to Japanese troops – it’s also not as difficult a read as I thought it would be, the author mixed a bit of mystery in which made this not as hard. I knew I would love The Mirror and the Light and so it was not a surprise when I did – this is such a worthy ending to the wonderful trilogy of Thomas Cromwell. The Mercies broke my heart in a million pieces with its story about witch hunting in 17th century Norway, love, suspicion and loss.
I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.
There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.
El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
This year I put more effort into reading Latin-American books and it definitely showed – I found a bunch of new favorites! Here are my top 10. I’d like to remind my readers that I’m Brazilian, and therefore the list is quite Brazil-lit heavy. Also! A lot of these are recommendations from my friend Chelle, who has a TBR service where she picks books for you to read based on your personal taste and what you’d like to read more of. Without further ado, here were my 10 favorite Latin American reads:
10. Eartheater by Dolores Reyes, translated by Julia Sanches
I did not love, love this book but it did something new and interesting with its story, so I’m recommending it!
Set in an unnamed slum in contemporary Argentina, Earth-eater is the story of a young woman who finds herself drawn to eating the earth—a compulsion that gives her visions of broken and lost lives. With her first taste of dirt, she learns the horrifying truth of her mother’s death. Disturbed by what she witnesses, the woman keeps her visions to herself. But when Earth-eater begins an unlikely relationship with a withdrawn police officer, word of her ability begins to spread, and soon desperate members of her community beg for her help, anxious to uncover the truth about their own loved ones.
I just turned 30! I thought it would be a fun trip down memory lane to take a look at the books that helped shape who I am today and how my reading tastes changed over the years. This is a rather long post, but I am indulging myself this one time.
First I’ll start with my favorite childhood books! I’ve read a lot since I can remember, with my parents also being big readers and my little sister, too. We spent countless Summers at my grandmother’s house reading all the books we could put our dirty little hands on.
I was tending towards fantasy back then, which is still one of my favorite genres nowadays! I also read a lot of comics (hundreds of the Turma da Mônica, for sure).
Synopsis: After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead.
Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.
Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?
In Silent Scream, a crime was committed ten years ago, and now the people involved in it are dying, one by one. Detective Inspector Kim Stone is assigned to the case, and as the bodies start piling up, she must find the connection between them, find out what they did and who is behind all this. At the same time, her own dark past is catching up with her, as she sees on the victim all those years ago, a mirror of who she used to be. This is a very intriguing thriller, with so many mysteries to be put together and connected somehow, and I actually really liked Kim. She’s tough and no-nonsense to the point of caricature, and I found it fun to follow her along the investigation. The mystery is very formulaic, and I’m not sure if I will remember the plot in a few months, but I will remember Silent Scream was an exciting read and had a cool twists!
I received an advance copy via Edelweiss Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: On the night of June Fourth, a woman gives birth in a Beijing hospital alone. Thus begins the unraveling of Su Lan, a brilliant physicist who until this moment has successfully erased her past, fighting what she calls the mind’s arrow of time.
When Su Lan dies unexpectedly seventeen years later, it is her daughter Liya who inherits the silences and contradictions of her life. Liya, who grew up in America, takes her mother’s ashes to China—to her, an unknown country. In a territory inhabited by the ghosts of the living and the dead, Liya’s memories are joined by those of two others: Zhu Wen, the woman last to know Su Lan before she left China, and Yongzong, the father Liya has never known. In this way a portrait of Su Lan emerges: an ambitious scientist, an ambivalent mother, and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and ultimately unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacement.
A story of migrations literal and emotional, spanning time, space and class, Little Gods is a sharp yet expansive exploration of the aftermath of unfulfilled dreams, an immigrant story in negative that grapples with our tenuous connections to memory, history, and self.
We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper
Categories: True Crime
First Publication Date: November 10th 2020
I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard’s Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.
Forty years later, Becky Cooper, a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she’d threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumor proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a “cowboy culture” among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.