Analysis of The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Salem Levy

a chave de casa tatiana salem levy

In August I reviewed this unique, amazing book, and I mentioned I wanted to write an Analysis and Discussion post for it, because I thought it had so many layers and interpretations, and while I’ve seen a few articles about it in Portuguese, I hadn’t found a comparable article in English (naturally, as the book is originally written in Portuguese). I tend to avoid spoilers in my review, and to discuss this book in depth I had to write a separate post, so that if you’re looking for a review, check out this post instead: Review: The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Salem Levy.

I’m no Literature graduate, my views here presented are not scholarly but rather a result of reading the book, analysing/interpreting it and reading a few articles. My aim here is to have a layman discussion on the book in case it gets picked up by English-speaking readers who want to talk about it. Where the ideas come not from my personal conclusions but from others, I’ve named the source and linked it in Further Reading at the end of this post.

Also my quotes are free translations of the Portuguese edition and may differ from the official English translation!

This post is full of spoilers!

Continue reading

Review: The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

Categories: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism

First Publication Date: 4. April 2019


Synopsis: Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter is not as harmless as she seems.

Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too.

The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect?

Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up 15 – 21 Sept: Short Break So I Can Get Drunk in Peace (Yay Vacation!)

Hello readers!

I have vacation starting this week! This means little or nothing to you, unfaithful readers who won’t miss me, except that I will not do Wrap Ups for the next couple of weeks. I will be hiking with my husband, drinking several kinds of wine abundantly (it’s called tasting) and partying with our cat (lmao) and at least during the hike we will not bring computers so I won’t be blogging. Do not fret, I would never disappoint my readers (I totally would) and I’ve left lots of posts scheduled.

That is also the reason why I will sadly not participate on Latinx Heritage Month readathons! My reading will be very non-structured the next couple of weeks and I’m also trying to read more ARCs, which are mostly non-Latinx (also sadly). But that’s okay, I’ll catch up on my Latinx reads later on.

This week I added to my e-reader, from my subscription to Chelle’s TBR recommendations:

I was gonna add more (she always recommends me around 10 books per month!) but then I looked at my TBR and thought “huhhhhhhh maybe I start with these three”.

I also received from Netgalley:

Continue reading

eARC Review: The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Categories: Contemporary Fiction


Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy has set her career aside in order to devote her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, Jake.

The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but make a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage—she will hurt him three times.

As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return.


As I started the book, it seemed to me it would be too much of an indulgent revenge fantasy story, and it is definitely that, but it’s also an addictive read and with surprising depth. There is definitely no shortage of books about infidelity in marriage, but this one definitely stands out with its daring plot.

The author tries to give us glimpses of the life of Lucy and how she came to have this violence inside her, how the patterns of the life of her parents repeated themselves and so on, which I found a bit overdone. The interesting thing about the story, for me, was that she could have been any wife, any woman who’s been cheated on and fantasized about taking revenge. By giving Lucy so much backstory, it felt to me that she was over-explained.

If you enjoy stories about messy women making bad choices on purpose (this reminded me a bit of Supper Club in that regard: a story about women’s hunger for darker things than society expects them to), then I think this will be an enjoyable read! If you hope for a literary work with a deep exploration of relationship dynamics, violence and guilt (as I did), then you will be disappointed – this is more a revenge story that also showcases the daily pressures, trauma and violence women go through. I also expected a more lyrical prose (the blurb talks of poetic prose), but found it quite regular. As a last and petty complaint, I love magical realism in a story, and I really liked the harpy allegory, but I did not think the magical part of the story was well-executed, it felt clunky and forced.

In the end, I enjoyed the read and devoured this book, but I doubt it will be very memorable for me down the line. This is Megan Hunter’s sophomore book, and I think it was a very intriguing one even though I did not love it, and I will keep an eye out for her next books.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Categories: Literary Fiction, Mystery


Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.


The Glass Hotel is a literary mystery that explores the consequences of Jonathan Alkaitis’ Ponzi scheme on the lives of several people. Vincent, who pretends to be his second wife, is arguably one of the main characters, but we get insights into the lives of others, old friends, an estranged brother, some victims, whose stories are connected by the crime and form one narrative of broken relationships, unsolved issues, chance, corruption.

I first approached this book expecting a regular mystery, in the line of The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James minus the ghosts or The Hunting Party by Lucy Foyle but more literary, but it reminds me far more of Disappearing Earth by Julia Philips. Like the latter, the beauty of this book is on the portrayal of the lives of the people in the story, some of them only marginally connected to the crime. It’s a lovely book to sit down with for several hours and get lost in.

Because I expected something a bit different from the book, my experience was not optimal, and it took me several chapters to really get into the story; the change in points of view made me get distracted a lot. By the time I was halfway through I had gotten used to the book’s rythm, and then it was a really wonderful read. I would be curious to re-read this knowing now what to expect from the story format.

The beautiful writing really brings this to another level and makes the book a poignant read that I highly recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

WordPress Block Editor: Quick Tips for Book Bloggers

Hello readers!

Welcome to the WordPress Block Editor: we hate it here. In case you just got it (like me) and have more or less understood how it works but insist on using the Classic block because Who Has the Time, I thought gathering a couple tips that helped me actually almost enjoy (gasp!) using it by now would be a good idea. They’re simple things but maybe you find something that helps!


1) Use a fixed toolbar

If you click on a block and every time it drives you crazy when the toolbar hovers over it, you can fix it to the top instead: click on the “…” on the upper right corner of the screen and select “Top Toolbar” (image on the left). See image on the right on how it will look like. The toolbar will stay fixed on the top of the screen even when you scroll down, so no need to scroll back up to use it!

2) Use keyboard shortcuts

If you hate clicking and searching all the time, you can use a few shortcuts to make your life easier:

  • Enter / to search blocks, for example, if I type /image it will show the options below. Click on any of them to add as a new block.

You can see all shortcuts by clicking on the “…” on the upper right corner of the screen next to the green symbol, and then “Keyboard Shortcuts”, or by clicking Shift + Alt + H.

On a similar note, if you want to write a text and add blank lines, but don’t want to create a new paragraph block for every empty line, just use shift + Enter.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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