Categories: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Actress is the story of Katherine O’Dell, a glamorous Irish actress who famously shot a man in the foot and was institutionalized for being mad, as told by her daughter Norah.
This was one of the books I was most excited for in the Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist of this year! It has everything I love in fiction: glamour, secrets, gorgeous writing and an alluring, difficult main character. I loved Katherine O’Dell as a character so much, and spent the entire novel wishing the story was told from her perspective instead of Norah’s. I did not care much for Norah, nor understand why she addresses the book to her husband in “you” format. Having the point of view this way certainly added a certain mystery and glamour to Katherine, but would have enjoyed the book a lot more if it had been told in third person. Continue reading
Categories: Literary Fiction
In Weather, Lizzie is a librarian who is a fake shrink to her mother and to her brother, Henry, who is a recovering addict and whose wife is about to give birth to their first child. She starts assisting Sylvia, her old professor at University, answer emails for her podcast, which forces Lizzie to confront her own life and the situation of the world,
Weather was one of the books I was looking most forward to from the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 Longlist, but in the end I was left wanting more from it. For starters, I struggled to write a paragraph about the book’s plot, because there isn’t actually much of it at all. Continue reading
Categories: Contemporary Fiction
When Tom says he needs a break and Queenie needs to move out, she tries to tell herself it’s not as bad as all that, she’ll live for a few months in a shared apartment and then go back to he relationship, even better than before. But as her break becomes messier and messier, Queenie’s mental health deteriorates and she makes increasingly worse choices.
Whew, this book knocked me out of the park and left me a mess. It starts off rather runny, I was snorting on my lunch break, but as Queenie starts to make terrible choices and act detached from her own life, my heart started to break. I think this book hit me hard because I went through a breakdown too, some years ago, and jeopardized a lot of things in the process, including not doing my job and ignoring my friends and family, detaching myself from my life – so as Queenie becomes more unlikable and makes worse choices that a person doing okay never could understand, I couldn’t help but sympathize. We did not go through the same things at all (I’m not a black woman, for starters, and had the support of my family and boyfriend), and my heart aches so much for all the horrors she had to go through. Continue reading
Categories: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
How We Disappeared tells the story of Wang Di, an old woman from Singapore who’s just lost her husband before she told him her story of the war and listened to his own. Trying to find out the truth is much harder now that the war is long over and so many people are dead or missing. Her own story hurts too much and she tries to not think about it if she can – she’s never told her husband she was a “comfort woman”. On the other side of the town, Kevin finds out his grandmother found his father when he was a baby and never gave him back to the biological father she later found out still lived. Continue reading
I haven’t done bilingual reviews in a while, but since I read this very popular Brazilian classic, I thought it would be worth the effort writing a double review. The Hour of the Star is one of the few translated books from Brazil that English-speakers have access to more or less easily, so I am reviewing here the edition I read in Portuguese. I’ve heard that the translated work isn’t very good, and I completely believe it – Clarice has a writing style that is probably really hard to translate in the first place. I would be curious to see how the translation was done, but honestly, I’ve had quite enough of this book and would prefer moving on to her other stories.
Categories: Literary Fiction, Classic Fiction
I recently re-read Felicidade Clandestina and was impressed by how much I loved Clarice Lispector’s short stories, so I might have come into The Hour of the Star with high expectations, but I was sorely disappointed. The Hour of the Star tells the story of Macabéa, a girl from Northeast Brazil who lives in poverty in Rio de Janeiro. The entire story is told by a male narrator that insists he is in love with Macabéa (although she’s fictional) and must tell her story; which is quite interesting, since he spends most of the book talking about himself instead. Macabéa, put into the background of her own story, is left with a collective of stereotypes and tragedy. She is the kind of character that is hard to root for, because we never really get to know her. After the entire book, I still felt like I barely knew her at all. In terms of literary accomplishment, this philosophical and introspective voice of the narrator is surely new, fresh and interesting, but it did not translate into a good book overall, for me. Continue reading
Categories: Noir Thriller, F/F, translated fiction
Snare is the story of Sonja, a mother who finds herself in a nasty divorce settlement after her husband catches her in bed with another woman. To be able to pay her lawyer’s fees, she starts to smuggle drugs into the country, and finds out she is actually very good at that. She needs only a few more jobs before she has enough money saved to try to get custody of her son again – if she can survive and escape the Snare.
I did not expect to like this as much as I did, in fact – I’ve picked up so many books that ended up disappointing lately and felt like a cold, noir mystery. The writing is spare and to the point, which I really enjoyed. This is the kind of noir that I think of when I want to read noir, and although I’d have preferred it to be a standalone, I think it’s very encouraging that the books are slim. I loved the complicated relationship between Agla and Sonja, and the complexity of the situations they found themselves in both by their own doing and by circumstance – and the scheming of others. This is a quite intense read!
The longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 came out! (crowd cheers)
My TBR cries as I add 13 books to it, but that’s okay because I’m pretty excited to read those. I am surprised that Ducks, Newburyport didn’t make it and honestly disappointed to not see it there. I’m less surprised that The Man Who Saw Everything and My Dark Vanessa didn’t make it either, but I really wish they had! The Testaments isn’t there either, which actually pleases me, as I really didn’t want to pick it up.
My thoughts on the books for this year: Continue reading
I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
In 1982, Viv Delaney disappeared during her night shift in the Sun Down Motel and was never seen again. No one knows if she’s dead or alive, and her family doesn’t talk about her. Except for Carly, her niece, who in 2017 is trying to find answers about what happened to her aunt. She finds herself drawn to Fell and the Sun Down Motel, working the same night shift where Viv worked, and finding that there is something going on there which maybe can only be explained by the supernatural. Continue reading
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Exciting Times is the story of Ava, a young woman from Ireland living in Hong Kong and working as an English teacher. She has a complicated relationship with Julian, who’s not technically her boyfriend, and things complicate further when Julian leaves Hong Kong for several months and Ava meets Edith. She does not tell Edith about Julian, and doesn’t tell Julian about Edith. Hopefully things will just sort themselves out somehow… Continue reading
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, F/F
I received an advance copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Harrow is now a Lyctor, and joins God and the other Lyctors in a war they cannot win. Her health is failing and her mind is, too – she is almost sure she’s going mad.
Harrow the Ninth is a puzzle of a book – entirely different from Gideon the Ninth, it starts exchanging between present (second person) and past (person), which I found terribly confusing. For a (fleeting) moment I considered not continuing the book at all because it was frustrating to try to keep up; while book 1 is deliciously addictive from chapter one, it took book 2 almost 70% of the book to feel the same way for me. Harrow is quite different from the first book, and the reader should be ready to be patient with it. It is worth reading through the confusing chapters, I promise, and once you start getting answers (and some of them you can try to guess yourself, which was exciting for me), it’s seriously worth it. The twists blew my mind. Continue reading