ARCs Update: Review (The Cliff House)

Hello readers!

Sorry, I only have one review today to share. The last ARC I read (which is not the one I’m reviewing today) put me in a slump and I haven’t been able to read for a few days now.

Reviews

The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre

Pub Date 24 May 2022

The Cliff House is a And Then There Were None Retelling if it were set in a Scottish island for a hen party and everyone has secrets. This gives me strong Liane Moriarty and TJR vibes (if they wrote this kind of closed-room whodunits). This is very in line with the more over-the-top, fun thrillers that have seen a bit of a resurge lately and I’ve been having a lot of fun reading this kind of book. This was no exception! For a fun, over-the-top read, definitely pick this one up, it will keep you entertained – even if I thought the solution was pretty obvious, it was still fun to get there.

This was very good and entertaining, but it felt like I’ve read this story so many times before.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ARCs Update: Reviews (The Club, Hide, Devotion)

Hello readers!

Some interesting titles this week, as I try to read a few ARCs to compensate for the stuff I just received, and now I’m back to 80% rating! Success.

Reviews

Hide by Kiersten White

Pub Date 24 May 2022

Hide is Kersten White’s adult debut and I was ecstactic to receive this ARC! I loved And I Darken, but ended up not finishing the series because I was in the process of falling out of love with YA at the time, so this horror/thriller was way up in my list of most anticipated reads for 2022. And it didn’t disappoint!

This new(ish) wave of social horror works really well for me, and Hide is no exception. It has the very cool setting of an abandoned amusement park, and it’s about fourteen people competing for a prize on a potential reality show. I really liked how we got insight into every cahracter and, although with such a huge cast it’s impossible to really get into each one very deeply, I never felt like they were treated superficially, not even the first ones to leave the contest. It feels to me that White’s writing has matured a lot since the last book I read from her, and not only because she’s writing adult fiction.

This made me stay up way too late, not only to finish the book but because it terrified me SO much, which does not happen often with books at all. I had a great time reading this and hope she will continue to write horror and thrillers!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Top 3 Places to See Capybaras in Curitiba, Brazil

Hello readers!

Today we’ll do something a bit different. A few months ago I went to Brazil (where I’m from) and saw about a million capybaras. A lot of people on my social media were pretty interested in that, and I thought writing about a city in Brazil that I love but isn’t very well-known among travelers from other countries could be fun!

So, first of all, this is Curitiba:

It’s a gorgeous city, with many parks, lots of green, museums, theater. There are beautiful train rides you can take to visit the Atlantic Forest, or you can spend the day shopping any one of the many malls. It’s a city with such variety and so many options of what you can do – I’ve been in love with it for decades now and I’m pleased to talk about it in my blog!

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ARCs Update: Reviews (Daisy Darker, The Sentence)+ Received

Hello readers!

Some interesting titles this week, as I try to read a few ARCs to compensate for the stuff I just received, and now I’m back to 80% rating! Success.

Reviews

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Pub Date 18 Aug 2022

Okay so I reviewed Nine Lives by Peter Swanson not that long ago, and proceeded to swear off retellings, especially of And Then There Were None (I’ll refer to it as ATTWN). Nothing so far has been able to evoke quite the same atmosphere of ATTWN, and I tend to appreciate better those which are only very loosely inspired by it. But then I saw Alice Feeney had a book out this year and it was a rather close retelling of ATTWN and I immediately requested it – all lessons from the last ARC promptly forgotten.

Daisy Darker tells the story of a family who gathers to celebrate grandma’s 80th birthday on Halloween, in a private island where they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for several hours. At midnight, grandma is found dead. One hour later, another member of the family dies…

I had such fun reading Rock, Paper, Scissors that I had faith Alice Feeney would at least tell a very entertaining and twisty story. Boy, did she! This kept me turning pages like there was no tomorrow. It’s not a perfect book by any means, there were some pacing issues because of all the flashbacks especially on the first half of the book, but I was so intrigued to find out everyone’s secrets that I just flew threw this. Plus the family’s interactions were so awkward and full of juicy drama. And! Lots of twists, as it’s truly Alice Feeney’s specialty. If you love a good Agatha Christie vibe – including rich-eccentric-person-leaves-a-controversial-will (one of my favorite tropes) – plus you enjoy Gothic, creepy stories, definitely pick this one up!

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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If You Liked This Book, Try This 2022 Release

Hello readers!

I love writing this kind of post, recommending books based on a particular book’s vibes, plot line or so – and I think most of us are often looking for a book that will match what we enjoyed in past favorites. So I really like posting these recommendations – and here are my recs for 2022 releases based on recent releases (of the past 5 years or so) I’ve really enjoyed.

A lot of the fun of reading Lock Every Door by Riley Sager for me was the atmosphere: a building with fancy, enormous, grand apartments where the super rich live, full of secret passages and old relics of the (glamorous) past of the building and the families that have lived there for so long. There is also something extremely satisfying about reading about rich people being unhappy and murderous. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley (came out on February 22nd 2022) also takes place in a beautiful, impossibly expensive building and gives us a glimpse on that

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ARCs Update: Reviews (Vladimir, Our Wives Under the Sea)+ Received

Hello readers!

Some interesting titles this week, as I try to read a few ARCs to compensate for the stuff I just received, and now I’m back to 80% rating! Success.

Reviews

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

Pub Date 1 Feb 2022

This is a dark, provocative debut, and I LOVED it. Vladimir is the story of a woman in her 50s whose husband is being investigated for his relationship with students in the past, and she becomes obsessed with a new professor in her University (the eponymous Vladimir). This novel has such an incredible, addictive voice and it’s just such fun to read. I could hardly believe this is a debut, the writing was just so electrifying and bold.

One of my my favorite things was how the main character is this complex, unlikable, self-absorbed woman and how her relationship with Vladimir is about her objectifying him and projecting her own desires on him, which is an interesting shift from so many novels where it’s the male protagonist obsessing over a younger, beautiful woman. She is stuck in her thoughts and learned behaviors when it comes to sex, politics and power, from a time when women were trying to become sexually liberated, and this often comes in conflict with the views on sexuality and power dynamics from younger generations (like her daughter and her students). It’s just such a perceptive look into generational differences and gave this novel a depth I was not quite expecting. Vladimir really got me thinking and adjusting my perspective and getting into the headspace of the main character – which is always the sign to me of a brilliant novel. There was no way I was going to give this less than 5 stars. It was just such an enthralling read that had me talking about it nonstop for days. I just recently got a physical copy of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 Longlist Prediction

Hello readers!

So it feels like I JUST reacted to the winner of the 2021 prize (Piranesi by Susanna Clarke! Fantastic choice) but here we are again, trying to guess this year’s longlist! Looking forward to failing catastrophically at predicting anything yet again!

[The list below has been edited to include more lists as I find them]

A couple lists are already out – check out:

Longlist Prediction

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ARCs Update: Reviews (The Wolf Den, Cherish Farrah, Matrix)+ Received

Hello readers!

I finished a couple ARCs this week and received a few more, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about what I read and what I added to my shelves!

Reviews

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Pub Date 29 Mar 2022

This novel was a wonderful read. I could not put this down and missed out on some sleep to read it. Who needs to be awake at work? I NEEDED to read this. First of all, it’s one of those stories that could easily be a heavy read that makes you feel ill and depressed reading, and while the author does not sugar coat any of the horrors of the life of a prostitute in Pompeii, neither does it become too gruesome to read on. I think Elodie Harper found a good balance between being sensitive about difficult topics and still presenting a faithful image of reality.

I read Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker a while ago and while I liked it, I did not love it really. The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper gave me exactly what I kind of hoped for from SotG – a main character who is vulnerable but smart, a bit cold and very resourceful. Amara is a wonderful main character to follow and I loved seeing the world of Pompeii through her eyes, and I also enjoyed that while the people of Pompeii believed in gods, they (the gods) don’t make an appearance at all, giving you the impression of a realistic and well-built world. I also loved the secondary characters in their flawed personalities and how they brought this story to life.

Also! I need to look up Pompeii’s history because I’m pretty sure a lot of historical references are going over my head.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive this as an ARC and I absolutely loved it. I cannot really think of any complaints about this novel, although I was wondering at times if some of the characters didn’t fall a bit too much on the usual tropes, but I think they have been written in a beautifully human way and the tropes didn’t bother me much at all.

Highly recommend this!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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ARCs Update: Reviews (This One Sky Day, The Odyssey)+ Received

Hello readers!

I finished a couple ARCs this week and received a few more, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about what I read and what I added to my shelves!

Reviews

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Pub Date April 13th 2021

I was a bit in an audiobook mood this week so decided to pick this up in audio since I have tried before to read it and was so supremely bored I considered DNF-ing it (which I did), but then saw so many 5-star reviews from bloggers I admire that I decided to give it another chance (which I now did). And, well, it was fine.

I am shamefully late with this one, but in my defense… I didn’t want to read it. This is one of those books where I can see its merits, and I can objectively admire how vivid and viscerally this is written, the characters coming alive in Leone Ross’ brilliant writing. I also thought I’d like it because it was a magical realism literary fiction, which is something I absolutely love reading, but I just did not click with it at all. I am not able to articulate exactly why, but something about the storytelling did not grasp me, and even when I enjoyed the writing, I could not enjoy the story itself. This is a slow-paced novel, which made the chore of finishing this drag on even more. It just never seemed to really pick up steam and then the Big Event that happens around half or two-thirds in was just so weird and absurd. It just really put me off.

It did not work for me, I was simply not the right audience – so I guess it will be a better match for other readers, perhaps if you enjoy absurd humor and magical realism. Don’t let me my uninspired review stop you from reading it if this book interested you.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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Books I Want to Read Until the Women’s Prize Longlist Comes Out

Hello readers!

Okay so I’m writing this post mainly as a list I can come back to in the next month or two, because I think all the books below have a chance of making it to the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022. I like to read as many books as I can before the longlist is out so that I can write a well-informed prediction for it a few days before the announcement – I still always end up failing spectacularly, but it’s fun to try anyway.

I started writing this post a while ago so I actually already read a couple of these, but I’ll include them anyway because why not.

This One Sky Day by Leone Ross is well-loved in my circles but did not really work for me – this is a fantasy lit fic set in an island and it follows the lives of several characters. This is vivid, wonderfully written and I think it’s perfect for people who just want to get sucked into its world and while I admired the craft, this just didn’t quite resonate with me. I wouldn’t be mad to see it in the list, though!

The Odyssey by Lara Williams is a bonkers litfic about a woman making bad decisions, so it has a good chance of making it to the list. I get the feeling it won’t actually get listed, but I am reading it at the moment and really enjoying!

Second Place by Rachel Cusk might actually be too short to qualify, I am not sure. But it’s an introspective look into human relationships and male privilege, so it sounds like the kind of stuff that would be in the list.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara was endlessly long and boring and while it is beautifully written, I will not be too happy if this is in the list.

Matrix by Lauren Groff is one I have mixed expectations for – it seems like a given that this will make it into the list, it just seems to tick all the WP boxed: retelling of something nobody asked for through the eyes of a forgotten woman, girl power, flowery writing. I do love Lauren Groff – her novel Fates and Furies will forever be one of my favorites – but this sounds a bit like too much black-and-white view of a historical setting for the sake of showing how progressive the main character, the embodiment of girl power which doesn’t fit with society’s expectations. I just feel a bit wary of this novel.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield is a Sapphic horror/litfic that sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it – I REALLY hope this makes it to the WP, it would be cool to see more horror in the prize (except for my usual ~horror at the titles they neglect).