eARC Review: The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James

the sun down motel simone st jamesRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery

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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

eARC Reviews: Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan, Apartment by Teddy Wayne

exciting times noise dolanExciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary

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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

Review: Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellmann

ducks newburyport lucy ellmannRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction

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Ducks, Newburyport is told through the stream of consciousness of a housewife in Ohio. Her thoughts meander through her daily routine, baking pies, her four children, the current news, the state of the world and memories of her life. It’s a story that gets woven with every page, and as you are literally reading what goes through the mind of the main character for a thousand pages, it’s quite delightful that she’s funny and the book goes so seamlessly into more serious topics or random thoughts,.

It is incredibly difficult to rate this. At times, when it bore me a little, I wanted to give it 3 stars – then the next page I was in awe of this book, the intricate, rich inner life of our protagonist and the impressive writing style and want to give it 5 stars. In the end, I compromised with 4, although I have a feeling I will change it to 5 at some point. Continue reading

eARC Review: My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

my dark vanessa kate elizabeth russelRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery

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

My Dark Vanessa was among my most anticipated books for 2020, and justifiably so. This intense, consuming book is an exploration of the psychological effects of abuse a teenage girl suffers from when she’s fifteen all the way into adulthood, and the love story she is convinced she lived, instead of the horrific reality of the abuse. It’s not an easy read, and it’s not for every reader. It was a rewarding experience to read this – I was left destroyed and with so many thoughts going through my head, I had no idea how to write this review. Continue reading

eARC Review: Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell

cleanness Garth GreenwellRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, M/M

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

I have not read Garth Greenwell’s other work What Belongs to You, and it was with no expectations and hardly any memory of the synopsis that I started it. What I knew of the book is that it would be an exploration of sexuality and identity, which is absolutely true. This book is very sexually explicit and beautifully written, the sentences not too flowery but still poignant. I was not sure I liked this book for the majority of it, because although I appreciated the writing and the themes, erotic literature is not quite what I normally pick up, and I felt uncomfortably like a voyeur. Basically, if you’re a prude like me, maybe skip this book. The main character, an American teacher, tells episodes of his life in Bulgaria, and how they reflected previous experiences he had in the US years before. I really enjoyed reading about Sofia and had my heart broken when learning the reality of homophobia there. Reading this a very immersive experience. Continue reading

Review: Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

fleishman is in trouble taffy brodesser-aknerRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

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Toby Fleishman is divorcing at forty-one, and finds himself suddenly addicted to the easy sex that dating apps provide for a man like him, despite the short height he’s always been insecure about, despite his age and the fact that he has children. When he starts finally enjoying the life as a single man after a miserable and loveless marriage, his ex-wife suddenly disappears, and he has the children over at his place for longer than he expected, and no idea where his ex might be. Is she alive, is she avoiding him, is she ok? As he tries to find her and juggle his job, the children and dating, he’s forced to face some truths about his marriage he might have been ignoring for years. Continue reading

eARC Review: A Beautiful Crime: A Novel by Christopher Bollen

a beautiful crime christopher bollenRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, M/M

Goodreads

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

A Beautiful Crime tells the story of two young men who are planning the scam of their lives to save themselves from financial ruin. Nick, a handsome boy from New York, is meeting his boyfriend Clay in Venice for what will be the adventure of a lifetime – or his worst mistake. With Nick’s charming personality and Clay’s knowledge of their target, they are sure they can succeed. But can they?

I think it is inevitable to compare this book with The Talented Mr. Ripley, and the similarities in atmosphere and even the plot mirrors it a bit: two Americans meeting in Italy, scams and even murder. I had a lot of fun reading this character-driven novel! It is a mystery, and I would hesitate to call it a thriller due to the plot being definitely too slow for that, but I was positively anxious by the end of the book and just had to know what happened next. Continue reading

Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, by Elif Shafak

10 minutes and 38 seconds in this strange world elif shafak

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

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Leila is dead – but her brain still shows activity for another 10 minutes and 38 seconds; and in those moments after death, she remembers the tastes and smells that bring her back memories from her childhood and then eventually becoming a prostitute in Istanbul.

This is a book that had everything to become an instant favorite for me. It tells the story of Leila, who worked as a prostitute in Istanbul, but also of her five closest friends, all of which are part of minorities living in the margins of Istanbul, and each one will probably end up in the Cemetery of Companionless, a real cemetery in the outskirts of the city for those who are unclaimed or unwanted. I liked how much diversity in the characters and their personalities there was – I also liked how Leila was strong and kind, despite all the things she goes through. Continue reading

Mini-Review: The Man Who Saw Everything, by Deborah Levy

the man who saw everything deborah levy

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, M/M

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In The Man Who Saw Everything, Saul Adler goes to East Germany in 1988 to do research and in exchange write a favorable report about the GDR. That is the very short description I can give about the plot of this book, but it is so much more than that.

Saul is a historian, a narcissistic, gorgeous-looking man whose narrative is deeply unreliable and it was both strange and fascinating to read. He’s clearly obsessed with himself and his own beauty, but also constantly defies gender in a nonchalant manner. He was one of the most interesting narrators I’ve seen in a long time. Little by little, we piece together what happened in East Berlin, the fate of the people in his life, but we’re never really sure if we’re reading the absolute truth. I found myself laughing sometimes, and at other times my heart broke to tiny, tiny pieces, which is a feat for a 200-page book! This engrossing, brilliant read was such a highlight for literary fiction this year for me, and I highly recommend it.

Review: Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, by Roselle Lim

natalie tans book of luck and fortune roselle lim

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Contemporary fiction

Goodreads

I received a free copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Natalie Tan hears a bird sing a particular song and suddenly, she knows: her mother has just died. After seven years of estrangement, the pain of her loss comes together with regret for all the years she lost because of pride. Coming back to the neighborhood where she grew up, she finds out that her mother left her the restaurant her grandmother used to own, and Natalie decides to follow on her family footsteps and re-open the restaurant. If she fails, the whole neighborhood will suffer even more, but if she succeeds… it could mean bringing the whole community together and healing old wounds. Continue reading