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

Bilingual Review [EN/PT]: The House in Smyrna / A Chave de Casa by Tatiana Salem Levy

a chave de casa tatiana salem levy

(Keep scrolling down for the English review.)

[Português]

Nota: ★★★★☆

Categorias: Ficção Contemporânea

Passando por temas como a morte da mãe, a relação com um homem violento, viagem, raízes, herança e etc, A chave de casa é um livro pulsante, cheio de vida e emoção. A autora tece um romance de vozes diversas – como são as vozes da memória -, histórias que se complementam num tom de densa estranheza. Romance de estréia da jovem escritora Tatiana Salem Levy. 

Fiquei surpresa ao ver que este é o romance de estréia da autora – sua maestria na escrita de um romance com diversas narrativas fragmentadas me encantou completamente. Seu estilo me lembrou um pouco de Virginia Woolf e Clarice Lispector, com uma linha da história alternando entre pontos de vista, ano e país, fragmentadas, e obrigando o leitor a se esforçar para entender a narrativa não-linear. Eu pessoalmente gosto muito desse tipo de história (embora não tenha me dado bem com os romances de Clarice ainda), em que o leitor tem que se concentrar e se entregar à história, tentando desvendar vários pontos da narração ao mesmo tempo em que desconfia dela. No final o sentimento  que tive ao terminar o livro é de gratificação por ter uma imagem da personagem e como ela chegou a ser quem é, as coisas que ela passou, como ela pensa e se sente. Não é um livro fácil, mas é curto e, levando em conta que ele venceu o Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura, sinto-me confiante ao recomendá-lo. Continue reading

Review: It Would be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo

noite em caracas karina sainz borgo Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Translated Fiction

It Would Be Night in Caracas tells the story of Adelaida Falcón, whose mother has just died and she now finds herself despairing with grief and alone in the world, in a country torn by unrest, violence and scarcity.

Despite having given this book 3 stars, I actually really enjoyed It Would Be Night in Caracas and it left a strong impression on me. The portrayal of Venezuela and the violence, uncertainty and fear of its people was unforgettable and heartbreaking, and it opened my eyes to things one vaguely hears about on the news, and very often pays not much attention to. Venezuelan people have been under a dangerous government for years now and the political situation does not look like it will get better. Novels like these are incredibly important for bringing empathy to non-Venezuelans and putting the suffering of people on the foreground, instead of being relegated to something happening elsewhere and therefore unimportant. Continue reading

Review: Supper Club by Lara Williams

supper club lara williams

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads / Skoob / The StoryGraph

Roberta spends her life trying not to take up space. At almost thirty, she is adrift and alienated from life. Stuck in a mindless job and reluctant to pursue her passion for food, she suppresses her appetite and recedes to the corners of rooms. But when she meets Stevie, a spirited and effervescent artist, their intense friendship sparks a change in Roberta, a shift in her desire for more. Together, they invent the Supper Club, a transgressive and joyous collective of women who gather to celebrate, rather than admonish, their hungers. They gather after dark and feast until they are sick; they break into private buildings and leave carnage in their wake; they embrace their changing bodies; they stop apologizing. For these women, each extraordinary yet unfulfilled, the club is a way to explore, discover, and push the boundaries of the space they take up in the world. Yet as the club expands, growing both in size and rebellion, Roberta is forced to reconcile herself to the desire and vulnerabilities of the body–and the past she has worked so hard to repress. Devastatingly perceptive and savagely funny, Supper Club is an essential coming-of-age story for our times. Continue reading

Review: Bunny by Mona Awad

bunny mona awad

Rating: ★★★★★

Categories: Contemporary, Horror, Satire, Sapphic MC

Goodreads

In Bunny, Samantha is an outcast at the very expensive and elite Warren University, where she’s doing her MFA program. She’s made no friends there, and has an almost hostile relationship with her peers, four young women in her class who call each other “Bunny” and seem to think and behave like one mind, talking in childish voices and hugging each other nonstop. When one day Samantha gets a surprising invitation to join the Bunnies in a party, she finds herself inexplicably there on time, drawn to those girls and their weird friendship. Continue reading

Mini-Review: Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson

red at the bone Jacqueline WoodsonRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

Red at the Bone tells the story of Melody and her family, going through different point of views as they revisit their relationships with each other as the years go by.

It’s hard to describe this book, mostly because there isn’t too much of a plot, except that Melody and her family tell their stories, their dreams and their frustrated ambitions. It’s a book about family versus dreams, about family heritage versus new beginnings. It’s a beautifully written story, which had its moments of brilliancy, but that left me wanting so much more out of it. There was hardly any emotional connection with the characters, the ending felt weird and forced, and there was little development for most of the characters. I loved the story of Melody’s mother, a difficult woman who did not want to be a mother and chose her career instead, but who would like to reconnect with her daughter one day. Who falls in love with a woman but can’t help but lie to her. In the end, I would have loved this book a lot more if it had been through her perspective, a hard-hitting book full of emotion and pain, but as it was, Red at the Bone didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Still, it was a nice afternoon read!

Review: How We Disappeared, by Jing-Jing Lee

How we disappeared by Jing-Jing LeeRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

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

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

exciting times noise dolanExciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary

Goodreads

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

Goodreads

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 russel

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery

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