Mini-Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical fiction

I’ve read Chimamanda’s books by the inverse order of publication: so this one was my most recent read by her, and one can definitely tell how much richer her writing has become with each book. This was such an engaging read, so heart-breaking and beautiful.

Purple Hibiscus follows the story of Kambili, a fifteen-year-old girl who lives under the strict rules of her father, a wealthy and deeply religious man. Due to a coup that puts Kambili’s family in danger, she and her brother Jaja stay with their aunt and her children, whose lives are filled with laughter, struck by poverty and so entirely foreign to both of them.

Through Kambili’s perspective you get little by little glimpses of the abuse she and her family suffer, and what it can do to a person. Her narration is filled with both awe and fear for her father, and it’s very moving. I expected this book to be more depressing, but it really isn’t; there is hope and growth and love. I was wondering if the length of the book wouldn’t leave too many things out of it and feel too rushed, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It definitely stays in your mind for a really long time after you finish it. This was powerful and heartbreaking, although I loved her other books a lot more than this one, I highly recommend it!

eARC Review: Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo

girl woman other bernardine evaristo

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

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I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Girl, Woman, Other (Winner of the Man Booker Prize of 2019) tells the story of twelve people whose lives intertwine, each of them experiencing the country they all live in at some point (UK) in a unique way, through different years and from different backgrounds.

This brilliant book certainly left an impression on me – telling the story of twelve different, unique people is no easy task, especially making the reader connect and empathize with each of them. The narration flows from one to the next, connecting them sometimes in subtle ways to each other, bringing to life their pain, their energy, their strength and their mistakes. Some chapters ended bittersweet. I did discount a star because sometimes the dialogue felt a little bit too script-like, a little too neat, and like some characters had a bit more depth than others. Which is to be expected from a cast of twelve main characters, I expect, but still from some of them I wanted more. Continue reading

Review: Proper English, by KJ Charles

proper english kj charles

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical F/F Romance, Murder Mystery

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Proper English is the story of Pat, a sensible young woman, who’s going to the country house of Earl of Witton for a shooting party. She’s also meeting her old friend, Jimmy, and his new fiancée. The problem? It might just be worst party of all time, as tensions grow and secrets are spilled out, revealing shocking betrayals, and worse – they’re all stuck together through a storm that might last several days. And Pat has yet another problem: Jimmy’s fiancée, Fen, is a lovely, beautiful girl, and Pat has never met someone quite like her. When a body is discovered in the house, Pat and Fen must do what they can do find the murderer. Continue reading

eARC Review: The Bird King, by G. Willow Wilson

the bird king g willow wilson

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

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I have received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve owned an eARC of this book for such a long time, but then got less enthusiastic about it and forgot it existed for months. Then I read someone say that this author’s books were fast-paced and quick to read and I decided well – might just pick it up. I’m so glad I did!

The Bird King is the story of Fatima, a concubine to the last Sultan in a reign at war with Spain, and Hassan, a mixed-blood map-maker who has magical abilities. When the Spanish Inquisition demands that Hassan, who they deem a heretic sorcerer, be given to torture and certain death, Fatima knows she must run away with him, even if it means treason and never seeing again the palace she calls home. But it means to her also freedom, and that is something she’s willing to give up a lot for. Continue reading

Mini-Review: White Houses, by Amy Bloom

white houses amy bloomRating: ★★☆☆☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBT+

Goodreads

White Houses tells the fictionalized version of the true story of Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok’s affair in the 1930s all the way the end of Roosevelt’s life.

I bought this book on a whim, as it was not really on my radar at all, but a FF book with real historical characters, glamour and political drama? I was sold immediately.

I enjoyed reading this book and ended up finishing it in a day – it’s around 200 pages only, so easy to fly through. Still, I found myself not really excited about the story and not really feeling emotionally connected to the characters a lot. Eleanor was such an interesting character, but her personality and her relationship with Hick felt told rather than shown. I really hoped for more glamour and more political drama.

The book spends pages and pages on Hick’s childhood and teenage years, but it all felt sensationalized and not entirely true either. The entire circus part was not something I could find about her when doing a quick research, and I would much rather have had more of the book dedicated to the Depression and to Eleanor’s political career.

All in all, while an interesting book, I was hoping for something different, and it failed to wow me.

Review: Tangerine, by Christine Mangan

tangerine christine manganRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction

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In Tangerine, Alice is unhappy with her life in Tangier, Morocco. The beautiful, warm city cannot seem to let her breathe and she loathes to leave her flat – but the arrival of her old friend Lucy is about to change all of this, although perhaps not for the better.

This is a very atmospheric, glamorous read, one of those books set in the suffocating heat that make you feel suffocated, too. I didn’t know what to think of this book in the beginning, the plot and writing style giving off vibes of The Talented Mr. RipleyBased on a True Story and Bitter Orange, so it did not feel original. The plot twists were not difficult to foresee either and, although entertaining, I did not think the book was particularly unique or excellent. Continue reading

Review: The Muse, by Jessie Burton

The Muse Jessie Burton

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery

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If it wasn’t for the blogging community, I would not have read this gem! If you saw my review of The Miniaturist, you know by now that I didn’t enjoy it at all. So I would not have picked up The Muse without reading such positive things about it.

The story starts in 1967, following Odelle as she received a unique offer to work as a typist, the first job offer since she came to London five years before that is anywhere close to her studies and abilities. When she comes across a peculiar painting, she has no idea of the mystery, hope, dreams and heartbreak that come with its history – but Odelle is now involved in its secrets, too.

Continue reading

Review: The Devil’s Queen, by Jeanne Kalogridis

the devils queen jeanne kalogridisRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

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The Devil’s Queen tells the story of Catherine de Medici, a controversial figure whose reign marked her as a bloody and heartless queen. From her early orphan years to the fateful St. Bartholomew’s Massacre, this book is a fascinating fictionalized telling of a most fascinating queen who loved astrology.

I saw this book in a museum bookstore, right after having my brain hammered with Renaissance paintings and thought – this is great?! I love a good historical drama, and so far I’d mostly read Tudor and World War II stories – and I’m always on the lookout for other interesting times in history. So I simply had to have this. Continue reading

Review: Remembered, by Yvonne Battle-Felton

remembered yvonne battle-felton

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Literary fiction, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction

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This is such a beautiful literary work, I am so glad to have picked this up!

It’s 1910 in Philadelphia and Edward is in the hospital. His mother has no idea if he will make it through the night, although it does not look likely – so his other mother, his biological one, insists that it’s time he knows of the story of his family. She is a ghost, but a very outspoken one who will not rest until her family’s history is passed on and Remembered. Continue reading

Review: Bottled Goods, by Sophie Van Llewyn

bottled goods sophie van llewyn

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Literary fiction, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

Bottled Goods is one of the most interesting and unique books in the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 Longlist! It tells the story of Alina, who lives in Romania in the 1970s and is suffering the aftermath of her brother-in-law running away from communist Romania and leaving her and her husband to deal with the suspicion, interrogation and violence.

A bit under 200 pages, this took about a couple hours to read, and I highly recommend it to people who love a bit of magical realism! This was my favorite part about the book, how seamlessly the author managed to add magical elements to an otherwise heavy story, adding some whimsical and funny moments. Continue reading