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

January Releases eARC Reviews: Miss Austen & How Quickly She Disappears

miss austen gill hornbyMiss Austen by Gill Hornby

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Historical Fiction

Goodreads

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

Miss Austen is the story of Cassandra Austen, who famously destroyed most of the letters exchanged with her sister Jane. I enjoyed the witty dialogues, so very like the way the books are written, and I think it’s where it shines. I was however bored with it rather soon, despite its attempts at making a (fictional) dramatic account of Cassandra’s love life, Jane’s depression and jealousy of other women. All the characters seem to be taken right out of Jane Austen’s novels (on purpose, I assume), all wit and clear heroines vs antagonists, which did not work well for this novel, in my opinion. I hoped for more well-rounded characters. I was engrossed by the story at times, but much too often I was simply bored. The predictability of the plot (which, considering it’s based on real events, can’t be avoided) was not helped by the writing, or the characters. If you’re craving some Austen in your life, I think you’ll enjoy this, especially how much you see of Cassandra in this. I itched to know more about their real lives. The novel, although witty and loosely based to real events from the Austen family’s lives, did not feel quite strong enough. Continue reading

eARC Review: My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

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

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery

Goodreads

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

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

Goodreads

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

Goodreads

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: The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht

the tigers wife tea obreht

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism

Goodreads

Natalia’s grandfather has died suddenly in a faraway city, away from his family and keeping secret from his wife the true extent of his illness. Natalia hears the news and knows where he was going: to meet the deathless man. The war is over, the country has been divided and she must find his things so that the family can mourn him appropriately – and in this journey, she remembers the story of how her grandfather met the deathless man, and the tiger’s wife.

The review below has spoilers – if you want to go into the book knowing not too much about it, please consider skipping this review. Continue reading

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

girl woman other bernardine evaristo

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

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: A Spell of Winter, by Helen Dunmore

a spell of winter helen dunmoreRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Gothic Literary Fiction

Goodreads

‘I saw an arm fall off a man once,’ said Kate.

So begins A Spell of Winter, the inaugural winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, now known as Women’s Prize for Fiction. I am partial to a good Gothic story, so it comes as no surprise that I loved this book!

A Spell of Winter tells the story of Cathy, a girl living with her cold grandfather and her brother Rob in England, in a big house that once was full of life, before her mother ran away and her father was locked away in a sanatorium. As Cathy’s life becomes more complicated and full of dark secrets, and World War I slowly starts to threaten the their quiet town, she must not let herself break. Continue reading

Review: Stubborn Archivist, by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

stubborn archivist yara rodrigues fowler

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Goodreads

Stubborn Archivist is the story of an unnamed character, whose mother is from Brazil and father is an Englishman. Born in England but still with a foot in Brazil, she navigates life and tries to understand her identity and where she belongs.

This book came recommended to me by Rachel – thanks so much, this was such a great rec! Continue reading

Resenha: Felicidade Clandestina, por Clarice Lispector

felicidade clandestina clarice lispectorNota: ★★★★☆

Gêneros: Contos, Ficção Literária

Goodreads / Skoob

Meus colegas de classe e eu fomos obrigados a ler esta obra durante o Ensino Médio e, na época, lembro que nos chamou a atenção o conto O Ovo e a Galinha: nenhum de nós entendeu nada, e o conto nos deixou tão atônitos, que eu nem mesmo me recordava do resto do livro. Mais de dez anos depois, essa linda edição da Rocco me convence a dar uma segunda chance a Clarice Lispector (ou três: acabei levando também A Hora da Estrela e Água Viva). Continue reading