eARC Review: Permafrost by Eva Baltasar, trans. by Julia Sanches

Permafrost by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches

Categories: Literary Fiction, Translated from Catalan

First Publication Date: 6. April 2021


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


Synopsis: Permafrost’s no-bullshit lesbian narrator is an uninhibited lover, a no-hope employee, and a some-time suicidal student of her own dislocated self. As she tries to break out of the roles set for her by a controlling, overprotective mother, a relentlessly positive sister, and a society which imposes a gut-wrenching pressure to conform, she contemplates the so-called will to live when that life is given, rather than chosen. Attempting to bridge the gap between the perennially frozen reaches of her outer shell and the tender core of her being, watching her relationships with family fracture and her many lovers come and go, the protagonist’s reservations about staying alive become ever more pressing.

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Review: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Categories: Literary Fiction

First Publication Date: February 11th 2020


Synopsis: Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good–her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits–all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her–even her beloved Shuggie.

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Review: The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

Categories: Literary Thriller, Mystery

First Publication Date: July 2nd 2018


Synopsis: In this riveting tale about the secrets and betrayals that can accompany exorbitant wealth, two sisters from a Chinese-Indonesian family grapple with the past after one of them poisons their entire family.

Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on each other for support and confidence. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole clan.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it their aunt’s mysterious death at sea? Estella’s unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of their opulent world too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn, at last, confront the carefully buried mysteries in their family’s past and the truth about who she and her sister really are?

Traveling from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the most spectacular shows at Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, 
The Majesties is a haunting and deeply evocative novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire—and also bring it crashing down. 

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Mini-Resenha: Canções de atormentar por Angélica Freitas

Canções de atormentar por Angélica Freitas

Categorias: Poesia

Data de Publicação:  5 de Agosto de 2020


Este livro me pegou totalmente de surpresa. Canções de atormentar é meu primeiro contato com o trabalho de Angélica Freitas, e eu imediatamente quero ler Um Útero é do Tamanho de um Punho e Rilke shake! Esta coleção tem um humor seco, um estilo vibrante e forte e cheio de ritmo, abordando uma grande diversidade de temas, sejam assuntos sérios, ou contando como foi crescer no Rio Grande do Sul, ou escrevendo um ode emocionante a Ana C., e até mesmo sobre sereias. Como em todas as coleções de poemas que li até agora, com alguns poemas eu simplesmente não consegui me conectar; alguns são muito curtos, outros eu muitas vezes não entendi. Mas ainda assim, vários se sobressaltaram o suficiente para que a minha impressão geral dessa coleção fosse muito positiva. Cada poema é tão único e diferente que eu imagino que cada leitor consegue encontrar um com que se identifique. Deve ser um livro incrível de escutar – eles têm uma certa cadência hipnotizante e, pelo que li, a autora já apresentou vários desses poemas juntos com a artista Juliana Perdigão. Uma obra incrível.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: The Unseen World by Liz Moore

The Unseen World by Liz Moore

Categories: Literary Fiction, Mystery

First Publication Date: July 26th 2016


Synopsis: Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World’s heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.


After my lukewarm reaction to Long Bright River, I did not expect to like this nearly as much as I ended up liking it. This has such great things going for it: it’s a slow-paced mystery which is far more character-driven than plot-driven, and manages to grip the reader’s attention by how interesting a character Ada is (and David, too). The mystery itself, while being the book’s main driving force, plays a secondary role for a big chunk of the story: you really get to see Ada, watch her grow, choose her own path in life and try to be her own self, apart from David, his lies and her unusual upbringing. I adore stories where tech/science play a big role, so it was to be expected that I’d love the computer science aspect of this novel: this feels like a love letter to coding and it made me think of the brief period in my life when I considered computer science as a career path. I also loved the puzzles (there is a coded message the reader can solve, somewhere in the first half of the novel). I loved this book, and this kind of story is what makes me love reading so much. I had so many feelings reading it and got very invested in the story, each character shining in their flawed ways. I ended up taking a star because around the middle of the novel the pacing felt a bit off and I was not too convinced by the plot twist, which we get lots of hints for since the first chapters. Still, these are rather minor complaints, I truly, truly enjoyed this novel. The Unseen World such a moving story and I was so immersed reading this that I forgot to take mental notes on what to write for a review; which is why this is mainly a collection of impressions hastily put together. If you love books about family secrets and slower, atmospheric stories, you might really like this.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

eARC Mini-Review: Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Categories: Literary Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Magical Realism

First Publication Date: February 4th 2021


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


Bestiary tells the story of three generations of women of the same family, their history of violence, magic, love and queerness. On the surface, Bestiary is everything I love in a book: a family saga, poetic writing, magical realism, and Sapphic main characters are always a plus, but in the end I had mixed feelings about this book. I ended up giving it three stars but that doesn’t mean I thought it was a meh book. Rather, it was beautiful, brilliantly, viscerally written and just whimsical enough to make it unique but not over-the-top… but sometimes I was so annoyed with it. While very lovely, the writing is also very crude and frankly, gross. I have never read a book that mentions farts, anuses and penises /mostly as metaphors) so much before, and it’s the kind of thing I don’t really like reading, I guess it offends my delicate sensibilities. For example:

“When my mother farts in her sleep, I shape the steam with my hands and release it outside as fog.”

If you don’t mind reading quotes like that all the time, then you will probably like this book. The pacing of the book also threw me off a bit, and I felt that this was much longer than 280 pages. I had to force myself to finish reading it and, while I did really like the ending and several aspects of the book, it still felt like a chore to read it. This will be a brilliant read for some readers, but I suspect its writing style will not work for many – Bestiary is more of a feeling than a proper story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads: Milk Fed & All the Birds on the Sky

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

First Publication Date: February 2, 2021


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


Milk Fed is the story of a young Jewish woman who goes through an emotional detox from her mother and meets a woman at a local yoghurt place. She has internalized fatphobia and a severe eating disorder, controlling every minute or her life so as not to get fat. Serious trigger warnings here for eating disorder, self-harm, toxic family relationships and homophobia. I loved the writing in this book, Melissa Broder’s sharp, dry and sarcastic tone makes anything she writes a delight to read. However, I found this book quite uninspired at times and the ending left me thinking – that’s it? Perhaps I’m seriously burned-out from the Disaster Woman trope (as I’ve mentioned a few times), but watching things unfold made me cringe so hard. I just found myself not really wanting to pick this up very often, but at least it was a quick read, and it’s definitely a bold story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Categories: Fantasy, Sci-Fi

First Publication Date: January 26, 2016


I had a bit of a mixed experience with All the Birds in the Sky, namely that I loved the world building, thought the whimsical touches really worked for it and the humor was on-point, I even loved some of the characters, but also found myself skimming through the book a lot and I did not care for the ending. This is an adult novel that felt very often to me like middle grade, with its on-the-nose themes, which I did not really enjoy. A lot happens in this 300-page novel, making it feel much longer and be quite an immersive read, so if the writing style works for you, I think this will be a very interesting read!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review: Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, trans. by Sophie Hughes

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes

Categories: Literary Fiction, Translated

First Publication Date: 6th October 2020 (translation)


Synopsis: The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse has the whole village investigating the murder. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters—inners whom most people would write off as irredeemable—forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

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Review: The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

Categories: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism

First Publication Date: 4. April 2019


Synopsis: Dr Jonathan Murray fears his new-born daughter is not as harmless as she seems.

Sammy Agnew is wrestling with his dark past, and fears the violence in his blood lurks in his son, too.

The city is in flames and the authorities are losing control. As matters fall into frenzy, and as the lines between fantasy and truth, right and wrong, begin to blur, who will these two fathers choose to protect?

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Review: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Categories: Literary Fiction, Mystery


Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.


The Glass Hotel is a literary mystery that explores the consequences of Jonathan Alkaitis’ Ponzi scheme on the lives of several people. Vincent, who pretends to be his second wife, is arguably one of the main characters, but we get insights into the lives of others, old friends, an estranged brother, some victims, whose stories are connected by the crime and form one narrative of broken relationships, unsolved issues, chance, corruption.

I first approached this book expecting a regular mystery, in the line of The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James minus the ghosts or The Hunting Party by Lucy Foyle but more literary, but it reminds me far more of Disappearing Earth by Julia Philips. Like the latter, the beauty of this book is on the portrayal of the lives of the people in the story, some of them only marginally connected to the crime. It’s a lovely book to sit down with for several hours and get lost in.

Because I expected something a bit different from the book, my experience was not optimal, and it took me several chapters to really get into the story; the change in points of view made me get distracted a lot. By the time I was halfway through I had gotten used to the book’s rythm, and then it was a really wonderful read. I would be curious to re-read this knowing now what to expect from the story format.

The beautiful writing really brings this to another level and makes the book a poignant read that I highly recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5.