Review: The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

Categories: Mystery, Magical Realism

First Publication Date: March 10, 2020


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


Synopsis: University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda who harbored unrequited feelings for Miwako, begs her best friend Chie to bring him to the remote village where she spent her final days. While they are away, his older sister, Fumi, who took Miwako on as an apprentice in her art studio, receives an unexpected guest at her apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

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Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads: Silent Scream, Mostly Hero, Autumn

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Categories: Thriller

First Publication Date: February 20, 2015


In Silent Scream, a crime was committed ten years ago, and now the people involved in it are dying, one by one. Detective Inspector Kim Stone is assigned to the case, and as the bodies start piling up, she must find the connection between them, find out what they did and who is behind all this. At the same time, her own dark past is catching up with her, as she sees on the victim all those years ago, a mirror of who she used to be. This is a very intriguing thriller, with so many mysteries to be put together and connected somehow, and I actually really liked Kim. She’s tough and no-nonsense to the point of caricature, and I found it fun to follow her along the investigation. The mystery is very formulaic, and I’m not sure if I will remember the plot in a few months, but I will remember Silent Scream was an exciting read and had a cool twists!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Categories: Historical Fiction, Romance, Mythology

First Publication Date: 4 February 2020


Synopsis: They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by the goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

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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 House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House of Spirits Isabel Allende

Rating: ★★★★★

Categories: Magic Realism, Translated Fiction

As a girl, Clara del Valle can read fortunes, make objects move as if they had lives of their own, and predict the future. Following the mysterious death of her sister, Rosa the Beautiful, Clara is mute for nine years. When she breaks her silence, it is to announce that she will be married soon to the stern and volatile landowner Esteban Trueba.

Set in an unnamed Latin American country over three generations, The House of the Spirits is a magnificent epic of a proud and passionate family, secret loves and violent revolution.

This beautifully written epic tells the story of generations of the families Trueba and del Valle, whose fates are forever connected when Esteban Trueba falls in love with Rosa. The magical realism is so well-done, the magic interwoven seamlessly into the story and adding a layer of beauty to it – I have a soft spot for magical realism and this was just perfectly executed. Continue reading

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

Mini-Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

the strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavender

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Magical Realism, Literary Fiction, Young Adult

Goodreads 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is well-known among book bloggers and booktubers, a gorgeous magical realism story about Ava Lavender and her family, who has generations of pain and magic in their history. Her family seems to be cursed to fall in love foolishly. Ava is born different, and is mistaken for an angel by a pious man.

This book is written beautifully, and I specially liked the descriptions of the baked goods in the family’s bakery. Made me hungry! This short book packs the story of four generations of this family very well, it never felt too short at all. There is so much beauty, pain, prejudice, love and betrayal, it’s very emotional and I was addicted to this.

The magical realism part, however, bothered me a little. Perhaps because I’m Latin-American, I expected the magical realism to be executed differently. I wondered if it was perhaps fantasy instead, but it isn’t quite. That made me frown a bit, but it’s a pretty good book in any case! I was very impressed by this debut!

Review: The Devil’s Queen, by Jeanne Kalogridis

the devils queen jeanne kalogridisRating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Goodreads

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

Goodreads

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