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: 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.

Review: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

drive your plow over the bones of the dead Olga Tokarczuk

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Translated Fiction, Mystery

In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation.

This rather unassuming synopsis does not tell the most interesting part of this story: Mrs. Duszejko is convinced that Animals are taking revenge on people who hunt them, killing them one by one. She finds evidences of the presence of animals on the area of the murders, and draws their horoscopes to try to prove to the police that her theory is right. I was left  half convinced that she is not entirely sane during the entire book, torn between believing her or not. The victims are also involved in some mysterious crime, a far more plausible explanation for their murders, but Mrs. Duszejko is convinced otherwise. Continue reading

Review: Things we Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Things we lost in the fire mariana enriquezRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Horror, Short Stories

Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of eerie stories centered on women and girls in Argentina, with a touch of urban myth. This exceptional short stories book is the second work by Mariana Enriquez I read and it’s become one of my favorite short stories books. The perfect mixture of mundane worries with surpernatural horror and with the endings open enough that you imagine what happens after the stories, and they live in your imagination longer than in the pages. Continue reading

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

the guest list lucy foley

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Thriller

The Guest List was among my most anticipated reads for this year, after falling in love with Lucy Foley’s writing in The Hunting Party. The Guest List follows two days in a small, beautiful but haunted island in Ireland where the biggest wedding of the year will take place: Jules Keegan, successful founder of The Download magazine, and Will Slater, a TV celebrity. On the wedding day, just after the cake was cut, a body is found, and everyone is a suspect.

This was a very engaging read, and I love that Lucy Foley keeps you guessing who’s victim and who’s the murderer until the end, it’s just such fun (I got both wrong). Her writing is so beautiful, not too flowery but just enough to give the perfect creepy atmosphere. I wanted to savor this for several days but could only manage to do that for 2-3 days, and devoured the rest in one sitting. I also loved the setting in a mysterious, haunted island during a storm, it was an incredible atmosphere.

It is difficult to tell if I would have given this 5 stars if I hadn’t read The Hunting Party first, but I think not, since my 5-stars are for books which leave me in awe, and this was a great read but it lacked a sense of more urgency – I just did not quite believe a lot of the characters could be the murderer at all, and only in the later part of the book do tensions actually go high enough for me to consider that one of them could actually murder the other. The Hunting Party was more gripping, the stakes felt higher and the sense of danger more concrete. I actually felt that anyone could murder or be murdered, and it was fun trying to guess, whereas in The Guest List I felt that the potential victim was pretty much narrowed down to just a few characters. I think The Guest List does some things better though, namely the writing and who the murdered person was (which I found a bit frustrating in The Hunting Party), and all in all it’s an intense, enjoyable read which made me feel the same “oh my god this is great I have to know what happens next!!” feeling that I did as a child and teen reading Agatha Christie.

Review: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

disappearing earth julia phillips

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Mystery

Disappearing Earth was another book chosen for the Squad Longlist, and I was very excited to read this slow-burn mystery set in Siberia. Although the blurb might imply this is a series of events started by the kidnapping of two sisters, this is less a plot-driven book and more about each of the characters. We get several different point of views and explore the motivations, fears, nostalgia, disillusion and loss of these people, who are connected to the kidnapping in one way or another, sometimes only very loosely.

Each chapter focuses on a different character, and this makes Disappearing Earth very much a slow burn, as we see month by month a snapshot of their lives. The author did such a great job in turning a narrator in one story seamlessly into a secondary character in another’s a few chapters later. Each character has a rich inner life, and is haunted by loss, uncertainty, societal pressure, judgment, by lack of options in such a remote place. Their dreams and aspirations often turn to nothing, and my heart broke so many times, even for characters I didn’t particularly like. This book was a beautiful exercise in humanity. Continue reading

Mini-Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

the hunting party lucy foleyRating: ★★★★★

Categories: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

In The Hunting Party, a group of old friends gets together in an isolated hunting lodge in Scotland to celebrate the New Year, as they do every year. Although they seem to be excited and happy to see each other, old and new grudges escalate the tensions between them, and on January 2nd, a body is found.

This is one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read! I fell in love with the writing from the first chapter, so atmospheric and engrossing. This book came highly recommended from my sister, who is the best source of thriller recommendations, honestly. Each of the characters has secrets, the guests who claim to be friends but seem sometimes to actually hate each other, and also the people working in the lodge. Every story line, every secret, every character was so interesting, I could not stop reading this! It was also super intriguing to not really know who died until quite far into the book, keeping the reader guessing who killed whom and why, suspiciously analyzing the actions of everyone. It was so fun to read and reminded me a lot of the way I devoured Agatha Christie books when I was younger. This was absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait to read Lucy Foley’s The Guest List!

eARC Review: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

you are not alone greer hendricks sarah pekkanenRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Thriller

Goodreads

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

In You Are Not Alone, Shay Miller is a 30-something year old whose life isn’t going how she wished. She’s living with her roommate, who’s she’s secretly been in love with but is dating someone else; her job is getting her nowhere; she feels just so alone. One day, when she witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks eerily like herself, she cannot help but get obsessed: who was she? Why did she do this? Who are her friends, what was her life like? When she crashes the memorial of the woman and meets her friends… she just wants to be a part of them. Those women are so glamorous, so beautiful, so successful. And they seem to like her. Continue reading

eARC Review: He Started It, by Samantha Downing

he started it samantha downingRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Mystery, Thriller

Goodreads

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

He Started It is Samantha Downing’s second book, telling the story of three siblings who must take a road trip together if they want to receive the inheritance their grandfather left them. Each has their own agenda and secrets. If only they can complete two weeks of travelling like they did twenty years before, they’ll all live millionaires.

I don’t think there’s anyone out there writing unlikable women in thrillers quite like Samantha Downing – our narrator Beth is cold, with quite a lot of uncharitable thoughts about everyone, manipulative and lies all the time, but I loved her so much. You don’t necessarily root for her all the time, and I think a lot of readers might side with one of the other siblings in this story. From the beginning, Beth tells you she isn’t your heroine in this story, but that is for the reader to tell, anyway. Continue reading