eARC Review: Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko

Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko, translated by Julia Meitov Hersey

Category: Fantasy, Translated Fiction

First Publication Date: 11th February 2020


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


Synopsis:

Late one night, fate brings together DJ Aspirin and ten-year-old Alyona. After he tries to save her from imminent danger, she ends up at his apartment. But in the morning sinister doubts set in. Who is Alyona? A young con artist? A plant for a nefarious blackmailer? Or perhaps a long-lost daughter Aspirin never knew existed? Whoever this mysterious girl is, she now refuses to leave.

A game of cat-and-mouse has begun.

Claiming that she is a musical prodigy, Alyona insists she must play a complicated violin piece to find her brother. Confused and wary, Aspirin knows one thing: he wants her out of his apartment and his life. Yet every attempt to get rid of her is thwarted by an unusual protector: her plush teddy bear that may just transform into a fearsome monster.

Alyona tells Aspirin that if he would just allow her do her work, she’ll leave him—and this world. He can then return to the shallow life he led before her. But as outside forces begin to coalesce, threatening to finally separate them, Aspirin makes a startling discovery about himself and this ethereal, eerie child.

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eARC Review: Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

breast and eggs mieko kawakami

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary, Translated Fiction

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

Breasts and Eggs tells the story of three women: the thirty-year-old Natsu, her older sister, Makiko, and Makiko’s daughter, Midoriko. Makiko has traveled to Tokyo in search of an affordable breast enhancement procedure. She is accompanied by Midoriko, who has recently grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with growing up. Her silence proves a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and frustrations.

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Analysis of The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Salem Levy

a chave de casa tatiana salem levy

In August I reviewed this unique, amazing book, and I mentioned I wanted to write an Analysis and Discussion post for it, because I thought it had so many layers and interpretations, and while I’ve seen a few articles about it in Portuguese, I hadn’t found a comparable article in English (naturally, as the book is originally written in Portuguese). I tend to avoid spoilers in my review, and to discuss this book in depth I had to write a separate post, so that if you’re looking for a review, check out this post instead: Review: The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Salem Levy.

I’m no Literature graduate, my views here presented are not scholarly but rather a result of reading the book, analysing/interpreting it and reading a few articles. My aim here is to have a layman discussion on the book in case it gets picked up by English-speaking readers who want to talk about it. Where the ideas come not from my personal conclusions but from others, I’ve named the source and linked it in Further Reading at the end of this post.

Also my quotes are free translations of the Portuguese edition and may differ from the official English translation!

This post is full of spoilers!

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Women in Translation Wrap Up

Hello readers!

Women in Translation month is sadly over! I may be biased (I’m totally biased) but this is my favorite readathon of the year. I loved picking up new-to-me books and discovering new favorites, from creepy reads to magical family sagas. My original TBR had a few books more, but it was quite unrealistic to read them all anyway and I am glad for what I read in the end! I also ended up picking up a few I hadn’t planned on at all. There was not a SINGLE flop, they were all brilliant reads!

noite em caracas karina sainz borgoThe House of Spirits Isabel Allende a chave de casa tatiana salem levy

It Would be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo / Review

As I said a few times, this was probably the most important book I’ve read this month – it shines a light on the situation in Venezuela through the story of Adelaida, a woman who’s dealing with grief over her mother’s death, leaving her all alone in a violent country where she isn’t safe and must make a difficult choice to save herself. Continue reading

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

Bilingual Review [EN/PT]: The House in Smyrna / A Chave de Casa by Tatiana Salem Levy

a chave de casa tatiana salem levy

(Keep scrolling down for the English review.)

[Português]

Nota: ★★★★☆

Categorias: Ficção Contemporânea

Passando por temas como a morte da mãe, a relação com um homem violento, viagem, raízes, herança e etc, A chave de casa é um livro pulsante, cheio de vida e emoção. A autora tece um romance de vozes diversas – como são as vozes da memória -, histórias que se complementam num tom de densa estranheza. Romance de estréia da jovem escritora Tatiana Salem Levy. 

Fiquei surpresa ao ver que este é o romance de estréia da autora – sua maestria na escrita de um romance com diversas narrativas fragmentadas me encantou completamente. Seu estilo me lembrou um pouco de Virginia Woolf e Clarice Lispector, com uma linha da história alternando entre pontos de vista, ano e país, fragmentadas, e obrigando o leitor a se esforçar para entender a narrativa não-linear. Eu pessoalmente gosto muito desse tipo de história (embora não tenha me dado bem com os romances de Clarice ainda), em que o leitor tem que se concentrar e se entregar à história, tentando desvendar vários pontos da narração ao mesmo tempo em que desconfia dela. No final o sentimento  que tive ao terminar o livro é de gratificação por ter uma imagem da personagem e como ela chegou a ser quem é, as coisas que ela passou, como ela pensa e se sente. Não é um livro fácil, mas é curto e, levando em conta que ele venceu o Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura, sinto-me confiante ao recomendá-lo. Continue reading

Latinx Books to Read Instead of American Dirt

Hello readers!

Around the same time that American Dirt (in case you don’t know: that’s an infamous “immigration thriller” by a white author who misrepresents Mexican culture and stereotypes immigrants) started hitting Bestseller lists, I picked up Dominicana by Angie Cruz, a story about a young woman marrying an older man because of her family’s dream to move to the US, a shortlisted book to the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It was incredibly frustrating.

I am tired of seeing Latinx books that get attention and international readership for displaying Latinx pain, and portraying the US as a safe haven, land of freedom, the happiest ending any Latin American could wish for – and it’s even worse that American Dirt is not even written by a Latinx author, whereas in Dominicana at least the writing was really good and sensitive, even if I disliked the book.

So I thought it would be a good idea to come up with a list of Latinx books I recommend instead!

It was not that easy to come up with this list, because most of the Latinx books I read are in Portuguese and not many are translated into English, so I spent more time looking into translated-to-English books as well. I originally wanted to post this months ago.

When I write “Translated” in the list below, I mean: this was originally written in Portuguese/Spanish and there is a translation into English available.

I also have already a post on some recommendations of Brazilian books and one focused on my project of reading more Latinx books:

My Favorite Brazilian Books Translated to English + 1 Written in English

Reading Latinx Books Project with @cbookrambling

Without further ado, here are 15 books I recommend:

Latinx Books Recommendations

one hundred years of solitude gabriel garcia marquez gods of jade and shadow silvia moreno-garcia in the dream house carmen maria machado

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez / Colombian, Classical Fiction, Magical Realism, Translated

Starting with a well-known and beloved one! This beautiful family saga is peppered with magical realism and is so gorgeously written, so full of sorrow, loneliness and broken people, it’s easy to lose yourself into the story, although it’s perhaps not as easy to keep the characters apart, whose names are very similar. Still, this is one of my favorite classics!

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia / Review Mexican, Fantasy

This reads very much like a fairy tale; it’s set in Mexico, where Mayan gods still exist and is full of adventure and a romance subplot. Moreno-Garcia has a few books out, including one thriller with sharks and an upcoming Gothic horror. She writes such interesting stories!

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado / Review / American-Cuban, Memoir

This is a fantastic memoir, uniquely told in several chapters, each in a different style from a different fictional genre. It’s the perfect book for fiction readers who want to broaden their reading with some non-fiction and are worried about boring writing. It tells the author’s real experience with an abusive Sapphic relationship and it’s brilliant. Continue reading

Women in Translation: My Tentative August TBR

Hello readers!

I am late to the party but I’ve decided to join the Women in Translation month challenge! As there is no minimum amount of books to read, it’s a very low-effort challenge to join, thankfully, as I have many other books I want to read this month still – namely a thousand ARCs I’m getting quite late to get to. The odds that I’ll actually read all the books in this post are pretty slim, but writing a post always encourages me to actually read the books, so this is me putting peer pressure on myself.

I decided against writing a recommendations post (for now) because I’ve seen a lot of the stuff I’d recommend be listed already, and I do already talk about translated fiction quite often in my blog, if you want to check out: The Translated Literature Book Tag, Reading Latinx Books Project with @cbookrambling, What I Read for @AsianReadathon. Maybe next year I will write recommendations (or, if I cave in, sometime during this month).

Michelle helped me with a few recommendations – if you don’t know, she has a TBR Recommendation service and I think it’s such a fun thing to get recommendations according to your personal reading tastes, it’s the highlight of my day when I get her email. I highly recommend it, especially if you struggle to find books for challenges or personal goals (like I do). The books she recommended to me are Like Water for Chocolate, Girls of Riyadh and Empress, all of which sound really great.

Here are some books I’d like to read for WIT:

drive your plow over the bones of the dead Olga Tokarczuk like water for chocolate laura esquivel Things we lost in the fire mariana enriquez

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

This sounds like a weird read and I own this for half a year already, so it’s high time I pick it up! The author is from Poland. Continue reading

Reading Latinx Books Project with @cbookrambling

Hello readers!

In case you didn’t know, I’m Brazilian! I know I hammer this into people’s heads, but it’s a big part of my identity that I am not sure shows on my blog very often, especially on my reading. It’s recently come to my attention the glaringly obvious fact that I read mostly books from US & UK – in fact, I might read more Irish books than Brazilian. Which is unacceptable.

Realizing this was a reality check and so I’ve been taking steps to read more Latinx books. To do that, Michelle is helping me come up with a TBR according to my personal taste. In case you didn’t know, she is a wonderful blogger (and fellow Latin American, from Venezuela!) who’s offering TBR-picking services for bookworms! Not just of Latinx books 🙂

If you, like me, want to diversify your reading, she will choose a few books for you and email you her picks according to your personal taste & what you’d like to read – I asked her for some Latinx books, especially some written by women, and she delivered! I’m excited to read books that were not on my radar at all or that I hadn’t considered picking up before. I’ve only read 1 so far but I loved it already and it’s always so exciting to get her emails!

(I am advertising this because she absolutely deserves it, but I haven’t been neither paid nor asked to do this. I used her service, paid for it myself and really enjoyed it. For full disclosure, we are friends for a few years now.)

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Recently Read

in the time of the butterflies julia alvarez este e o mar mariana enriquez near to the wild heart clarice lispector

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American author, and this book is about the Mirabal sisters with a fictionalized accounting of their lives, from childhood until the day three of the sisters are murdered by Trujillo men. This is a fascinating, heartbreaking but also very inspiring read and such a gem! (And recommended by Michelle!) Continue reading