Review: A Thousand Ships, by Natalie Haynes

a thousand ships natalie haynesRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Greek Myth Retelling

Goodreads

A Thousand Ships is a retelling of the Odyssey through the eyes of the women. The narrators are, ostensibly, Muses to whom a poet prays for inspiration. But each character gets their own chance to narrate, and stories that should not have been forgotten, are finally told.

This was so enchanting, beautiful and I devoured it in two sittings. A Thousand Ships is exactly what I hoped The Silence of the Girls would have been, and I am pleased that, despite my initial hesitation towards this book, it surprised me with how good it is! Continue reading

Mini-Review: Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson

red at the bone Jacqueline WoodsonRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

Red at the Bone tells the story of Melody and her family, going through different point of views as they revisit their relationships with each other as the years go by.

It’s hard to describe this book, mostly because there isn’t too much of a plot, except that Melody and her family tell their stories, their dreams and their frustrated ambitions. It’s a book about family versus dreams, about family heritage versus new beginnings. It’s a beautifully written story, which had its moments of brilliancy, but that left me wanting so much more out of it. There was hardly any emotional connection with the characters, the ending felt weird and forced, and there was little development for most of the characters. I loved the story of Melody’s mother, a difficult woman who did not want to be a mother and chose her career instead, but who would like to reconnect with her daughter one day. Who falls in love with a woman but can’t help but lie to her. In the end, I would have loved this book a lot more if it had been through her perspective, a hard-hitting book full of emotion and pain, but as it was, Red at the Bone didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Still, it was a nice afternoon read!

Review: The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel

the mirror and the light hilary mantelRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

The Mirror and the Light is the third and final installment of the Cromwell series, which has had my whole heart since I started it a few years ago. It tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, his ascension into power and trust of King Henry VIII. In this last installment, we have seen Anne Boleyn fall from the king’s graces and lose her head – and although Cromwell has more power and wealth than ever, his enemies are gathering to plot his fall.

This trilogy takes a long time to read, not only because it’s nearly 900 pages, but also because of the sheer amount of characters, plots, subplots and the amount of attention the reader has to pay to details (absolutely worth it). It’s a series to get immersed into, and I loved spending around two weeks reading this – it’s one of my favorite series of all times, of all genres I read. Mantel turns Cromwell into a character so full of life, complexity, sharp wit, intelligence and ambition it’s truly refreshing to cheer for someone who is clearly not the classical hero in historical fiction stories. I’ve read a few Tudor books, and none have the brilliance of this series. Continue reading

Review: Actress, by Anne Enright

actress anne enrightRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Goodreads

Actress is the story of Katherine O’Dell, a glamorous Irish actress who famously shot a man in the foot and was institutionalized for being mad, as told by her daughter Norah.

This was one of the books I was most excited for in the Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist of this year! It has everything I love in fiction: glamour, secrets, gorgeous writing and an alluring, difficult main character. I loved Katherine O’Dell as a character so much, and spent the entire novel wishing the story was told from her perspective instead of Norah’s. I did not care much for Norah, nor understand why she addresses the book to her husband in “you” format. Having the point of view this way certainly added a certain mystery and glamour to Katherine, but would have enjoyed the book a lot more if it had been told in third person. Continue reading

Review: Weather, by Jenny Offill

weather by jenny offillRating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: Literary Fiction

Goodreads

In Weather, Lizzie is a librarian who is a fake shrink to her mother and to her brother, Henry, who is a recovering addict and whose wife is about to give birth to their first child. She starts assisting Sylvia, her old professor at University, answer emails for her podcast, which forces Lizzie to confront her own life and the situation of the world,

Weather was one of the books I was looking most forward to from the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 Longlist, but in the end I was left wanting more from it. For starters, I struggled to write a paragraph about the book’s plot, because there isn’t actually much of it at all. Continue reading

Review: Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams

queenie candice carty williamsRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

When Tom says he needs a break and Queenie needs to move out, she tries to tell herself it’s not as bad as all that, she’ll live for a few months in a shared apartment and then go back to he relationship, even better than before. But as her break becomes messier and messier, Queenie’s mental health deteriorates and she makes increasingly worse choices.

Whew, this book knocked me out of the park and left me a mess. It starts off rather runny, I was snorting on my lunch break, but as Queenie starts to make terrible choices and act detached from her own life, my heart started to break. I think this book hit me hard because I went through a breakdown too, some years ago, and jeopardized a lot of things in the process, including not doing my job and ignoring my friends and family, detaching myself from my life – so as Queenie becomes more unlikable and makes worse choices that a person doing okay never could understand, I couldn’t help but sympathize. We did not go through the same things at all (I’m not a black woman, for starters, and had the support of my family and boyfriend), and my heart aches so much for all the horrors she had to go through. Continue reading

Review: How We Disappeared, by Jing-Jing Lee

How we disappeared by Jing-Jing LeeRating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads

How We Disappeared tells the story of Wang Di, an old woman from Singapore who’s just lost her husband before she told him her story of the war and listened to his own. Trying to find out the truth is much harder now that the war is long over and so many people are dead or missing. Her own story hurts too much and she tries to not think about it if she can – she’s never told her husband she was a “comfort woman”. On the other side of the town, Kevin finds out his grandmother found his father when he was a baby and never gave him back to the biological father she later found out still lived. Continue reading