Thursday, October 12, 2017

SONG OF A CAPTIVE BIRD by Jasmin Darznik



















Ballantine Books
Historical Fiction, Multicultural Interest
Pub date February 13, 2018

Synopsis

All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh is told that Iranian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. It’s during the summer of 1950 that Forugh’s passion for poetry really takes flight—and that tradition seeks to clip her wings. 
Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing grows only stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.
Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—Jasmin Darznik has written a haunting novel, using the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng
















5.5
Penguin Press
Pub date 2014


Synopsis

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

HOME FIRE by Kamila Shamsie

















5.5

Highly Recomended


Bloomsbury
Pages 288
Published 2017

Synopsis:


Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.
Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?
A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

PARK BENCH by Chabouté

















Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books
Graphic & Comic Books
Publishing date September 19th 2017




Synopsis

From its creation, to its witness to the fresh ardor of lovers, the drudgery of businessmen, the various hopes of the many who enter its orbit, the park bench weathers all seasons. Strangers meet at it for the first time. Paramours carve their initials into it. Old friends sit and chat upon it for hours. Others ignore the bench, or (attempt to) sleep on it at night, or simply anchor themselves on it and absorb the ebb and flow of the area and its people.



My view


At first look this Comic Novel might seem a repetition of the same drawing with a few alteration.

A closer look, and life begins to move. The bench stands as an observer of our everyday life. As we walk past a same route day in, day out we overlook what surrounds us.
I loved the ending, very clever.

Thank you to NetGalley for this arc

BASED ON A TRUE STORY STORY by Delphine de Vigan

















Reading French original version, available in English translation

Synopsis

L. embodies everything Delphine has always secretly admired; she is a glittering image of feminine sophistication and spontaneity and she has an uncanny knack of always saying the right thing. Unusually intuitive, L. senses Delphine's vulnerability and slowly but deliberately carves herself a niche in the writer's life. However, as L. makes herself indispensable to Delphine, the intensity of this unexpected friendship manifests itself in increasingly sinister ways. As their lives become more and more entwined, L. threatens Delphine's identity, both as a writer and as an individual.
This sophisticated psychological thriller skillfully blurs the line between fact and fiction, reality and artifice. Delphine de Vigan has crafted a terrifying, insidious, meta-fictional thriller; a haunting vision of seduction and betrayal; a book which in its hungering for truth implicates the reader, too—even as it holds us in its thrall.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

THE GOLDEN LEGEND by Nadeem Aslam
















3.75/5

Alfred A Knopf
Published 2017
Pages 324

Synopsis

When shots ring out on the Grand Trunk Road, Nargis's life begins to crumble around her. Her husband, Massud--a fellow architect--is caught in the cross fire and dies before she can confess her greatest secret to him. Now under threat from a powerful military intelligence officer, who demands that she pardon her husband's American killer, Nargis fears that the truth about her past will soon be exposed. For weeks someone has been broadcasting people's secrets from the minaret of the local mosque, and, in a country where even the accusation of blasphemy is a currency to be bartered, the mysterious broadcasts have struck fear in Christians and Muslims alike. When the loudspeakers reveal a forbidden romance between a Muslim cleric's daughter and Nargis's Christian neighbor, Nargis finds herself trapped in the center of the chaos tearing their community apart. 


In his characteristically luminous prose, Nadeem Aslam has given us a lionhearted novel that reflects Pakistan's past and present in a single mirror, a story of corruption, resilience, and the disguises that are sometimes necessary for survival--a revelatory portrait of the human spirit.

My View

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

CONFESSIONS by Kanae Minto

















5/5          
Reading for JLC 11



Synopsis
Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.
After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.
But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.
Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm’s way. You’ll never look at a classroom the same way again.


My view

It took me three days to finish CONFESSIONS. Late evening was out of the question, lest I wanted nightmares...a couple of times I set the novel aside to take a deep breath or try to guess an ending...oh! I wasn't even close.

At 240 pages the novel encompasses a talent reminding me of Hitchcock's best.

Anyone who enjoys psychologically driven crime novels, CONFESSIONS will not disappoint.

Highly recommended 


Saturday, July 22, 2017

COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett
















5/5

Bloomsbury
Published May 2017
Personal copy
American Literature

Description
A powerful story of two families brought together by beauty and torn apart by tragedy, the new novel by the Orange Prize-winning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder is her most astonishing yet
It is 1964: Bert Cousins, the deputy district attorney, shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited, bottle of gin in hand. As the cops of Los Angeles drink, talk and dance into the June afternoon, he notices a heart-stoppingly beautiful woman. When Bert kisses Beverly Keating, his host’s wife, the new baby pressed between them, he sets in motion the joining of two families whose shared fate will be defined on a day seven years later.
In 1988, Franny Keating, now twenty-four, has dropped out of law school and is working as a cocktail waitress in Chicago. When she meets one of her idols, the famous author Leon Posen, and tells him about her family, she unwittingly relinquishes control over their story. Franny never dreams that the consequences of this encounter will extend beyond her own life into those of her scattered siblings and parents.
Told with equal measures of humour and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a powerful and tender tale of family, betrayal and the far-reaching bonds of love and responsibility. A meditation on inspiration, interpretation and the ownership of stories, it is Ann Patchett’s most astonishing work to date.

Highly recommend this novel, just beautiful! Thank you Ann Patchett for another wonderful experience.

Other novel by Ann Patchett: BEL CANTO

I read all her novels, she is among my favorite writers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

SISTERS by Lily Tuck


















2/5
Grove Atlantic
Literary Fiction
Publishing Date 5 September, 2017
American Literature

Description
In her singular new novel Sisters, Tuck gives a very different portrait of marital life, exposing the intricacies and scandals of a new marriage sprung from betrayal.
Tuck’s unnamed narrator lives with her new husband, his two teenagers, and the unbanishable presence of his first wife—known only as she. Obsessed with her, our narrator moves through her days presided over by the all-too-real ghost of the first marriage, fantasizing about how the first wife lives her life. Will the narrator ever equal she intellectually, or ever forget the betrayal that lies between them? And what of the secrets between her husband and she, from which the narrator is excluded? The daring and precise build up to an eerily wonderful denouement is a triumph of subtlety and surprise.
With Sisters, Lily Tuck delivers riveting psychological portrait of marriage, infidelity, and obsession; charting with elegance and insight love in all its phases.

My view
I read this " novella " in one sitting. It felt as if the author was taking notes, preparing for a novel. The characters are one dimensional, we never get to know them fully. Long annotations fill the pages, little corresponds to the story line.
The end reads like a comedy punch line, the only paragraph I found of interest.
I could not recommend this novella.

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for this arc.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

STAY WITH ME by Ayobami Adebayo















 
4/5

272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf 
  • Pub Date 8.22.'17
  • Random House 
  • Nigerian Literature

Shortlisted for the prestigious Bailey's Prize 2017 and set in Nigeria

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does--but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

My view
This is Ayobamy Adebayo's first novel. I liked the writing, it flowed nicely. Where I found the novel not quite believable I subtracted the 5 it deserved for a 4. When I read a work taking place in a culture I am not particularly familiar with I try to remember our ways and believes might differ which is why I love translated works.
This novel takes place in Nigeria among upper middle class, University educated characters. For the story line to work a certain incident needs to happen, without giving anything away, could such happen? 
The main protagonist's Yejide, Akin and Dotun come across well rounded, believable characters, the writing is good, the chapters are easy to follow, taking place in the past and present. Each main character narrates his/her point of view throughout the chapters, very well done.
Even if part of the story line isn't quite believable, sickle cell disease is dealt with heart breaking accuracy, the author introduces this condition within the novel in a beautiful manner.
I liked this novel a lot...my view brings up an incident which in no way should stop anybody from reading  "STAY WITH ME "  

Highly recommend

Thank you NetGalley and Knopf for this arc


Sunday, July 2, 2017

LILLI DE JONG by Janet Benton
















Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (May 16, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 16, 2017
5/5
A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid a life of poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

THE MOUNTAIN by Paul Yoon


Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date August 15, 2017
Stories
Literary
5/5
Synopsis;
In The Mountain, Paul Yoon displays his subtle, ethereal, and strikingly observant style with six thematically linked stories, taking place across several continents and time periods and populated with characters who are connected by their traumatic pasts, newly vagrant lives, and quests for solace in their futures. Though they exist in their own distinct worlds (from a sanatorium in the Hudson Valley to an inn in the Russian far east) they are united by the struggle to reconcile their traumatic pasts in the wake of violence, big and small, spiritual and corporeal. A morphine-addicted nurse wanders through the decimated French countryside in search of purpose; a dissatisfied wife sporadically takes a train across Spain with a much younger man in the wake of a building explosion; a lost young woman emigrates from Korea to Shanghai, where she aimlessly works in a camera sweat shop, trying fruitlessly to outrun the ghosts of her past.

My view

Paul Yoon's short stories are exceptionally beautiful. His is a poetic soul at work which reflects upon each character, short story after short story.
I went out and purchased his two previous short story books, I so not wanted " THE MOUNTAIN " to end. 


Paul Moon's first novel


Paul Moon's second novel











Highly recommended
Thank you NetGalley for this exceptional ARC.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THE END WE START FROM by Megan Hunter

















                   


 5/5

Grove Atlantic
Publishing date November 17, 2017

Synopsis:

As London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place, shelter to shelter, to a desolate island and back again. The story traces fear and wonder, as the baby’s small fists grasp at the first colors he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

My thoughts;

Highly praised by literary critics, a movie in the making, THE END WE START FROM by Megan Hunter a success before it's release to the public.
Some have qualified the novel as a sci-fi others a literary novel.
Nowhere did I feel I was reading a sci-fi novel. It is centered around three people, a mother, a baby, a husband in London. Yes there is a flood and all that follows a natural disaster of great proportion.
I like to mention the beautiful poetic narrative. A real pleasure to read. 

My hope is for Megan Hunter to continue writing. This is her first novel, a mere 140 pages.
I highly recommend this novel.

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for this advance copy.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

FEVER DREAM by Samantha Schweblin / Argentina



















OneWorld Publishing
Publishing Date March 11, 2017
Literature/Horror

4.5

Synopsis:

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child.
The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.
One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange and deeply unsettling psychological menace in this cautionary tale of maternal love, broken souls and the power and desperation of family.

Review:

Coming soon

Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE WHITE CITY by Karolina Ramqvist / Sweden
















Grove Atlantic
Publishing Date January 17, 2017
Literature

5.5

Synopsis:
Karolina Ramqvist has been hailed as “one of Sweden’s truly interesting young writers” (Dagens Nyheter) with “a great talent for creating imagery and building atmosphere” (Dagbladet) and she’s a powerful literary voice on contemporary issues of sexuality, commercialization, isolation, and belonging. An immediate bestseller upon publication, The White City is an arresting and intimate novel of betrayal and empowerment from a bold, fearless writer.


My View:

Karin, a beautiful young woman who's dad rejects her finds solace with John who offers Karin what she needs most, affection and promises of a secure lifestyle...not just any lifestyle, he buys her a $15.000.000 mansion, a car, jewelry, the sky is the limit. 

He has one request, a child...which Karin does not want...can Karin refuse? Her need for love and security, such an unfulfilled need? Soon Dream is born.  Also Karin knows John is most likely a charismatic crook, living the high life, she enjoys the love and promises John offers.

Until the fatal day when reality comes knocking at her door. The mansion will be repossessed along with her car, and all her possessions. Karin finds herself alone with her daughter Dream, nowhere to go. Friends closing their doors to her.


Karolina Ramqvist immerses us into Karin's life, we get to know her intimately, I was unable to put this novel down. I love her writing style and will look for her next novel.



Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic ( Black Cat )

Friday, April 14, 2017

NO HOME by Yaa Gyasi. ( French Edition )


5/5
Synopsis
Gyasi’s debut novel opens in the mid-1700s in what is now Ghana, as tribal rivalries are exploited by British and Dutch colonists and slave traders. The daughter of one tribal leader marries a British man for financial expediency, then learns that the “castle” he governs is a holding dungeon for slaves. (When she asks what’s held there, she’s told “cargo.”) The narrative soon alternates chapters between the Ghanans and their American descendants up through the present day. On either side of the Atlantic, the tale is often one of racism, degradation, and loss: a slave on an Alabama plantation is whipped “until the blood on the ground is high enough to bathe a baby”; a freedman in Baltimore fears being sent back South with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act; a Ghanan woman is driven mad from the abuse of a missionary and her husband’s injury in a tribal war; a woman in Harlem is increasingly distanced from (and then humiliated by) her husband, who passes as white. Gyasi is a deeply empathetic writer, and each of the novel’s 14 chapters is a savvy character portrait that reveals the impact of racism from multiple perspectives. It lacks the sweep that its premise implies, though: while the characters share a bloodline, and a gold-flecked stone appears throughout the book as a symbolic connector, the novel is more a well-made linked story collection than a complex epic. Yet Gyasi plainly has the talent to pull that off: “I will be my own nation,” one woman tells a British suitor early on, and the author understands both the necessity of that defiance and how hard it is to follow through on it.
A promising debut that’s awake to emotional, political, and cultural tensions across time and continents.

One of my very favorite reads of 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

NUTSHELL by Ian McEwan











A

My copy
My thoughts coming soon.
I do want to add I loved this novel...loved, loved everything about this little jewel.


Friday, March 17, 2017

DIFFICULT WOMEN by Roxane Gay














A
Grove Press
January 3, 2017

Difficult Women should be read by all women, protagonists within the pages breathe truth...The pain women suffer, be it by lovers, husbands, fathers, directly or indirectly by their actions comes across raw, painfully true...

The stories are beautifully rendered, touching my heart in it's hidden places, tears came easy. 

Roxane Gay can only be described to be a beautiful soul, women's truth a precious gift she generously shares.

Having never attended a lecture given by this beautiful author, I will remedy this soon.

Thank you Grove Press and Net Galley for this ARC


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE by Elizabeth Strout












B

Random House
Pub date April 27,  2017


Mini review,  FULL REVIEW UPON PUBLISHING DATE April 27

I absolutely loved 'My Name is Lucy Barton'. I loved how mother and daughter, after years of estrangement reconnected. Memories they shared of family members, neighbours, what happened to each.

In 'Anything is Possible' characters previously mentioned in ' My Name is Lucy Barton' invite us into their lives one chapter at a time, yet always connected. It is by no means a depressing read, it is filled with hope, courage, empathy and joy.
It is a stand alone novel. If you read the previous novel, you will be acquainted with many names, this is their lives as lived in Amgash, Ill.

Thank you to Random House and netgalley for this arc.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

EDGAR & LUCY by Victor Lodato















A+
St. Martin Press
March 17, 2017 release
544 pages

Synopsis
Edgar and Lucy is a page-turning literary masterpiece—a stunning examination of family love and betrayal.
Eight-year-old Edgar Fini remembers nothing of the accident people still whisper about. He only knows that his father is gone, his mother has a limp, and his grandmother believes in ghosts. When Edgar meets a man with his own tragic story, the boy begins a journey into a secret wilderness where nothing is clear—not even the line between the living and the dead. In order to save her son, Lucy has no choice but to confront the demons of her past

Review

EDGAR AND LUCY will definitely be among my very favorite novel of 2017.
Throughout 544 pages I enjoyed each chapter, never felt slowed down. The characters jumped of the page, became intimate, real.
I will be anticipating other reader's feelings, not everyone will agree with Edgar's decisions. I for one chose to understand how emotions, under certain circumstances, can lead one to trust another humanbeign, perhaps wrongly so...

This is an extraordinary novel. A story of deceit, trust, possessive love, grief, misunderstanding and love, with characters I will not soon forget.

I want to thank St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this advance copy