WTF?! What did I just read?! It had all of the creepy stalkery goodness of You, with hint of Misery and a dash of Dexter all rolled into one crazy package. 😱
Teo is a medical student and is slightly introverted… his closest friend is his corpse from anatomy lab. But he seems like a nice guy wholly devoted to taking care of his handicapped mother. When he happens upon Clarice at a bbq, he is instantly entranced and decides he will do anything to win her over. At first he thinks, a second “accidental” meeting will do the trick but basically ends up stalking her. When he finds her a little drunk on the street one night, he decides to do the right thing and take her home to her mother which leads to the strangest most protracted kidnapping I’ve seen since Misery. He is determined to convince her that he is the man for her and will literally stop at nothing to keep her.
This one had so many great dark moments and a few literal jaw drops. I kept stopping to tell my husband because I was in disbelief. I couldn’t stop reading even though a few times I wanted to throw the book in frustration. To be honest there were times where I was maybe rooting for Teo a little bit, hence my allusion to Dexter. The ending was not what quite I was expecting but still satisfying so I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 instead of 5. But it’s the perfect beach read if you can handle some violence.
Why did I wait so long to read this book? With all the rave reviews, my love of historical fiction and my own experience with Jaipur, you’d think I’d have tackled this one sooner. But with the sequel coming, it really lit the fire for me.
I was drawn in completely from the first page, having been to this part of India it was so easy for me to visualize how hard life would have been for women in this era. I adored Lakshmi’s drive and cunning to bring herself from a small town wife stuck to an abusive husband through to an honored guest of the palace. Just when she has her life figured out and a sense of stability building around her, a sister she never knew she had appears and brings with her the estranged husband. The appearance of these two disrupt the delicate balance of the life she has created for herself.
I really appreciated the dynamic between the two sisters and how captivating the big city was for each but in completely different ways. There were a lot of moments where you cringed for each of them and wished they were more forthcoming with one another. It may have avoided lots of heartache for both. The setting and character development made for a story that was so easy to lose yourself in. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
These paintings I bought on my visit to Jaipur in 2018.
What backlist book do you wish you hadn’t waited so long to read?
Happy Cinco de Mayo! I planned this post for today as Mexico plays a role for two of the characters but now that I’ve read it, none of the women are actually Mexican so bear with the fact that it doesn’t really make sense for today (best laid plans right?). Either way – Viva Mexico!
I’m not sure I’ve ever been drawn into a story so quickly, from page one I was so invested in these women and their stories. There’s always a risk when you have multiple characters and time points that there will be one that is just hard to connect with as a reader, but in this case, I found all of the women resonated with me.
Garcia beautifully illustrates the impact of generational poverty, political turmoil, domestic abuse, addiction and the raw truths of the immigrant’s story. Seeing Cuba in post colonial times was enchanting, the scenes in the tobacco factory and how the people got their news was amazing. But the thing that really got me throughout each story was the interwoven messages of resilience and strength of the women. Faced with the worst circumstances, they each make impossible decisions to protect themselves and their children.
The writing is beautiful and I appreciated the short chapters that alternated between the women and the timepoints. This may be one of my favorite stories of the year. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Booksparks for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
Are you doing anything to celebrate Cinco de Mayo today?
I fell in love with Katherine St John’s soapy, drama filled writing in The Lion’s Den so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of The Siren. The Siren takes place during a movie shoot and revolves around a famous, divorced Hollywood couple reuniting with all the drama that brings. We see the ex-couple, producer, director and an assistant’s lives intertangle in quite surprising ways. Some of them have history with one another, some just have history they are running from but their future is inextricably connected.
I want to be as spoiler free as possible, which is hard but it’s safe to say this team making this low budget movie has a lot to overcome. As the drama builds amongst the cast, the finances begin to run low and a hurricane begins barreling towards the little island. The story is a slow build with flashbacks and current media pieces revealing bit by bit just what brought them all together. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Netgalley for access to this novel. All opinions above are my own.
This one will make a great summer beach read! What’s your favorite genre to read on vacation?
I’ve been to Iceland twice and I love their literature, I will read anything set in the unique environment, especially if it takes place off the beaten path like this one. Una’s life is plodding along at a mediocre pace with no real success or joy. When she sees an add for a teacher in a remote fishing village, she responds looking for a bit of a change. When she arrives and realizes the village only boasts ten people with two students for her to teach, she begins to wonder just what she signed up for.
Jónasson does a fabulous job of bringing that stark, insular nature of Iceland to the page. The villagers are wary of her invading their small hamlet and keep her at an arm’s length. As she desperately tries to integrate she begins to learn more about the village and its inhabitants, a story about a young girl who died 60 years ago begins to haunt her. She begins to see the girl and hear her singing a lullaby which has her drinking a little more and becoming more and more suspicious of her fellow villagers. The story is slow and expertly builds an eerie atmosphere that has you wondering about these villagers too.
The ending was not what I was expecting, I was really hoping for the two main mysteries to come together in a related way but it didn’t. The author does answer all of your questions but I had just hoped that there was a different explanation of it all. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
Have you ever been to Iceland? If not, is it on your bucket list?
“This is something I would never say in a lecture or a presentation or, God forbid, a paper, but, at a certain point, science fails. Questions become guesses become philosophical ideas about how something should probably, maybe, be. I grew up around people who were distrustful of science, who thought of it as a cunning trick to rob them of their faith, and I have been educated around scientists and laypeople alike who talk about religion as though it were a comfort blanket for the dumb and the weak, a way to extol the virtues of a God more improbable than our own existence. But this tension, the idea that one must necessarily choose between science and religion, is false. I used to see the world through the God lens, and when that lens clouded, I turned to science. Both became, for me, valuable ways of seeing, but ultimately both failed to fully satisfy the aim: to make clear, to make meaning.”
Should my review of a book be mostly a quote from the book? Probably not, but the quote above encapsulates the philosophical aspects of the novel that I really loved. As a devout Catholic and a masters-level educated scientist, the protagonist of this novel and I have a lot in common. I think that religion and science provide a complete picture of the world around us and are not at odds but at harmony, albeit an unbalanced one at times.
Gifty is a first generation American with Ghanian parents who landed in Alabama. Her story dives deep into the immigrant experience, life with an addict, the impact of grief on a family and the balance of a Christian lifestyle with science. For a relatively short book, it delves so deeply into so many topics. It really engages you and makes you think.
I thought this was a good book to highlight on a Sunday. Do you like to read books that have a spiritual aspect?
The Order is a story that imagines an underground Catholic network who are trying to sway the election of a new pope. I like stories like this, ones that take just a slight tweak of real life and show you just how things could be. I really liked the main characters and the complexity of the ethics that drove their decisions. I liked the deeper delve into the politics between Catholics and Jews and how a few little words could change everything.
I was hoping for a Dan Brown-like story with this one, it had all the knowledge and intrigue… But it just lacked the pacing for me. There were sections that were overly long with detail about things I felt were not necessary to move the story forward. Generally a book like this I can read quite quickly… But I sort of had to force myself to read so many pages a day to keep it moving. I really enjoyed the first third and the second third but the middle was a bit of a slog for me. The ending was really great and even as a devout Catholic I could enjoy this book for its entertainment value and wholly appreciated the author’s note to that effect. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Thanks to Harper Collins for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
Do you like a book that slightly reimagines history and what might have happened if…?
Last year, I got an ARC of Anna K and was so excited for a modern retelling of one of my favorite classics. I adored it, it was fresh and modern and still had the emotional punch of the original. I then went on to win a caption contest giveaway from the lovely Jenny Lee for a signed copy – check out my openmypages Instagram to see that!
So anyway, on to Anna K Away… this was my first Libro.fm ALC and boy did it make my daily walks fun this weekend. I was slightly worried without source material to pull from whether the story could maintain its intensity, but it definitely does. All of the secondary characters really get their due in this one, all of the storylines we loved in the first novel got extended and flushed out in really fabulous ways. It’s all glitz and glam and drama but there are also so many sweet coming of age moments. I loved the frequent change of local and the deep dive into Korean culture and K-Pop. Another fun read from Jenny Lee!!
Thanks to Libro.fm for access to the audiobook! The narrator was perfect! All opinions above are my own. This one published yesterday so go get your hands on it!
“Words are seeds, Casiopea. With words you can embroider narratives, the narratives breed myths, and there’s power in myth. Yes, the things you name have power.”
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic was one of my favorite reads of last year so I had high hopes going into Gods of Jade and Shadow and I was not disappointed. As I expected, the writing was beautiful; her descriptions of the world and the emotions building within the characters were evocative. The myth and magic of ancient Mexico and the Mayans was like stumbling upon a beautiful treasure chest where each gem was more beautiful than the last. I loved the balance of light and dark and a heroine who was strong and good with villains who were powerful and yet fair.
Casiopea was a Cinderella-like character; unloved and under appreciated by her family with no hope of escape until she stumbles upon the bones of a long banished god. Bound together, they must complete a quest to try to restore him to the throne and free her from impending death. When she learns who he truly is, she is not fearful but determined. I was impressed with the mutability of the characters throughout the story.
I wanted a little bit more in the end… actually, to be honest, I want a second book. And probably a third while I’m asking for things. But to quote the book: “There is no ‘after,'” she whispered. It wasn’t fair. But there wasn’t an “after” in stories, was there? The curtain simply fell. She was not in a fairy tale, in any case. What “after” could there be?” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What’s the last book you read that took place in a country other than your own?
Mina doesn’t think so. But she loves the lore of it, from Dracula to Lestat her family is immersed. When she agrees to spend the summer in New Orleans with her sister, she finds herself surrounded by dead bodies. At first it seems like they are coincidences, after all they do work at a gothic horror tour. But as they start stacking up, it’s clear that someone is trying to get Mina’s attention.
I tore through this one in an afternoon, it’s like a fun campy horror slasher movie. And like Mina, you’re not quite sure until the end whether vampires are real or there is a real sick serial killer out there targeting her. I actually liked that the story was tripping with love for vampires but doesn’t delve so supernatural that you need to be overwhelmed with world building. I also liked it they were epistolary passages in a nod to Dracula.
Don’t expect a ton of character development and there are a few eye roll moments, it’s YA horror! I will say I really liked that it was respectfully flirty for 17-year-olds and not the overly steamy nonsense that is so popular these days. I’d say this one is Charlaine Harris meets Grady Hendrix. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️