Book Review: Seeing Red – Lina Meruane

Book Review: Seeing Red – Lina Meruane

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Release Date:
August 3rd 2017
Publisher: Atlantic  Books
Pages: 161
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book through ReadersFirst
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

‘A scorching examination of how being utterly dependent on someone – even someone you love – can make you a monster’ Literary Hub, 13 Translated Books by Women You Need to Read

Lucina, a young Chilean writer, has moved to New York to pursue an academic career. While at a party one night, something that her doctors had long warned might happen finally occurs: her eyes haemorrhage. Within minutes, blood floods her vision, reducing her sight to sketched outlines and tones of grey, rendering her all but blind. As she begins to adjust to a very different life, those who love her begin to adjust to a very different woman – one who is angry, raw, funny, sinister, sexual and dizzyingly alive.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-13T154824.019This was a bit of an unusual read for me. This isn’t the kind of thing I would normally pick up, but they eye catching cover definitely stood out, and after reading the first impression on ReadersFirst, I dived right in. The book is very beautifully written and explores some really interesting things – when your life is altered so completely, how do you cope? It was fascinating to what Lucina as she attempted to adjust to life as almost blind.

The book is an intense read, and packs a lot into the small 170 pages. The one thing that really stuck out for me is the effects that Lucina’s blindness has on her relationships – friends, family and her partner all become altered in the face of her disease.

The book is at times harrowing and sad, Lucina is a really fascinating character and the stream of consciousness style of the book really lets you inside her thoughts and feelings. She’s angry and funny and determined, all things that make for a wonderful protagonist.

The book is broken up into very short chapters – only a few pages at a time and I did find these short chapters that then often jump to different locations and times a little jarring, but overall this semi-autobiographical novel is a beautiful and intense read that I enjoyed immensely.
3 stars

Book Review: Black Sugar – Miguel Bonnefoy

Book Review: Black Sugar – Miguel Bonnefoy

BOOK REVIEW (75).pngRelease Date: March 13th 2018
Publisher: Gallic Books
Pages: 112
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

On the edge of the Latin American rainforest, the Oteros family farm sugar cane in their remote corner of the earth. Cut off entirely from the modern world, life is peaceful, uneventful. Until, that is, a succession of ships arrive in search of Henry Morgan’s legendary lost treasure, said to be buried deep beneath the forest floor.

Soon, the isolated villagers are exposed to all the trappings of modernity, while the travellers’ search for booty unearths more than anybody could have anticipated…

And so it was that the treasure lay buried amid scraps of sail and a pirate’s corpse, preserved within the belly of the Caribbean…

Review

This short little book is full to the brim with pirates, treasure and family. It’s a beautiful book that focuses on the effect that the lost treasure of Henry Morgan has on the generations of a family. The story is well paced and enticing, drawing you in and painting a vivid picture of explosions, gold and rum.

book cover (68)I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. The story sounded fascinating and I must admit I was partly intrigued by that lovely cover, but the story within is so much more complex and layered that I imagined. So much happens in such a little book, but the writing is exquisite and really brings to life this fascinating period in history.

The characters were equally fascinating and well developed. It’s hard to imagination that there would be much character depth in such a short book, but it’s fascinating watching Serena grow from a young girl to someone who is much larger than life. She was by far my favourite character in the book, and while not necessarily likeable I thought she was an interesting and well rounded character.

Black Sugar was completely different to what I thought it was going to be like, but I enjoyed it immensely. Full of family life, ambition and desperation the story is complex and beautifully told. I highly recommend this lovely book, you’ll be completely immersed in the story and it stays with you long after you’re finished reading.
3 stars

Book Review: The Leavers – Lisa Ko

Book Review: The Leavers – Lisa Ko

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Release Date:
24th April 2018
Publisher: Dialogue Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

Review

This is a beautiful sad story of a young Chinese boy named Deming who’s mother disappears and his world is turned upside down when he is adopted by two wealthy white college professors. They give him a ‘more American name’ in the form of Daniel Wilkinson. The book follows Deming as he attempts to adjust to this new life as well as understand the mother that abandoned him.

book cover (30)This is a really powerful and moving story and one that I think is really important. It’s easy to see why this quiet tale has won so many awards because they are very well deserved. The writing is beautiful and really explores what it means to belong as well as issues around race and identity. I found myself completely absorbed in this book and it is an absolutely stunning debut novel.

This timely book is very character driven, focusing on the relationships between the characters and how you identify yourself based on your family and those around you. It explores different time periods in Deming’s life – his time with his mother before she left, his adjustment to life as the son of Peter and Kay as well as more recently as a struggling student with a gambling problem. It is at times heartbreaking but I definitely think this is a book everyone should take the time to read. If you’re looking for a strong emotional tale, this is definitely the kind of book you’re looking for.
4 stars

Book Review: My German Brother – Chico Buraque

Book Review: My German Brother – Chico Buraque

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Release Date: 5th April 2018
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 207
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Ciccio already has many problems: romantic failure, an older brother who seems intent on breaking the heart of every beautiful woman in São Paulo, a distant and larger-than-life father. When Ciccio finds, among the many of his father’s books that line the walls of their house, a troubling letter dated ‘December 21, 1931. Berlin’, his existential crisis only intensifies.

It seems that his father once had a child with another woman – a German son whose fate remains unclear. Ciccio sets out on a mission to locate his lost half-brother, and to win the respect of his father. But as Brazil’s military government cracks down on dissent, and rumours of arrests and disappearances spread, while Ciccio has been out looking for his German brother, he finds that he has taken his eye off his immediate family…

In writing My German Brother, acclaimed Brazilian novelist and musician Chico Buarque was driven by the desire to find out what happened to his own German half-brother – whether he survived the war in a bomb-ravaged Berlin, whether he had joined the ranks of the Hitler Youth. His novel has been a project of a lifetime, one that makes use of what happened, what might have happened, and pure imagination, in order to weave together the threads of narrative and arrive at a truth.

Review

Untitled design (38)This is a fascinating book about a young Brazilian man who discovers a letter suggesting that his father might have had another son whilst he was in Germany. The story follows his life as he becomes obsessed with this idea, imagining the life of his half brother.

The book was told in a really interesting way, My German Brother is an interesting come of age tale and one of the aspects I really enjoyed was that although the book is fiction it is partly based on the author’s life and his experience of finding out his father had a child in Germany. I found the idea so interesting as he imagined the endless possibilities of his brother’s life, especially at a time when Europe was dealing with the horrific events of the Second World War.

The author has a really great writing style and I loved some of the light-hearted aspects that counteracted some of the more heavy topics, they are quite a few sordid moments as well which I found a little off putting. Overall the book is a really fascinating read and at just over 200 pages it’s definitely worth picking up.
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