Things We Lost in the Fire Stories by Mariana Enríquez

thingssource: ARC via AmazonVine
title: Things We Lost in the Fire
auhtor: Mariana Enriquez
published: Hogarth (February 21, 2017)
pages: 200
genre: short stories/fiction/mystery/suspense
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
1blustar1blustar1blustar1blustarhalf

blurb:
Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

my thoughts:
Things We Lost in the Fire is a quiet, intense and at times disturbing collection of 12 short stories. I dipped in and out of this one intermittently. I’ll cover a few of the stories here in my post.

The Dirty Kid was about a woman who lives in an old house handed down to her by her family. The neighborhood in Buenos Aires which used to be nice, is now seedy and riddled with crime. A five-year old child and his drug addicted mother are homeless and sleep on dirty mattresses in the neighborhood. The narrator here cannot help but become involved and tries to help the five-year old.

Continue reading

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

uda

source: free copy via AmazonVine
title: Under the Udala Trees
author: Chinelo Okparanta
published: September 22, 2015
pages: 328
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
1blustar1blustar1blustar1blustarhalf

blurb:
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.

When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

my thoughts:
Narrated by Ijeoma, Under the Udala Trees starts off when she is just eleven years old and living in the war ridden republic of Nigeria in the late 1960’s.
When Ijeoma’s father is killed in an air bombing, her mother is left grief ridden and depressed, barely able to care for herself let alone her daughter. She sends Ijeoma off to live with a couple in another village. Ijeoma lives there almost two years before her mother comes back to get her. What she finds in this village is a friendship and eventually romantic feelings for a girl named Amina.

Continue reading

Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard

fullsizerender-4
source: free copy via AmazonVine
title: Listen to Me
author: Hannah Pittard
genre: psychological thriller
published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 5, 2016)
pages: 191
first line: They were on the road later than they intended.
rated: misleading

Blurb:

A modern gothic about a marriage and road trip gone hauntingly awry.

Mark and Maggie’s annual drive east to visit family has gotten off to a rocky start. By the time they’re on the road, it’s late, a storm is brewing, and they are no longer speaking to one another. Adding to the stress, Maggie — recently mugged at gunpoint — is lately not herself, and Mark is at a loss about what to make of the stranger he calls his wife. When they are forced to stop for the night at a remote inn, completely without power, Maggie’s paranoia reaches an all-time and terrifying high. But when Mark finds himself threatened in a dark parking lot, it’s Maggie who takes control.

My Thoughts:
Okay, so I am upset. When I grabbed a copy of Listen to Me I expected a thrilling story, one I could enjoy on a cool Fall evening while sipping a cup of tea. What I discovered was that I wanted to throw the book across the room when I was done reading.

On one hand this was a quiet, tense story about a married couple who are beginning to doubt one another. On the other hand, I found this book to be falsely marketed, the blurb is misleading: “When they are forced to stop for the night at a remote inn, completely without power, Maggie’s paranoia reaches an all-time and terrifying high. But when Mark finds himself threatened in a dark parking lot, it’s Maggie who takes control.” This one is supposed to be a psychological thriller, I found nothing really thrilling about it and was upset with the turn the book took towards the end. It certainly is not a “modern gothic” as the blurb suggests. Come on people.

Continue reading

Mailbox Monday: Book Acquisitions and Summertime Vibes

mm

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

FullSizeRender (3)
Hello all and happy Monday. I hope you are all doing well. I have been missing from blogland for about a month and I definitely missed it. Blogging took a backseat as the warm weather rolled in and although I haven’t been visiting blogland too much, I have gotten a few good books read. I figured a MM post would be a nice way to jump back in and post a few updates.

I’ve slowly been visiting my blog friends this past week and it has been nice catching up but I can’t go back and see all the missed posts for everyone. So if there is a must see review or announcement at your blog, please leave me the link in the comments here. I don’t want to miss it.

If you noticed the Michael Phelps pic up there, it is because I have been watching and enjoying the Rio Olympic Games. I’m not much of a sports fan, but when the Olympic games roll around, I am all in. My favorites are the swimmers and the gymnasts. Watching the games has also given me plenty of crochet time as well.
I’ve been working on this baby blanket for a friend.

IMG_5806

As far as books go, these are my most recent additions….

Continue reading

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

tuesday
source: free review copy via Amazon Vine
title: Tuesday Nights in 1980
author: Molly Prentiss
genre: fiction
published: 2016
pages: 317
first line: The meetings happen on Tuesdays, in the basement of Cafe Crocodile.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
1blustar1blustar1blustar1blustarhalf

blurb:
A transcendent debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman as they find their way—and ultimately collide—amid the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980’s.

Welcome to SoHo at the onset of the eighties: a gritty, not-yet-gentrified playground for artists and writers looking to make it in the big city. Among them: James Bennett, a synesthetic art critic for The New York Times whose unlikely condition enables him to describe art in profound, magical ways, and Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past and the Dirty War that has enveloped his country. As the two men ascend in the downtown arts scene, dual tragedies strike, and each is faced with a loss that acutely affects his relationship to life and to art. It is not until they are inadvertently brought together by Lucy Olliason—a small town beauty and Raul’s muse—and a young orphan boy sent mysteriously from Buenos Aires, that James and Raul are able to rediscover some semblance of what they’ve lost.

my thoughts:
An AmazonVine find, the cover and title on Tuesday Nights in 1980 captured my interest straight away, as did the New York setting. This is a story about three people, Lucy, Raul and James and how their lives intersect.

I enjoyed the 1980’s NYC setting and found that the author wove the art scene into the storyline really nicely.

Continue reading