[REVIEW] Wanderer by Sarah Léon, translated by John Cullen @OtherPress

Other Press is one of those publishers you love because of their ability to choose and publish brilliant new voices in fiction as well as non-fiction. Wanderer by Sarah Leon was such an interesting and thought-provoking read but not a perfect one.

Wanderer by Sarah Leon is set in France, in a small territory near Bourbonnais Mountains, where we are introduced to Hermin Peyre, a composer who has decided to isolate himself in order to spend his time composing a piece dedicated to Schubert. One wintry night Leonard Wieck, Lenny, shows up on his doorstep after ten years of not having any contact with him. This event will put years of unspoken words and frustrations out in the open for both Hermin and Lenny. They must revisit their past together in order to better understand what happened between them and what kind of damage has been done. What happened between the two? What lies behind their silence?

‘’The fabric of his life had slowly worn itself out during those years of virtual solitude.’’

Leon having written this book at the age of twenty-one amazes me. Not only because of the fact that she was twenty-one but because of the way she crafts sentences and how she perceives certain things. The way music and certain musical pieces were intertwined within the story was beautiful and Leon combining music with winter made me feel like I was right there with Hermin and Lenny. Both characters are very flawed and interesting. Our story is told from Hermin’s POV which revisits the past and the present in each chapter so we get almost a full picture of what happened. Since the book is told from Hermin’s POV and since Lenny is his guest, Leon makes us a part of Hermin because we experience everything from his perspective – it feels as though we have welcomed a long lost friend into our home and are experiencing all of the consequences that this brings. What I found most enjoyable was the language in the story and the way Leon creates them which are all wonderfully translated from French by John Cullen. The translator did a fantastic job! The story is something I found to be weak – although the ‘ghosts of the past’ came to haunt both characters I felt as though the story could’ve been thought-out better. I get the decision behind bringing Lenny back after ten years of silence but I felt dissatisfied in a way because of the way the story went. I hope this makes sense to people who have read it but the story felt predictable to me. Wanderer being Leon’s debut novel shows to me that she has a lot of skill and I’m excited to see what she comes up with in the future. I feel like what Leon fell short on [for me] she made up by the way she wrote this novel.

‘’I’d looked at him helplessly. I’d never had any gift for consoling people – I could listen to them talk about their trouble, sure, but then how to find the right words? And this particular case seemd to be precisely the sort about which there was nothing to say; no phrases would have the power to cushion the blow that had just struck him. But in spite of all that, I was required to say something…’’

Wanderer explores the psychological effects of what long periods of silence do to a friendship and what damage they may cause.

If you’re someone who likes their reads to be more on the psychological side then I definitely recommend this book.

I would like to thank the publisher Other Press (NY) for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating: 

Add ‘Wanderer‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Wanderer‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Wanderer‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Gérard Cambon-Éditions Héloïse

Sarah Léon was born in 1995 and studied literature and musicology at the École normale supérieure in Paris. She won the 2012 Prix Clara for her novella, Mon Alban.

Find her on: Publisher’s website and Goodreads.

Advertisements

[REVIEW] The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @OrendaBooks

I have seen this book on Twitter and saw that it’s LGBTQ+ so I immediately had to get a copy of it and read it! I found the synopsis of the book to sound very interesting because of different settings the story takes place in.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a book about two people, Ben and Andrew, who seem to meet each other in unusual circumstances and quite often. From the moment Ben sets eyes of Andrew [in a library] he falls for him and something gives him courage to leave his number in a book Andrew was reading. Fast forward to some more coincidence-meetings and they start a relationship with each other. They spent much of their time together, hanging out at Ben’s place, going to the circus etc. Ben’s father is a peculiar being who drinks a lot, Ben is afraid that his father wouldn’t accept his sexuality so he keeps it quiet. During their relationship Ben and Andrew learn a lot about each other, Ben shares that he always wanted to travel to Africa and take care of lions while Andrew shows Ben a wish box he believes is magical. Ben goes to Africa, but why has he gone? What happened between Ben and Andrew?

I love that this book is LGBTQ+ because I feel like it would’ve been boring if it wasn’t. I found The Lion Tamer Who Lost to be an interesting read filled with heart and great writing but I did have some issues with it. My issues with it are based on my tastes (of course) and some may disagree with me but this bothered me: I found the book to be predictable at times and felt that there were cliches in it. I have to keep this review spoiler free so I can’t get into exactly what bothered me but I can say that the tragedy in the book was something I found to be okay for this story [meaning it compels you to read on] even though I didn’t find it necessary. Ben and Andrew’s love story is something I loved reading about and the author made them come to life with her writing. The chapters alternate between past and present and we have a number of parts which are titled BEN and ANDREW. Out of both main characters in this book I found Andrew to be most likable and so sweet. I loved Andrew and enjoyed reading his parts the most. Aside from my issues with it I believe that many people will enjoy picking this book up and I salute Louise for writing an LGBTQ+ book because we need more of them in the world.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a love story between Ben and Andrew that  begins as a series of meet-cutes which eventually forms into a love story that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very end.

I would like to thank the publisher Orenda Books for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions mentioned here are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Lion Tamer Who Lost‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Lion Tamer Who Lost‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Lion Tamer Who Lost‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Louise Beech knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her debut novel was a Guardian Readers’ Pick for 2015. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She was also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show for three years.

Find her on: Website, Twitter and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin @tinderpress

I’m sure everyone has heard of The Immortalists by now because it’s been everywhere on the internet. I added this book last year to my TBR because I loved its synopsis and that it was set in New York. I’m happy to say that this was an excellent read and that I read it fairly quickly because it was so engaging.

The Immortalists begins with four siblings – Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya –  going to a fortune teller because they heard she knows when people die. They are all very frightened when they get to the fortune teller and hear their dates and what’s interesting is that none of that at that moment share theirs with the others. Their lives will be led with knowledge of their death dates at the back of their heads and some of them will be consumed by that knowledge. The book is divided into four parts each one revolving around one of the siblings – first part is Simon’s and then we have Klara, Daniel and the last part is about Varya. As each of the siblings go on their paths most become estranged from each other. Simon becomes a dancer, Klara a magician, Daniel an army doctor and Varya a research scientist. How will their stories go? Read the book and find out!

What I absolutely adored about this book was the truth behind it – how people can become distanced from one another even though they are siblings plus the effects it has. Simon’s story was the one I loved the most because of its rawness. Each of the stories were told in a great way and kept my attention. I am trying to keep my thoughts on this spoiler-free so I won’t mention certain things. I loved the magicam realism in this book because it gave it a different dimension. The references Benjamin used were precise and I loved how certain things correlated and how each story had a connection with the previous one.  I wouldn’t mind hearing more about Varya’s work because I liked that she was a scientist. What this book does is make you questions relationships with people close to you and it makes you wonder what would happen if they were to disappear from your life.

The Immortalists is a novel well-worth reading because it offers a great and heart-wrenching look at sibling dynamics, it makes you wonder and question things in your life. Should you read? The answer is very easy: YES.

I would like to thank the publisher Tinder Press for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. The opinions written are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Immortalists ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The Immortalists‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘The Immortalists‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Chloe Benjamin is the author of THE IMMORTALISTS, a New York Times Bestseller, #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2018, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, #1 Library Reads pick, and Amazon Best Book of the Month.

Her first novel, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS (Atria, 2014), received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.

Her novels have been translated into over twenty-three languages. A graduate of Vassar College and the M.F.A. in fiction at the University of Wisconsin, Chloe lives with her husband in Madison, WI.

Find her on: WebsiteTwitterInstagram and GoodReads.

[REVIEW] The Diamond Setter by Moshe Sakal @OtherPress

I love the cover of this book and that’s the first thing that attracted me to it and then the blurb which sounded so interesting. This isn’t a typical read for me but I am so glad I got the chance to read it because it’s good to read something different than your usual reads from time to time. I must confess that I really liked reading this book.

The Diamond Setter is a story that spans through generations and at the center of it is one diamond, the blue diamond. The story begins with one man’s journey from Syria to Israel with a goal of returning the diamond called ‘Sabakh’ to its rightful owner and also finding more about his family roots. Fareed gets swept not only into the mystery of the ‘Sabakh’ but into a dangerous life that comes with finding the truth. The author takes us to many places, from the present day to the 1900s where we get stories about the diamond, how it was first found and how it got into the hands of many different people (Don’t worry the stories revolve around the family and don’t stray away from the story). I feel like saying more will ruin your experience so I won’t say anything further.

I must say that the first two-three pages of the prologue were so interesting and they made me dive into this book. The first few chapters were confusing but after them I got into the gist of who’s who and what’s happening. Sakal writes characters that are flawed but also real because of that. If you’ve researched this book it says that it’s about a love triangle and I read that but was still surprised when I came across it in the book. The love triangle thing was so intriguing because of the things that happened later in the book. There’s a point where the name of the novel comes up within the story as well as the plot of it which I had mixed feelings about because it kind of deviated from the story but what I found rewarding was the potrayal of gay characters in the book. I loved reading about Tom and Honi. I feel like the end of the book had a bitter-sweet taste but it left me wondering and thinking about the future of these characters.

The Diamond Setter is a novel with a heart and I’m sure many readers will enjoy reading this story.

I would like to thank the publisher Other Press for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own and were not influenced by the fact that I got a free copy for review.

My rating: 

Add ‘The Diamond Setter ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The Diamond Setter‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘The Diamond Setter‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Moshe Sakal is the author of five Hebrew novels, including the best-selling Yolanda, which was short-listed for the Sapir Prize (the Israeli Booker), My Sister, which was long-listed in 2016, and The Diamond Setter, forthcoming in the USA.

Sakal was born in Tel-Aviv into a Syrian-Egyptian Jewish family. He has been awarded the title of Honorary Fellow in Writing by the University of Iowa, the Levi Eshkol Prize for Creative Work, and a Fulbright grant. ​

Sakal lived six years in Paris, France. He currently lives in Jaffa.

Find him on: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

[REVIEW + Q&A] The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara @OneworldNews

The House of Impossible Beauties is one of those books you stumble upon once in a while that leave a mark on you. What first attracted me to this book was the topic it deals with plus it being a LGBTQ book it was an immediate add to my to-be-read shelf. What awaits you inside is a story filled with courage, hope and suffering but above all that what this book carries and showcases the most are love and support between each character in it.

Before reading this book I had to watch Paris is Burning because for some reason I wanted to see what exactly inspired this interesting-looking book. The documentary was truly amazing and this book follows the fictionalized lives of some of the real people from the documentary like Dorian Corey, Angel Xtravaganza, Venus Xtravaganza with appearances by some other characters like Pepper Labeija and many more. It mainly focuses on the life of the House of Xtravaganza : Hector, the father of the house, Angel Xtravaganza who is the mother and Venus, Juanito and Daniel. Each new part begins with a chapter narrated by Dorian Corey with her sass and wisdom.

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to each character and chapter by chapter get to know their upbringing stories as well as their lives in the present.  I loved reading their stories because they show the truth behind being a trans person and the judgment they have to face daily because of being trans. What this book offers is a real look at the 1980s, the HIV crisis and the moral people had back then about things that are somewhat accepted in our society [I say somewhat because there are still parts of the world where people look at someone who’s gay or trans with disgust]. These are the sort of stories that need to be told more often because they are so good and they made me feel closer to the T part of the community. I must say that where I come from trans people as well as gay people are treated very harshly because of the religious beliefs people have but nowadays a lot of young people have no judgement towards the LGBTQ community which makes me happy because future generations will be raised without hate towards people who are different.

What makes this book so special to me are the characters in it. I loved reading about them, hearing their stories, passions and their dreams. Throwing shade is the way they communicate at times and I just loved every bit of shade they threw at each other.

The only thing I found as a con is the use of pronouns because at times they were confusing. Some people may find the use of Spanish in the sentences annoying or too much but to me it made the story much more real.

What can I say? This review is a rollercoaster ride and I hope I presented the book and my thoughts in an interesting way that makes you want to pick up and read this marvelous book.

The House of Impossible Beauties is a gorgeous novel about transgender and gay kids set in the 1980s filled with stories that will make you feel every emotion possible. Once you finish reading this book you’ll want to read it again.

I would like to thank the publisher Oneworld Publications for sending this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own and not influenced in any way.

My rating: 

Add ‘The House of Impossible Beauties ‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘The House of Impossible Beauties‘ here: 

*Purchase ‘The House of Impossible Beauties‘ with free international delivery here: 

**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Joseph Cassara was born and raised in New Jersey. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Centre in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The House of Impossible Beauties is his first novel. He lives in Iowa.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and GoodReads.

 

You can find my Q&A with the author below.
Continue reading