Recent Reads and Mini Reviews #4

Hi!!! Welcome to another recent reads and mini reviews. It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on what I’ve been reading. And I also decided to skip my June Wrap Up because I didn’t get tons done due to my trip to PR and some personal shit I’ve been dealing with. However, I will be doing a June and July wrap-up together instead.

For today’s post, I will be discussing 4 books and just an FYI: all my thoughts are spoiler free.


40265670Title: When We Left Cuba
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Genre: Historical Fiction and Romance
Publisher: Berkley Books
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life–and heart–to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez–her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future–but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything–not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…

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When We Left Cuba is about one of the Perez sisters and I really loved this one as well. During Next Year In Havana, Beatriz is being quiet and secretive. But When We Left Cuba shows us the why and what she was up to the whole time. The author, Chanel Cleeton, truly knows how to write amazing flushed out characters and really good plots. I was on the edge of my seat half the time I was reading this novel.

The writing, the storyline, the family dynamic, and the rich culture of Cuba stand out in When We Left Cuba. This book did not once fall short. Beatriz is an admirable woman who is fiercely independent and does not care about society and their thoughts.

I would highly recommend reading this book because you learn a lot. Also, I liked that the author was inspired by true events in order to write this book. There’s a learning experience to this book that is definitely worthwhile.


Female cyclist riding without lights on a dark, foggy road.

Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Celadon Books
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another.

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

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I was very close to DNFing this book. I couldn’t get into it at all. The writing was choppy (I’m aware it’s a translated book), there was too much back and forth between what was going on and past events. I also felt like the genre was misleading. There was nothing thrilling about this book. It’s a literal family drama in which the family crosses lines to save one another.

This book is divided into three sections: father, mother, daughter. I didn’t find any of them pleasing. I’m okay with unlikable characters but I found them all annoying. Also the little plot twists weren’t even surprising at all. Once I knew the mom’s job title, it was too easy to guess what the end or at least how it was going to turn out.

In the end, I wouldn’t suggest this book. The only thing I liked was how short the chapters were.


34313931Title: A Woman Is No Man
Author: Etaf Rum
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.

In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.

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CHECK THIS BOOK VIA AUDIOBOOK INSTEAD!!! I had to get that out before I forgot the importance of such detail lol. I read this along while listening to the audio and wow what a book. A Woman Is No Man is POWERFUL and changing. It makes you want to do more. It’s one of those books that get you all tangled in emotions. There are trigger warnings for domestic abuse, death, and violence. The author definitely did not shy away from the details of these triggers.

Because I listened to the audiobook version, there were 3 narrators for the three women that have a part in this book. Each part was distinct and beautiful. It’s set in Palestine and Brooklyn. I was never confused with which part I was in. I also loved the writing style and message of this book. This is a gut wrenching book that leaves you with your heart stuck in your throat. I definitely want to read more of this authors work and would highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something with lots of meaning.


35959740Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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This was my first Madeline Miller book and wow!!! I need her to write a retelling of Hades and Persephone, including Medusa as well. I was scared of getting into this book. I thought I wasn’t going to really like it to be completely honest. Just because of the fact that I’ve had a hard time getting into Fantasy settings. However, this book blew it out the water. The message and women empowerment, the growth of Circe was such a sight. Madeline Miller wrote her character beautifully and I fell absolutely in love with Circe.

I would definitely say that Circe is a slow burn book. It’s not of those books where things are constantly happening but I did get the sense of growing with the character through her life. And that type of writing where you feel like you’re growing with a character through time is beautiful.

If you’re into Greek Mythology or at least know of it, then this book is highly recommended. We get to see and meet other Gods/Goddesses and that was fun. Circe is a feel good book.


Have you read any of these books or want to? Let me know in the comments!

Instagram: @chicnerdreads
Twitter: @chicnerdreads

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3 thoughts on “Recent Reads and Mini Reviews #4

  1. Great reviews!

    I’m happy to see you loved When We Left Cuba as much as Next Year in Havana! I also read and enjoyed Next Year in Havana, and I wanted to know more about Beatriz’s story, so I was so happy to see she was getting her own book. Can’t wait to pick it up for myself!

    You need to read Song of Achilles now! Similar slow-burn type of story but SO GOOD! I’ll read any retelling Miller does!

    Liked by 1 person

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