We are 30-odd days into the lockdown, and I am not complaining about the extra time to read. Here are the books of the month.
A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror (by John Hornor Jacobs, 2019)
Pleasure makes us numb, stupid, inert. Pain sparks our wicks. The light and scent of pain—the greater the better—draws the attention of the mighty. The prodigious. The vast and numberless.
The first of the two cosmic tales, The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky, is as gorgeously written as it sounds. The prose captivates right from the start with the charismatic poet Rafael Avendano, whom Isabel comes to fall in love with in spite of, or perhaps because of the danger in his reputation.
Caught in something less of a romance than a strange enchantment, she gradually learns of how he lost his eye and his life to the fascist regime. His story unfolds before her with as much grace and terror, gripping in every word.
Continue reading Book Reviews: April 2020 Reads
Saying goodbye to the cinemas has been hard, even if it is only temporary. On the bright side, that means more time for books.
What I managed to read were excellent, though incidentally clouded in grey, which inspired a revisit of my favourite graphic novel series for much-needed cheer.
How We Disappeared (by Jing-Jing Lee, 2019)
He knew what the unsaid did to people. Ate away at them from the inside. He had told Wang Di nothing. Not until a few years into their marriage, following a rare day at the beach. After that, all he wanted to do was talk about the war. What he had done. Not done.
I have often wondered about the stories left untold as the number of war survivors dwindle with time. Inspired by author Lee Jing-Jing’s own family history, How We Disappeared is thus a remnant to be treasured. The novel recounts one of the darkest chapters of Singapore’s history, where the Japanese army had ruthlessly enslaved and murdered women.
Continue reading Book Reviews: March 2020 Reads
A literary classic, a children’s novel, an urban fantasy, and an absurdist collection of short stories on love. This month’s book picks are an eclectic lot. But interestingly, they all portray dysfunctional relationships in different ways.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (by Patrick Süskind, 1987)
“And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.”
Jean-Baptise Grenouille is different, and hated for it. He is taunted for his ugliness and reviled for his absence of scent. Hate forges evil. He begins an obsession for what he does not have, and in his fervour for scent reveals his desire for affection and acceptance.
Continue reading Book Reviews: February 2020 Reads
After leaving reviews on Goodreads for some time, I have decided to do a monthly round-up on this blog. So here’s me trying to keep up with my reading goals, life in the way and all.
City of Stairs (by Robert Jackson Bennett, 2014)
“The Divine may have created many hells, but I think they pale beside what men create for themselves.”
Old Gods return to the ravaged lands of Man in the epic fantasy, City of Stairs. Robert Jackson Bennett presents a rich introduction to a divine universe, built on the charm of ancient magic and thrill of conspiracies. Exposition works to its full advantage. Readers are able to immerse entirely in the fascinating knowledge of its rules, politics, and theology.
Continue reading Book Reviews: January 2020 Reads
The Long and Faraway Gone (Lou Berney, 2015) – Haunted by their past, two survivors of unresolved cases continue their search for closure twenty five years on.
Death is harder on the ones left behind. Two decades could not erase their pain, as two survivors continue their search for elusive answers, unknowingly falling back into the past at the great cost of the present.
A powerfully written novel, The Long and Faraway Gone is about guilt and grief in the aftermath of unexpected tragedies. Author Lou Berney puts us in the ragged souls of the ones left behind, such that we long for the answers as much as they do.
Continue reading Book Review: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney