Book Reviews: Infinite Country and Finlay Donovan is Killing it

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Goodreads blurb: At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States. They travel to Houston and send wages back to Elena’s mother, all the while weighing whether to risk overstaying their tourist visas or to return to Bogotá. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained. When Mauro is deported, Elena, now tasked with caring for their three small children, makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further.Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a dual citizen, gives voice to Mauro and Elena, as well as their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia—each one navigating a divided existence, weighing their allegiance to the past, the future, to one another, and to themselves. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.

My take: 3.5 out of 5. I was very excited to read this book. A Reese’s Book pick about a Colombian Story? I was ordering it as soon as it was posted.

What’s good? Reading about your country is always interesting with experiences an locations immediately relatable. It also makes me very excited to think of so many new readers opening up to know more about Colombia, and maybe google what Chapinero is, or Barichara. I also like how unsure the characters are. Immigration is not a black and white topic and there is a lot of grey as to what people perceive are grievances and their sense of home. Those discussions felt real discussions also the question posed throughout the book as to why do people decide to leave the security of what they have for something new, and how difficult it is to backtrack. How can you be incomplete in either side of the border (which for someone who has usually a foot in each country felt quite resonant).

I read it in audible and it was a very easy listen. I appreciated that the reader spoke Spanish and didn’t butcher the pronunciation of any of the towns or places.

What’s not so good? I felt the story was a bit rushed. Having finished the book I’m still not sure about any of the motivations as to why they left the country. There’s really not a full character development in my book either. Showing that it is a complicated subject is great but not knowing what moves the characters after reading the novel is disappointing. I had a slight problem with the narrations shifts, it starts with a general narrator and then Karina is a narrator and then Nando, its a tad all over the place. Finally, even though i found the muisca stories interesting, as in my family we never discussed these fables or stories, they felt a bit gimmicky, like it wanted to have this very interesting relationship between the fables and the current story but it didn’t fully gel for me.

All in an interesting read that is worthwhile to delve into, but it fell below my very high expectations.

Finlay Donovan is Killing it by Elle Cosimano

Goodreads blurb: Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors. When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation. Fast-paced, deliciously witty, and wholeheartedly authentic in depicting the frustrations and triumphs of motherhood in all its messiness, hilarity, and heartfelt moment, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.

my take: 4 out of 5. This was an extremely fun read. I didn’t know what to expect and this was much lighter than I thought and thoroughly enjoyable. It was both funny and a complete thriller, with some awesome twists. The characters were very relatable. They might make questionable choices but you root for them throughout (it might be because they are cool characters , it can totally be because there are even more despicable people around and they get a pass in comparison.)

And the ending, WOW. Talk about a cliffhanger. I’m used to cliffhangers in shows but not really in books. I’m upset about thinking that it will probably be over a year before I know what happens next!

Looking forward to the series being made of this which has I Marlene King, she of Pretty Little Liars fame, attached to produce.

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