Book Reviews: On a Night of a Thousand Stars, Mexican Gothic & Beautiful World, Where are You

On A Night of A Thousand Stars by Andrea Yaryura Clark

Goodreads blurb: In this moving, emotional narrative of love and resilience, a young couple confrontsthe start of Argentina’s Dirty War in the 1970s, and a daughter searches for truth twenty years later. New York, 1998Santiago Larrea, a wealthy Argentine diplomat, is holding court alongside his wife, Lila, and their daughter, Paloma, a college student and budding jewelry designer, at their annual summer polo match and soiree. All seems perfect in the Larreas’ world—until an unexpected party guest from Santiago’s university days shakes his usually unflappable demeanor. The woman’s cryptic comments spark Paloma’s curiosity about her father’s past, of which she knows little.
When the family travels to Buenos Aires for Santiago’s UN ambassadorial appointment, Paloma is determined to learn more about his life in the years leading up to the military dictatorship of 1976. With the help of a local university student, Franco Bonetti, an activist member of H.I.J.O.S.—a group whose members are the children of the desaparecidos, or the “disappeared,” men and women who were forcibly disappeared by the state during Argentina’s “Dirty War”—Paloma unleashes a chain of events that not only leads her to question her family and her identity, but also puts her life in danger. In compelling fashion, On a Night of a Thousand Stars speaks to relationships, morality, and identity during a brutal period in Argentinian history, and the understanding—and redemption—people crave in the face of tragedy.

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out March 1, 2022

My take: 4 out of 5. confession: I requested an ARC of this book on title alone. I really hadn’t read the description or much about it, but as a Historical fiction fan and an Evita fan, i was humming the song as soon as I read it so I had to see what it was about. Fast forward to actually reading the book, I was enthralled. As a lover of Buenos Aires I was transported there, the descriptions are so vivid. The story is also very interesting, and really a lot of detail on history of Argentina that I was not aware of. A good balance of history and actual romance which is always a good idea in my book.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Goodreads blurb: After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

My take: 4 out of 5. This is definitely not my genre. I stay out of the horror aisle 99% of the time, but this book was everywhere so I figured I would give it a go. I’m very glad I did. Not only is it a great book, its the perfect mystery/horror book for those like me who are not as deep in the genre. Its is extremely engaging but the gore/ scare factor is manageable, and the twist are very literary which I appreciated. More psychological than gore and I appreciated it. I also hear it will be made into a movie/series and I think it will lend itself spectacularly for it.

I listened to the audiobook and I had a HUGE qualm with it. As a Spanish speaking person, the way the narrator pronounced Noemí was driving me up the wall. The fact that it had an accent, and throughout the book they kept pronouncing it Noemi instead of Noemí was VERY irritating and also a faux pas on behalf of the Spanish speaking author. I will now get down from my soap box.

Beautiful World, Where are You by Sally Rooney

Goodreads blurb: Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

My take: 4 out of 5. Sally Rooney is an expert at conversational writing, but it is not always an easy read or a truly enjoyable adventure. I think she makes you uncomfortable and asks the right questions , and it is a life questioning exercise in the guise of an entertaining friendship story. It is raw and provocative and an experience you should jump into. I think this book will also lend itself really well to an adaptation, as Normal People did. (and Conversation with Friends is coming up which Im very much looking forward to)

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