I’ve been barren for two months. Not literally of course, but in terms of new book purchases. After two months of lockdown (touted to be the longest in the world), the Philippine government started easing restrictions which allowed the provision of some services previously not available during the enhanced community quarantine (the Philippine’s version of lockdown). This easing of restrictions inevitably led me to purchase some books. Well, not really “some” because I managed to purchase 16 books. Yes, a whopping 14 books (with two more in transit) which basically undid the progress I made during the quarantine. The number of books I ticked off from my TBR list is nearly equal to the number of books I purchased post-quarantine. Haha.

Before I get carried away further, here are my purchases for June. Happy reading everyone and always keep safe!


Title: My Dark Vanessa
Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 372

Synopsis: 2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse y a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager – and who professed to worship only her – may be different from what she has always believed?”


Title: The Girl With the Louding Voice
Author: Abi Daré
Publisher: Dutton
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 361

Synopsis: “Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education.

The only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni finds that her life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens, and a new TV. When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni…

As a yielding daughter, subservient wife, and a powerless servant, Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni won’t be silenced. She is determined to find her voice –  in a whisper, in song, in broken English – until she can speak for herself, for the girls like Rebecca who came before, and for all the girls who will follow.”

Title: The Ocean at the end of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: 324

Synopsis: “This is what he remembers, as he sits by the ocean at the end of the lane:

A dead man in the back seat of the car, and warm milk at the farmhouse.

An ancient little girl, and an old woman who saw the moon being made.

A beautiful housekeeper with a monstrous smile.

And dark forces woken that were best left undisturbed.

They are memories hard to believe, waiting at the edges of things. The recollections of a man who thought he has lost but is now, perhaps, remembering a time when he was saved…”


Title: A Long Petal of the Sea
Author: Isabel Allende
Translator: Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 318

Synopsis: “In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee, in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace their exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, Roser and Victor face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they await the day when they might go home. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.”


Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Ecco
Publishing Date: 2012
No. of Pages: 369

Synopsis: “Achilles, “The best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift and beautiful – irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the god’s wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.”


Title: The Leopard
Author: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Translator: Archibald Colquhoun
Publisher: Harvill
Publishing Date: 1992
No. of Pages: 190

Synopsis: “In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of Sicilian acres and hundreds of subjects in mingled splendour and squalor. But echoes of the new political movements on the Italian mainland are already being heard. Garibaldi is about to arrive; a revolution is about to begin. The Leopard is about to change…”


Title: The Christmas Oratorio
Author: Goran Tunstrom
Translator: Paul Hoover
Publisher: David R. Godine, Publisher Inc.
Publishing Date: 1995
No. of Pages: 347

Synopsis: The Christmas Oratorio is a grand fresco of human striving, ambition, and desire by Sweden’s foremost contemporary novelist. Centering on three generations of Nodensson men, it unravels a saga as elaborately structured as a Bach cantata and as emotionally complex as a Bergman film.

The Christmas Oratorio begins in the 1930s, when Solveig Nordensson (wife of Aron and mother of Sidner) is accidentally killed. The grieving family abandons its home and moves to another town, hoping to start afresh, but finds that its emotional burdens have emigrated with it. Aron, bereft by the loss of his wife, starts “seeing” her in capricious hallucinations, and tragically seeks her reincarnation in a love-starved woman half a world away. The introverted Sidner begins a quest for emotional maturity that leads him into odd friendships with a remarkably self-reliant street boy and a free-spirited older woman. And grandson Victor, heir to the tortured legacy left by Solveig’s death, finds redemption for himself in a staging of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio – a performance begun by Solveig half a century earlier and interrupted by her tragic death.

More than a generational saga, however, The Christmas Oratorio is one of those rare works that encompasses the entirety of human drama, in terms at once touching, comic, erotic, and surreal. This is a novel of phenomenal breadth and insight, and a stunning debut in English, by one of the most celebrated authors in Scandinavia today.”


Title: Go Tell It on the Mountain
Author: James Baldwin
Publisher: Delta Publishing
Publishing Date: June 2000
No. of Pages: 226

Synopsis: “James Baldwin’s stunning first novel is now an American classic. With startling realism that brings Harlem and the black experience vividly to life, this is a work that touches the heart with emotion while it stimulates the mind with its narrative style, symbolism, and excoriating vision of racism in America.

Moving through time from the rural South to the northern ghetto, starkly contrasting the attitudes of two generations of an embattled family, Go Tell It on the Mountain is an unsurpassed portrayal of human beings caught up in a dramatic struggle and of a society confronting inevitable change.”


Title: Giovanni’s Room
Author: James Baldwin
Publisher: Delta Publishing
Publishing Date: June 2000
No. of Pages: 169

Synopsis: “Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin’s now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of human heart.”


Title: The Nocilla Trilogy
Author: Agustin Fernandez Mallo
Translator: Thomas Bunstead
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: Dream – 174; Lab – 149; Experience – 189

Synopsis: “A landmark of twenty-first-century Spanish literature, Agustin Fernandez Mallo’s Nocilla Trilogy – made up of the novels Nocilla Dream, Nocilla Experience, and Nocilla Lab – is a project for our time. Reading takes the form of literary channel surfing: we flick through an audacious network of chopped-up stories, recycled texts, and mixed-media collages, and try to find the signal in the noise, reflecting the dizzying search for meaning that characterizes life in our digital age.

The globe-spanning narratives that explode across the trilogy take us from a lone poplar tree in the Nevada desert to a barnacle-covered cliff in Galicia, Spain, through scientific treatises and film-editing manuals, personal journals and comic strips. The books are full of references to indie cinema, theoretical physics, conceptual art, practical architecture, the history of computers, and the decadence of the novel. And yet for all the freewheeling, fragmentary swagger, a startling order emerges and takes hold. Peerless in its daring, The Nocilla Trilogy charts a hidden and exhilarating cartography of contemporary experience.”


Title: Satantango
Author: László Krasznahorkai
Translator: George Szirtes
Publisher: Tuskar Rock Press
Publishing Date: 2012
No. of Pages: 274

Synopsis: “In the darkening embers of a communist utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian village has come to a virtual standstill. Flies buzz, spiders weave, water drips and animals root desultorily in the barnyard of a collective farm. But when the charismatic Irimias – long thought dead – returns to the commune, the villagers fall under his spell. The Devil has arrived in their midst.

Irimias will divide and rule: his arrival heralds the beginning of a period of violence and greed for the villagers as he sets about swindling them out of a fortune that would allow them to escape the emptiness and futility of their existence. He soon takes on a messianic aspect, as he plays on the fears of the townsfolk and a series of increasingly brutal events unfold.

Satantango follows the villagers as they are exploited and taken in by Irimias, as they drink and stumble their way toward the gradual realization of their mistake and ultimate demise. In its measured prose and long sentences, Satantango is nothing short of a literary masterpiece, a formal meditation on death and avarice, human fallibility and faith.”


Title: The Guest Cat
Author: Takashi Hiraide
Translator: Eric Selland
Publisher: Picador
Publishing Date: 2014
No. of Pages: 136

Synopsis: “A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, a play in the nearby garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.”


Title: The Desert and Its Seed
Author: Jorge Baron Biza
Translator: Camilo Ramirez
Publisher: New Directions
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 207

Synopsis: The Desert and Its Seed opens with a taxi ride to the hospital. A woman’s face is disintegrating – her ex-husband has flung sulfuric acid at them while signing their divorce papers. Mario, her son, tries to wipe the acid from her face, but his own fingers burn. What follows is a fruitless attempt to reconstruct his mother’s face: first in Buenos Aires and then in Milan. Mario, the narrator, becomes the shadow and witness of these failed reconstructions, which mirror the Argentina he sees disintegrating around him.

I have already started reading My Dark Vanessa and hope to follow it up with The Girl With the Louding Voice. I have such a long road before me but this is just the type of challenge I am gearing myself up for. To more books and to more wonderful journeys!

Happy weekend everyone!