BOOK REVIEW: The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

Blurb: For Stella Fortuna, death has always been a part of life. Stella’s childhood is full of strange, life-threatening incidents—moments where ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. Even Stella’s own mother is convinced that her daughter is cursed or haunted.
In her rugged Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity—beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. Stella uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life’s harshest realities. But she also provokes the ire of her father Antonio: a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence.
When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella and Tina must come of age side-by-side in a hostile new world with strict expectations for each of them. Soon Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence.
In present-day Connecticut, one family member tells this heartrending story, determined to understand the persisting rift between the now-elderly Stella and Tina. A richly told debut, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is a tale of family transgressions as ancient and twisted as the olive branch that could heal them.

 

Cover Review: I don’t love this cover. It’s pretty, but it doesn’t show anything of the story. Overall, a missed opportunity.

7or8

 

Plot: This book was so beautifully written. It’s really the story of a family and the ways relationships determine the course of our lives. I really liked the way the narration revealed little bits of itself ahead of the story. I normally don’t like when narrations break the fourth wall, but it really worked in this one. Each section details one of Stella’s near death experiences. The “deaths” were not what I was expecting, and that really kept me on my toes.

 

I also loved the slight paranormal element to this story. I’m Italian-American, so I grew up with a lot of the same traditions as Stella. We always had mint around and I wear a Cornic (what Grames calls a cornetto) and mano corno every day to keep the mal’och away. A lot of stories about Italian-Americans focus on organized crime (which does make some appearances in this book, but they’re minor). It was really refreshing to see that representation of my culture in literature.

 

Characters: This is really a character-driven story and one done in a really great way. Stella has a black cloud over her, possibly even a curse, and she lives in such a way where she tries to own it. She bears physical reminders of her “deaths” and doesn’t take life for granted. Tina, the little sister, doesn’t have her own personality. She’s a creepy little thing and I love it. And Tony. Let’s just not talk about Tony. Honestly, one of the best villians I’ve ever read.

 

World: We start in a small town in Italy and move to the US in Stella’s early 20’s. The Italian town of Ievoli is just like what my grandparents describe. And I know Connecticut has a large Italain population. The world was very realistic.

 

Themes:  Family dynamics, change versus tradition, female roles, destiny, forgiveness

Bottom Line:
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Age Rating: [ R ]
TW: Rape, Suicide
Cover: 3/5 ~ Characters: 4/5 ~ Plot: 5/5 ~ Audio: ⅘
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Ecco (HarperCollins)
Standalone: Yes

 

Top Ten Tuesday 3.5.19

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hosted by That ArtsyA Reader Girl

March 5: Characters I’d Like to Switch Places With

 

  1. Daenerys Targaryn from A Song of Ice and Fire: It would definitely suck to be orphaned, especially the way she was, but I think her travels and the fact that she literally has dragons would make it a little more bearable.
  2. Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice: Hypothetically, do I get her life, or just her physical place? Because I’d be down for some balls at Pemberley.
  3. Lina from Love & Gelato: I’d love to visit Florence, plus Ren seems like a dreamboat.
  4. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter: I’d more so like to see the world through her eyes than literally switch places with her.
  5. Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries (TV show more than the book): Bonnie on the show has a wild ride, that’s all I’ll say about that.
  6. Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games: Let’s be real, if Panem was real life, we’d all want to live in the Capitol blissfully unaware of what was going on in the Districts.
  7. Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy: It’s been years and years since I’ve read or even thought of this series, but just the whole concept of living in both the natural and supernatural words is rad.
  8. Olivia Hammond from the Royally Series: I mean, really, who doesn’t dream of meeting a prince and being wisked away to his palace?
  9. Teresa Hamilton from Be with Me: She is probably the least messed up of the girls in the Wait for You series (but that’s up for debate), and I’d really like to be part of that world.
  10. Kathy from Never Let Me Go: Don’t get me wrong, the whole premise of this book is messed up, but I still would want to be there in Kathy’s position more than anyone else’s. Plus Tommy.

Top Ten Tuesday 02.19.19

hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

February 19: Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings Reviews on Goodreads
I’m changing this one a little bit because I’m not a book elitist. A lot of the books I love are well love by others as well.

  1. Normal People by Sally Rooney: This was my favorite read of January 2019. I’m sure it won’t stay under 2,000 reviews for long.
  2. Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson: I read this one in college and it is a very unique type of book. It’s beautifully written, and challenges the ideas of gender and identity.
  3. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst: I’m really surprised that this one doesn’t have more reviews. It won the Man Booker Prize and was made into a miniseries. Maybe it’s because of the subject matter that it has so few reviews.
  4. The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano: This is the first book in a series about food. It’s got light Christian undertones, a badass heroine, and a redemptive hero.
  5. Falling Man by Don DeLillo: This book (along with the Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid) is one of the best representations of 9/11 in literature or film. It’s honest and raw an scary. I was a child when it happened, but this book really put me in the adult mindset.
  6. Nick and June Were Here by Shalanda Stanley: This is cheating a little bit, because I had an ARC and it only came out last week. I can see this novel skyrocketing to John Green levels. It would also make a better movie than Paper Towns just saying.
  7. Twenty-One by D. Victoria BonAnno: My cousin wrote and self-published this one last year. Not my normal genre, but I think she did a really great job.
  8. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers: Another one I read in school that was a little bit weird. It is a novella about the residents of a small town and explores the idea of the grotesque.
  9. Roam by C.H. Armstrong: Roam is probably one of those quirky one off books. I don’t imagine it will become very popular, but I could not put it down.
  10. The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers by Scott Carney: I read this book while on a road trip through New England one summer. It’s dark and twisty and so fascinating. I’d love to re-read it.

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What I’m Reading This Week

To be fully honest, I’ve been in a reading slump. At the end of last year, I was averaging 10 books per month. In January, I read 14. But, we’re more than halfway through February, and I’ve read 4. I’m not sure if it’s my selections or if I’m just too tired (I’ve woken up with a book on my face more than once this month). Either way, I’m committing to do better. Here are my goals for this week:

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon: I read When Dimple Met Rishi last week, and I really love Menon’s style. This seemed like an obvious next choice.

Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic: I watched Bruce Springsteen on Broadway a few weeks ago and he mentioned this book. It’s a memoir about a Vietnam vet who returns home paralyzed from the chest down and how veterans were (and still are) mistreated and neglected. I started it last week, but it’s pretty intense so I’m reading it slowly.

If, Then by Kate Hope Day, In Another Life: A Novel by C. C. Hunter, The Dating Game by Kiley Roach and Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak: These four are ARCs I’m trying to finish before I pure my NetGalley account (more about that later).

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BOOK REVIEW: When Dimple Met Rishi

WhenDimpleMetRishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Blurb: When Dimple met Rishi… things were awkward.

Dimple Shah knows what she wants: attend a summer coding conference and win their app competition, matriculate at Stanford in the fall, and have a successful career as a web developer. What she’s not here for? Her parents trying to set her up with the IIH (Ideal Indian Husband) at the conference. But that’s before she meets Richi.

When Dimple met Rishi…things changed.

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic and is completely on board with the arranged marriage. So on board that he basically proposes to Dimple the first time they meet…before she even knows who he is.

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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