Category Archives: 2020 Book Reviews

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 57: Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Signs Preceding The End of The World by Yuri Herrera is the first novel about the US-Mexico Border I can remember reading.  I read Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy years ago but it did not deal directly with the current issues about the border.

This book came to my attention during the controversy surrounding the novel American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins earlier this year.  I have not read American Dirt so I can not make a direct comment about the novel’s quality.  But it did make quite a stir in the Latinx Publishing community about lack of representation in traditional publishing while a novel like that one gets major press and recognition.  Also, I attended a conference here locally in San Antonio discussing the issues that American Dirt presents about the border and Latinos in general.  I learned about Signs Preceding The End of The World from that conference and several websites that provided alternative recommendations to read.

Herrera’s novel is only nine chapters and tells the story of Makina.  She leaves her life back in Mexico to cross the border in search of her brother.  Makina has a couple of messages: one from her mother and the other from the Mexican Underworld. The story reveals the dangers in crossing the border and violence that is enacted in order to pursue freedom.

I will admit that I could not fully embrace Makina as a protagonist.  The reading experience was like watching someone from a distance and having a huge plexiglass separating me from the protagonist.  The translation by Lisa Dillman felt authentic with Mexican slang like jefecita (little boss) and yond (over there) as examples. However, I reached the ending and wanted more story. It ended so abruptly that I thought I had missed something.

I’m glad that I read Signs Preceding the End of the World.  It opened my eyes to world that gets sensationalized on Cable News TV shows and revealed the lengths that people will go through to pursue a better life.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 56: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

It’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to not do everything just right. It’s okay to be who you are….imperfections included. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown brings the importance of imperfection home in this book.  I read Brown’s Daring Greatly last month and it was recommend that I read The Gifts of Imperfection… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 55: The Wind That Lays Waste by Selva Almada

I finished Women in Translation Month 2020 with reading The Wind That Lays Waste by Argentinian author Selva Almada. The Wind That Lays Waste tells the story of Reverend Pearson and his daughter Leni traveling through the Argentinian countryside.  Their car breaks down and leads them to a shop owned by an old mechanic, Gringo… Continue Reading

Marion’s 31 Favorite Books of All Time

2020 has been a challenging year.  Dealing with a worldwide pandemic, political unrest here in America, and high profile celebrity deaths like Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman have made it a year that no one saw coming.  However, I have reached August 31st and another birthday. Birthdays are always a big deal to me.  It… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 54: Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz

Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz is my second read for Women In Translation Month 2020. I read the first Chastity Riley novel translated into English, Blue Night, last year and connected with the protagonist.  Chastity Riley is a prosecutor in Hamburg and along with her new partner Ivo Stepanovic, find an unconscious man in a… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 53: The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa is my first read for Women in Translation Month 2020.  It is the story of a single parent housekeeper and her relationship with a former mathematics professor that can not take care of himself after a serious accident a few years prior.  The housekeeper has a ten-year-old… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Review 51: Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the science fiction writers I have read throughout my reading life.  He joins Octavia Butler, Greg Bear, and Robert Silverberg as the science fiction writers I have found interesting and thought provoking to read. Pacific Edge is the third book of The Three Californias Trilogy and a book that… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 50: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

I want to update a review from 2012 for one of my all-time favorite novels, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Parable of the Sower is the story of Lauren Olamina, a teenager growing up in a grim LA suburb where their gated community provided a semblance of a normal life while anarchy reigned… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 49: Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

There are books that make you want to turn the page to find out what happens next.  However, there are a few books that turns the page for you and invites the reader into the story.  Very few novels make you feel the latter.  Little Country by Charles de Lint is one of those novels. … Continue Reading