Yikes. I haven’t done a book review since the end of February. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading, although it has been harder with all my online writing. Here’s a quick overview of what’s been occupying my mind most evenings this spring.
“The Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
I liked the premise of this book — a sorceress/magician who moves to modern-day California to help heal people’s broken lives using the power of spices. It reminded me of extreme naturopathy! The book itself, though, was hard to read and didn’t draw me in as intensely as I’d hoped.
“Bury Your Dead” by Louise Penny
Though I’m not a mystery fan, I do love Penny’s fast-moving novels always set in French Canada. This one was the best I’ve read yet, set in a wintry Quebec City, full of history about Samuel de Champlain, the fascinating and mysterious ‘founder’ of Canada.
“Toxin Toxout” by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith
See my review on TreeHugger about this excellent book — all about how to detoxify our bodies and lives.
“The Cider House Rules” by John Irving
My aunt Jane recommended this book to me after hearing some established writer say it was one of the most influential books in their life. I have to agree, it’s a powerful read, all about women’s rights, abortion, and adoption. I think everyone should read this book.
“The Firebird” by Susanna Kearsley
Talk about profound disappointment! I enjoyed Kearsley’s other books so much, but this one was awful. The storyline was horribly contrived, about an estranged couple who could communicate with their minds. The only reason I kept reading it was because I took it to Honduras and it was a library book, so I couldn’t just pitch it and buy another book in the airport! Don’t bother with this one.
“I Always Loved You” by Robin Oliveira
There was a romance, apparently, between artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. It was entertaining, if a bit slow-moving and stilted at times, but I do love descriptions of late 19th-century Paris, so I was content to finish the book.
“Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish” by David Rakoff
I certainly didn’t expect a novel in rhyme, but that’s what I got — and it was awesome! The storyline itself was a bit depressing, and while I understand that many modern authors want to depict ‘reality,’ I tend to read to escape and to be entertained and uplifted, which means I gravitate toward happier stories.
“All You Need Is Less” by Madeleine Somerville
One awesome thing about writing for TreeHugger is getting free book copies to review. This one is written by a young women from B.C. who reminds me a lot of myself. You can read my review here.
“David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell
This was the first of Gladwell’s books that I’ve read. (Listening to most of “The Tipping Point” on CD doesn’t really count.) It was very interesting, and I found myself recounting a lot of the stories to Jason because they were so intriguing. But I also found Gladwell’s writing style to be a bit repetitive. It seemed he kept beating home the same points about big guys vs little guys, over and over again. It became irritating, eventually. Did anyone else notice that?
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer
My book club selected this one to read and discuss together. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of it. I don’t gravitate toward the style of writing that writes around the main message, leaving the reader to guess what’s actually being discussed. I prefer straightforward descriptions of what’s going on, not playing deciphering games, which I felt I had to do throughout this entire book. Oh, and I could never seem to remember the title.
“Longbourne” by Jo Baker
This is “Pride and Prejudice” retold from the perspective of the servants. It was good, though not riveting. I expected more overlap with the P&P storyline, which was actually quite minimal. Still, I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a lovely foray into old Britain. It makes me miss my Victorian literature classes at university. There’s nothing quite like a delicious old novel…
In conclusion, I need something really good to read, something that engulfs me and leaves me feeling weak, emotional, and deeply satisfied. Any suggestions? Historical fiction is what I’m really craving these days.