We have had a very nice and sunny weekend with yesterday at a track meet and today puttering in the yard. The sun makes a dog’s bones feel good and makes the cat complain because himself has a friend over to work on trees. Himself finished the second of Greg Bear’s Halo Trilogy and was very disappointed to find no news on the publication date of the third. I also finished four books this week and was not particularly pleased with three of them. I did really enjoy Louise Penny’s Still Life. I definitely plan reading her others. I also started Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall at the track meet yesterday and I am liking it so far.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
Gavin from Page247 has a brief review of a collection of short stories by Eugie Foster (an author I have never heard of) called Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice. Foster has won a Nebula Award and her stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. This collection sounds particularly good because Foster uses Asian history and folklore as a foundation for the stories. Gavin writes, “An air of delicacy provides a base for tales that are moving, often funny and filled with mystery” and Ursula K. Le Guin writes, “”Whimsy and malice–yes–also mystery, a very female sensuality, and wit. An elegant and entertaining book.”
Swapna Krishna has two books on her blog this week that have caught my interest. The first is a memoir, The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber. I really liked Abu-Jaber’s novel Origin and the author’s life story sounds intriguing. Her father is Jordanian and the family spent two years in Jordan when Abu-Jaber was seven. What binds the everyday moments related in this memoir is food – and food based memoirs have a life of their own. I think this one is going on the library list. The second book is an Icelandic mystery by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir called Ashes to Dust. Thirty-five years ago, a town was buried in volcanic ash. Everyone in the village was alive and accounted for, however three bodies and a severed head are found during an excavation of the village. That alone was enough for me to place a hold on the book.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller has been short-listed for The Orange Prize and I have seen several bloggers speak highly of the book including Simon Savidge and Cornflower Books. The novel is the story of Patroclus, Achilles friend who dons Achilles armor during the Trojan War and dies leaving Achilles mad with grief. I loved Ransom by David Malouf which is lyrical tale of Priam’s meeting with Achilles after the death of Patroclus and Priam’s son. Miller, according to Cornflower, is well versed in the classics and the author also has the “ability to present it in such a way that the reader is held in awe and admiration. It’s a book of clean lines, spaciousness, an airy quality which forms a compelling contrast to the strong characters and dramatic events it portrays.” Definitely going to read this one.
Available on Kindle only: One of the nice things about e-readers is that books published in England are sometimes available sooner in the US because of e-books. Such is the case of Little Bones by Janette Jenkins reviewed by Fleur Fisher in her World. This sounds like a great book group choice if the group can all access the novel. Abandoned by her family in 1899 London, a young girl finds herself the assistant to a doctor who discreetly treats young women with certain problems. The author creates a sympathetic character but does not offer her “an easy way out” of a morally complex tale.
Also on the Kindle only is The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price reviewed by Iris on Books. This novel was originally published in Welsh and is about a family of farmers in an isolated Welsh valley. Rebecca and her brother Robert are left on the farm to manage in a time of shifting culture and growing modernity. Iris writes:
The straightforward narrative is interspersed with more poetic passages, that receive their own chapters. In these passages, the landscape, the tradition way of life, the language, and Rebecca’s personal life all come together, enabling the reader to read Rebecca’s story not just as the story of an individual and her family, but also as the story of the valley, a community, and the push and pull between tradition and modernity
Finally, Matthew from A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook shares The King’s English Bookshop‘s list of 25 easy to read yet hard to put down vacation reads. The King’s English, in Salt Lake City, is one of my favorite independent bookstores – my mom and I go and spend time there whenever we visit Utah. I have read four of the twenty-five and several of the others look interesting. I long ago decided to never again read Elizabeth Berg or Gregory Maguire because I did not enjoy the novels by those authors I have read, but the list is definitely eclectic enough to have something to please every one and is well worth checking out.