“Boy Snow Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi

This novel had been sitting on my shelf unread for a while, so when a bookclub I’m in chose it for one of our reads, I was enthusiastic to do so. I’d heard great things about it and that it’s inspired by the Snow White fairytale, so I thought the book sounded promising. But unfortunately, the story wasn’t as outstanding as I thought it would be.

Genre

Historical Fiction; Magical Realism; Literary

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2013

Goodreads summary

The widely acclaimed novel that brilliantly recasts the Snow White fairy tale as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.

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“First Frost” by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen is now one of my favorite authors. I love her writing too much for her not to be. This is the second of her novels I’ve read and again I devoured the story as if hungering for it for days. It’s a sweet story. I enjoyed reading it, and I loved the characters and the town it’s set in for how quirky they are.

Genre:

Magical realism; Romance

Series:

Waverley Family, book 2

Pubbed:

2015

Goodreads summary:

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

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“Middle Passage” by Charles Johnson

A high seas adventure I didn’t expect to enjoy.

This is what I love about the library. I can visit, pick up a random book to try, and feel pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it and later buy myself a copy if I choose. If I didn’t like the book, I would be annoyed but not as upset as I would have been if I’d wasted my money on something I didn’t like. Luckily, in this case I liked the book so much that I had to buy myself a copy. This one is a keeper and one I’d love to reread because I’m sure I didn’t get as much out of it as the story had to offer.

Genre:

Historical fiction

Pubbed:

1990

Goodreads summary:

It is 1830. Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and irrepressible rogue, is desperate to escape unscrupulous bill collectors and an impending marriage to a priggish schoolteacher. He jumps aboard the first boat leaving New Orleans, the Republic, a slave ship en route to collect members of a legendary African tribe, the Allmuseri. Thus begins a daring voyage of horror and self-discovery.

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“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey

Sometime last year, I listened to an episode of Myths & Legends podcast (Ep. 96 – Russian Folklore: Cold as Ice) that discussed folktales about snow children. It got me wondering about Eowyn Ivey’s book The Snow Child. I wondered if Ivey’s novel was similar to the stories I heard on the podcast. I got curious and was tempted to read the novel, which I’d bought in the previous year because bloggers and booktubers were all speaking of it and saying how great the story and the prose are.

But I procrastinated on reading the book and didn’t do so until January this year thinking that winter may be the best time to read it. It was and it was pretty good.

Genre:

Historical fiction
Magical realism

Pubbed:

February 2012

Quick summary:

It’s the 1920s in America — the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties with great outrageous parties filled with pump and style. But we get none of that glitz and glamour of the 1920s in The Snow Child. Instead, the story sits us on a quiet homestead in Alaska where an old couple live.

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“Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells is the second novel I’ve read this year that emphasizes cooking and creative recipes in its story. The other novel was the first book I completed this year — Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, a contemporary novel about a 20-something woman who moves to New York City to work at a food magazine.

I feel as if Garden Spells has been hounding me, pushing me to read it. It kept popping up on many of the book recommendation lists I’ve looked at this year: lists featuring witchy books, books inspired by nature, books containing descriptive prose. It was the descriptive prose list that convinced me to finally give the novel a try, and I’m glad I did.

Genre:

Magical realism; romance

Pubbed:

2007

Series:

Waverley Family (book 1)

Unbound Worlds summary:

This is the brief synopsis included alongside the novel on Unbound Worlds’ list of nature-based fantasy novels. I think it does a better job than Goodreads of succinctly stating what the story is about without giving away too much:

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“Kintu” by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Here’s the reason why I haven’t posted a review in a while: I’ve been procrastinating on Kintu. Not because I hated the book or because it’s bad. It’s because I enjoyed the book so much and got so much out of it that I needed time to process it all.

When I decided to sit and jot down some thoughts on it, I felt overwhelmed and indecisive. I didn’t know what to say, how much to say, or where to start. But I want to stop procrastinating on it and I want to urge everyone to read it, so as best as I can, I’ll just share what comes to mind as I think back on my reading experience with this book (and hope it all makes sense).

Genre:

Historical; literary; magical realism

Pubbed:

2014 in Uganda; 2017 in the U.S.

Goodreads summary:

Uganda’s history reimagined through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan in an award-winning debut.

In 1750, Kintu Kidda unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In this ambitious tale of a clan and of a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future. 

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“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing was the best book I read this year. I’ve procrastinated on writing about it because I felt intimidated by all the emotions I felt and thoughts I thought while reading the novel. I want to share them all, but I don’t know how to express them. I wish I could just utter a sound, a single cry, that encompasses all I want to convey about how I felt while I read Homegoing. I think that would be the best way to communicate how the book made me feel.

“And in my village we have a saying about separated sisters. They are like a woman and her reflection, doomed to stay on opposite sides of the pond.”

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Shelf Control #1: “In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods”

shelf-controlShelf Control is a weekly meme created by Lisa at Book Shelf Fantasies where bloggers feature books they own and would like read. It’s a way for readers to take stock of what they own and get excited about the books on their shelves and on their devices.

I’ve wanted to join in ever since Lisa announced this meme, but have just gotten around to doing so. I own a lot books and though I tried to buy less this year, I went overboard due to the two bookish events I attended — BookCon and the Small Press Expo. My hope is that this meme will get me excited about the books I already own, or at least lessen my need to quickly purchase the cover that catches my eye.

Also, I just want an excuse to talk about more books so just think of this as a tour of my library.


My pick for the week:

in-the-house-upon-the-dirt-between-the-lake-and-the-woods

Title: In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

Author: Matt Bell

Genre: Fiction, fantasy (some on Goodreads have listed it under magical realism)

Published: 2013

Length: 312 pages

Goodreads overview:

In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife’s beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.

This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence. In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

How I got it: I saw it in a pile of free books at work and I recognized the title so I grabbed it.

When I got it: 2013 or 2014

Why I want to read it: I think I saw a review of it in a Shelf Awareness newsletter and that piqued my interest. I still would like to read it because the story sounds interesting.

A Legend Has Passed: Gabriel García Márquez

The prolific author Gabriel García Márquez.
The prolific author Gabriel García Márquez.

Who can write a novel sans dialogue but so engaging it keeps you up at night? Who can weave a story so loopy that it spins you in dizzying circles? Who can create a place so mystic that you never doubt its reality? Who?

Gabriel García Márquez.

Gabriel García Márquez, one of the greatest writers of all time and one of the reigning champs on the top of my bookshelf where all favorite authors reside, has passed. He died Thursday, April 17, in Mexico City. He was 87.

And the book—One Hundred Years of Solitude, the first book I’ve read by García Márquez. I am amazed by García Márquez’s talent and his clarity in his observation of humanity. This novel depicts the progress of civilization. It is one of the greatest novels I have ever read and it has left a deep impression on me. One Hundred Years of Solitude was my introduction to a profound artist and I am saddened to learn that he is gone.

May his soul now rest in peace.

 

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez

Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

I have always heard mention of García Márquez and his books are always recommended to me. At first I shied away from them thinking, as I always do, that since he is a literary novelist and most of his books are considered classics, his prose would be cumbersome and his plots a drag. One would think my mind would stop thinking this by now. I was pleasantly surprised, when I finally buckled down to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, that I enjoyed it and could hardly bear to tear my eyes away from the book to do other things. The story would haunt me throughout the day while I worked. I constantly wondered how the story would progress, how would it end, would I get confused by the cast of characters all bearing similar names? It was torture to be away from the book for too long.

I plucked One Hundred Years of Solitude off my bookshelf after reading a passage in Wonderbook (by Jeff VanderMeer) that states One Hundred Years of Solitude is a story written without dialogue. I found that amazing and wanted to experience such a story. I wondered if such a novel would be dreadfully boring. After all, many times dialogue is used to speed the story along or simply to give the reader a break from stacks of paragraphs or to showcase other facets of the characters. Like in Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series where the characters often interject certain aphorisms and similes in their conversations that reveal who they are and where they’re from. For example, Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat, is from Tear and is the daughter of a fisherman so she often uses aphorisms and similes that include boats, nets, and fish.

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