There are several years of book reviews that I will be posting over the next few days. This is the 2009 list.
Because I live in a small town and I shop local and I shop a lot at my local bookstore, I am regularly invited behind the counter at Northtown Books to read and review the uncorrected proofs that they get in. In this way I get to read many books before they are published. I often send Dante, the owner of Northtown, my reviews and if they end up ordering these uncorrected proofs when they are fully finished books; he writes up my review on a little card that goes in front of the book on their “new books shelf.” I also get books from my library, from friends and I buy them too. Our home is full of books and I lend or give them away also.
These particular reviews are pithy, which is the only kind of pithy writing you will ever see from me!
I will not post links to all these books here because I do not want you to just buy them from the internet but would prefer if you went into a library or a bookstore, locally and bought them. I understand if that doesn’t happen, for all kinds of myriad reasons and however you choose to read or acquire good books to engage with, know that you are supporting writers everywhere when you do so and also encouraging your mind to expand and dance and grow and learn and in general do all the things a mind should do!
- Spoon by Robert Greer: Black/Native cowboy looking for his roots on a ranch where big Oil/Coal is trying to take over the last wild lands. Narrative of hard-working family struggling against the giant companies and also of young man growing into maturity. Good reading.
- God’s Gym by Leon de Winter: Interesting, good writing, intense story about loss, adaptations to that, Israel, mourning, working out, betrayal and love. I enjoyed it a lot, but the ending was a little disappointing, so be forewarned.
- The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks: Fabulous novel based on the real life story of the Muslim man who saved an ancient Haggadah in Bosnia during the worst of the looting, bombing and destruction going on there not so long ago. This is a must read book. Beautifully written, fascinating storytelling, rich, textured, lovely, sad and luminous all at once. GO GET IT RIGHT NOW!
- Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen: This was not an easy book to read because the main character is a man who is in the middle of a psychological breakdown and he is the narrator, so you are taken on the paths of his mind and are also caught sometimes thinking the way he does, even though you know he’s nuts. Well done, because I was drawn in. Well thought out and researched and sad, lovely and intense all at once. I had to put it down sometimes because my brain was getting fuddled.
- Jarretsville by Cornelia Nixon: Very interesting and thought-provoking novel based on the authors ancestor who was acquitted of killing a man in cold blood. The man was her fiancé, the time was right after the end of the civil war, his crime, not marrying her. She had a child, that was his, out-of-wedlock. He was a union soldier, her family were on the other side, but all of them lived right on the line between those who supported one side or the other. This book brought home the personal complexity of the civil war and how neighbors, family members and people in the same town could be friends and enemies, lovers and conflicted all at the same time and how hard that was.
- Crows over the Wheatfield by Adam Braver -EXCELLENT READ
- The Condition by Jennifer Haigh: fascinating and painful and well written. Story of a young woman/girl who cannot get taller and has a medical condition that leaves her the size of a ten-year old, despite being an adult.
- A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire: Not bad, not as good as Wicked
- Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre, very intense, good read.
- Innocent Blood by P.D. James: All of the following three books are excellent mysteries, well written and enjoyable, total escapism, very good writer. I went on a PD James kick for a jaunt and all I can say is if I read three in a row, that tells you something!
- Cover Her Face by P.D. James
- Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James
- Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb, excellent, painful Ethiopian novel of Islam, love, war, pain. Warning, You’ll want to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant when your are done.
- A theory of Relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard, very good, painful, heartfelt and worth reading.
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I enjoyed the flavor of this book, although the ending is terribly sad and not quite right. I love her other book RUN, which I read last year.
- Warriors Book One: Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter. This is a kids’ series about cats and their clans and their relationships. My son Ethan wanted me to read these. He’s already into the second set in this series. I’m going to be reading all of them. Enjoyable, predictable and full of good messages for young folks about loyalty, using your mind, taking care of the earth. I’ve completed all of the Erin Hunter Warriors books, which Ethan was trying to get in races with me to read first. He lost, because I can stay up til two a.m. to finish one and he couldn’t, as he was only twelve in 2009. List of the books in this series that I read: Into the Wild, Fire and Ice, Forest of Secrets, Rising Storm, A Dangerous Path, The Darkest Hour, Warriors: The New Prophecy, Midnight, Moonrise, Dawn, Starlight, Twilight, Sunset, Warriors: Power of Three, The Sight, Dark River, Outcast.
- The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip. Great Fantasy, lovely, quick and thoroughly enjoyable read.
- She is Me by Cathleen Schine. Three generations of Jewish women working through illness, marriage, love and life. I read this book on CD, meaning I listened to it on my drive to and from Oregon. I’m not sure I would have liked it as much reading it. It was very captivating for the drive.
- Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. Very beautifully written, intense, lovely, lovely.
- Hot House Flower, The Nine Plants of Desire by Margott Berwin: A little bit of everything, sex, mystery, spiritual myth making. Silly, and pop-spirituality, but interesting and clever as well. Enjoyable!
- miss harper can do it by Jane Berenston~memoir of a young woman whose boyfriend goes to Iraq. She’s a school teacher. Interesting and looks pretty in-depth at how hard long-distance soldier relationships are.
- Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith by Gina B. Nahal. Iran/Jews/Mystery/Bad Luck/Magic/Incest/Political Murders. Very poetic, mystical, well-done.Good Read.
- Trouble by Kate Christenson, spicy, sexy, interesting read about a woman changing her life pretty radically.
- The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Dark, weird, not particularly pleasant, but somehow I made it through, heavy on the dark arts mystical live forever strange mythology. There is good stuff in here about the love of books and the beauty of reading and the life of books whose worth has never been acknowledged, best part of this book was the cavernous labyrinthine book tunnels/warehouse that was a secret and that housed all these lost books.
- Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman: Sad, well written story of a broken family and a lighter than air mother and her children’s lives.
- The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air by Allan Appel: Good read, funny, painful, teenage lust/drama/anxiety mixed with class differences, religious/philosophical differences and moral and ethical edgyness. The story is very different and I enjoyed this book and wanted to keep reading when it was over.
- The Blue Notebook by James A Levine: I literally couldn’t put this book down and I started reading it at midnight, so it wasn’t until 2:00 a.m. that I finished it and tried to go to sleep. Very upsetting/disturbing journal of a child prostitute in India. It’s fictional, based on an interview the author, a doctor, did with a child prostitute in India who he noticed was scribbling in a small notebook. So, this is his informed version of what her story could be or is. Very well done, very hard and VERY SAD. The proceeds of the book go to benefiting organizations working to help children sold into slavery all over the world.