Archive for November, 2020


The Genius of Birds

by Jennifer Ackerman

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 20:A Feel-Good or Happy Book

I love books like this – non-fiction packed full of really interesting information but written in an easy-to-read way that reads like fiction.
This book is wonderful even if birds are not your thing. It is just fascinating to learn what incredibly smart creatures fly around us all the time. I love that this books opens a tiny window into the vastness magic of nature.

I find my conversation peppered with interesting tidbits gained from this book; i may even engineer conversations so I can share the bits I am most fascinated by.

Really worth reading – fascinating and enlightening

by Dawn French

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 40: Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge –2019 – 6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover.

Only a British author could possible write a book in which the only character every other character is connected to is in a coma the entire book.
Sylvia is unconscious in a hospital bed as all the other characters come in and out of the room, slowly revealing their story with her. Misunderstandings are revealed and their repercussions laid bare as this complicated life is unpicked through her experiences with others.

Despite the rather dour setting and circumstances of the book, French still manages to make it wry, funny and poignant.
I like the narrative technique used and was completely absorbed in all the threads of Sylvia’s life.

Worth reading -and I’ll read more of French in the future.

Oleander Girl

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 1: an author from India

This book is about so many things – it takes sweeping to the next level. For me there were too many parallel stories to allow for total engagement with any one of them. I felt a bit bombarded with characters and situations to care about.

The settings are beautifully created though and Divakaruni uses her words so exquisitely to drop the reader in the middle of Kolkata or New York City. I certainly believed in all of the locations if not the characters and relationships.

I struggled a bit with the primary love relationship between Korobi and Rajat at all – she is destined for infidelity and misery. It felt incongruous that she agreed to marry him at all. It jarred with what little of her deeper character we had been exposed to.

The end of this book felt like it was written by another person, or in a hurry. Interesting topics were opened up by the book and then everything was just tied up, shut down and finished quickly and neatly.
In addition to behaviour that seemed not to match what we already knew of the characters it also felt rushed and incomplete. After the sweeping brush strokes of the whole book with almost too much details, the last bit felt like a colouring-in book picture.

The Year of Magical Thinking

by Joan Didion

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 34 meant to read in 2019

I have been meaning to read Didion for ages actually. I am not sure this was the best to read as my first Didion as it is not a novel and so is probably quite different from her creative work.
That being said, this book is painful and raw and really very moving.

The titular year is truly a terrible year for Didion – her husband dies and her daughter faces massive medical issues. Her grief is palpable and her coping mechanisms are so deeply saddening. She talks in the beginning about how she was waiting for him to come back – the emptiness she felt swept from the page and right into my being.

She shares the details of her life before and after John’s death, and within the detailing of her life after his death, and their life before his death, shares those moments that make life worth living and also inevitably painful. But also so worth it.

Beautiful, meaningful, deep and very moving

Autumn

by Ali Smith

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 19: recommended to me

This is just a most beautifully written poignant book that make me smile and sign and even feel a bit sad.
The friendship between Elisabeth and Daniel is so lovely I felt jealous of it, and homesick for something I didn’t even know I was lacking.
There isn’t really much of a plot to this book; there is barely even a time line. And yet it moves so smoothly between lives and times and realities that never once does the reading jar more than the content.
And jar the content does. Smith deals with all sorts of very interesting questions and comments – Brexit, racism, sexism, the ownership of women, societal (and parental) expectations of children, and differently, of sons and daughters, art, love, friendship, life and death.
This book is big and carries so much but is experienced as easy and light and gentle.
Possibly like an autumn leaf.

I am so glad there are three more in the group of seasonal books Smith has written.

by Rachel Herz

#readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 21: Book about food

Very interesting book this was.
I feel quite foolish and marginally duped for how easily we are conned into taste experiences and emotions.
Herz does well to include so much information in a way that feels accessible and easily consumed (yes, I see what I did).
I’m certainly going to be more aware oh what I eat and why. This is one of those books that I want to have a hardcopy version of to dip back in randomly, and to look specific bits up again.

Ripper

by Isabel Allende

readingwomenreadingchallenge a book by Isabel Allende

This book is exactly why I do these reading challenges. I have somehow missed Allende for all these years and am so very happy to have found her.
I really liked this book. I loved all of the characters, flaws and all. The book is populated with real people in complicated relationships.
There were so many threads and stories going on, woven around the mysteries Amanda and her group of odd teens are working at solving. This book felt like a mini series and makes me want to read (or possibly fan fiction write) each character’s story outside of the book. They are all too big to be contained in just this book.

As far as the mystery is concerned, I really didn’t think it was the main energy of the book at all. For me, this was a modern fiction book about relationships and life choices, and a mystery happened.
I will certainly be reading more Allende now that I have discovered her.

Ten Days in a Mad-House

by Nellie Bly

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 18: Under 100 pages

What a very weird little book. What I found really scary was how easy it was to be considered insane in the late 1800s. Nellie barely does anything and is whisked off as insane. Hw terrifying it must have been for people, but I suspect women really, in those days. Step even one inch out of line and into an asylum you go.
and then the asylum conditions – too often the fact that people in mental health institutions were treated so terribly is portrayed for it not to be completely true. I fear that many are not that different nowadays in some places.
very disturbing

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 8: An anthology with numerous authors

Interesting collection from a wide variety of personalities involved in the porn industry.
I really liked the range of people included in the book as it yet again shows that stereotyping is stupid.

The contributors were raw, honest, open and forthright. Interesting people following their own paths, proudly.
What’s not to love and respect?