I’ve read four since I last updated, and honestly, I enjoyed every one of them. First up was “The Bats” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and this was probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s one of those stories where you get a glimpse of “what could be,” and you can’t help but yearn desperately that that possibility win out over the more realistic ending that comes. This story really got to me, and I’m really looking forward to reading more by her.
I guess you could call “A Contract Overseas” by Mia Alvar a coming-of-age story. Set largely in the Philippines, it tells the story finding and giving in to and giving everything up for one’s passion, be that for a person or a calling.
Next up was “Shrapnel” by Dong-Ha Lee. A man looking back at his past, or really more at his uncle’s past, as he travels to his uncle’s funeral. It’s a story of the insidious aftereffects of war, a story of culture, a story of running from one’s past. As with the first two stories, I came away feeling somewhat sad, but also enriched with that feeling that I’ve grown by walking in someone else’s shoes.
The last story, “The Cliff” by Edogawa Rampo, had a very different feel from the previous stories, and I appreciated it for quite different reasons. Written in dramatic style, it is largely just a conversation between a wife and her husband. I guess it would be classified as a mystery story, and according to the bio in the book, the author is widely regarded as the father of Japanese mystery writing. The bio said that he was largely influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, and I can believe that wholeheartedly based on this one story I read.
My first Diana Wynne Jones novel! Finally! And while I know this blog doesn’t really lend itself well to signing up for reading challenges, I figure maybe I can pull it off here under this category. Seriously, how can I not sign up for Carl’s Once Upon a Time X Challenge?!! It would be the first time I missed it, and I just cannot let that happen!!! This challenge is just too very near and dear to my heart! I’m aiming to complete Quest the First, which simply means I hope to read at least 5 books that fit in the categories of fantasy, fairy tales, folklore, and mythology. And Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones fills the bill for my first book this spring. I had no doubt, like seriously NO DOUBT, that I would love this book. Over the years, I have come to completely trust Ana‘s opinions on books/authors…we just have such similar tastes and outlooks on the world. The fact that she wholeheartedly loves Diana Wynne Jones left me confident that I would adore her books as well. So what the bloody hell took me so long to finally read one of them?!! Yeah, I don’t know. But Kristen’s Magic Magics/DWJ March finally got me off my lazy backside. (I’ve not know her nearly as long as Ana, but I’m fairly convinced that I’ll love any book she recommends as well.)
Anyway, Dogsbody. *happy sigh* This book stole my heart. I would have loved it as a child every bit as much as I love it as an adult. I should have known, considering Ana’s love of DWJ, that the story would contain depth as well as heart. English/Irish relations. Intolerance. The meaning of family, and it sure as heck ain’t necessarily blood. This book has its share of not-very-nice people, but the people you love, you really love. There is joy and profound sadness all wrapped into one. I’m not only grateful that DWJ has such a substantial ouevre, but also happy to find out this book, at the very least, has great reread comfort potential.
As with many of the items I complete, this could have qualified for a few different categories, but I used it here because I don’t really listen to a great number of audiobooks, despite the fact that I’ve finally learned to really love them. Anyway, I just finished up In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. A whodunit sort of mystery. It wasn’t a terribly hard mystery to crack from the reader’s perspective. I know some people hate that, but it doesn’t really bother me as long as there are other things keeping my interest. The characters in this book kept me intrigued enough to enjoy it. They were a varied group, some of whom I liked, others not so much. There was an aspect of Nora, the narrator, that I found somewhat stretched the realm of believability, but not quite to the breaking point so I was able to live with it, if that makes sense. All in all, I really enjoyed listening to this one as I sewed away, but I’m not sure if it’s a book that more discerning fans of the mystery genre would enjoy or not.
One Woman Farm by Jenna Woginrich was a wonderful little read. I guess it would be classified as a memoir, but it didn’t read like your average memoir. Instead it was a smattering of journal-type entries covering 13-months in the life of this hard-working, ever-so-full-of-gratitude woman (she starts and end with October because it’s her favorite month and it’s her book so why the hell not, right?). It was sprinkled with sweet drawings, and utterly smothered in love for her life despite its numerous hardships. It filled me with pangs of regret over my own life choices, but those pangs are simply that, for I would never want to risk giving up so much of what my choices brought me in terms of family and friends.