Thursday, December 11, 2008


There's been a lot more reading than writing going on around here. This is a good thing, since I've read lots of enjoyable books, but bad because I have forgotten what I wanted to say about them. For example, I enjoyed Kate Grenville's The Secret River last month but having never gotten around to doing a proper review, don't have much to say about it now.

Here are a few I remember more clearly.

Fixing Shadows by Susan Barrett had all the makings of a fantastic read for me. A setting in Victorian England/London, the swap of a baby, the upstairs/downstairs issue, a house in the country - what more could I ask for? The story is told by the omniscient narrator in what I cannot fully describe, but would say was a rather quirky and darkly comedic way. This made for an unusual reading experience as I never had the opportunity to feel close to any of the characters. The tale takes place over quite a long period of time and plenty of horrid things happen to all the characters, but I never really felt bad about any - all right, most - of it since I didn't have much of a connection to anyone. I think if you enjoy this sort of setting and the time period you might like this unique and modern take on a Victorian tale.

Next up is Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran, the sequel to Pomegranate Soup which I found delicious earlier this Fall. We join the Iranian Aminpour sisters in the little town in Ireland where they have made a home and a business for themselves. The three sisters grapple with life and love, religion and keeping secrets in this installment of their story. I enjoyed this book, though did not feel the same magic as I did with Pomegranate Soup. I think their story is a compelling one, so I am hoping Mehran is working on another book about them.

Finally, we have Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun. When I requested this from Shelf Awareness I was thinking, based on the subject matter, that it was a memoir, so I was surprised to find that it is a novel, being released later this month according to amazon. Miles from Nowhere is the story of Joon, a Korean-American teenage runaway living on the streets of New York in the 1980s. Miles from Nowhere is not easy reading, as young Joon works for little money at horrific jobs, and winds up living in squalor with people she cannot trust, doing drugs and hoping for more out of life. This hope is present throughout the novel and we begin to see what could be a better life for Joon. I think what is most mystifying from the outside in terms of teen runaways is why they have left home in the first place. I suppose my opinion is that a person would have to be pretty emotionally and/or physically terrorized to decide that living on the streets is a better option. I wish that aspect of Joon's life had been explored in more detail. This is a beautifully written novel, but I found myself comparing it to a memoir about a similar book I read about a teen runaway in New York. I'm sure that's not a fair comparison, but it seems in this case, for this subject matter, a memoir simply resonated more with me as a reader.


Ali said...

Reminder: Don't forget the noontime book chats on Miles from Nowhere, today (starting in 20 minutes), and tomorrow!

Iliana said...

Oh goodness, I can so relate to this. I have a growing stack of books I need to review but other things end up calling my attention.

I've had Fixing Shadows on my shelf for a while. I'm more curious about it now after your review :)

Ti said...

LOL. I know what you mean about not remembering stuff if you don't sit down to write about it right away. Too bad about Secret River though. I have that one in my pile and need some encouragement to read it.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way about Rosewater and Soda was missing a little something.

J.L. Danger said...

fixing shadows sounds great!

Anonymous said...

I have Miles From Nowhere in my TBR pile - like you, I thought it was a memoir.

Staci said...

I am right in the middle of Pomegranate Soup and like you I am totally in love. The recipes sound wonderful. Wish I could find a little diner like that here in Michigan.

avisannschild said...

I can totally relate to this! I don't even want to think about how many books I've read but not reviewed yet! (Or at least I'm not admitting the number in public.) Your review of Fixing Shadows has intrigued me!

Anonymous said...

Darn, I was really hoping Fixing Shadows would be excellent. I think the cover is gorgeous. However, I'm just finishing up a Victorian-setting novel that contains lots of misery for everyone, and I don't know that I'm in a place to start another one.

Tara said...

Ali, I've been reading your conversations. It's been a while since I finished this though, so the details you are discussing are a bit hazy for me!

Iliana, I'll be interested to see what you think of Fixing Shadows.

Ti, So true, my memory is shot. I liked Secret River, in fact, Caribou's Mom wrote a great review of it recently, and I recommned checking it out. I liked it, didn't love it.

Softdrink, that's exactly it, it was missing a bit of magic.

J.Danger, it was a unique book!

bermudaonion, okay, why did we think that??

Staci, so glad you're enjoying PS!! It's a teriffic book and I'd love to eat at the cafe.

avisannschild, I do have the list posted on the right somewhere so you can see where I was delinquint this year. I'm all about honesty =0

jennysbooks, Well, it was good, just not what I was expecting in the writing style. Please tell me what you're just finishing!!

Lisa said...

tara, you sound like me. If I don't do a review right away, I have a very difficult time remembering what I want to say about the book.

Carrie K said...

All's fair, books don't exist in a vacuum.

Fixing Shadows looks good. After my non fiction slog through The Suspicions of Mr Whichler, it should be a nice counterpoint. (Mr Whichler was quite good! Just....non fiction. Sometimes the detail drags it down, but it does require it). Argh.

Danielle said...

I seem to be having the opposite problem--I wish I had something to write about, but I haven't finished a book in a while. I'm moving incredibly slow lately it seems--reading and reading but not actually getting anywhere! I have the first Merhnn book and it looks very good. I saw the Susan Barrett book somewhere (maybe you mentioned it here before?), but I didn't write it down--I will now as it sounds like something I would enjoy. And I've wanted to read the Grenville book since it came out. Glad to hear you liked it, but I know about how details fade away after a while!

Tara said...

Lisa, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I never expected my memory to be so bad as I got older.

Carrie K, a slog! Oh, no. I have this one in the TBR pile, but you're right NF definitely takes a little longer even if it is a good read.

Danielle, I don't know how you have so many books going at once, but you know I am impressed! You always write interesting and informative posts, the sort I wish I was able to write more of, so my hat is off to you. I was thinking I heard of Fixing Shadows from you, but now I don't know where I heard of it! It defnitely sounds like your sort of book.

Cheryl Vanatti said...

Just wanted to let you know that I have linked to your review on my site: Random Wonder. :-)