I have been in
a bit of a reading slump the last couple of months, but I have read some great books worthy of recommending.
Folklorn: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This is not the book I
expected it to be. Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for an Advance
Reader Copy of this book. Publication date: 27 April 2021
It is really a contemporary story with some pretty
heavy topics. Elsa is a complex character dealing with complex family dynamics
and ancestral history. She is a female Korean particle physicist doing her
post-doc in Sweden. That alone would make for a complicated storyline. She is
also revisiting family and generational trauma which adds a mythical layer to
the story. As an experimentalist physicist, Elsa can only rule out
possibilities, not prove what is true. Does she have mental illness or spirit
There are lots of metaphors in here, and a lot of them
are over my head, about ghost particles, and ghosts of ghosts. Some chapters
are Korean folktales. There are chapters about Elsa’s family relationships with
her parents and her brother, and their experiences immigrating to America.
Elsa’s job takes her from the South Pole, where she has a Swedish lover, to
Stockholm, where she meets a Korean-born Swedish adoptee. Historical
connections between Korea and Sweden come into play.
This novel is FULL. My analytical mind loved it, my
emotional mind loved it, my spiritual mind loved it. This is an author I will
surely read again.
The Last Thing He Told Me: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Thank you to NetGalley
and Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me to read an advance copy of this
book. Publication date: 4 May 2021
I don't read mystery thrillers much anymore, because I
have read so many that I tend to find them all very predictable. This one was
different. First of all, this novel is character driven. I related to Hannah,
whose husband disappeared, leaving her to look after her sixteen-year-old
stepdaughter. I loved the writing style, the short chapters, and the fact that
the plot took me places I wasn't expecting. I know I am emotionally engaged
with characters when I finish the last chapter sobbing.
Swimming Back To Trout River: ⭐⭐⭐⭐I feel lucky to have read
an advance copy of this debut novel. Thank you NetGalley and Simon &
Schuster Canada. I will be watching out for more from Linda Rui Feng. She knows
how to create authentic, endearing characters. Publication date: 4 May 2021
This is supposed to be the story of Junie, but it’s
really the story of her parents and the sacrifices and heartbreaks they faced
growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and how it shaped them, and
ultimately how it will shape Junie’s future.
I read this novel compulsively. The story moves from
rural China to San Francisco, back and forth in time, with four point of view
characters. At every point, I was immersed in the lives of the characters. How
would the turning points in each of their lives end up connecting them to each
other? I did feel it ended somewhat abruptly, but maybe I just didn’t want to
say goodbye to these characters.
Unsettled Ground: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I received an advance
copy of this one (thanks NetGalley and House of Anansi Press!) Publication
date: 18 May 2021
This is a slow, quiet story. The rich details of the
writing pulled me in. Jeanie and her twin brother, Julius, are middle aged,
unemployed, and now that their mother has died, apparently homeless. They must
figure out how to manage without her.
The characters are both frustrating and captivating. I
found myself cringing at the choices they made, and at the same time, rooting
for them to succeed. They seem very old-fashioned to me, maybe because of the
rural setting and poverty. Their lives and the world they live in are depicted
so vividly, they feel like real people to me.
This is my second Claire Fuller novel, and I can’t
wait to read more of her work. She’s the kind of writer who makes you forget
you are reading a book because you are so engaged in the story.