A Trio of Reviews -
My reading is getting ahead of my reviewing, so thought I'd take time to do "minute" reviews.....something quick and easy to give you the flavor of the book and my opinion about it - hopefully enough to decide if you want to read it too.
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Genre: General Fiction (slight mystery)
Published 2020, 496 pages
Set in Phildelphia, this story of two sisters as they move in and out of each other's lives is gritty, slightly dark, and a bit of an emotional ride as all the heartbreak of addiction is covered. One has a drug habit supported by prostitution and the other is a cop. Though it got off to a bit of a slow start for me, at about 1/3 in, I was ALL in - the characters are all so fully realized that I could picture them, hear them, smell them, particularly the main character of Mickey as I learned more about her. Understanding their upbringing and feeling how they took care of each other as kids when no one else would, set the stage for their reactions later in the story.
“I wouldn’t listen. I wanted everything to stay as it was. I was more afraid of the truth than the lie. The truth would change the circumstances of my life. The lie was static. The lie was peaceful. I was happy with the lie.”
Great character development and a few twists (one I did NOT see coming), kept the pages turning quickly. Ostensibly a mystery (young women being killed in a community), but that plot really takes a back seat to the tragedy of drug addiction and the fallout from that lifestyle. Definitely recommended.
The Long Way Home #10 Gamache by Louise Penny
Published 2014, 373 pages
I loved this book! In reading through the series in order, this is an excellent installment. Three Pines painter Clara Morrow had separated from her husband a year ago (in A Trick of the Light) and now the year is up and he didn't come home. She gets worried and asks Gamache (who is retired now) and Beauvoir to help find him. The story then takes wing as the group of friends tries to locate Peter. Along the way, there are some great artistic insights which actually inspired the artist in me. There's lots of thought provoking discussions about muses, inspiration to execution, and how the egos/brains/hearts of artists work. I found it fascinating and makes me wonder if she has friends who are artists to have such a grasp of how they feel.
“Fear lives in the head. And courage lives in the heart. The job is to get from one to the other. And between the two is the lump in the throat.”
In addition to the artistic musings, there are more excellent descriptions of the land and villages of Quebec. Penny clearly loves her country and its beauty - sure makes me want to visit! AND, Penny mentions that Peter Morrow (missing husband, artist) went to Scotland to visit The Garden of Cosmic Speculation. I just had to Google it to see if it was real - with that name, can you blame me? It's definitely real and I'd love to see it - you should take a minute and Google the images; they are extraordinary.
There is a twist at the end that surprised me and who doesn't enjoy a good twist? This is such a well crafted story and I still just LOVE these characters.
Love in Color by Bolu Babalola
Genre: Short Stories
Published April 2021, 290 pages
This is a collection of thirteen short love stories, ten of which are reimaginings of old myths from various cultures, and three new stories. Each story takes the myth and turns it on its ear, modernizing it and placing the woman at the power center of the story. It's a collection of love stories, all featuring in-charge women who realize they don't have to compromise or be less-than to attract a partner.
Osun, Scheherazade, Nefertiti, Attem, Yaa, Siya, Psyche, Naleli, Zhinu, and Thisbe are the ten retellings. Some are African in origin, but there's also ancient Greece, Egypt, China, and others. It must have been fun to search out all these OLD myths and stories and find the ones that she wanted to rework.
"Love is tender, tentative, brutal, and bold. It's messy and magic!"
In the Afterword, the author discusses how she came to choose these particular myths and specifically how she felt compelled to update them. For example, Sheherazade is the story of 1001 Nights where an insatiable king married a new young bride every night and had her beheaded the next day. In the modern day version Babalola makes the woman the person who wouldn't commit, who used men and moved on, no harm - no foul. Then she meets a man that she can't just leave behind.
This book was picked up on the recommendation of Jack Edwards (YouTube Jack In The Books) and I read even though it had two strikes against it: short stories (which I still don't care for) and love stories (which I still don't care for). While I could see the slight differences in each story, the trope of strong woman resisting gorgeous, charming man grew tiresome. Her prose is sometimes beautiful and a single line here or there would really grab me, but overall, the stories were all too similar. However, if you enjoy a good solid love story fest, this book is for you.
My favorite was actually the very last one, Alagomeji, which was written in a different, sort of more removed style, and was clearly about the love story that is her parents.
Let me know if you give any of these books a try. Would love to hear your thoughts!!