Mini-Reviews: Recommended Reading

Reviews have been a bit slow on the blog lately, although not for a lack of reading. It’s more due to lack of time – work, travel, life, etc. But here are four books I’ve recently (and not so recently) enjoyed and would recommend.

1. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. “And what could be more magical, more alchemical, than a soft yellow metal that derives from itself currencies and wars and then more complicated magics like markets and exchanges, oans, interest, compund interest, mortgages, credit cards, lotteries, futures, bonds, derivatives, short stocks, all manner of financial spells burgeoning out in ever increasing complexity and intricacy like a heathen mandala, all of it originating in a substance that has no physical application save as a symbol of utself in coin or bar.

Single line synopsis: Montana social worker Pete Snow tries to help a young boy and his survivalist father, even as his own family suffers for it.

2. Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique. “The waves on the beach seemed thick, as though we were in the middle of the ocean, not simply sitting on the sand. I would not have been entirely surprised to see a lovely woman raise her head from those waves and come towards us with mangrove legs and backwards feet. I could not dream why my mother had left this place. Though even as I began to dream, I knew the reason. She left for Papa.”

Single line synopsis: Love, history, and magic unfold in this Caribbean island family saga.

3. High as the Horses’ Bridle by Scott Cheschire. “I listened and was all of a sudden filled up with love for them both. I wanted to take them by the shoulders and shake them. I wanted to promise them a day would come when they would see the hard ground for the first time, really see it, and the sky, and the water, and if they were lucky, it would break their hearts. I wanted to promise them that on that day, our heads would fill up with fear, and with love, and the one day you’ll get married, and you’ll never guess how vicious things get in love, and if you’re not careful, your wife will rightfully brain you with a pasta spoon, and talk of possible futures without you, and you will eventually come around, but it’ll be way too late, and the floor will fall away from your feet.

(And that, dear readers, may be the longest sentence I’ve ever quoted.)

Single Line Synopsis: Following the Laudermilk family, the novel depicts one young boy’s struggle with his place within (and without) the church and his place with his father – an unusualy coming of age story that it well worth a read.

4. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. “There were times I felt how unnatural I was in the place, the way my skin still stung at the cold, the way my insides of my nostrils and the back of my throat prickled. Te smell of wet wool and rain-dampened sheep shit were aliens to the dust-dry smell of the carpet sheep in their wide red spaces back home. The way the land seemed to be watching me, feeling my foreignness in it, holding its breath until I passed.”

(I’d also like to point out I love the very first sentence… “Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding.”

Single Line Synopsis: Troubled, scarred Jake Whyte moves from Australia to a remote island off the British coast, where her past threatens to catch up to her in new, brooding home. Beautifully written, highly recommended.

What books have you enjoyed recently?

18 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: Recommended Reading

    1. I didn’t quite think it was as fantastic as everyone says, but I did like it and I thought the cover (at least the one I used above) was gorgeous.


  1. I feel like a minority, in that All the birds, Singing didn’t move me at all. It was a bit of a struggle to finish.

    A book I have enjoyed recently is Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery. A little escapist fiction for my weary brain.


  2. I am currently reading DROWNING (verdict still out — the back-and-forth changes of tense and POV are driving me a little batty). The story, though, is keeping me reading.

    I’ve had the others on my list since I knew they were releasing, and now I’m even more excited to read them (thank you). Your excerpts are very helpful in showcasing the authors’ styles. Thanks for a great set of recommendations; I know I’m on the right path!


  3. Absolutely thrilled you’d recommend All the Birds, Singing! I fell in love with the cover and the moment it was released I immediately bought it.

    Land of Love and Drowning and Fourth of July Creek have been on my To Read list for a while and I’m looking forward to them now that they’re out. The quotes you chose for these two – strike that, all four (five?) quotes are gorgeous! I haven’t heard much about High as the Horses’ Bridles, but it’s in fantastic company so it’s certainly worth checking out.


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