Tag Archives: magical realism

The Sunday Salon: Three from ’93

The Sunday Salon.comWith a busy work week spent reading (and editing) all day, every day, I didn’t read much besides blogs in the evenings. But during this three-day weekend, I finished So Far from God by Ana Castillo and began The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. Both were originally published in 1993, I noticed today.

I loved the first half of So Far From God, but I found the latter part of the book disjointed and even didactic. Being a fan of magical realism, I loved Caridad’s story. Loca was a stretch for me, however. Sofi came to life as an interesting character for awhile, but ultimately fell flat.

I’m about halfway through the audio version of Three Cups of Tea, and I hope it remains as absorbing and entertaining as it’s been so far. When I first began listening to audiobooks, I planned on nonfiction only – travel, food, and the like. But I’ve since enjoyed many works of fiction while driving, so I suppose I’ll continue to mix it up. Greg Mortenson’s quest to build schools in Pakistan began when he stumbled into a small village in – yep, 1993 – although his story wasn’t published until 2006.

The Robber Bride is the third of Atwood’s books I’ve read. I found it during lunch one day at a used bookstore, shortly after reading Caribou’s Mom review (link to Wendy’s site on the right). I’m wondering if Zenia will turn out to be anything like Zozie in JoAnne Harris’s The Girl with No Shadow – one of my favorite literary villains!



Filed under audiobooks, Latin American authors

Challenge Number 2: Well-Seasoned Reader

Beth was right. I’m entering another challenge, this one from Book Nut:

well-seasoned-readerHere’s how it works:

Rule #1: The challenge runs from January 1 to March 31. (No cheating and starting before!)

Rule #2: You must read three books. After that, it’s up to you how much you want to read.

Rule #3: The books must:

have a food name in the title
be about cooking/eating
have a place name in the title
be about one (or more) person’s travel experience
be about a specific culture
be by an author whose ethnicity is other than your own (see, I squeezed it in!)

I’ll leave it up to you to choose how the three books you read fit the criteria.

Rule #4: They must be middle-grade on up, but can be either fiction or non-fiction.

The purpose, this winter, is to take yourself someplace out of the ordinary, to go on a literary trip, whether that be challenging your expectations, discovering a new place, or enjoying the experience of reading about good food, places, and people.

How can I resist? This challenge is way too tempting. My three books will most likely be:

Gabriella, Clove, and Cinnamon by Jorge Amado – This book has been in my TBR stack for a couple of years, ever since I read Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by the same author. I included this book in my list of selections for the themed reading challenge. This one counts as having a food name in the title and is by a Brazilian author – far from my southern U.S. roots.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister – I mentioned this book in my most recent Sunday Salon post. Due to be released January 22, this book fulfills the “be about cooking/eating” requirement. Not to mention that I can’t wait to read it.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time will likely be my third read. It’s already in my Top 10 TBR list, and reading it will give me my dose of non-fiction this winter. Oh, and it sort of has a food name in the title and definitely is about a specific culture.

Stay tuned – there’s one more challenge I plan to enter. That should be enough for my first full year of book blogging. Then again…

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Author Groupie

When I read a book I really enjoy, I tend to go find everything else the author has written and watch for new works. Such as:

Carol Shields – I first read The Stone Diaries after it won the 1995 Pulitzer and thought it was wonderful. I’ve read most of her other novels, including Larry’s Party, Small Ceremonies, The Republic of Love, Swann, The Box Garden, and Unless, her final work before her death in 2003.

JoAnne HarrisChocolat was my tasty introduction to Harris’s writing in 2005, leaving me hungry for more. I immediately read Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, and Coastliners. Over the ensuing years, I’ve enjoyed Holy Fools, Gentlemen and Players, and her latest, The Girl with No Shadow, the sequel to Chocolat. Runemarks, her latest young adult novel, is in my TBR stack.

Tom Robbins – Although I haven’t read anything by Robbins in years, there was a time when I couldn’t get enough. I began with Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which I thought wasn’t as great as I’d heard but good enough to try his first book, Another Roadside Attraction – and that one kept me going. Still Life with Woodpecker and Jitterbug Perfume remain among my favorite books, and although I enjoyed Skinny Legs and All, I haven’t read anything else he’s written since that was published in 1990.

Anne Rice – As with Robbins, I went through an Anne Rice phase, beginning with the first three of the Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned), followed by The Mummy/Ramses the Damned and the next four Vampire Chronicles (Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, The Vampire Armand, Merrick). I also read the Mayfair Witches trilogy: The Witching Hour (my favorite of her works), Lasher, and Taltos. I began reading Violin, given to me for Christmas in 1997, but didn’t get too far, and I haven’t read Rice since.  It was fun while it lasted…

John Irving – Another phase that I suppose I outgrew, which began when a friend whose tastes I trust recommended The World According to Garp in 1982.  A Prayer for Owen Meany was another memorable read, and when I think about it, I wonder if I should see what Irving’s up to these days. I can’t find an official Web site for him. Others I read: Setting Free the Bears, The 158-Pound Marriage, The Water Method Man, A Widow for One Year, Hotel New Hampshire, and The Cider House Rules.

Celestine Viate – I mentioned her trilogy in my post about favorite literary couples. I fell in love with Vaite’s first three books, Frangipani, Breadfruit, and Tiare in BloomThe Boston Bibliophile wrote a good review of them if you’re interested – and you really should be, because they are wonderful reads.

Alice Hoffman – I’ve read more books by Hoffman than by any other author, beginning with Practical Magic (which was so much better than the chick-flick). I’ve even read a couple of her young adult works, The Foretelling and Aquamarine. Here’s the rest of the list, in no particular order: Turtle Moon, Illumination Night, Second Nature, Seventh Heaven, Property Of, The Drowning Season, Angel Landing, At Risk, Here on Earth, White Horses, The River King, The Ice Queen, The Probable Future, Blackbird House (my favorite among her more recent works), Blue Diary, and her most recent, The Third Angel. I’m currently reading one of her older books I somehow missed, Fortune’s Daughter, and Skylight Confessions is in my TBR stack, which means the only one I’m missing is Local Girls. Yep, I’m a major Hoffman groupie.

Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can. – Practical Magic


Filed under book chat

Dreaming in Cuban

Who: Cristina Garcia

Why: A wonderful, beautiful book about Cuban women and how they responded to Castro’s revolution. Celia is a treat, guarding the coast of Cuba. Her daughters have their own ideas. Old ideas clash with new, but in a good way. Read if you’re an activist who would like to see Cuba opened to U.S. tourists. Or if you’re a mom struggling with a relationship with your daughter.

When: If you ever get to Cuba, read it there. If not, just read it.

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Filed under Latin American authors, Literary Fiction, magic realism


Who:  JoAnne Harris
When: autumn, winter, or spring
Where: by the fire or in the gentle sun

Why: Everyone’s seen the movie, which is wonderful (Johnny Depp is in it, for starters), but the book is even more wonderful. Includes some important themes that don’t convey to the screen, mostly the struggle of women within the boundaries of Christianity. This book is magic!

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Filed under magic realism, Uncategorized

Caramba! A Tale in Turns of the Card

Who: Nina Marie Martinez
You can’t resist the way this book looks, with its quirky illustrations
Why: You love nostalgia. I almost need another category for this unusual book. The cover looks like something from the 1950s or 60s, and the illustrations are great fun. But the subject matter is hardly old-fashioned. Highly recommend for those who enjoy eclectic books.

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Filed under Latin American authors, magic realism