The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt: A Review

I have a good reason for reading mostly short stories, aside from the fact that my leisure time is limited (and I thoroughly enjoy them). It’s also that I have trouble focusing on novels. Few of them keep my attention for long, and I don’t say that to be snotty or judgemental of the writing or [...]

The Bear, by Claire Cameron. A Reaction

Perhaps even more so because it’s based on a true story in a place I’m well familiar with, The Bear by Canadian author Claire Cameron absolutely devastated me. A family of four goes camping on Lake Opeongo in Algonquin Park, at Bates Island. In a horrifying and chaotic sequence of beginning pages, the parents are [...]

Year’s End and Then Some

2012 was a great year for Bella’s Bookshelves. I found good friends, albeit mostly online, who helped me understand and forge my place in this world and who allowed and encouraged me to give back to it in several ways. Yes, this world, not just the literary one. These new friends are mainly bookish—authors, publishing [...]

Masha’Allah and Other Stories, by Mariah K. Young: A Review

Yes, it’s been a long while since I’ve posted a review. I’m genuinely sorry. I haven’t been able to get much reading done for the blog lately. But I have read this collection of short stories for a blog tour. And it’s not even Canadian! (gasp!) There are several cool things about Masha’Allah and Other [...]

Ablutions, by Patrick deWitt: A Review

*** So the one thing I want to clear up first thing, because it comes up almost every time I recommend it, is that Ablutions is not Patrick deWitt’s new novel. We’re still waiting for that! It’s his first novel, published by Anansi (2009), labelled “brilliant,” “intense,” and “remarkable.” I’d never heard of it either [...]

On Marriage and Convention and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed

This isn’t your regular Bella’s Bookshelves post, it’s true. It’s not a review of Committed, because reading the book was such a personal experience that I feel less inclined to critique it and more inspired to reflect on some of its points as they pertain to me in particular and us in general. I’ve read [...]

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce: A Review

I miss England (particularly North Yorkshire). It’s been three years now since I was there, though I remember it with uncanny precision, something completely uncharacteristic of me but indicative of my being present in every moment I was there. It was a short but life-changing two weeks. I spent the majority of my time there [...]

A Short Note on Long Blog Posts

Like some of you, I’ve been struggling with my blogging style. I know my reviews are long, of course, and that as a result, people may only skim them. I’m painfully aware, in retrospect, that the posts sometimes digress or lack a tightness I much desire in others’ writing. As a copy editor and writer, [...]

Tomato Red, by Daniel Woodrell: A Review

You ever have when an author comes along and winds his way around your heart like a cat to legs and you feel like he’s the only author ever for you? You feel like this is it, you’ve found the one. And you wouldn’t ever like to hear anyone say malicious things about this person [...]

A Matter of Life and Death or Something, by Ben Stephenson: A Review

Not since Jessica Grant’s Come Thou Tortoise have I read a more compelling quirky voice, I think. Yet Oddly Flowers and Arthur (who is perfectly named) Williams are quite different. Arthur is ten, an intelligent boy who while seeming somewhat wise for his years (though not inappropriately; I’ve been around enough kids who’ve shocked me [...]

A Blessed Snarl, by Samuel Thomas Martin: A Review

In Newfoundland nature is a blessed snarl, humans an imposition. You have to want to come here; you have to want to fight to stay. You are not seed on fertile ground. You are a fish washed up on a rock. – Kevin Major, New Under the Sun You may already have read how I feel [...]

Inside, by Alix Ohlin: A Review

Not long ago, Sarah Selecky recommended Alix Ohlin’s short story collection, Signs and Wonders, to me, which she’d read in order to write an endorsement. For the back of the book, Sarah wrote, “This collection is a gift — Alix Ohlin writes about intimacy with elegance and wisdom. These stories transcend questions of human happiness or [...]