book reviews

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 story: no, it’s likely the self-diagnosed…

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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 attacked, killed, and—yes, as is…

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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 professionals, book bloggers, book lovers…

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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 until after The Sisters Brothers,…

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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, this shames and disturbs me,…

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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 with their insight) is also…

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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 unhappiness and reveal, with the…

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