These mini book reviews will be something I do every once in awhile. In today’s reviews, we’ve got a fiction book, and two historical fiction selections. Here we go!
- The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister – This is a very sweet, heartwarming book. It starts out from the point of view of Lillian, who loves to cook, and who really started cooking at age 8 to open the doors of communication with her mother. Lillian has her own restaurant, called Lillian’s, and she offers cooking classes. The book takes place over a year, and each section is told from the point of view of a different student taking the class. The students vary in ages, from right out of high school, to older. Dealing with themes such as finding yourself, loss, love, and marriage, this is a sweet, powerful book about life. Warning: this book will make you very hungry and eager to cook (or in my case, bake). This is my book clubs selection for November, and I’m excited to see what food we all bring when we discuss the book! If this sounds like a book you might enjoy, you might also like The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee.
- Diamond Head by Cecily Wong – This is a pretty good book; however I had some issues with the book description. It mentions a murder and a long-lost letter that reappears, and these things don’t happen until the very end of the book, so I wish the description were more in line with the majority of the book. Taking place on Hawaii, this story follows a wealthy Chinese shipping family, the Leong’s. Told from the point of view of the women in the family, it weaves its way from the Boxer Rebellion in China, to 1942 and also 1964 Honolulu. There is a theme of fate in the book, and how if we try to alter fate that there are consequences to that that trickle down through families. This book has great potential, and I think a lot of people will really love it, but I couldn’t get over the pacing issues and abrupt ending. The historical detail was interesting to read – there was a lot of Chinese custom and Hawaiian custom throughout this book, and that was fascinating to read about. I believe this is the author’s first book and I would read more from her. If this book sounds promising, you might also like to read Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (which is a far better book).
- The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson – Hmm …. I can’t really recommend this book. The Favored Queen tells the story of Jane Seymour, and starts out as she is a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, and follows her story through the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn to Jane becoming Henry VIII’s third wife. The problem is that Jane is just not very interesting. Things seem to happen around Jane – Jane takes virtually no action, and what she does do is so lifeless and dull, I just really wasn’t interested in her story. I was frequently bored, and was constantly thinking of other things I could be reading instead of this. Also, I spent much of the book questioning many of the “historical” details that were mentioned. If you like reading about Tudor history, try the much better The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory, which has a much more inspired heroine in Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife. You can read my review of that book here.
And that’s all! I’m currently slowly working my way through Anna Karenina (I’m really loving it so far!) and also Kate Morton’s latest, The Lake House, which is mesmerizing.