The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This is a modern gothic horror, and it is in fact rather horrifying. The premise is of a mysterious fiction writer finally revealing her true life story to a biographer.There is no wonder that a character would never tell anyone the truth about her life and prefer to create fictional worlds. Families don't get more dysfunctional than this one.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
This book moves back and forth between the narrator a present day nursing home, and his memories of his time with a traveling circus in the Depression-era.The writing is elementary, and the dialog doesn't seem to fit the time period, but the stories about life on a circus train are entertaining. In the afterward the writer explains that many of them are based on historical events. I also found the character in the present day very sympathetic.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This was a fun read, and I can see why this epistolary novel has been so popular. It piqued my interest in Guernsey in general and the German occupation in particular.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
This was a re-read. I read it first shortly after it came out, and my brother raved about it. It's totally fascinating to me, and I could (and probably will) read it over and over. In many ways it's a fantasy novel, but it doesn't fit with generic convention. Usually in fantasy novels, the hero is a type of Christ. Instead, this hero is a type of Adam. He is a fallen man who has eaten the apple and mucked up the garden.The book is well-written, and is filled with allusions to other fantasy novels, particularly the Narnia books, which is fun. It shows the main character as a young guy who loves fantasy novels, but then he finds himself in that world. He discovers it's far more complicated than he imagined, and that being able to do magic doesn't make him a better person. So good. I highly recommend it, but it's definitely for adults.
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
I had never before read anything by this author, who also wrote Chocolat. I picked it up off a display of food-related novels at my library. It deals with the German occupation of France in WWII. I definitely was engaged by the foodie aspects of the book, but the characters are mostly unlikable. It really took reading the whole book to connect with and understand the motivations of any of them.
The $64 Tomato by William Alexander
This is a gardening memoir, and it's very amusingly written. The only caveat I have about the book is the author has an extremely adversarial view towards the wildlife that eat the fruits of his labor. His efforts in deterring them sometimes seem inhumane, but that could partially be him trying to spin it in a "humorous" way. For the most part I really enjoyed the book.
Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
I expected to really like this book, because I'm usually intrigued by analysis of consumer behavior. I'm also highly interested in the life cycles of the products we buy and how to make them more sustainable. Unfortunately, I was completely bored by this book. It just never engaged me, and it didn't really present anything that was new to me.