July Book Reviews
Paris On Air by Oliver Gee 4/5 Stars
Overall, this is a great Paris memoir read that is funny and entertaining. Many parts are cheesy, especially in the audio book version, but if you’re a Francophile and enjoy stories about how expats make their way to Paris then I’d recommend this book. Gee brings a unique angle by giving a bit of background on his career in journalism and how he transitioned into doing The Earful Tower podcast full time, which is an interesting story.
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery 5/5 Stars
I actually bought this book via Audible a little over a year ago, during a sale. I had been reading a lot of science non-fiction and was pretty burnt out on it, which is why it sat there for so long. While recently looking for something to listen to while cross-stitching, I remembered this book and decided to start it. I was hooked from the first paragraph. Montgomery has a captivating way of presenting information and to hear about her experiences with octopuses (yes, that’s the plural work for octopus!) is fascinating. Not only did I love this book, but I can’t wait to read more from this author.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 4/5 Stars
This is a strange, short book. Keiko has been perfectly content working in a convenience store for the past eighteen years. She is pressured by family and society to do more with her life, but should she leave the job she is so proud of to see what else is out there? All of the meals she eats and water she drinks comes from the convenience store and the way she thinks about that fact is done in an almost poetic way. It certainly is told from a unique point of view and something I would be surprised to find coming from the United States. What I ultimately took from this book is that it is important to decide what will make you happy and to be proud of your strengths and decisions. I hope more books by this author are translated into English.
The Changeling by Victor LaValle 5/5 Stars
More books like this please!! It’s only July and I already know this will have a spot on my top 10 books of the year.
This book reminds me of a ride at Disney because there are so many little parts to this story; it’s like a spotlight shines on each section and you get so absorbed in each part of the story, but it doesn’t take away from the main story because they move the story along so perfectly (I hope this makes sense to someone). I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this. It’s a little bit horror, magical realism, folklore, crime, mystery/thriller, urban fantasy. Great character development. This book has it all and it is so, so good. I don’t want to give too much of the story away in a review, but I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different and refreshing to read.
The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller 5/5 Stars
Set in 1861, this is the story how Elodie stows away on a ship to aid her father, a plant hunter, in finding a rare orchid in China. This book combines my all-consuming love of books about nineteenth century female explorers, having a glimpse into the slower, everyday life that our main character experiences, and botanical/science themes. It is not a quickly-paced book; you have to be in the mood to slowly consume it and enjoy the ride. I listened to the audiobook (highly recommended) and Elodie didn’t get on the boat to China until over five hours in. But I loved it. I also really appreciate that the author lists notable real-life plant hunters at the end in the author notes- I can’t wait to read more about them.