Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I chose to read Cynthia Holz's Benevolence during a summer month, and that, to me, was a mistake. The atmosphere of this novel lends itself to winter reading. There is nothing light or airy about the content of the novel; rather, Benevolence is all about insecurities, lack of communication, secrets, and life lessons. It is a dark and cold book.

The novel is based around the lives of multiple characters. Ben, the poetic organ-donor psychiatrist, aches for a child, and is seemingly a lonely and lost man. Molly, Ben’s overbearing and aging mother, is a woman must come to the realization that perhaps a major part of her life is based upon a lie. Finally, Renata, Ben’s psychologist wife, is a woman who desires a child as well, and, despite her ability to solve problems, is unable to foster intimacy with her husband. Each character undergoes a paradigm shift when they interact with a new person they come to care about.

I enjoy reading this novel. Holz has a fluid style of writing, and the story of each character was captivating. My only criticism is that perhaps the novel could have been tightened better, as some chapters took a long time to get to their essential point. Yet, reading this novel still made me want to pursue other works by Cynthia Holz.

More information about the author and her works can be found here.


Knopf Canada (2011), Hardcover, 320 pages

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Back in February, the pipes froze and sewage backed up into our basement/family room. Chaos ensued, and as part of the clean-up effort, we had to box lots of things away. Many of my books were boxed too, including all of the Song of Fire and Ice series - save A Storm of Swords. Unfortunately, I now want to read said books again (in anticipation of A Dance with Dragons), but can't find them. Hence, I'm now re-reading A Storm of Swords.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Oh god, it's been a really LONG time since I last updated this blog. Now that I'm on summer holidays, I promise that things will be different.

In other news, I've read 49 books for the "50 Book Challenge", and am highly considering challenging myself to 100 books this year!

Briefly below, I'll tell you about two of the books I've recently read:

  • Men and Dogs (Katie Crouch) - Men and Dogs looks at a slightly screwed-up thirty-five year-old woman, and her return home after her marriage fails. The overarching mystery of the novel is whether or not the woman's father, who vanished more than twenty years prior, is still alive. 
To be honest, while the plot was not overly original, I really enjoyed reading this novel. Crouch was able to capture the mood of the deep South effectively, and this mood resonates throughout (slightly southern gothic). It was an easy read, and one that made me laugh.  3/5 

  • Back on the Rez (Brian Maracle) - This was an autobiographical account of a man's move to the Six Nations' Reservation in Ontario. Maracle examines rez politics, social structure, traditions, et cetera, while reflecting on his own life.
The book is divided into brief topic-driven personal essays, and are told in chronological order. As an English teacher, I'm tempted to incorporate some of Maracle's musings and observations into my Grade 12 Canadian English course; I feel that these essays offer invaluable insight into life on the Iroquois rez, and can help students to understand Aboriginal perspectives.   4/5