Thursday, March 16, 2017

Favorite Springtime Picks

Springtime gives us time to dust off the pile of books from the winter and spend time catching up on our reading. After all, can you think of a better way to do your spring cleaning?

Butterflies are always a good read

Ben Jackson

Charming, colorful, and sweet, If I Was a Caterpillar starts his journey doing exactly what a caterpillar should be doing, climbing trees, eating leaves, and traveling the world. Then his imagination takes off and so does his ambition. Now, caterpillar wants to do the things like wear a multitude of shoes or dance before the Queen, take tea with royalty, ice-skate and finally end all his activities in a toasty cocoon for a long nap, where he can fulfill his destiny as a beautiful butterfly.This is an adorable book about enjoying life and not be afraid of trying new things.

Spring Fever

I never read YA. I didn't even know it existed until I joined Google plus. I love historical fiction and buy almost everything I can get my hands on. I purchase, not by review, but by cover art. The cover interested me, and it wasn't until I read the first paragraph that I realized this was written for YA. What a great book!

Anderson captures your attention from the first page and weaves a gripping story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. She highlights characters from all walks of life, a grandfather, an African American, rich, middle class, poor. Captivating the sights and smells of the times, she weaves an engrossing tale of what life was like in colonial times. Building tension, she creates an atmosphere of fear and then hopelessness of the epidemic. A realistic read, it is timeless and should be required reading for any teen.

She deserved the award she received!

Starts in the spring of his life

A Gentleman in Moscow A Novel  Amos Towles

Elegant and refined, this book was a beautiful read. Count Alexander Rostov is put in house arrest to live his life in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The Count takes his sentence with the same savoir-faire that he lives his life. He continues interacting with the many denizens of the hotel, finding pleasure in new things, accepting his reduced circumstances with curious resignation. He is charming, never judgmental, and discovers a microscopic world to fill his time. As time goes on, he's role changes and he becomes an integral part of the hotel and the people surrounding it. The Count begins as a butterfly observing life with humorous detachment growing to become a fully invested worker bee, contributing and ultimately changing the lives of those around him. This was a beautiful book about acceptance and embracing what we are dealt in life then finding ways to make it work. I am a fan. Amor Towles writes with great humor and with a beauty I have never seen. Reading his book was as satisfying as a great meal and left me floating as if I'd danced a Viennese waltz. He made me part of his world and that's a great feat.

There's nothing like a good quiche in the Springtime

"Cosmopolitan! Pedigreed! Privileged!" cries Augusta as her rival arrives. "Vamp! Temptress! Femme Fatale!" Observes Lindsay. Little does small town native Augusta know, she's been judged and condemned by a writer from Boston named Lindsay. Lines are drawn and the competition is on.
Wickedly sharp, bitingly sarcastic, Eva Pasco creates an unforgettable novel about life in a small town. Charming Beauchemins, Rhode Island is stuck in a time warp. The same families have lived there for years. Secrets lurk in the shadows, and Pasco slowly reveals them with cleverly written prose. Addicting as the delicious quiche she describes, Pasco's writing is a treat to be savored and enjoyed. I will be back for a second helping.

Easy Spring reading

What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty

I should know better not to pick up a Liane Moriarty book so late in the day because here I am at 12 AM wired from reading at breakneck speed. What Alice Forgot is like being on a speeding train, you are careening on a twisty, windy track, not knowing exactly where she is going. The ride is awesome! Alice is a 39-year-old stay at home mom, who has hit her head and lost ten years of her life. With brilliant precision, Moriarty unveils Alice's life slowly in a seductive dance, so the reader thinks they know exactly what happened, but realizes they have no idea. Everything is broken in her life, her marriage, each relationship is strained with no explanation to the woman who can only remember life before happiness dissolved into bitterness. This book was profound, one that we have to think about.
Just today, my family and I happened to watch fifteen-year-old videos, and we stared slack-jawed with shock, wondering where the fresh-faced, happy, and hopeful people in the videos went. Illness, work, disappointment, worry change the landscape of our lives in an insidious, devious way, leaving us to wonder what happened to our lives, while we were living it? Great book, a keeper.

Spring is time travel in history

Terrific and comprehensive book describing every aspect of life in Elizabethan England. Ian Mortimer leaves no stone unturned, discussing every aspect of life, from one's diet, to transportation, clothing, jobs- you name it. Jam packed with interesting information, the reader takes away the sights and smells of living in the 16th century. Each chapter is filled with little gems, nuggets to keep the reader interested and compelled to learn more. I came out of this book learning that the Elizabethan age was a turning point, where new discoveries and knowledge gave the world a nudge to grow into the modern age. Mortimer states "It is often said of Shakespeare that he is "not of an age but for all time"- a line originally penned by Ben Johnston. But Shakespeare is of an age-Elizabethan England. It makes him. It gives him a stage, a language, and an audience. If Shakespeare is "for all time," then so too is Elizabethan England."

Spring in the prairie

This is My Words  Nancy Turner

This book unfolds as time passes and grows with the writer as she blossoms from an uneducated teenager to a self-taught woman. It is the story of a family who crossed America to settle in Arizona and fight hostile natives, bandits, and the adversarial weather. There are births and deaths, sickness, marriages and heartache, happiness and most of all, the day to day changes that represents life. It is so well written, you fall in love with the characters as they grow and change over time. The hardships Sarah and her family suffer as they navigate their harrowing trip across the plains is heartbreaking as well was horrific. Written in diary form, it has a rare intimacy, as though you are reading about a neighbor, or relative and I felt strangely connected, invested in the outcome of their story. Sarah matures and changes as life throws her constant curve balls. Throughout the whole book, is the simmering love story between Sarah and Captain Eliot, the brave leader of her wagon train, who relentlessly courts her. We share the joys and tragedies that are the stuff of real life; and while this ends up being a tender romance, the realities of life do intrude reminding us it is a recounting of a real life, though fictionalized. Well written, with rich characters, this is a great read to be savored.

Spring Cleaning

Open House  Elizabeth Berg

This is my favorite of all Elizabeth Berg's books. It was the first one I read, and made me a huge fan. Berg captures the angst of the everyday woman, caught up in living life, that she misses the messages all around her. Stunned with the betrayal of her husband, she is reeling with insecurity. Her life ripped out from under her, she must mend her heart, and learn to trust not only other people, but herself as well. A moving book, you will laugh and cry and finally cheer right along side of Sam as she grows before your eyes.

Birds and the Bees

"The Death of Bees" by Lisa O'Donnell is a chilling tale of a drug-fueled dysfunctional family. Narrated by three characters, it begins with two orphans hiding a terrible secret in their yard. Fending unsuccessfully for themselves, they find love and protection in the most unlikely places. In this upside down world, parents are the villains and drug dealers and sex offenders turn out to be heroes. While I wasn't surprised by the ending, it was touching. What did bother me was the indifferent way the teens handled sex abuse as well as murder. Each child hid secrets to protect the other and in this warped world, every safe haven appeared to have poison deep within.

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