Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring cleaning, ahem, reading

Ah, springtime!  Time to clear out the cobwebs, get a breath of fresh air, and clean out the closets.  I've got closets full of books over at my place, so spring always means reading for me.  A time to catch up on the books I haven't had time to dig in to, a time to read the books I've been hearing so much about.

I'd been hearing so many great things about The Good House by Ann Leary.  There were the amazing reviews, and then this very candid segment on CBS This Morning.  I found Ann's honesty so brave and inspiring that I didn't even make it to the bookstore, I just hit click on my iPhone's Kindle app.

I was trying to save this book to read on vacation, but I took a little peek at chapter one-- something I always do. I was immediately swept away by the story and read the whole book before I even got on the plane!  The characters, the setting, the story-- they all carried me away and I just couldn't stop reading.  The Good House is a must read!

I was lucky enough to attend Ellen Meister's book party at the wonderful Corner Bookstore for the debut of her latest, Farewell, Dorothy Parker.  I've always been a fan of both Dorothy Parker and Ellen Meister, so I was excited to dig in. This book does not disappoint.  The writing is pitch-perfect-- you'll really believe that it's Dorothy Parker on those pages-- and the story is sweet and charming with a ton of heart.

Elinor Lipman said of the book: "What bliss to be in the company of a reimagined Dorothy Parker!  Ellen Meister's wonderful novel delivers the wit, ingenuity and elegiac sass worthy of the Algonquin Round Table's most quoted member. Long live Dorothy Parker and her zingers, resurrected so winningly in these pages."  

And the word has been so positive about Dorothy and Ellen that Ellen's already signed the deal to write another Dorothy Parker book!

My book club (yes, authors belong to book clubs, too!) chose The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh as their pick last month and I devoured it.  This story of mothers and children, family, and, of course, flowers, captivated me.

The first thing you need to know is that it's a beautifully written novel.  The story of a foster child, you will find yourself understanding the main character, Victoria, in ways you can't imagine.  And the description of the language of flowers-- a Victorian language used to convey romantic expressions-- fascinated me.  (It also made me re-think my entire bridal bouquet.)

This book made such a beautiful statement about moms and motherhood at the end that, frankly, I still tear up when I think about it.

I just began Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and I don't know why it sat in my To Be Read pile for so long.  Just a few pages in, I'm already wondering why I waited so long to enjoy this epic novel.

Here's what it's about:

From the moment it opens—on a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, when a daydreaming younginnkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat—Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to the back lots of contemporary Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins is gloriously inventive and constantly surprising—a story of flawed yet fascinating people navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

And the cover is gorgeous, isn't it?!

Next on my reading list is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.  It seems like everyone is talking about this book, doesn't it?  Jennifer Weiner said that it lives up to the hype, and that's pretty much all I need to know.

Here's what it's about:

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? 

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. 

Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she?

Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best. 

Is that a WOW or what?  I kind of wish I came up with that concept.  I have a feeling this one's going to keep up me up late at night.

So, what are YOU reading these days?