Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Recommended Fiction

I often feel like I go through phases in my reading - times when I can't seem to find anything that I want to finish, and other times when I'm just reading one fantastic story after another.  Often I think perhaps it has to do with my mood at the time, and very much with my ability to focus.  Here are a few books that I read on vacation or times when I feel like I had a bit more ability to real.  I enjoyed them all - and recommend them - with the caveat that perhaps I was just in the right mood when I read them!

All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doer:  There probably aren't many folks out there who haven't read this one - yet another novel set during WWII recommended by my mother-in-law!  In terms of plot, I felt like this was a pretty standard WWII quest for survival story.  A blind French girl flees France with one of the Museum of Natural History's most valuable jewels. A German orphan with a penchant for tinkering is enlisted to track down the resistance.  And of course their paths collide in each individual's effort to survive in the most humane way possible.  I loved the storytelling and the writing, and it was a good book for curling up with for hours at a time.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler:  Books about books are one of my favorite genre.  This one had a bit of a creepy undertone throughout - Simon, a librarian, is the son of a circus mermaid who made her living holding her breathe for long periods under water, and yet died by drowning.  Simon's sister has run off with the circus and hasn't been in touch for years.  Simon mysteriously receives a book from an antique bookseller.  The book is inscribed with the name of his grandmother and chronicles the events of a traveling carnival.  As Simon reads the book, he becomes concerned that the women in his family are cursed, and he must determine whether and if he can save his sister.  The book has hints of the magical, which I enjoyed, along with the fantastical circus/carnival stories.  It reminded me The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern in all the good and fun ways that came with that story.

The Orchardist by Amanda Copin:  I randomly came across this book on my mother-in-law's shelf.  It had a Cold Mountain feel to it to me in terms of the cover and book jacket summary.  It centers around the life of an orchardist named Talmadge who lives on his own raising fruit.  Two young girls appear in town - desperate for food, and one very pregnant, and begin to live on his land.  The girls disrupt Talmadge's solitary and seemingly uneventful existence, and in fleeing their prior circumstance, they have brought danger along with them.  All the characters have endured tremendous hardship in their lives, grieving the loss of parents and siblings, as well as learning how to live off the land and watch out for themselves.  Watching them continue to grow and change in each other's midst was my favorite part of the overall story, but everything about this book (even the parts where you know something bad is going to happen) was truly engaging and entertaining.