The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

avalavender__spanAva Lavender is born with a set of wings. This peculiar feature leads her to ponder her family roots. The is the premise of the magical and tragic story of Ava’s heritage. I loved the rich language and the odd events which marked each person’s life in the Lavender family. I am a lover of Seattle history and stories set in our rain soaked city. The story follows generations of Ava’s ancestors, and what lead them to carve out a living in early Seattle. Love lost and found is the thread that follows all of Ava’s ancestors through their lives. This book makes you feel the rich beauty of green mossy landscapes, seasons of bright daffodils, and the relentless Northwest grey sky. Ava’s story is sad, redemptive, and lovely. Its core message reflects upon what we do for love, the cage of heartache, and learning to fly free again. I loved this story, the magical realism is perfection, and the story is whimsically beautiful.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy

I love you moreA man with a closet full of secrets can only keep them hidden so long.  Sooner or later your wife finds out a secret, discovers things don’t add up, and your house of cards comes falling down piece by piece. Unless you don’t let it fall.  In this fast paced, story we first meet Diane, beautiful and put together, mother of a daughter named Picasso. She is married to Oliver, desperately in love, yet desperately unhappy. You cannot quite figure out what is going in her marriage, and either can Diane. The story is told from the perspective of Diane, Picasso, and a small town detective.  If you liked Gone Girl you will love the twists and turns and psychological layers. However, I thought this book far surpassed Gone Girl in writing, character development, and depth. The writing is fresh, beautiful, and creative. The pacing and plot are impeccable.  The story is told by different characters, the reader gains the perspective of the story from many different angles. This is the best murder mystery I have read in a long time, I could not walk away from it until it was over. It is haunting, masterful, and a stunning success.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: I Love You More

If You Liked ‘The Help’, Here is Your Next Read

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

calling me homeDory has washed and set Ms. Isabelle’s hair every week for years. They know each other as most people know their regular stylist, sharing just the surface bits and pieces of their lives. This distance is eradicated, and their cordial friendship is taken to a new level when Isabelle asks Dory to drive her to a funeral across the country. Dory accepts with a bit of hesitation, and so begins a journey of friendship which travels across lines of race, generation, and social standing. The miles and hours pass by, as Isabelle tells Dory of her first love. Dory’s present struggles and Isabelle’s past agony unfold as they drive and share their stories.  Isabelle dredges up the past, bit by bit, and Dory compassionately wades through the memories with her.  Dory is fighting battles of her own, with teenage children and new relationships.  Isabelle pushes Dory to live a courageous life in the present, as she reconciles her past. The story is touching, well told, and a good read.  If you like strong women’s fiction, you will enjoy this book.

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Calling Me Home: A Novel

A Life Forgotten: 2 Books, 2 Alices, No Memories

The two books waiting for me at the library last week just happened to both be about women named Alice, and coping with memory loss. Coincidence I suppose, but they were perfect, simple spring break reads.  Here is what I thought of each book:

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

what alice forgotImagine you lose 10 years of your memory, ten years of relationships, technological innovations, and major life changes, instantly disappeared.  Alice hits her head at the gym and loses ten years of her memory.  What she remembers is she is pregnant with her first child, happily married, hates exercise, and owns a fixer house with her loving husband.  She wakes up a woman with a body sculpted by exercise, 3 grown children, and a vastly altered marriage.  The story unfolds bit by bit as Alice regains pieces of her memory a little at a time.  It is like a huge map of her life with ten years of journey taken out.  This book was simple, well told, and with just enough intrigue to keep you happily hooked.  There were hard moments; however the end note was redemptive and hopeful.  This is a great plane or vacation read.  As I have said before about Liane Moriarty’s books, if you liked The Husband’s Secret, you will like this book more.  If you did not like The Husband’s Secret, try What Alice Forgot, it is worth the time.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

still alice_Alice is a Harvard Professor, intelligent, active, and at the top of her career. She begins to forget small details, and her capabilities begin to lapse.  Alice has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  Lisa Genova has worked in the medical field, so her books always have a strong thread of medicinal knowledge woven throughout. Alice, her husband and her grown children begin to cope with her mental demise.   It is difficult to read about her failing to recognize her familiar surroundings, thinking her area rug is a hole in the floor, and ultimately feeling that life is not worth living without memory.  You root for Alice and hope that the exercise, medicines, or a miracle will cure her.  The plot flows well, but the writing is a bit cliché, and the characters seem to follow a formula that one has read many times over.  The movie was recently released of Still Alice; I can honestly say I might like the movie better than the book in this instance.  The story was strong, but the telling was a bit flat.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

queenie hennessy_

Rachel Joyce wrote a companion book to her best-selling book, ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.’ Her hit book in which the main character Harold Fry walks across England to see his old friend Queenie Hennessey before she dies.  In her newest novel, ‘The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey’ we meet Queenie and hear her story.  Joyce is a beautiful writer and creates very strong characterization, but I would have preferred to not know Queenie’s story. It was a very sad tale, and I was left feeling devastated at the end of this new installment.  I loved the story of Harold Fry because it was quirky and heartfelt.  There were sad times, yet covered over with healing, and sprinkled with dusting of hope that the rainbow was just up around the bend. This book was much darker and tragic.  If you liked Harold Fry I would recommend stopping with his journey.

However, you really should read the first installment.  Here is the review and link for her first book.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce 

The Unlikely Pilgramage of harold fryFrom start to finish I enjoyed the tale of Harold Fry and his Unlikely Pilgrimage.  Harold and his wife exist, but do not live; they function, but do not thrive.  It is as if a large gray cloud cover their lives with gray and shadows and they have accepted their drab life.  Unexpectedly Harold receives a letter from an old friend.   Queenie, is terminally ill in a town across the country.   He gets the letter, and begins to walk to see his old friend.  Without a  plan, and a lousy pair of shoes upon his feet, he just walks.   The strange pilgrimage shocks and frustrates his wife, but Harold begins to collect a small following to cheer him on.  Pretty soon the whole country of England begins to rally for Harold to make it to see his old friend Queenie.  Harold sets out searching to find closure with an old friend, but the journey leads him to a vastly different destination.  This is a sweet story, honest, and well written.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel