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.

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The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brokenbrough

love and death

The Game of Love and Death melds history, philosophy, and love seamlessly. In the forefront are the two main characters, Henry and Flora. They have both known the dulling pain of death in their young lives. Henry copes through hard work, following the rules, and playing beautiful music. Flora copes as she sings her heart out in the jazz clubs. When she is not singing she flies away over Seattle with dreams of following the path of Amelia Earhart. Their lives intersect as children and again as teenagers. In the background, Love and Death are brought to life as people, as opponents in the ultimate game, to shape the destiny of Flora and Henry.

The story envelopes the reader, historical events are paired with the fictional story of Henry and Flora in 1930’s Seattle. The jazz scene is huge, segregation is a harsh reality, and aviation is in its inception.  Life is simple, yet incredibly complicated.  The author captures the 1930’s without flaw, from the clothing, to the jazz clubs; the essence of the era is felt in every turn of the page.

I loved the story, but moreover the deeper questions it asks.  It delves into race relations, social status, the definition of family, and defying one’s chosen path.  It is a beautiful love story, endearing, tender, and dazzling.  Read it with your high school class to exemplify the injustice of segregation, the excitement of early aviation, and the uniqueness of the Seattle jazz scene.  Read it if you love Seattle history, read it if you need a love story to make your heart sing.

You will hear the music, fly with Flora, play bass with Henry, and long to know how it all ends.  I consider it a must read of 2015.

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