Three 5.0 reads for me this month! That is a record. Perhaps I rated them a bit high for some readers, but for me they were all books I would read and enjoy again. First up:
I have been a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver books since the early 90's when I read her Pigs In Heaven, The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams. The only book of hers I didn't care for was The Poisonwood Bible. Flight Behavior is set in Appalachia. The underlying theme is climate change. The title refers to monarch butterflies. There's a whole lot of science, faith, struggles of rural existence and finding personal identity in this novel. I loved it.
Kate Atkinson is one of my favorite authors. Life After Life is a stand-alone novel set in both World Wars. It begins on a cold, snowy night in 1910 when little Ursula is born, dies and then born again. What I thought was going to be a book about reincarnation is instead about a duality of lives; a 'this is what happens if she dies, this is what happens if she lives". It took quite a few pages before I was comfortable with what was going on - switching from scenarios and times. The parts set during the Blitz of London in WWII were riveting. Amazon rated it the best book of the month for April and a top 10 book of the year (so far). I have to agree. Amazing book.
And for my third 5.0 book, another Kate Atkinson - this time featuring her favorite (and mine) former policeman, former private investigator, Jackson Brodie. This is the second in the series. I've also read #'s 1 and 4. Now I have to get my hands on # 3. I love Jackson. Jason Isaacs plays him in the BBC TV series - the second of which I'm hoping is on later this year.
One Good Turn takes place during the Edinburgh summer arts festival. For me the hallmark of Atkinson's writing is the way she can deftly knit together so many divergent story lines (and characters) into a satisfyingly cohesive tale.
I admit it - another book I picked up because the cover was attractive to me. Love Letters from Ladybug Farm is the third in a series by Donna Ball. This one deals with the foibles of the three women who have purchased and renovated a broken-down mansion in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and what happens when they decide to rent out their property and become the planners, caterers and set designers for a posh society wedding. (Hint: mayhem ensues involving a goat, a tornado and an unwelcome former husband.) This is a cute little book, an easy read. I gave it a 2.0; probably won't read the first two in the series unless I'm just in the mood for cute.
The other four books I read this month all garnered 3.0's. They are:
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier - the story of a young Quaker woman, Honor Bright, who, after being jilted at the altar, decides to join her sister emigrating from England to a Quaker community in Ohio where the sister is to be married. The sister dies before they get there and Honor soon finds her would-be brother-in-law anxious to have her married and out from under his roof.
Honor marries into a family afraid to help runaway slaves, but she is determined to get involved helping in the underground railroad being conducted by other Quakers. A good read and interesting look at what life was like for a single woman in 1850.
To Be Sung Underwater is a story of first love - a love that doesn't last when the girl goes off to Stanford and the boy stays home in Nebraska. It is a story of "What if I went back? Would it, could it, be like it was before?
Tom McNeal is a Nebraska writer. I liked the way he described our neighbor to the west as well as how he related what it was like for the teen age girl to be raised by her father instead of her mother after her parents separated. My friend Kristina sent this book. She described it as "an indulgent read". I am going to enjoy discussing it with her and delving into just what she meant by that.
Christina Schwarz is the author of The Edge of the Earth. In 1898 a well-bred Wisconsin woman upsets her parents and the man they intend for her to marry by marrying someone else. They escape the criticism of friends and family by moving to California where the new husband takes a post as a lighthouse keeper in a remote coastal area. She becomes a self-taught marine biologist and stays on as lighthouse keeper after her husband dies.
Ann Hood's latest novel, The Obituary Writer, chronicles the love affairs of two very different women in two very different times. It moves between post 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the election of JFK in 1960. Toward the end of the book you begin to get clues as to how the two women are connected.
I really liked this novel - enough so that I am going to read the others our library has by this author.