Archive | August, 2015

Back from the Dead!

18 Aug

Did you think I had fallen off the face of the earth? Or replaced my reading time with diaper changes, toddler chases and naps? Well, pretty close. Things have been crazy over here. BUT. I had a great weekend with lots of good things in my stack of books. Two are already out, one is coming in November but I want to mention it now so that you can queue up for it at the library or bookstore.

First, a Europa paperback out this year called Distant Marvels. My great bookstore friend led a bookstore book club discussion of this novel and said that every single member loved the book. That hardly EVER happens in book clubs so I thought I’d check it out.Distant Marvels

And it flew by. Set in Cuba during one of the (many) revolutions, it opens with a huge storm looming on the horizon. Maria Sirena, in her eighties, refuses to leave her seaside house. She’d like to die in the storm. But the story has other plans for her as she is pulled from her home by some police and taken to safety. Sharing a room with a dozen other older ladies, Maria Sirena passes the time by telling the story of her life, a story that has been weighing on her for a lifetime. It kind of reminded me of The House of Spirits – a multi-generational story of political rebellion, forbidden love, and so many secrets. 4 stars.

fishbowl

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer just came out at the beginning of this month. It’s been getting lots of rave reviews from independent bookstores across the nation, including Rainy Day. I liked it, I sped right through it, I thought it was clever BUT. It felt so short! The entire novel takes place over half an hour in an apartment/condo building. It was an action packed half hour (death, birth, love, break-ups, beauty, sorrow, etc), but still at the end I felt like “And that’s it?” I did like all of the people, I even liked the unlikeable ones. It reminded me of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists – but that was one I loved and this was a little lesser. 3.5 stars.

improbability

This is the upcoming title, The Improbability of Love. Maybe it’s because I read this first (of these three) or maybe it’s because of my mood, but this was far and away my favorite. It pretty much combines all of my favorite things to read about: quirky characters you come to love (lots of them), art intrigue, a meatier back story but still a light-feeling novel. Our heroine, Annie (I loved her), stumbles across a painting in a junk shop. It is covered in grime and more money than she can afford (but not a lot of money, she’s just broke), but it speaks to her for some reason and she decides to buy it for her “boyfriend.” Things happen and she ends up stuck with the painting (and rid of the boyfriend). After spending time with it, she starts to think that maybe it’s not some junk painting, maybe it’s a masterpiece. So then we get to know a large handful of other people who potentially would be interested in obtaining this painting – the museum director looking to revitalize his museum, the head of the auction house looking for something to redeem his recent poor investments, the aging philanthropist looking for one last glorious purchase, the list goes on and on. But they are all so great that I can’t think of one I would’ve cut out. It’s a love story, a mystery and an ode to the romanticism of Rococco paintings all in one. If I told you that the painting itself narrated a few chapters, it might turn you off but DON’T LET IT, you will love him. 5 stars.