This Reader’s Choice

I know the summer reading season is over, but I want to share some of the good books I’ve read recently. I’m always delighted to find new authors as well as new books from favorites.

I was honored to read an advance copy (ARC) of The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft, which will be out in January 2014. A great Art of Fallling Coverread! Penelope Sparrow, a 28-year-old dancer, has spent her entire life focusing on the perfection of her body. But when she wakes up in a Philadelphia hospital unable to move after a near-fatal accident, she can’t remember the events leading up to her crushing 14-story fall. Now, with a second chance at life, Penny must find a way to reconnect with her past and come to terms with the limitations of her body. This is a masterful portrayal of a young woman trying to understand her own past and begin again, beautifully expressing the language of dance and broken dreams.

A Wilder RoseAnother ARC I enjoyed is A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, out in October. Fascinating history about our classic favorites, the “Little House” series. In 1928, Rose Wilder Lane—world traveler, journalist, highly-paid magazine writer—returned from an Albanian sojourn to her parents’ Ozark farm. Almanzo Wilder was 71 and Laura 61, and Rose felt obligated to stay and help. Then came the Crash. Rose’s investments vanished and the magazine market dried up. That’s when Laura wrote “Pioneer Girl,” her story of growing up in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, on the Kansas prairie, and by the shores of Silver Lake. The rest is literary history. But it isn’t the history we thought we knew. Based on the unpublished diaries of Rose Wilder Lane and other documentary evidence, A Wilder Rose tells the surprising true story of the often strained collaboration that produced the Little House books—a collaboration that Rose and her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, concealed from their agent, editors, reviewers, and readers.

Forgiving Effie Beck by Karen Casey-Fitzjerrel, award-winning author of The Dividing Season.  Another excellent story. MikeForgiving Effie Beck LeMay, a Federal Writers’ Project interviewer arrives in a small Texas town days before the town eccentric, Effie Beck, is reported missing. While conducting his interviews, Mike learns that the enigmatic, elderly Miss Effie has moved through the lives of the town’s populace “like brown smoke” after having suffered a harsh childhood under the discipline of a cruel father. Paralleling Effie’s mysterious disappearance is the baffling relationship Mike observes between barefoot, bird-boned Jodean Travis, the young woman from whom he rents a room, and the rest of the community. By the time the WPA bridge collapses in a horrible storm, Mike knows what happened to the baby shoe matching the one found in Effie’s house, why Jodean is ostracized by the town, the real reason the sheriff’s wife sent her kids out of town for the summer, and how hurtful it is to live where all the good people look the other way.

Weeping WillowThe Weeping Willow Sings by Billie Grable. This debut novel sings! John O’Brien’s suicide by drowning throws him into an afterlife he never expected. His fifteen-year-old daughter, Maggie, almost dies trying to save him, and her distorted memory of the traumatic event leaves Maggie believing that John is still alive. Maggie sets off on a journey to find her father and the mythical weeping willow he often told her about – a journey that takes her to the world between – and beyond. When Maggie’s path meets imminent danger, John must find a way to cross the threshold between life and death to save his daughter one last time. A blend of fantasy and fiction, The Weeping Willow Sings provides a glimpse into the theory of life after death and the possibility for the dead to make amends with those still living. A moving depiction about the secrets families keep, the tragic side of mental illness and the bond between a father and daughter, The Weeping Willow Sings reminds us all that love never dies.

Others worth checking out:

Nobody’s Child by Janet Dawson. A decomposing body buried in an empty lot isdug up by a construction company, and Jeri Howard’s demanding, imperious client thinks the victim could be her daughter.

My Next Husband will be Normal by Rae Ellen Lee. A humorous, bitter-sweet memoir. Soon after unpacking their flip-flops on the paradise of St. John Island, the husband—a former Republican state legislator with a silver crew-cut and solid traditional values—realizes he is really a she.

One Foot on the Edge by C.K. Crigger. In 1896, there aren’t many career choices for a young lady. China Bohannon has fled one bad situation, and is looking to start her life over as a strong, independent woman in the wild and woolly town of Spokane, Washington.

Forever Young: Blessing or Curse by Morgan Mandel. What could possibly happen when a 55 year old widow takes a pill to be 24 forever?

The Driftwood Diaries by Ava Wilson. Three women are revealed in their diaries found by a book store owner.

Happy Reading! What are some of your favorites from this summer?

The Art of Falling: a Must-Read Novel

Art of Fallling CoverI read a lot of books. I always have one going. Usually I go from one to the next, like another handful of potato chips and promptly forget what I’ve just read. It’s “mind candy,” pure entertainment, escape fiction.

But once in awhile I come across a book that stays with me—while I’m reading it and long after I’ve finished. It’s a story that grabs my heart and soul and I can’t get enough. I can’t put it down, but I don’t want it to end, and it stays in my periphery long afterward.

The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft is such a novel.

I was honored to be able to read an Advance Reader Copy. I was swept up in the lyrical prose, twirled into the mounting drama, swooped high and low with the poignant, raw emotion of anguish, rejection, then hope and resilience.

Craft’s debut novel tells the story of a dancer’s life, her struggle with body image, her sacrifice and self-denial, her striving to “live up to” expectations from her mother, her dance teachers, her dance partners, herself.

The title itself is symbolism: a physical fall, learning to love and to accept, death that brings life, movement that brings joy.

Excerpt: “The mirror is prominent in every studio, front and center, like a reflective altar…. The pursuit of perfection is daunting and exhausting with no end in sight. Yet in spite of ourselves, we get up each day and try, while the joy of movement drains from our lives.”

Synopsis: All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

The Art of Falling is due to be published in January, 2014. Pre-order links for THE ART OF FALLING, are live at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

This is a “must” for your To-Be-Read list! As one reviewer put it: “The Art of Falling is a story of friendship and personal growth, and a helluva good read.”

Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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