“A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Well … hello there. Sorry, friends, I didn’t mean to drop off the face of the (blogging) earth. I started edits on WATERCOLORS two and a half weeks ago and have pretty much fallen down the rabbit hole of Revision Land. After (happily) spending four hours on each chapter, the last thing my eyes (and neck … and back … and head …) want is to stare at the computer screen for much longer, so I’ve been stepping away from the laptop as much as possible. The goal is to finish this first round of revisions by the middle of June, so I’ll be back to more regular posting then, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some thoughts about a few amazing books I’ve read lately.
THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER, by Sarah McCoy: You know those books that do more than touch your heart? The ones that slip seamlessly into your soul and take up permanent residence? The ones that make you laugh one moment and grow misty-eyed the next? The ones that strike a lasting chord? That’s what this book did for me. It’s been a long time since I was affected by a story on such a visceral level. From the very first word straight through until the very last, I was just spellbound by the characters and their journeys. When Reba Adams visits Elsie’s German Bakery to interview its owner and write a Christmas piece about her for a local magazine, she has no idea what awaits her. What memories she will hear from both Elsie – who, as a German teenager during WWII, hid Tobias, an escaped Jewish boy, for months – and her daughter Jane. What a deep, life-changing friendship she will form with the women. What inspiration and hope she will see in them and feel reflected on herself. This is a story about Reba and her fiance Riki. About Elsie and her family, both those in Germany and those in America. About Reba and Elsie and Jane together. With alternating perspectives – the book flips between present and past, showing us the heart of who Reba and Elsie are – it offers an insightful, educational, inspiring, enlightening view. I found myself thinking about these characters, especially Elsie, so often, even when I wasn’t reading. I woke up two hours early on more than one occasion to squeeze in extra time with them, I sat on a beach with a windchill in the forties because I only had two chapters left and couldn’t imagine not finishing the story right then, even if it meant my hands turned to ice. This story, it is compelling. Mesmerizing. Fascinating. I learned a lot about WWII in both regular school and Hebrew school, but this added another dimension. It left a handprint on my heart, on my thoughts, and will stay with me for a very, very long time to come.
CATCHING AIR, by Sarah Pekkanen: You guys know this already, because I’ve talked about it time and again on here, but Sarah’s books are among my very favorites. So when I won an ARC of her new novel, you’d better believe I was super excited. As usual, she’s crafted a story that takes us directly into her characters’ hearts … homes … hopes. When Kira and Peter Danner accept his brother Rand’s offer to move to Vermont and run a B&B with him and his wife Alyssa, they don’t know what they’re in for – and for people who crave security, that is, to say the least, a leap of faith. The same is true for Alyssa and Rand, whose lives are forever changed by tiny miracles that blossom into the greatest blessings, and for Dawn, a woman who finds herself on the run as she desperately tries to flee the past that could put her entire future in jeopardy. Watching their lives intersect, seeing them pull apart and come together, is both entertaining and emotional. One of the things I enjoy most about Sarah’s writing is her ability to make readers feel like they’re right there in the pages, experiencing the story instead of simply reading it. Alyssa’s first ultrasound … Kira finding peace with the man whose absence left a hole in her heart … Dawn learning to stand up for herself … all five of them coming together to throw the wedding of the year at their B&B … I didn’t just see those scenes. I felt them, too, and I was inspired. Because this story? It helps readers catch some air of our own.
FANGIRL, by Rainbow Rowell: I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about this book for so long. Everyone I know who’s read it has loved the story, and now you can count me in among those singing its praises. Like I mentioned, I actually rediscovered my passion for creative writing because of fanfiction, so from page one, I very much related to Cath. Her love of writing, her immersion in the story, her dedication to the emotion it brings out and the emotion she brings to the characters … it was like sitting in a warm patch of sunshine. There are such lovely insights into the writing life in this book, into its joys and frustrations, its heart and soul, and I had so much fun going along on the journey with Cath. Loved her, loved Levi, loved the way their relationship blossoms. I think what I loved most, though, is that the characters in this book are normal. They’re everyday people going about their everyday lives, trying to navigate the world just like all of us. They could be any of us. How awesome is that? Just like Cath is a fangirl of Simon Snow, I am one for this story.
Your turn: tell me what you’re currently reading!