09 April 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Light Reading for Early Spring

Light Reading for Early SpringHappy Monday! I have three more busy editing days, then I'm attending my annual spring lace-making workshop, and then life eases back to a simple rhythm, starting next Monday.

I usually have a full week off between the end of editing season and my long weekend with lace friends, but this year, the dates are much tighter. I won't get much reading in this week, but I know I'll have a lot of fun.

On Wednesday, on the AudioFile Magazine blog, I talk about author-read audiobooks. I'd love it if you stopped by to share your thoughts.

What I Read Last Week

Review: Women in Sunlight by Frances MayesWomen in Sunlight by Frances Mayes (Crown; April 3). I've been a fan of Frances Mayes's since I read her Under the Tuscan Sun in the mid-1990s. Her new novel is set in her beloved Tuscany and follows the lives of three women of a certain age who are on their own for the first time since college. They meet by chance in North Carolina, become fast friends, and decide to rent a Tuscan villa for a year. They are surprised at how easily they adapt to each other and to Italy, making new friends and discovering or rediscovering new passions. They story is told from several viewpoints, including that of their neighbor, who is an American ex-pat writer and poet. Some of the novel reads as if it were autobiography, and Mayes's love of Tuscany and its sights and smells, wine and food comes shining through. In fact, now want to rent a villa in Tuscany for a year with my BFFs! Besides the setting, I enjoyed getting to know Susan, Julia, and Camille and seeing how they each came to terms with the second phase of their lives. Women in Sunlight is light, fun reading on one level, and an empowering look at getting older on another. Plus there's all those fabulous food descriptions! I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 16 hr, 52 min) read by Kimberly Farr. Farr is a pleasure to listen to; her lively performance and believable Italian and American Southern accents gave the audiobook an added spark. (More on the audiobook will soon be available at AudioFile Magazine; copy provided for a freelance assignment.)

Review: Be Prepared written and illustrated by Vera BrosgolBe Prepared written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol (First Second, April 24) is a wonderful graphic semi-autobiography about 9-year-old Vera, a Russian immigrant who wants nothing more than to fit in with her American classmates. She is always feeling like the odd girl out, especially in summer when all her friends go away to summer camp or on fabulous-sounding family vacations. Vera's mother can't afford vacations, but when they learn of a summer camp through their Russian Orthodox church, Vera's wish comes true, and she gets to spend a month at a sleep-away camp just like all the other girls at school. Vera soon discovers that camp is nothing like home, with its outhouses, wildlife, no-candy rule, and the requirement to speak Russian. Unfortunately, camp is also quite a lot like home, with its mean girls. Although Vera really doesn't like living in the great outdoors, she ends up making a good friend and learns to accept herself and her talents instead of trying so hard to be one of the cool kids. I loved the expressive artwork and the outdoor colors (see the cover for a glimpse), and my heart went out to Vera. This is a great story of finding your path and realizing that it's just fine to be your own person. I'm way more outdoorsy than Vera but still found much to relate to. Be Prepared may be geared for middle grade readers, but I recommend it for readers of all ages. (Thanks to Fist Second for the review copy.)

Coming Soon

I'm almost done with Jez Burrows's Dictionary Stories, and I'm listening to Caitlin Macy's Mrs. (read by Vanessa Johansson). I love the first and have mixed feelings about the second. I'll have more to say about both next Monday. Enjoy your week!


rhapsodyinbooks 4/9/18, 7:14 AM  

I agree - what sounds more appealing than renting a villa in Tuscany?!!

Susie | Novel Visits 4/9/18, 8:55 AM  

I've been curious about Women in Sunlight, so it's really nice to hear your thoughts. I'm going to add it to my audio list. Thanks.

bermudaonion 4/9/18, 9:07 AM  

I listened to one of Mayes books and she narrated it which was not a good idea. I'll have to look into this one. Be Prepared sounds fabulous!

Laurel-Rain Snow 4/9/18, 9:46 AM  

I have a copy of Mrs., which I haven't tried to read yet. Soon?

The Mayes book does sound tempting. I didn't read Under the Tuscan Sun, but saw the movie.

Enjoy your week, and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/9/18, 10:53 AM  

We’ going to Tuscany this summer, I should pick up Women in Sunlight.

Kathy Martin 4/9/18, 11:27 AM  

Nice variety of books. Have fun lace-making. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 4/9/18, 12:18 PM  

You've piqued my interest in Women in Sunlight...since I'm on the hunt for books for my Summer Reading Guide!

Vicki 4/9/18, 2:45 PM  

Have fun at your lace-making workshop!

Greg 4/9/18, 3:47 PM  

I keep wondering when I'M going to rent a Tuscan villa lol. And Be Prepared sounds cute and perhaps a bit moving as well.

Aj @ Read All The Things! 4/9/18, 7:12 PM  

Be Prepared sounds kind of awesome. I think I need to read that one. Have a great week!

Aj @ Read All The Things!

Yvonne 4/9/18, 8:55 PM  

Women in Sunlight looks good. Have a great week!

pussreboots 4/9/18, 9:53 PM  

My daughter would love Be Prepared. Come see what I'm reading

Mystica 4/10/18, 2:28 PM  

I'm a Frances Mayes fan as well.

Daryl 4/11/18, 9:17 AM  

more good reads! thanks.

JoAnn 4/12/18, 9:57 AM  

Just added Women in Sunlight to my list. Have fun at the workshop... I know how much you look forward to it every year!

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