Saturday, January 31, 2015

Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech

Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech

Decades ago, a young woman escaped the impending arranged marriage and travels off with her true love. Serena Lenore discovered  a rare flower while living in the African Jungle. When it is time to return to America, she carries the flower, nestled in the curls of her hair, with her on the journey. The sweet scent of the flower seems to captivate everyone around them. Slowly, Serena begins to realize the unique power she now holds.

The real story begins in the present day, as a sister returns to the glorious backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After a failed marriage leaves her lonely and confused, Lucia is led home by the strange blue dragonflies flittering at her city window. She joins her mother and sister, who have been harvesting these flowers under the guise of a multi-million dollar perfume corporation.

Upon purchasing the scent (with a strict contract), clients experience immediate and lasting success. The Lenore women have always been careful when selecting clients; their perfume is the best-kept secret to many a success. The secret of these flowers is now in jeopardy. 

Now the impulsive daughter, desperate to gain control of the corporation, has made a grave error. Mya's attempts to fix her mistakes will only deepen rifts and cause irreparable damage.

The future of their corporation is now in jeopardy; the flowers are wilting, and something is wrong with the matriarch, Willow, of the empire. The women come together in an enchanting tale similar to the work Sarah Addison Allen. Their renewed connection is strong, but is it enough to combat the troubles they face?

Never a better setting for a mystical novel, traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains, 2012

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014: Another Year in Books

This year, I read a lot of books. Our newest dog, Max, also ate a lot of books (which I begrudgingly brought to the library and dutifully paid the fines for). I went in a different direction this year and mixed it up more than in previous years. My favorites from 2014 are not necessarily new releases, but new to me. Some of these books I reviewed over the course of the year, so feel free to click their titles to read full reviews!

Favorite Easy Read:

Goodnight, June by Sarah Jio

Favorite Love Story:

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

I was pretty sure Jio had the title of this one all wrong until about half-way through the story. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite movies, Love Actually; a lot of little pieces and different characters moving around within a setting.

Favorite Southern Chick-lit:

A Long Time Gone by Karen White

A great story of redemption and revival set in the backdrop of a small southern town.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

A mystical escape to an ethereal lake-town and a link to stories of Paris in the past.

Favorite Mystery:

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A mysterious bookstore with an unusual variety of patrons. What exactly are they looking for?

Favorite Wanderlust Novels:

Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walters
Where'd You Go, Bernadette 
by Maria Semple
The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Italy and did I end up with wanderlust for such a distinct selection of locations?

Favorite Re-Reads:

One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Seriously, if you haven't read his books yet-please do.

Favorite Historical Fiction:

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, China Dolls by Lisa See

I always love a good historical fiction novel from World War II. These books were completely different than any books based in this era that I have previously read. I enjoyed the new perspective and learning about life during World War II for Chinese Immigrants. The narratives are written in first person and are completely engrossing. As any good novel set during a war, there are hard aspects to the reading. But these are stories of sisterhood, friendship, and survival.

Made me think:

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Another, what would you do? type of story. A young girl witnesses the murder of her sibling in this chilling novel. The book follows her through the subsequent years of her life, on a journey of vengeance, but can she follow through? I wasn't sure if this story would be too much for me-I tend to choose happy books, but I found it gripping.

Favorite Young Adult Novel:

Hoot by Carl Haaisan

My dad has been reading his novels for years. I ran out of books to read on a trip home over the summer and pulled this one off the shelf. It is the story of mysterious happenings at a construction site in Florida. Someone, or something, is trying to sabotage the building of a chain restaurant. Hilarity ensues.

Favorite Children's Chapter Book:
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

I read this book every year in the springtime with my students. This year might've been the most beautiful one yet as we all got teary-eyed by Charlotte's depth of love and the prime example of true friendship.

Favorite Children's Series:

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

I revisited Frog and Toad this year many times in our classroom. They are the most classic, quintessential stories of two best friends.

Looking forward to 2015:

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen

The author of Hatchet takes on the greatest race on earth.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I read her book Each Kindness to my students this year. This is a collection of poignant poetry about the author's childhood spread between South Carolina and New York in the 1960's.

and many more on my list.