Mariana Cotromanes

Writer, Blogger, Crunchy Mom


Five Books You'll Devour

Posted on April 4, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Recently I've noticed an upswing in Facebook statuses among my friends asking for book recommendations, and luckily over the last few months I've read some amazing novels (and aren't their covers great too?!) Here are five of my favorites I highly recommend:

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

I loved Jio's first and second novels (The Violets of March-- which I'm currently re-reading for book club!-- and The Bungalow), so I was not surprised I enjoyed her third.  This novel tells the story of two women in Seattle, Vera Ray in 1933 whose three-year-old son suddenly goes missing, and Claire Aldridge in 2010 who attempts to resolve this decades long mystery while dealing with her own struggles.  It is a beautiful, suspenseful, story with a strong maternal theme and sympathetic characters. (Note: Sarah's fourth book, The Last Camellia, comes out May 28th)

Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck

I anticipated the release of this novel for several months and when it arrived I devoured it.  The story focuses on Mariella Bennet who is still getting over her father's sudden death as she attempts to support her mother and two sisters.  When she is hired as a maid by Pauline, Ernest Hemingway's second wife, it provides her with steady income while also opening the door to developing a relationship with the capricious and magnetic writer.  The twists and turns in this novel-- both heartwrenching and heartwarming-- will certainly surprise you.  Robuck immerses the reader in the world of Depression-era Key West with lovely descriptions, and characters you can really love and cheer for. (Note: Erika's second novel, Call me Zelda, comes out May 7th)

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann

Set in Stockholm, 1791, this impressive work of historical fiction focuses on Emil Larsson, a bureaucrat in the customs office who enjoys drinking, card playing and his bachelorhood.  One night everything changes when Mrs. Sparrow-- a fortune-teller and owner of the game parlor he frequents-- has a vision of Emil's life.  She then lays out his "Octavo" (eight cards representing the eight people significant to the fulfillment of her vision of "a golden path that will lead him to love and connection").  The exciting story then unfolds as we meet quirky characters, learn of the magic of fans and of cards, and enter into political intrigue featuring real historical figures.  Engelmann's novel is magical and successfully brings a turbulent political climate to life. 

Learning to Stay by Erin Celello

Not only is this a moving story, but with so many soldiers returning home, it is  relevant and eye-opening.  When Elise's husband Brad returns home from Iraq she is beyond relieved.  But when she realizes his traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder has turned him into a different person she isn't sure what to do.  Celello writes a powerful, engrossing story told by a character who was created with great precision-- I found myself caring about what happened to Elise from the very first page and my attention was so captured that I finished the novel within twenty-four hours.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Creative, humorous, heartwarming, and frustrating; with its varying characteristics, this novel elicits a smorgasbord of emotion to the very last page.  Instead of being broken up into traditional chapters, the novel is a compilation of documents that Bernadette's daughter, Bee, collected upon her mother's disappearance (consisting of emails, letters, text messages, etc.).  These characters are so true-to-life-- the overbearing moms from Bee's school, the workaholic husband, intelligent Bee, and quirky Bernadette-- that you will love and dislike them (and then probably change your mind) as if they actually exist in your world.  It is a warm, witty, and cleverly written story of a mother-daughter relationship, and it's no surprise that it is on the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 longlist.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have! Happy reading!

(Images of book covers are courtesty of publishers' websites)

Categories: Books/Book Reviews

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1 Comment

Reply Lorena
8:52 AM on April 5, 2013 
Thank you for the recommendations! I'll keep these books in mind. :) (and you're right, the covers are beautiful).

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