Tag: top reads

Spring 2022 Reads – Best Books of the Season

I’ve read so many fantastic books already this year. And somehow my to-be-read pile never seems to get any smaller! Here are a few of the best ones from this spring. A story of witchcraft in 1893…or perhaps a story of women’s rights, power and potential throughout all time. A story of mysteries and lies beginning to unravel when a man searching for a lost woman finds an isolated community of people living in the woods, cut off from society. A tale of humor, empathy, strength and love when an interpreter takes a new job working for a headstrong DeafBlind man. And, lastly, a mother-daughter short story by one of my favorite authors.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow

What I was expecting to be a typical fantasy story about witches and magic turned out to be much more. This was a multi-layered reflection on the injustices that women have endured for centuries. The characters embody the ingenuity, cleverness and guile necessary to succeed as a woman in society. And their success depends on the strength and bravery women find through the bonds of sisterhood.

The Eastwood sisters seek to bring about the next age of witchcraft, but not for any nefarious purpose. It is simply because they are tired of seeing womenkind suffer at the hands of men, or be subjected to their every whim or want. The sisters end up discovering far more than witchcraft. They realize that every woman possesses a little magic, she just needs to find the will to use it.

The Once and Future Witches is a beautifully researched story, perfectly placed at an exact moment in history when witchcraft was still deeply feared and those accused were cruelly persecuted. But the story spans time, ripe with issues that STILL haunt women today.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

 I don’t tend to read suspenseful books. I don’t enjoy them because I generally feel that life is scary enough! But this book drew me in, and I loved it.

Maggie St. James has been missing for five years. Travis Wren has been hired to find her. He walks into the woods where she was last seen…and doesn’t come out. Deep in those same woods lives a secluded, fearful community, cut off from the outside world for many years. When they start to find traces of Maggie and Travis inside their borders, even though none of them have ever seen the couple, their whole reality starts to unravel, and suddenly, they aren’t sure what to fear most anymore.

Side note: I listened to the audio version of this book (beautifully done!), but it is ill-advised to do so on a long solo road trip at night, as I did. I promise you’ll start to see eyes watching you from the darkness at the side of the road…

The Sign for Home by Blair Fells

The Sign for Home is told from the point of view of both a DeafBlind man and his interpreter. It touches on the ideas of what it truly means to care for and about someone, how the limits of someone’s body doesn’t limit the abilities of their heart or their mind, and what it takes to find the strength to stand up for what is right.

This is a truly beautiful story, with complex character who don’t get everything right. But they are a joy to get to know. There is also a huge cross section of minority groups represented – people with different religious beliefs, those with hearing and/or vision impairment, immigrants, LGBTQ community members, some with substance abuse – all trying to find their way forward. It is clear that none of them – gay, straight, sighted, blind, hearing, deaf, able, disabled, or otherwise – has it any better figured out than anyone else. But as long as they are willing to open up and put their ego aside, everyone has something to learn from each other.

My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood

I was cruising through this new short story by Margaret Atwood, enjoying its wonderful weirdness. (To be fair, most stories by Ms. Atwood do lean toward the wonderfully weird side of things) Then, all of a sudden, near the end, she goes and throws in a gut-punch of a tender mother/daughter moment. It makes the grown daughter stop and rethink everything she has always thought about her mother. And it reminded me – the mother of teenagers – just how insane (at times even evil?) loving a child can make all of us. Do we do things that seem crazy? Who hasn’t talked to themselves? Given the evil-eye to an “enemy”? Muttered a curse under their breath? Made pacts with the devil to get your child to just. Go. To. Sleep.

Just saying….Maybe there’s a little necessary evil in every parent, at least in the eyes of our children. The little angels.

Fall 2021 Reads

Always so many books to read and so little time. (Not sure what I would do without my Audible subscription!) Here are a few of the best ones I’ve read this fall that I would recommend. A fantastical take on a terrible moment in history. A musical story of a teenage girl discovering the world of rock-n-roll. An autobiography of a recovered drug-addict who, by all accounts, shouldn’t have lived to tell his own tale. And a story highlighting one of the darkest times of American history.

Gathering of Waters by Bernice McFadden

This story – another magically woven tale by an author whom I have recently discovered and fallen completely in love with – tells of the murder of Emmett Till, as well as the lives of others surrounding him, through the fantastical voice of the town of Money, Mississippi. Part history, part magic and altogether captivating. A, absolute must-read.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

This fun, music-filled coming-of-age story, set in the 1970’s, stars 14-year-old Mary Jane. Her summer job as nanny to the new family in town, who happen to be secretly hosting a famous rock-star couple, will introduce her to a new world of music, free-thinking and spontaneity. It’s a story that will remind everyone of the moment they realized the world extends far beyond the one their parents taught them about. A funny, charming and sweet tale – really fun to read!

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

Absolutely spellbinding narrative of the author’s struggle with addiction, homelessness and poverty, as well as the systematic racism that still faces Indigenous people. Thistle tells the raw and heart-wrenching journey of discovering the courage to fight his way out of addiction, through finding love, education and a connection to his Metis heritage. Couldn’t stop reading this one.

Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

The part of American history we don’t talk about – the part where Native cultural was purposefully erased by forcing generations of young Native American children to attend residential schools run by white Christians – lies at the center of this story. The aftermath of these misguided schools left generations of both Indigenous people and those who were part of the horrible actions practiced there scarred and living suspended between two worlds. Alma and Asku’s story brings this history to light in a vivid, heartbreaking and memorable way.