The Books I'm Reading Now
I'm reading a brand-new romance-and-music book that's gotten lots of buzz; a beautiful modern classic from a bestselling author who writes about faith and life; and a recent mystery about an offbeat author that's keeping me guessing and has me completely hooked:
Xio Axelrod's novel The Girl with the Stars in her Eyes is about a young woman and her quest for musical stardom (and romantic fulfillment);
Barbara Brown Taylor's nonfiction book An Altar in the World celebrates beauty and meaning in the natural world and in everyday moments; and
Who Is Maud Dixon? is Alexandra Andrews's first book, and so far the mystery's twists and turns are fantastic.
Which books are you reading and enjoying these days, bookworms?
01 The Girl with the Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes tells the story of Toni Bennette (she's heard all the jokes before, so don't even start) and her dream to make it big with her band, the Lillys.
Toni grows up a painful side note to her mother's efforts to advance her own struggling musical career, yet Toni can't avoid the pull of the music business for herself.
Young Toni crosses paths with Sebastian Quick, an older, wiser guy who just might offer her a way out of her little no-name town--and together they just might have a shot at something bigger. But when Seb leaves town without warning, Toni's left cobbling together a plan for musical success without him in the mix.
Cut to years later, when Toni, making a name for herself in the Philadelphia indie music scene, tries out for a hot new band. She loves the band's feminist vibe--but the group's manager is someone from her past: Seb. Tricky situations ensue!
I received a prepublication copy of this book, published May 4, 2021, courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley. This is the first in a series by Axelrod about Toni and the Lillys.
If you like fiction about bands and music, you might like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Rocking Stories about Bands and Music.
02 An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
“To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir.... And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.”
After leaving her position as a pastor and writing a book about the experience, Leaving Church, Taylor here explores finding faith, moments of reflection, and meaning in the world around her in An Altar in the World.
Through exploring everyday chores, practices as simple as walking, washing, praying, or bestowing simple blessings, Taylor explores ways she grounds herself in everyday life while connecting with deeper meaning. I love Taylor's voice and am in for all of her books.
03 Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
Aspiring young author Florence Darrow is from small-town Florida, and her aspirations for her life are ambitious yet vague. She feels destined for greatness but not necessarily special enough to make the splash she'd like to in the world--at least not yet.
When she implodes her publishing career on a destructive whim, then lucks into a position as a personal assistant to a reclusive, bestselling author with the pen name of Maud Dixon, she can't believe it--everything is starting to work out for Florence.
"Maud" is an oddball genius, and Florence is just trying to soak up all the culture and knowledge she can as she plans her own publishing success. That is, until it becomes clear that things aren't at all what they seem.
This book is reminding me a little bit of my recent read The Plot, but so far Maud Dixon has more twists and turns I didn't see coming, as well as interesting gray areas about the roles of hero and villain.