Flowers, Fashion, Foster-Care Kids and Time Beings

April 8, 2013 by  
Filed under current, Reading Space

Reading a book at the beach

Flowers, fashion memoirs, dangerous women, foster-care kids, Japanese schoolgirls – it’s been an eclectic mix in my reading pile lately.

I’ve been thinking about what I would like to bring to you in these Reading Space posts. For a while I was tempted to turn it into a ‘what’s new in the bookworld’ column. But that turns out to be a bit limiting. Being permanently focused on the next ‘shiny new thing’ lets too many older, yummy reads disappear. Instead, I’d like to bring you books that I’ve been reading recently and have loved. Here are four books that I delightly press into your (virtual) hands…

language-of-flowersLanguage of Flowers

Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Victoria Jones has been shuttled around the foster care system her entire childhood. Now that she’s 18, she is on her own. But those childhood scars have left their mark – she’s closed off, thinks she is beyond loving and can only communicate her feelings through the language of flowers.

Victoria sleeps in a public park, where she plants an intimate, small garden. Something this precious and beautiful can’t be ignored for long – and her flowers are soon noticed. Then, one day, she meets someone who challenges the way Victoria sees the world and herself…

If I were to make a bouquet for you, lovely readers, I would entwine heliotrope (for devoted affection), olive (for peace) and anemone (for soothing calm)…


Mary Beth Keane

At the turn of the 20th century, a young Irish immigrant woman becomes New York’s public enemy number one. Mary Mallon is not a gangster, or a criminal (in any conventional sense), but she is hunted down and prosecuted as a killer…she is the original Typhoon Mary. Fever is the fictional recreation of Mary’s experiences, from working-class immigrant to sought-after society cook to ‘the most dangerous woman in America’.

Fever brings the houses, streets, kitchens, and prisons of early last-century New York to life. Moving through all of these settings is Mary – a complex, stubborn, determined young woman who refuses to be destroyed by those who would condemn her.

the-vogue-factorThe Vogue Factor

Kirstie Clements

Kirstie Clements was the editor of Vogue Australia for thirteen years, when one day she was unceremoniously sacked. The Vogue Factor is about Kirstie’s time at that iconic magazine, and about how she rose from being a junior (working the front desk) through to being the Vogue editor and media fashionista in her own right.

I must admit, I’m not part of the Vogue demographic, I only ever read it for the articles. But I love an author that can honestly describe and reflect on her work processes and practices. Kirstie allows us to breathe the rarefied air circulating within the offices of a luxury magazine. She lets us see the hard work and creative thought that goes into producing Vogue each and every month. Even if, like me, you tend to be more casually-attired (oh all right, ‘comfortably dressed’) than glamorously-ready-to-be-papped-at-any-second, The Vogue Factor is a fabulous companion to spend some quality, dressed-up-to-the-nines time with.

a_tale-for-a-time-beingA Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki

Nao is 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl. She is being relentlessly bullied, and is planning to commit suicide. But before she does, she is going to write down the story of her great-grandmother – a 104-year-old Buddhist nun – and send the story to someone she has never met.

Ruth lives on the opposite side of the world. She finds a package containing Nao’s writings washed up on the beach. As Ruth reads Nao’s words, she is drawn into her story, eventually becoming part of the narrative itself.

This is a magical book, one that explores how writers and readers connect and are changed by each other. It swoops from Japan to Canada and back again, swirling through contemporary and historical epochs, philosophies, and cultures.

What books have you been reading lately? Do you enjoy watching the book trailers? Please share your recommendations in the comments section below!

Top Image Credit


Carolyn Leslie Feb 13Carolyn Leslie is an IPEd-accredited editor, a writer, an award-winning book reviewer and a business chick, as well as Mama to two little boys. Carolyn loves books, blogs, op shops, gardening, mucking around in the kitchen and dancing crazily with her kids (and sometimes even with her husband). She dreams of someday having a quiet and (totally) uninterrupted read…

You can follow her on twitter @carolynleslie. Or if email is your thing, drop her a line sometime at


4 Responses to “Flowers, Fashion, Foster-Care Kids and Time Beings”
  1. Chris Owen says:

    OOOOO now Fever sounds interesting. Having just discovere recently that we have Irish ancestors who went to New York in the 1880s I am now very interested in the getting a sense of life for the Irish in New York at the time.

    Will check for it on my endlessly exciting ebook catalogue at the local library!

    Have shared that gem of knowledge with quite a few people since you told us Carolyn!

  2. Carolyn Leslie says:

    Chris, the details of the city are impressive in Fever. Dare I say it – feverishly rendered?

    And don’t you love filling your e-reader from the library? So many new releases (and fabulous backlist titles) available – all without leaving having to leave my house!

  3. Loved the book trailer for Ruth’s latest book and can’t wait to read it. Love Carolyn’s blogs too.

    • Carolyn Leslie says:

      I hope you enjoy Ruth’s new book. I have her previous one, My Year of Meat, lined up to read next! Glad you like reading my posts!