A Few Books (And a Few Questions)

I don’t know where to start with Melissa Marr’s Ink Exchange, and I don’t know how to express how much I loved it without giving away spoilers, so I’m not going to say much. I know there are a lot of mixed reactions to the book out there, and I understand that. But my experience of reading it was very emotional, and my take is that it’s an important, delicate, beautiful book about survival — about choosing to live after trauma, even though that means choosing to feel the pain you’d rather numb yourself to.
I believe in this book. I found it to be full of heart, feeling, and disturbing truth. Did you read it? What did you think?
Next up, I just finished Donna Jo Napoli’s The Smile, which takes place in Florence at the turn of the sixteenth century. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler for me to tell you that the smile referred to is the Mona Lisa’s smile; the novel is Mona Lisa’s story, as Napoli imagined it. (Napoli explains in a postscript that no one is certain who da Vinci’s model was for the painting; this is definitely a work of fiction and imagination; but the political history is real and fascinating, and the imagined story is beautiful). I confess that I didn’t give this book the attention it deserved, because I’ve been running around like a headless chicken lately. But even my scattered attention could tell that it was a wonderful book. I’m going to read it again. And here’s a question — can anyone recommend more Napoli books, particularly taking place in Italy? I think I’ve found a writer whose books touch my soul. I want to read more.
Finally, I forgot to mention the other day, when I blogged the Andre Norton finalists, how much I liked The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. The link, btw, will take you to the Readergirlz blogspot, which is featuring Pearson’s book this month and which describes the book better than I could — and which has a lovely playlist going ^_^. Read it! It’s great. And hello, beautiful cover!
The main reason I’m a headless chicken these days is that I leave for Italy on Thursday. I’m going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and right after that, to the Penguin sales conference back in the states. I’ll be gone almost two weeks, and it’s tax season and copyediting season and so many seasons that have me running around like crazy trying to prepare for my disappearance! So forgive me if I seem a little all over the place.
What are you reading and loving these days?