Paris in Love, Eloisa James
This memoir of a year in Paris sparkles with delightful anecdotes and wry commentary. It’s no easy feat to move your family across the Atlantic, and James and her Italian husband managed it rather well. (Their 11-year-old daughter, Anna, is particularly hilarious.) James admits that living in Paris has its challenges, but she loves this city and it’s such fun to walk with her through it. Utterly charming, and the bite-size bon mot format is addictive.
Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame, Ty Burr
Burr, the film critic for the Boston Globe, examines our culture of stardom in the U.S., from early silent actors to the talkies, all the way up to the Internet and our current obsessive celebrity culture. His anecdotes about stars past and present (Chaplin, Wayne, Stanwyck and many more) are fascinating, and his questions about why we have stars – why we need stars – are insightful, timely and rather unsettling. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 18).
A Pocket Full of Rye, Agatha Christie
When a wealthy financier is poisoned, police inspectors are surprised to find cereal in his pockets. Then his wife and the maid are also killed, with each death containing a link to the “Sing a song of sixpence” rhyme. Enter Miss Marple, who (of course) befriends nearly everyone in the household, picks up bits of useful information, and helps Inspector Neele connect the dots. This is classic Christie, clever and fun, with a fair dose of coincidence and a tidy wrap-up at the end.
The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie
I loved this first novel in Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series, featuring two young adventurers in post-World War I London. They set up a detective agency and quickly find themselves drawn into a web of political intrigue. This era fascinates me, and the easy banter between Tommy and Tuppence reminds me of Castle. Lots of red herrings, as usual, with a chilling twist near the end. (Bought during my D.C. indie bookstore crawl.)
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Gary D. Schmidt
Turner Buckminster, minister’s son and new transplant to Maine, has a tough time fitting in – but then he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, who lives on a nearby island. Lizzie teaches Turner to dig clams and hit a Maine baseball, but their friendship is threatened by the town’s elders, who are trying to evict Lizzie and her fellow African-Americans from their island. Based on a true story and told in Schmidt’s skilled prose, this was a moving story and a gorgeous evocation of the New England landscape.
So Far Away, Meg Mitchell Moore
I enjoyed Meg’s debut, The Arrivals, but I loved So Far Away. (I couldn’t put it down even when watching Olympics diving – I had to know what happened.) Thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher, who is dealing with her parents’ divorce and cyberbullying at school, is a proud, strong, confused, completely authentic teenager. And archivist Kathleen Lynch, who helps Natalie decipher an old diary she unearthed in her basement, is also a great character. So much heartbreak – Kathleen’s runaway daughter, Natalie’s mom’s depression, and the struggles mentioned above – but also hope. (And it’s set in and near Boston, which I enjoyed.)