Labor Day weekend is the official end of summer, so I let myself enjoy some fun, lighthearted reads this weekend. Here’s my stack:
Lucky Bunny, Jill Dawson
Queenie Dove, expert thief, has been stealing since she was a child – she even stole her first name. Born into poverty in London’s East End, she learns to shoplift and lie, and even escapes from a girls’ reform school. Becoming a mother finally makes her go straight, but when she’s offered one last (big) job, will she be able to resist? Queenie’s voice is scrappy, matter-of-fact, unrepentant. She wonders sometimes if she could have had a different life, but is mostly accepting of the one she’s made for herself. Not my usual fare, but an utterly compelling story. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 30).
13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson
(I’m lumping these together because I read them one after another.) In the first book, Ginny’s Aunt Peg, recently deceased, leaves Ginny an envelope full of money and 13 smaller (blue) envelopes, each with a different instruction. Ginny travels to Europe alone, following the instructions and meeting a number of people who either knew her aunt, help her on her journey, or both. She’s a bit passive at the beginning, but gains some confidence and is able to grieve Aunt Peg’s passing by the end. However, the thirteenth little blue envelope goes missing when Ginny’s backpack gets stolen in Greece – hence the sequel’s name. When she gets an email from an English guy who now has her backpack and the letter, Ginny returns to London in pursuit of Aunt Peg’s last words to her. They end up traveling all over Europe together with two other friends of Ginny’s, and while the story is still interesting, I found it less engaging than the original. Ginny is likable but still so naive, and I really wanted her to speak her mind more often. Still a fun ride.
Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl
This story is a delightful cross between I Capture the Castle and Pride and Prejudice. Althea, daughter of a formerly wealthy family, must marry well to provide for herself, her widowed mother and their small brother (her stepsisters support the family grudgingly with their income). They live in a crooked, run-down castle in Yorkshire, and when Lord Boring (ha!) moves into the neighborhood, Althea sets her cap for him. But Lord Boring’s cousin and business manager Mr. Fredericks (and Althea’s stepsisters) have other ideas. A fun, zesty comedy of manners.
Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella
In their third book of essays, mystery novelist Lisa and her daughter Francesca discuss dating, clothes, life in the country with pets (Lisa) and in tiny New York apartments (Francesca), and the ins and outs of their loving but complicated relationship. (Lisa’s mother Mary also makes frequent appearances; she’s over 80, feisty, half deaf and hilarious.) Some essays are funnier than others, but they’re all entertaining, and I found myself laughing at the mother-daughter moments. Love, guilt and crazy humor, with a healthy dose of Italian food. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 13).
The Epicurious Cookbook, Tanya Steel & the editors of Epicurious.com
I haven’t read every word of this cookbook yet, but I have already made the peach sorbet and it is delicious. And my husband and I sat on the couch and paged through the entire thing, salivating over at least two-thirds of the recipes. I think it’s a keeper. Organized by season and then by course (starters, mains, desserts, etc.), with helpful tips and variations from Epicurious members on many recipes. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 30).
What did you read over the long weekend?
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