The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Satrapi’s graphic memoir tells the story of her childhood in Iran, her adolescence during the Islamic Revolution, her teenage years in Vienna and her return home (a decidedly mixed experience). She conveys a whole world through her bold black-and-white drawings: cultural norms, relationships, irony, grief, the repressive Islamic government. Thought-provoking, often heartbreaking and a great lesson (even for us non-graphic writers) in using telling details.
A Fistful of Collars, Spencer Quinn
Chet and Bernie, PI team, take on an unusual gig: security for a high-profile movie star shooting a western in the Valley. Of course, there’s more to the situation than first meets the eye, and our heroes are soon on the trail of a complex situation involving drugs, blackmail and several murders. Bernie’s also dealing with a long-distance relationship, and narrator Chet (as always) has his own canine needs and perspective. A great addition to this fun series.
Mrs. Pringle of Fairacre, Miss Read
I love the cast of village characters in Miss Read’s Fairacre tales, and enjoyed this book focused on Mrs. Pringle, the dour school cleaner, and Miss Read’s relationship with her (sparring, but grudgingly affectionate) over the years. Mrs. Pringle will never be warm and fuzzy, but she’s a good soul and a hard worker, and Miss Read’s portrait of her is witty and amusing.
Changes at Fairacre, Miss Read
During a couple of sick days last week, Fairacre was the only place I wanted to go. Amid worries of her school’s closing (again) and the last illness of a dear friend, Miss Read contemplates her own future, eventually moving to a new house in the next village. This book had some melancholy spots, but was still full of the good cheer and kindness of life in Fairacre. I’ve grown particularly fond of Bob Willet, gardener and general handyman, and Miss Read’s bossy, good-hearted friend Amy.
Judging a Book by Its Lover, Lauren Leto
A snarky, erudite, mostly funny guide to today’s book culture, including advice on “Stereotyping People by Favorite Author” and “How to Write Like Any Author.” These wisecracks are amusing, but I prefer Leto’s more sincere moments of book love. She’s a true bookworm (though she argues convincingly for changing the book lover’s mascot to a “bookcat”). I confess I skimmed the “How to Fake It” section, which runs 80 pages (nearly a third of the book). Fun for book geeks. (I received a copy from the publisher, but was not compensated for this review.)
Farewell to Fairacre, Miss Read
Though not quite ready to retire, Miss Read finds herself plagued by health problems, prompting her to consider ending her long teaching career. She savors her final year of teaching, relishing the small details (as always) and enjoying the antics of her pupils. I always feel refreshed after a few hours in Fairacre, in Miss Read’s witty company. This book provided yet another installment of her friend Amy’s matchmaking efforts and Miss Read’s insistence on remaining a satisfied spinster. So fun.
Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, Susan Elia MacNeal
Feisty Maggie Hope, English-born and American-raised, goes undercover at Windsor Castle tutoring the Princess Elizabeth in maths (she’s really an MI-5 agent investigating a murder). A kidnapping plot, a Christmas pantomime, a new romance and several suspicious characters figure in this fun, fast-paced mystery (the sequel to Mr. Churchill’s Secretary). The writing, plot and characters were all much stronger in this book than its predecessor, and I’m looking forward to the third book, His Majesty’s Hope (out next spring).
All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor
I read this book as a child, but picked up a copy at the Tenement Museum in New York recently, and reread it in one sitting. A series of charming vignettes about a Jewish family with five daughters, living on the Lower East Side at the turn of the last century. They visit the library, go to Coney Island, observe the Sabbath and the major Jewish holidays, and celebrate the Fourth of July. Such a fun, sweet, innocent story, and the first in a series. (Jessica recently reread this one too.)
What are you reading lately?
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