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Posts Tagged ‘aviation’

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And just like that, it’s nearly Thanksgiving. Here are the books that have gotten me through the first half of November – including some real gems. (Photo from the lovely Papercuts JP, which I just visited for the first time.)

The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir of Place, Solitude, and Friendship, Katherine Towler
For years, Robert Dunn was a fixture on the streets of Portsmouth, N.H.: a solitary, self-contained wandering poet who nonetheless seemed to know everyone. Towler’s memoir traces her friendship with Dunn, his literary career and later illness, and his effect on her. Moving and poignant and clear; the writing is so good. (Liberty recommended this and I found it for $2 at the Harvard Book Store.)

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker
Humans have long dreamed of flight, and Vanhoenacker’s career as a pilot moves him to reflect on its many aspects. A lovely, well-written, accessible blend of memoir, history, aviation tech, and reflections on globalization, interconnectedness and journeys. So many beautiful lines and interesting facts. Found at the wonderful Bookstore in Lenox this summer.

Circe, Madeline Miller
The least favored child of the sun god Helios, Circe is ignored and eventually exiled to a remote island. But there, she discovers her powers of witchcraft, and builds a life for herself. I grabbed this at the library and I could not put it down: Miller’s writing is gorgeous and compelling, and I loved Circe as a character. She interacts with many of the mortal men (sailors) who visit her island, but I especially loved watching her discover her strength in solitude.

Marilla of Green Gables, Sarah McCoy
Before Anne, there was Marilla – whom L.M. Montgomery fans know as Anne’s stern but loving guardian. McCoy gives us a richly imagined account of Marilla’s early life: her teenage years, her budding romance with John Blythe, her deep bond with Matthew and their family farm. Lovely and nourishing. Now I want to go back to Avonlea again.

Greenwitch, Susan Cooper
This third book in Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence brings the heroes of the first two books together: the three Drew children, Will Stanton and Merriman Lyon. They gather in Cornwall to retrieve a grail stolen by the Dark. I find the magic in these books confusing, but I like the characters.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, Brené Brown
We can’t belong anywhere in the world until we belong to ourselves: this is Brown’s assertion, and she makes a compelling case for it. I have mixed feelings about her work; she articulates some powerful ideas and I admire her commitment to storytelling and nuance. But sometimes, for me, the whole is not quite as great as the sum of its parts. Still worth reading.

A Forgotten Place, Charles Todd
The Great War is (barely) over, but for the wounded, life will never be the same. Bess Crawford, nurse and amateur sleuth, still feels bound to the men she has served. She travels to a bleak, isolated peninsula in Wales to check on a captain she has come to know, but once there, finds herself caught up in a web of local secrets and unable to leave. These are good mysteries, but this book’s real strength is its meditation on adjusting to life after war.

A Study in Honor, Claire O’Dell
This was an impulse grab at the library: a Sherlock Holmes adaptation featuring Holmes and Watson as black queer women in late 21st-century Washington, D.C. Janet Watson has lost an arm in the New Civil War, and meets Sara Holmes through a mutual friend. Together, they work to solve the mystery of several veterans’ deaths, which may be related to big pharma. I love the concept of this one, though the plot and characters didn’t quite work for me.

The Rose Garden, Susanna Kearsley
After her sister’s death, Eva Ward returns to the Cornwall house where she spent many happy childhood summers. There, she finds herself slipping between worlds and falling in love with a man from the past. Engaging historical fiction with a bit of time travel – though that part of this one was a bit odd. Still really fun.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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june books

Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis, Abigail Santamaria
Joy Davidman is chiefly known as the wife of C.S. Lewis – but before she married him, she was a writer and spiritual seeker in her own right. A well-written biography of a difficult, complicated woman. To review for Shelf Awareness (out August 4).

Murder on the Flying Scotsman, Carola Dunn
En route from London to Edinburgh by train, Daisy Dalrymple gets mixed up in another murder case – as well as taking charge of her love interest’s runaway daughter. A crazy cast of characters – sort of a comedic version of Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Light and fun.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk, Kelli Estes
When Inara Erickson inherits her aunt’s estate on Orcas Island, Washington, she discovers a richly embroidered silk sleeve hidden under the staircase. Estes’ dual narrative links Inara’s story to that of Liu Mei Lien, a Chinese woman who faced hardship and prejudice in 1880s Seattle. Some plot elements wrapped up too neatly, but Mei Lien’s story kept me turning the pages. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 7).

The Flying Circus, Susan Crandall
In the 1920s, aviation was still a new, risky phenomenon – and daredevil pilots drew huge crowds with their “barnstorming” stunts. Crandall’s novel follows a WWI pilot, a young mechanic and a runaway society girl as they build an unconventional family with their “flying circus.” Full of adrenaline and heart. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 7).

The Suspicion at Sanditon, Carrie Brebis
On their first visit to the seaside village of Sanditon, Elizabeth (née Bennet) and Fitzwilliam Darcy are invited to a dinner party. But when their hostess disappears before dinner, the Darcys must search for her while keeping a close eye on the other guests. A little silly, but fun. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 14).

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, Gretchen Rubin
I’ve read Rubin’s two previous books on happiness and appreciated this fresh topic: the particulars and strategies of habits. Interesting and insightful (though I’d read a lot of the content on her blog). I do like her Four Tendencies framework (I’m definitely an Obliger). My friend and fellow writer Nina Badzin reviewed this one at Great New Books.

Damsel in Distress, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple’s fifth case involves a kidnapping, blackmail and some interesting romantic developments – for herself and several friends. Light, witty and so much fun.

The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant
Born and raised in Boston in the early 1900s, Addie Baum recounts the story of her life to her granddaughter, Ava. I loved the glimpses of 1920s/30s Boston and Addie’s adventures as a young, spunky working girl (and writer).

Dead in the Water, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple plans to enjoy her weekend at the Henley Regatta – but of course murder intervenes. A witty, very English entry in this series.

The Garden of LettersAlyson Richman
A young, gifted Italian cellist finds herself hiding out in Portofino as the Nazis invade her home city of Verona. Both she and the widowed doctor who gives her shelter are harboring some painful secrets. Richman weaves an exquisite story of love and tragedy against the backdrop of World War II.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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