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Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopia’

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I feel like I blinked and it’s mid-August. I’m still settling into my new apartment and all the life changes (thank you for the kind comments on my recent post about that). Here’s what I have been reading, when my overstuffed brain will allow:

Where the Light Enters, Sara Donati
Donati’s sequel to The Gilded Hour (which I haven’t read) picks up the lives of her characters, notably two female physicians (who are cousins) in 1880s New York. Sophie is grieving the death of her husband, trying to decide whether to resume practicing obstetrics, and planning to establish a scholarship for young women of color to study medicine. Anna is struggling with various personal and professional challenges. Both of them are called in by Anna’s cop husband, Jack, to consult on a tricky case of multiple murders of pregnant women. A sweeping, complicated, engaging novel set largely in my favorite tangle of streets in the West Village. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 10).

American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson
I grabbed this at the library after reading a review in the Shelf. Marie Mitchell is a frustrated FBI agent in 1980s NYC who is tapped for a mission involving Thomas Sankara, the president of Burkina Faso. A young, intelligent black woman, she’s perfect for the role, but she feels uneasy about it, especially since one of her handlers has a connection to her deceased sister. An ambitious spy thriller and family drama – Marie is a great character – but the ending was far too abrupt.

With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo
A high school senior and gifted chef, Emoni Santiago has a lot to juggle, including caring for her young daughter and helping out her abuela. When she gets the chance to take a cooking class, it might catapult her dreams forward–but she’s keenly aware of her obligations. A vivid, thoughtful, sweet, funny, engaging YA novel about a teen mom who’s much more than that. So good.

The Shadow King, Maaza Mengiste
Ethiopia, 1935: the country is bracing for an Italian invasion, and Hirut, a young servant girl, is caught up in her masters’ plans to raise an army. She becomes a warrior and a guard, and her path crosses with an Italian Jewish photographer who isn’t sure he wants to be a soldier. Powerful, complicated and dark; I didn’t know about this piece of history and it’s a brutal one. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 10).

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

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august books 1

The summer reading continues – with some great books. Here’s what I’ve been reading so far this month:

The Word Exchange, Alena Graedon
In the not-so-distant future, print books are entirely dead, except for a couple of stubborn dictionaries. When Anana Johnson’s lexicographer father goes missing, she’s worried that his disappearance is linked to a “word flu” sweeping the country. Witty, well plotted and slightly terrifying. (Oxford plays a small but vital role, which made me so happy.) Recommended by Kerry and Leigh.

Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, Megan Kimble
Busy, broke and increasingly concerned about where her food comes from, Kimble spends a year eating as little processed food as possible. This means joining a CSA and baking bread, but it also means interviewing farmers, butchering a sheep, and trying to understand the systems our food goes through – and where they’ve gone wrong. Insightful, eye-opening and not at all preachy. Found at Porter Square Books.

Black Dove, White Raven, Elizabeth Wein
The children of two stuntwoman pilots, Emilia (half Italian) and Teo (half Ethiopian) have grown up together. After Teo’s mother dies in a plane crash, Emilia’s mother takes the children to live in Ethiopia. But as war with Italy looms in 1936, life becomes increasingly complicated for all of them. Narrated by Emilia and Teo, this is a fascinating, heartbreaking look at a war (and a country) I knew almost nothing about.

Die Laughing, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple finds her dentist murdered in his chair, and helps her policeman husband investigate – finding it tricky to navigate her new middle-class social circle, several of whom are suspects. A decent mystery, but I really liked the portrayal of Daisy adjusting to married life and a new neighborhood.

The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurain
Parisian bookseller Laurent Letellier finds a woman’s handbag on the street – and becomes obsessed with locating the owner. A charming, whimsical, beautifully told story – sweet without being saccharine. I loved it. (I received a free copy of this book from the publicist.)

A Snicker of Magic, Natalie Lloyd
Felicity Pickle is used to moving around a lot. But when her family lands back in Midnight Gulch, her mama’s hometown, Felicity longs to put down roots. With the help of a new friend, some magical ice cream and a little banjo music, everything may turn out right after all. A sweet, whimsical middle-grade debut.

Absolutely Truly, Heather Vogel Frederick
Too-tall Truly Lovejoy is not thrilled when her family moves to tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire. Even worse: her father hasn’t been the same since he lost an arm in the war. But as Truly helps renovate the family bookshop, she stumbles onto a mystery – which she solves with the help of a few new friends. I love Frederick’s work and adored this charming, moving story. (Bonus: includes a delicious recipe for mini pumpkin whoopie pies.)

Wicked Autumn, G.M. Malliet
Max Tudor, former MI5 agent turned Anglican priest, has settled into his new life in Nether Monkslip. But when the village busybody turns up murdered at the annual Harvest Fayre, Max dusts off his investigative skills (and begins facing his demons). A delightful, slyly witty village mystery – first in a series.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick
A fascinating, often frustrating exploration of single womanhood, via Bolick’s own experience and that of her five “awakeners” – women writers who forged their own unconventional paths. I enjoyed learning about Neith Boyce and Maeve Brennan (both new to me), but was put off by Bolick’s self-sabotage and glaring lack of self-awareness. Still thought-provoking, and a different angle on the cultural conversation about womanhood.

(More about the stack above: I’m dipping back into The Sound of Paper, as I seem to do every summer, and working through Middlemarch for my book club. Though I’m not sure if I’ll be finished by the time we meet!)

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

What are you reading?

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