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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

We’re a week into May, and I’ve been racing through good books. Here’s what I have been reading:

Begin Again, Emma Lord
Andie Rose is an A+ planner – but when she transfers to the competitive state school where her parents met, her plans to ace her college experience fall apart. Instead, she finds friendships with her roommate and her stats tutor; shifts at the off-campus bagel place; a slot on the school’s pirate radio station, founded by her mom; and a will-they-won’t-they connection with her RA, Milo. I love Lord’s sweet, witty YA novels and this one was so much fun.

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle, Jennifer Ryan
I flew through this charming WWII novel about a group of women in Kent banding together to mend and lend wedding dresses to each other amid fabric rationing. Fashion designer Cressida, shy vicar’s daughter Grace, aristocratic Violet and their friends were wonderful characters. Serious Home Fires feel-good vibes.

Pages & Co.: The Bookwanderers, Anna James
Tilly Pages loves spending time in her grandparents’ London bookshop. When Anne Shirley and Alice (of Wonderland) turn up in the shop, and Tilly discovers she can wander into books, her grandparents – and a secret sect of librarians – have a lot of explaining to do. A cute, bookish middle-grade story; I wanted to love it more than I did, but it was fun. Found at All She Wrote Books.

Write for Life: Creative Tools for Every Writer, Julia Cameron
I’ve loved Cameron’s work since I received The Sound of Paper as a college graduation gift. This is a six-week practical guide to getting in a writing rhythm, using her classic tools (Morning Pages, walks, Artist Dates). Helpful and engaging, though not much new info if you’re already a Cameron reader.

Love from A to Z, S. K. Ali
Zayneb has HAD it with her racist teacher targeting Muslims – but when she speaks out, she gets suspended. She heads to Doha to visit an aunt, where she meets Adam – Chinese-Canadian, also Muslim and recently diagnosed with MS. This lovely YA novel alternates between their perspectives, and deals with both difficult topics and the sweet headiness of first love. Thoughtful and fun. Found at the Bryn Mawr Bookstore in Cambridge.

Stateless, Elizabeth Wein
England, 1937: Stella North is determined to prove herself in an international race against 11 other young pilots from across Europe, to promote peace. But one contestant disappears, and Stella suspects sabotage. She works with a few other pilots to figure out who was responsible, and why. I love Wein’s fast-paced historical YA novels; this one has great flight details, fascinating characters, and a growing sense of unease as Europe heads toward war.

My Contrary Mary, Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand & Jodi Meadows
This sequel-of-sorts to My Lady Jane (which I loved) picks up with Mary, Queen of Scots, at the French court. She’s supposed to marry Prince Francis, but she’s ambivalent – meanwhile, Francis’ mother and Mary’s uncles are both scheming to gain power, and Mary’s mother is in faraway Scotland. With the help of her ladies-in-waiting (all of whom, like Mary, can change into animals) and Nostradamus’ daughter Ari, Mary learns to navigate both politics and love. I raced through this one on a flight; so much fun.

Off the Map, Trish Doller
Carla Black has always preferred traveling to putting down roots; she spent summers road-tripping with her father, Biggie, after her mom left. But when she goes to Ireland for her best friend’s wedding, she meets a man (the groom’s brother) who might make her want to stay. I like Doller’s smart modern-day romances; this one was pretty steamy for me. But I liked Carla and the honest way she was forced to deal with her issues.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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Suddenly, it’s lilac and tulip season – which means it’s inching closer to reading-barefoot-outdoors season. As we head into May, here’s what I have been reading:

Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World, Christian Cooper
Cooper gained some notoriety as the “Central Park birder” in 2020, but he’d been birding – and writing – for decades before that. This thoughtful memoir explores his experience as a queer Black man in New York City, his years writing for Marvel Comics (so cool!), his complex family relationships and, of course, his love for birds. Helpful tips on birding sprinkled throughout. I loved this book. To review for Shelf Awareness (out June 13).

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, Jesse Q. Sutanto
When a mysterious man ends up dead on her teahouse’s floor, Chinese grandmother Vera Wong quickly decides the police are useless and she’ll solve the case herself. Hilarity ensues, including a spot of matchmaking; elaborate meals (cooked by Vera, of course); a Hercule Poirot-style dramatic reveal; and skirmishes with the police. I cracked up at this wonderfully plotted mystery; I love Sutanto’s work and hope she makes this a series.

Mrs. Porter Calling, AJ Pearce
Emmy Lake is relishing her job running the Yours Cheerfully advice page at Woman’s Friend magazine. But when the new publisher, the titular Mrs. Porter, starts changing all the best parts of the magazine, Emmy and her colleagues must band together to save Woman’s Friend. Meanwhile, WWII continues; Emmy’s friend Thelma and her kids move into the flat upstairs; and Emmy and her best friend Bunty continue to be shining examples of Pluck and Compassion. I adore this series. To review for Shelf Awareness (out August 8).

Leeva at Last, Sara Pennypacker
What are people for? This question propels Leeva Spayce Thornblossom out of her constricted existence (her parents are truly terrible people) and into the wider world. She meets the local librarians, makes a few friends and figures out how to save her town from bankruptcy. A sweet Roald Dahl-style middle-grade novel; I enjoyed Leeva and her new friends. Spotted at Symposium Books in Providence, RI.

My Lady Jane, Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand & Jodi Meadows
I was thinking about this book after seeing Six and then scored a copy at a Little Free Library. It’s a fresh, badass, feminist, hilarious take on Lady Jane Grey. England is split between Eðians – people who can change into animal form – and Verities – those who can’t. Edward VI is dying and hands his crown over to Jane, who is forced to marry a young lord who turns into a horse every morning. That’s inconvenient, but the real fun comes when politics, love and sly references to other stories collide. I raced through this in a weekend and adored it. Recommended by Anne.

Poet Warrior, Joy Harjo
I admire Harjo’s poetry (“Praise the Rain” is a favorite). This, her second memoir, explores her own identity as a poet and warrior, with a loosely chronological narrative of her life. It is wise and lovely, sometimes heartbreaking, occasionally a little hard to follow. Poems sprinkled throughout. Best read slowly, but definitely worth reading.

Symphony of Secrets, Brendan Slocumb
Musicologist Bern Hendricks is thrilled at the chance to work on a newly unearthed manuscript by his musical hero, Frederic Delaney. But as Bern and his tech-whiz colleague Eboni dig deeper, they discover a Black woman named Josephine Reed – was she Delaney’s lover, collaborator or something else? A fast-paced, fascinating musical mystery with a great dual narrative and engaging characters.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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March is flying by – we’ve finally had a few sunny days, plus lots of great books. Here’s what I have been reading:

Playing It Safe, Ashley Weaver
I love Weaver’s smart mysteries (see above), and this third Electra McDonnell adventure was well done. Ellie heads to Sunderland on an assignment for the enigmatic Major Ramsey; once there, she gets to know a few locals, witnesses at least one death, and does a bit of good old-fashioned safecracking. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 9).

Kiki’s Delivery Service, Eiko Kadono
When she turns 13, young witch Kiki must find a place to live on her own for a year. With her black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies to the mid-size city of Koriko, where she makes a few friends and opens the titular delivery service. I loved this gentle, fun middle-grade story, though I haven’t seen the classic anime. (Unrelated, but still fun: my nephews call me Kiki.)

An Unexpected Peril, Deanna Raybourn
I’ve been loving the Veronica Speedwell series, and this sixth one – involving a lady mountain climber who died under mysterious circumstances – was so much fun. Veronica ends up impersonating a princess while trying to solve a murder, and wrestling with her own complicated feelings about Britain’s royalty. Highly entertaining.

Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun, Elle Cosimano
After several run-ins with the Russian mob, single mom Finlay Donovan just wants to finish her next novel and figure out her feelings for cop Nick Anthony. But when Finlay and her nanny/partner in crime, Veronica, attend a citizens’ police academy, things get complicated real fast. I love this zany, fast-paced mystery series – it is, as a friend said recently, pure chaos but so much fun.

Dear Mrs. Bird, A.J. Pearce
As the Blitz pounds London, aspiring journalist Emmeline Lake lands a job typing letters for a women’s magazine. Mrs. Bird, the titular advice columnist, won’t answer anything Unpleasant or Racy, so Emmy takes matters into her own hands. I read this book in 2018 and recently found it at a library sale for $2 (!). I loved it just as much this time around – warm, witty and entertaining. I want to be friends with Emmy, and I especially enjoyed her colleagues at the magazine and the fire station where she volunteers.

The Late Mrs. Willoughby, Claudia Gray
Juliet Tilney is thrilled to be invited to visit Colonel and Mrs. Brandon in Devonshire. Jonathan Darcy is less thrilled to be visiting Mr. Willoughby, but they are both pleased to be in each other’s company again. When Willoughby’s wife is poisoned – quite dramatically – at a dinner, Jonathan and Juliet join forces to find the killer. A delightful follow-up to The Murder of Mr. Wickham, featuring lots of Austen characters (notably the whole Dashwood/Ferrars clan), and a fun mystery. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 16).

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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We’re halfway through March (how??) and I’ve been blazing through some great books. Here’s what I have been reading:

The Violin Conspiracy, Brendan Slocumb
Violin prodigy Ray McMillian is catapulted to fame when his grandmother’s violin (passed down from her formerly enslaved grandfather) turns out to be a Stradivarius. When the violin is stolen on the eve of a major competition, Ray tries to find the thief – but everyone’s got a motive. I raced through this insightful, compelling novel exploring race, complicated family dynamics and the inner workings of the classical music world. Just fantastic.

Life and Other Love Songs, Anissa Gray
Gray’s second novel follows a Black family – Deborah and Oz Armstead and their daughter, Trinity – from the 1960s in Detroit (when Deborah and Oz meet) to the 1980s, when Oz disappears one day. A powerful exploration of family, loss and loyalty, guilt and love, and how to move forward. (I also loved Gray’s debut, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls.) To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 11).

The Agathas, Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson
Alice Ogilvie got a lot of flak when she disappeared with no explanation (and then reappeared) last summer. But now Alice’s former best friend, Brooke, has also disappeared, and something’s not right. Alice (an Agatha Christie fan) teams up with her tutor, Iris, to solve the case. A fresh, funny mystery with serious Veronica Mars vibes: set in a ritzy California town, but also an exploration of whose stories do and do not get believed.

How to Be True, Daisy May Johnson
Edie Berger and the girls from How to Be Brave end up in Paris on a school trip, staying with Edie’s cranky great-grandmother. But they quickly get drawn into a mystery involving a painting, a lost love and some wartime stories. A fun, zany story with more depth than Johnson’s first book.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, Lizzie Shane
Yes, I know it’s March. But I loved this sweet Christmas novel (from the author of Pride and Puppies). Ally Gilmore has landed in Pine Hollow, Vt., to help her grandparents and figure out her life. When a grumpy town councilman votes to cut funding for her family’s dog shelter, Ally springs into action to try and get all the dogs adopted. To her surprise, she finds herself falling for the councilman – and for Pine Hollow. A super fun, canine-filled romance.

The League of Gentlewomen Witches, India Holton
Charlotte Pettifer has spent her life trying to be a dutiful witch, as the heir to the titular League’s power. But when their ancestor’s powerful amulet comes up for theft, she finds herself consorting with pirates (especially a handsome Irish one), taking unsupervised adventures (and other liberties) and even making friends. I loved this wild, funny, literary sequel to the Wisteria Society; so much fun. Can’t wait for book 3.

Emma of 83rd Street, Audrey Bellezza & Emily Harding
I adore both Austen’s original Emma and Clueless – and this novel is a charming modern twist on the former, with shades of the latter. Set on the Upper East Side, the novel follows Emma Woodhouse as she navigates grad school, makes (and tries to transform) a new friend, and struggles to figure out her feelings for her neighbor, George Knightley. Witty and fun; heads up for some seriously steamy scenes near the end. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 23).

Sunshine Nails, Mai Nguyen
Vietnamese immigrants Debbie and Phil Tran have spent two decades working to keep their Toronto nail salon afloat. But right after their daughter, Jessica, comes home from L.A. (smarting from setbacks in love and career), a hip new salon moves in across the street. Along with their son Dustin and their niece Thuy, the Trans try to fight the interlopers. But is taking down the other salon worth it if it destroys their family? A sharp, witty, warmhearted novel exploring small business ownership, immigrant family dynamics and the power of changing course. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 4).

Everybody Come Alive: A Memoir in Essays, Marcie Alvis Walker
Walker’s memoir explores her experience as a Black woman in America: the mingled love and racism she experienced in childhood, her mother’s mental illness, the challenges of navigating a white world as a dark-skinned Black woman, and her fierce love for her transgender child. I appreciate Walker’s truth-telling over on Instagram; this book goes deeper and broader. Reflective, spiritual, pull-no-punches. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 30).

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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February was a strange month – short and long, sunny and snowy, plagued by the sniffles. But it ended with a batch of great books. Here’s what I have been reading:

Bloomsbury Girls, Natalie Jenner
London, 1949: Bloomsbury Books is clinging to the past, but its female staff – whip-smart Vivien, quiet Evie and steady, reliable Grace – are poised to push it into the future. I loved this charming story of a bookshop full of varying (sometimes clashing) personalities, bookish (and other) secrets, and women willing to take major risks to change the bookshop and their lives. Just the thing for a cold, snowy week.

Same Time Next Summer, Annabel Monaghan
Monaghan’s second novel follows Sam and Wyatt, neighbors on Long Island who fell in love as teenagers. After an eruption of a family secret and a bad breakup, Sam has convinced herself she’s moved on. But returning to the beach (with her fiance, Jack), she encounters Wyatt, and they have to reckon with their past and present selves. Funny, moving and real; I got a little frustrated with Sam but enjoyed this story. (I received an ARC; it’s out June 6.)

Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library, Scott Sherman
I stumbled across this nonfiction account (fittingly) at Mercer Street Books in NYC. Sherman expands on his reporting in The Nation to detail how the New York Public Library’s trustees nearly gutted the historic 42nd Street building. I read with fascination (and sometimes horror). I love the NYPL, and Sherman deftly captures the competing interests (and characters) at play.

March: Book One, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
My guy lent me the 3-book set of Congressman Lewis’ graphic memoirs. Book One (framed around President Obama’s inauguration) traces Lewis’ childhood and his student days, getting involved in activism and sit-ins and learning the principles of nonviolence from Dr. King. Powerful and engaging; I loved getting more context and details for events I’d heard of (and some I hadn’t). Can’t wait to keep going.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, India Holton
Cecilia Bassingthwaite is anxious for the day when she’ll be a senior member of the titular society. (She’s also keen to avenge her mother’s death.) But the arrival of a handsome assassin, a mass kidnapping, her aunt’s harping about her health, and some highly inconvenient feelings make all that a bit difficult. A madcap romp set in Victorian England – lots of flying houses, literary references and absurdities. Really good fun.

Mrs. Tim Carries On, D.E. Stevenson
I adore the adventures of Mrs. Tim (Hester) Christie – military wife, mother, confidant, keen observer of daily life as WWII begins in England. I picked up this used copy (for $4!) at the Bryn Mawr Bookstore, and have been reading it slowly at bedtime. Such a comfort, and a joy.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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P.S. The latest issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, comes out soon. Sign up here to get on the list!

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We made it, friends – the end of 2022 is nigh. As we wrap up the year and I recover from Christmas travel, here’s what I have been reading:

The Sweet Spot, Amy Poeppel
I flew through Poeppel’s warm, witty, hilarious latest, which involves four different women (an artist, her buttoned-up mother, a divorcee bent on revenge and a young woman caught in the crossfire) taking care of a baby who belongs to none of them. I laughed out loud several times. Bonus: it’s set in my favorite tangle of streets in Greenwich Village. I also loved Poeppel’s Musical Chairs. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 31, 2023).

Inciting Joy: Essays, Ross Gay
I adored Gay’s The Book of Delights (and did a Q&A with him, itself a delight). This new collection explores joy as it’s intertwined with sorrow, grief and desire – and it’s fantastic. I love Gay’s rambling style (though the footnotes occasionally get out of control), and his warm, wise, human voice. So good.

Of Manners and Murder, Anastasia Hastings
Violet Manville is astonished to discover her aunt Adelia is behind the popular Dear Miss Hermione column – and even more shocked to be handed the reins when Aunt Adelia leaves town. Soon Violet has a real mystery on her hands: the suspicious death of a young bride named Ivy. A fun British mystery with a spunky bluestocking heroine. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 31).

Healer and Witch, Nancy Werlin
Sylvie, her mother and her grand-mere are revered as healers in their village. But when Grand-mere dies and Sylvie makes a terrible mistake, she sets out in search of help. A sweet, thoughtful middle-grade novel set in medieval France, with a few surprising twists and some insights about vocation and calling.

Love in the Time of Serial Killers, Alicia Thompson
Phoebe has reluctantly moved to Florida for the summer to clear out her dad’s house and try to finish her dissertation on true crime. But she keeps getting distracted by the (literal) guy next door: is he really as nice as he seems, or is he a killer? A snarky, hilarious mystery with a great main character; I also adored Phoebe’s sweet golden-retriever younger brother.

The Mushroom Tree Mystery, Ovidia Yu
The Allies have won the war in Europe, but things are still grim for Chen Su Lin and her compatriots in Singapore. When a young aide is found dead, Su Lin becomes a suspect – and between caring for a blind professor, supervising the houseboys, trying to decipher news of the atomic bomb and prove her innocence, she’s very busy. A gripping entry in this wonderful series.

Travel as a Political Act, Rick Steves
I loved this thoughtful memoir by Steves – a guidebook author and TV personality – about how travel has shaped and expanded his worldview. He tackles drug policy, autocrats, poverty and other political issues, but also writes engagingly about simply encountering other humans. My favorite line: “Understanding people and their lives is what travel is about, no matter where you go.” Amen.

Kantika, Elizabeth Graver

I flew through this epic novel based on the life of Rebecca Cohen Baruch Levy (the author’s grandmother), a Sephardic Jew whose early 20th-century life takes her from Istanbul to Spain to Cuba and eventually to New York. Richly detailed, full of family drama and rich insights on womanhood and the complexities of love. So so good. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 18, 2023).

Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
I adore this gentle novel set in Scotland at Christmastime, which follows five loosely connected people who end up spending the holiday together. It proves transformative for all of them. I loved revisiting it, as always.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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P.S. The fourth issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, comes out soon. Sign up here to get on the list!

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Suddenly, it’s December – and the holiday season is here in all its twinkly chaos. To counter the madness a bit, here’s what I have been reading:

My Own Lightning, Lauren Wolk
After a lightning strike, Annabelle McBride has a heightened understanding of animals, especially dogs. When her brother’s dog goes missing and a stranger comes to town looking for his own dog, Annabelle has to make some tough choices, and re-examine some things she thought she knew. A beautiful, wise middle-grade novel (sequel to Wolf Hollow, which I also loved).

The Siren of Sussex, Mimi Matthews
Evelyn Maltravers is in London to make her debut – but she’s determined to dazzle on horseback rather than in the ballroom. When she engages Ahmad Malik, a skilled Anglo-Indian tailor, to make her riding habits, she finds herself drawn to him. The attraction is mutual, but there are obstacles (financial and otherwise) in the way. I loved this smart, witty romance, especially the nuanced relationship between Evelyn and Ahmad, and Evelyn’s group of unconventional friends.

Really Truly, Heather Vogel Frederick
Truly Lovejoy is excited for the perfect summer in Pumpkin Falls, but her plans start to fall apart when she’s sent to mermaid camp on Cape Cod. Meanwhile, a town heirloom goes missing, and Truly and her friends get roped into both a performance of The Pirates of Penzance and a real-life treasure hunt. Such a fun third installment in this series.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Sangu Mandanna
Because of her witchy powers, Mika Moon has spent her life never getting close to anyone. But when she’s hired to be a tutor for three young witches at Nowhere House, Mika finds herself falling in love: with the girls, their quirky caretakers and the grumpy librarian, Jamie, who’s their surrogate dad. This was British, irreverent and completely charming; shades of Ballet Shoes but totally modern.

The Wild Robot Escapes, Peter Brown
My nephew requested this one for his birthday (after loving The Wild Robot), so I sent it to him and then wanted to read it for myself. Roz the robot finds herself working on a farm; she enjoys the cows and children, but plots her escape back to her island home and animal friends. Fun and thoughtful, though I liked the first one better.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

What are you reading?

P.S. The third issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, comes out this week. Sign up here to get on the list!

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October has been quite a month – stuffed full of good books, in between all the other things. (Also, my Nov. newsletter comes out this week – sign up here!) To cap off the month, here’s what I have been reading:

The Monsters We Defy, Leslye Penelope
Clara Johnson has an uneasy relationship with the spirit world, and a semi-notorious past she’d rather forget. When poor Black folks in her hometown of D.C. start disappearing, Clara and several friends start scheming to steal a magical ring from the woman responsible. An absolutely fantastic heist/mystery/band-of-misfits-save-the-world story, with great historical detail about 1920s D.C. and wonderful characters. I loved Clara (inspired by a real person) and her comrades.

Woman, Captain, Rebel: The Extraordinary True Story of a Daring Icelandic Sea Captain, Margaret Willson
We’re told that female sea captains are rare – but Willson brings to life the story of Iceland’s Captain Thuridur, who defied gender conventions in her homeland of Iceland. A brilliantly researched, compelling biography with lots of sea stories, Icelandic history and local gossip – dragged a bit in the middle, but overall fascinating. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 3, 2023).

Blackmail and Bibingka, Mia P. Manansala
Lila Macapagal and her partners at the Brew-ha Cafe are gearing up for the holidays – but then her no-good cousin Ronnie comes back to town, saying he’s going to revive the local winery. When one of Ronnie’s investors ends up dead, Lila starts sleuthing to figure out who did it. A fun, tricky third entry in this foodie mystery series; I loved all the holiday snacks, Lila’s meddling godmothers and her dachshund, Longganisa.

Anne of Windy Poplars, L.M. Montgomery
This fourth Anne book is delightful and underrated – and I often return to it in the fall. I love watching Anne win over the Pringle clan, make friends with half of Summerside and spend quiet nights in her tower room. Fun and comforting.

Independence, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
India, 1946: the Ganguly family has long lived at peace in their village of Ranipur with both Hindu and Muslim neighbors. But when they visit Calcutta in mid-August, they get caught up in the riots of Direct Action Day, and all their lives are upended. This gorgeous, heartbreaking novel follows the three grown daughters – Deepa, Jamini and Priya – and their choices in the wake of their father’s death. Stunning. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 17, 2023).

The Princess and the Scoundrel, Beth Revis
I love the end of Return of the Jedi on Endor, when Han, Leia, Luke and the crew get to celebrate. But what happens after that? This novel takes us through Han and Leia’s wedding, their honeymoon on a luxury cruise ship (interrupted, of course, by political strife), and the beginning of their relationship as husband and wife. So much fun to revisit these characters I adore, and meet some new ones.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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We are almost two weeks post-Gala, and I think I’m almost recovered! And the leaves, as always, are stunning. Here’s what I have been reading:

The Maid, Nita Prose
Molly Gray loves her job as a hotel maid, though she’s struggling since her gran died. When a wealthy, difficult customer ends up dead, Molly falls under suspicion and tries to solve the mystery, alongside some friends. I loved this fun mystery with a neurodivergent narrator and some wonderful characters.

The Lipstick Bureau, Michelle Gable
1989: Nikola “Niki” Novotna attends a dinner in appreciation of the women who worked in the OSS during World War II. 1944: Niki and several colleagues in Morale Operations are assigned to Rome, where they produce propaganda to lower German morale and try (sort of) to stay out of trouble. A fascinating slice of WWII fiction with a magnetic main character. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 3, 2023).

Key Player, Kelly Yang
When the women’s World Cup comes to Anaheim, Mia Tang wants to interview the players – maybe then her PE teacher will raise her grade. But finding the teams is harder than it looks, and she’s got other troubles, at school and at her parents’ motel. A great installment in this spunky middle-grade series about a Chinese-American girl finding her way.

Requiem for the Massacre: A Black History on the Conflict, Hope, and Fallout of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, R.J. Young
In 1921, white Tulsans burned the Black business district of Greenwood to the ground, killing dozens of Black Tulsans and wounding the community beyond repair. Young, a longtime Tulsan, combines historical accounts of the massacre with commentary on events surrounding its centennial and the ways in which Tulsa has (and has not) reckoned with the massacre’s legacy. Powerful, harrowing, necessary. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 1).

Ways to Share Joy, Renee Watson
This third installment in the Ryan Hart series finds Ryan caught in the middle between her two best friends, between her older and younger siblings, and between how things are and how they used to be. (I can relate.) A sweet, relatable story with a spunky, resourceful heroine.

Specter Inspectors, Bowen McCurdy and Kaitlyn Musto
My guy bought me this slightly spooky comic about a group of ghost hunters who find a bit more than they bargained for. I do not do well with creepy, and this one was on the edge for me – but I liked the friendships, relationships and Scooby-Doo vibes.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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August is flying by – between work and yoga and other adventures, here’s what I have been reading:

Rivals, Katharine McGee
Queen Beatrice is hosting her first international diplomatic conference, and alliances will be formed and shattered – but by whom? Meanwhile, Princess Samantha might be falling in love – for real this time – and Prince Jeff’s girlfriend, Daphne, is reconsidering her usual scheming ways. A fun third installment in McGee’s alternate-reality YA series where America is a monarchy.

The Matchmaker’s Gift, Lynda Cohen Loigman
Sara Glikman makes her first match at age 10, as her family immigrates to the U.S. When Sara keeps using her unusual gift to make love matches, the local matchmakers – all male – join forces against her. Decades later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, uncovers some of her grandmother’s stories and begins to suspect she might have the gift, too. A highly enjoyable historical novel with a touch of magic. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 20).

The Dead Romantics, Ashley Poston
Romance ghostwriter Florence Day is in trouble: she doesn’t believe in love anymore, but her handsome new editor is pushing her to submit a manuscript on deadline. Then Florence’s father dies, and she flies home to South Carolina (where her family runs the funeral home) – and a very handsome ghost shows up unexpectedly. Quirky and fun and really sweet; the premise is bonkers, but I loved it. Found at the delightful Phoenix Books in Burlington, VT, and recommended by Anne.

Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem, April Ryan
Black women are the often unsung “sheroes” who make immeasurable contributions to America’s democracy, institutions, families and communities, while facing the double bind of sexism and racism. Veteran White House reporter Ryan – herself a trailblazing Black woman – champions the accomplishments of leaders like Fannie Lou Hamer, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris and the cofounders of Black Lives Matter. Thoughtful and powerful. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 18).

The Mystwick School of Musicraft, Jessica Khoury
All her life, Amelia Jones has dreamed of studying at Mystwick, the school where her mother learned Musicraft. After a botched audition, Amelia still gets in due to a mix-up, but she gets a chance to prove she belongs there. A fun middle-grade novel with adventures, music, magic and complicated friend/frenemy dynamics. First in a series.

London’s Number One Dog Walking Agency, Kate MacDougall
In 2006, MacDougall quit her job at Sotheby’s – where she was safe but bored – to start a dog-walking company. This delightful memoir chronicles her trials and triumphs in setting up the business, navigating adulthood, getting her own dog and starting a family. Witty and warm, with lovely insights on work and building a life. Found at the wonderful Three Lives in NYC.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

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