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Posts Tagged ‘Garth Stein’

Un Amico Italiano: Eat, Pray, Love in Rome, Luca Spaghetti
Like millions of other women (and some men), I loved Eat, Pray, Love – and this was a fun take on the Italy/”eat” part of the story. Luca Spaghetti (that’s really his name!) seems like a nice guy – kind, funny, devoted to food, friends and soccer. And he loves American music – especially James Taylor! A lighthearted, funny tour of Rome from a native Roman, and a fun chance to see Elizabeth Gilbert through someone else’s eyes.

Betsy-Tacy and Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Maud Hart Lovelace
I’ve read both these books a dozen times – but hadn’t picked them back up in years. They were my bedtime reading for a few nights (I can’t handle anything too intense before bed), and they’re just as charming as I remembered. I love the stories of their exploits – making Everything Pudding, cutting off each other’s hair, dyeing sand and Easter eggs, and teasing their bossy big sisters. So fun.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
Annie mentioned this book the other week, and I found a copy at the Brattle and thoroughly enjoyed Enzo’s story. He’s an unusually wise dog with a wry sense of humor and a fierce love for his master, Denny, and Denny’s wife and daughter. I learned a lot about racecar driving – which I’d never been interested in before – and there are some lovely meditations on life sprinkled in. The plot is heartbreaking, but beautifully told – and it ends bittersweetly, but with so much hope.

Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze, Elizabeth Enright
Such a fun conclusion to the Melendy Quartet – a scavenger hunt that lasts all year! I loved watching Randy and Oliver hunt for the next clue, and discover new places and treasures in the process. Fun family moments, as always, abound – the Christmas chapter was particularly lovely.

Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Maud Hart Lovelace
I love this third installment of the adventures of Betsy, Tacy and Tib – from falling in love with the King of Spain to Cat Duets and Baby Dances. But my favorite part is when the girls go to Little Syria, and discover a whole world of kind, good-hearted people who are proud to be new Americans.

Murder at the Vicarage, Agatha Christie
In preparation for the AC read-along hosted by Book Club Girl and friends, I thought I’d check out the first Miss Marple mystery (though it’s not on the discussion list). I read it in one day – couldn’t go to sleep without finding out who really killed Colonel Protheroe! Charming setting, delightful characters and a wonderfully twisty plot. I can’t wait to dig into more Miss Marple books!

Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright
A fun summer story of two cousins who discover an old abandoned group of houses in a swamp – and a couple of charming old folks who still live there. Not quite as well-drawn or as much fun as the Melendys, but still super fun. The kind of summer adventures kids dream of. (Though I think she could have named the main characters better. Portia and Julian? Really?)

Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr
I’d been hearing about Zarr’s work for a while, and was blown away by this sensitively told story of a struggling pastor’s daughter, who has to deal with an alcoholic mother, a missing girl in her town and an unavailable dad. Sam’s (the narrator’s) voice is so real and honest, and the other characters are also well drawn. I’m not a pastor’s kid, but I am a lifelong church kid – and I remember well how it feels when the answers you’ve always been so sure of start to crumble beneath your feet.

The Coffins of Little Hope, Timothy Schaffert
I read this one on the plane to Nashville. Such a fascinating story of a girl who disappears – or really of her mother and the people in their small Midwestern town, since we never meet the girl. The narrator, Essie, is the town obituary writer and a keen, incisive, often witty observer. Her family members have a few issues of their own, and the writing is beautiful. Totally entertaining and thought-provoking.

The Violets of March, Sarah Jio
Set on lovely Bainbridge Island, this book has a double plotline – a blocked writer with a failed marriage trying to get her life back, and the story of a woman whose 1943 diary holds all kinds of secrets. Interesting, though not quite what I wanted it to be. I’m not sure what was missing – the story is certainly compelling. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

The 4:50 from Paddington, Agatha Christie
Another Miss Marple adventure for this summer’s read-along – so fascinating. It’s always the last person you suspect, of course. Elegantly plotted and well written, and fabulously entertaining. I’m getting hooked on AC!

A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle
Maybe my favorite of the Austin books so far. Vicky must face death for the first time in her life, along with all the usual complications of adolescence. In this fourth book, she’s finally starting to come into her own, as a writer and a woman. L’Engle writes so beautifully and sensitively – her books have so many levels. I loved this one.

Alice Bliss, Laura Harrington
Oh. My. Goodness. I loved this book. Love love loved it. The prose is gorgeous (but beautifully understated); the complicated bonds between the characters are so well drawn. I wanted to walk right through the pages and get to know Alice and her family even better. And I cried at the ending, riding the T on the way home. (Yes, this happens to me occasionally. Yes, I’m sure people think I’m nuts.) One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr
After reading Zarr’s latest (see above) I wanted to read her other books. This one, her debut, follows a girl whose life is marked by a mistake she made at 13 – and explores what happens when people insist on labeling you for so long you start to believe them. And what happens when you decide to fight that label – even a little bit.

Sweethearts, Sara Zarr
A sad, beautifully told story of a girl who lost her only friend, reinvented herself, and is totally shocked when he shows back up, eight years later. I wish it had ended differently, but the ending, like the story, is complicated. Lots of layers, like all of Zarr’s writing. (I think she gets better with each book…Once Was Lost is my favorite of her works.)

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