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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Eyre’

book stack july 2016

July has been a tough month so far, as you know if you’ve been watching the news. As always, I am taking refuge in good books. Here’s the latest roundup:

Jane Steele, Lyndsay Faye
Anne and Leigh finally talked me into this whip-smart, witty, engaging homage to Jane Eyre and I’m so glad they did. Jane Steele, an orphan with few resources but a strong sense of justice, loves that other Jane, but her life turns out rather differently. I loved Steele’s take on the Brontë classic, and her supporting cast – especially the enigmatic Sikh butler – is fantastic.

The Apple Tart of Hope, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Meg Molony can’t believe her best friend Oscar has taken his own life. But Meg’s been in New Zealand for six months, and during that time, a lot of things have changed. A melancholy but sweet novel about friendship, the complicated gaps between perception and reality, and the world’s best apple tarts.

Cooking for Picasso, Camille Aubray
Céline hops a plane to the French Riviera in pursuit of a long-held family legend: did her grandmother, Ondine, really spend several months as Picasso’s personal chef? Aubray’s novel alternates between Céline’s and Ondine’s perspectives, weaving together art, family and choices. A great premise with mouthwatering food descriptions, though several plot points felt rushed. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 9).

See How They Run, Ally Carter
Grace Blakely was determined to solve her mother’s murder and was devastated by what she found. Grace’s second adventure finds her grappling with new secrets: an ancient underground society, another murder, and her own crippling anxiety. Fast-paced, well plotted and a powerful portrait of PTSD. (Carter writes smart, addictive YA with a little glamour and a lot of intrigue.)

The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman, Mamen Sánchez
Atticus Craftsman never travels without a supply of Earl Grey. In fact, he’d rather not leave England at all. But when his father sends him to Madrid to close down a failing literary magazine, Atticus finds himself at the mercy of five whip-smart Spanish women who care deeply about one another and their jobs. Highly entertaining. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 9).

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave
I tore through most of this gorgeous, heartbreaking novel in a day. Cleave tells the story of the Blitz (1939-41 in London) through the lives of several young people: Mary, Tom, Alistair and Mary’s student, Zachary. A stunning evocation of small decisions and their far-reaching effects, and the utter desolation of war. (The third pick for the MMD Summer Reading Club.)

Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Amy Stewart
I loved Stewart’s novel Girl Waits with Gun and was thrilled to read a second book about Constance Kopp, one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the U.S. This book finds Constance serving as jail matron, accidentally letting a slippery fugitive escape and pursuing him all over NYC and New Jersey. Smart, fast-paced and often funny; I love Constance’s narrative voice. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 6).

Geek Girl: Picture Perfect, Holly Smale
Smale’s third novel featuring geeky model Harriet Manners whisks Harriet and her family away to New York. Harriet is amusing, but she never does learn from her mistakes and I found myself losing patience with her. But this was still a fun, quick read. Pure YA fluff.

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

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november books candle harry potter e.b. white

Wish You Were Eyre, Heather Vogel Frederick
I loved this sixth (and, sadly, final!) installment in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series. These five spunky girls round out their sophomore year with Jane Eyre, competitions in singing and hockey, a visit from their Wyoming pen pals and some exciting Spring Break trips. There’s a bit of boy drama too, and repeat appearances from their families and friends. I cheered when they urged each other to “get your Jane on” – meaning “be brave and stand up for yourself.” Jane is one of my heroines and I’m glad she inspired them too.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
Elsa Emerson, born in Wisconsin, takes off for Los Angeles at age 17 with her new husband and a head full of Hollywood dreams. She quickly becomes a studio star (and a mother), but of course life in Hollywood is never quite what it seems. I found Elsa-turned-Laura interesting, and her story both heartbreaking and hopeful, but I grew annoyed with her sometimes. She seemed so passive, despite her dreams, always dependent on other people for attention and adoration. Still, a fascinating look at the “golden age” of filmmaking and a complex family story.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
Beginning another reread of this beloved series. I love how the reader learns about Hogwarts and the magical world right alongside Harry in this first book. And I love that Harry’s years with the Dursleys haven’t soured him on being kind to other people. He may despise Draco Malfoy, but he is compassionate and loyal. (I own the British edition, hence the slight title change. Link is to the U.S. edition.)

Letters of E.B. White, ed. Dorothy Lobrano Guth, updated by Martha White
I’ve been reading this tome (700 pages!) since mid-September, and I relished White’s witty, precise observations on farm life in Maine, writing for the New Yorker, cross-country road trips, his own career and his long, happy marriage to his wife Katharine. This is a lot of letters, but I so enjoyed having White’s voice in my ear morning and evening. More to come about this book.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
I love rereading this series for so many reasons: the jokes are just as much fun, the plot points just as enthralling, the fifth or sixth time through. But I can also see the hints of foreshadowing, since I know the end of the story. Lots of those hints here, as life at Hogwarts grows ever more exciting and complicated (and Hermione loosens up enough to break school rules with Harry and Ron). I’d almost forgotten about ridiculous Professor Lockhart, and the teachers’ spells in the Chamber of Secrets are so clever.

Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
A Scottish spy (don’t call her English!) and an English pilot, her best friend, go down together on a mission to France, and get separated. The spy narrates Part 1, writing her story for her Nazi interrogators, not knowing whether Maddie (the pilot) is dead or alive. Maddie takes over in Part 2, wondering the same thing about her friend. Brilliantly told (unreliable narrators, plot twists, double agents), and also heartbreaking. I’m reminded again of the tremendous sacrifices made by both government agents and ordinary people in World War II. Stunning, gripping and full of bravery.

What are you reading these days?

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april reads part 1Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
I read this book in high school, at the behest of a favorite teacher, but hadn’t picked it up in a decade. And I loved the story just as much as before. (I’d forgotten most of the details!) Jane is a wonderful character – kind, indomitable and endearingly stubborn. I applauded her for sticking to her principles over and over again, and rejoiced with her as she made her way in the world. (I’m glad she finds love, but this time I was equally glad to see her find family.)

So Pretty! Crochet, ed. Amy Palanjian
I’m a knitter, not a crocheter, but these patterns – so fresh and colorful and stylish – might just convince me to pick up a hook. I also loved the anecdotes from each designer about what inspires their aesthetic and/or how they learned to crochet. Published by Chronicle Books, which means it’s beautifully designed. To review for the Shelf (out May 2).

Out of Sight, Out of Time, Ally Carter
I’d been waiting eagerly for this fifth Gallagher Girls book, and while I tore through it, I was disappointed at the conclusion. Very little resolution (perhaps that’s coming in the sixth and final book?). All the characters I love – from the teenage girl spies-in-training to the handsome boy spy to the secret-agent teachers – are back, and Carter’s skill for writing cliffhangers kept me turning the pages. Not my favorite of the series, but still good fun.

The Train to Estelline, Jane Roberts Wood
Someone recommended this in a list of spring books on Sarah’s site, and I squealed when I saw it was set in West Texas. (It’s rare to find fiction set there.) Estelline is only a few hours from where I grew up. And I enjoyed the tale of Lucy Richards, 17-year-old schoolteacher from East Texas, tackling new adventures with gusto. She’s a bit naive, but kind and good-hearted, and I loved her commentary on the wide plains, big skies and stunning sunsets of my homeland.

Summer at Fairacre, Miss Read
I love Miss Read’s gentle tales of life in an English village (I found this one at Rivendell Books). The story of an English spring and summer was just what I needed during a gray few days. Miss Read is a witty, observant narrator, and I enjoy seeing the cast of village characters through her eyes.

An Irish Country Village, Patrick Taylor
Switching from England to Ireland, with the continued adventures of Dr. Barry Laverty and his mentor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, physicians to the Ulster village of Ballybucklebo. All the old friends from the first book return, and we meet a few new characters. Taylor’s use of the Ulster dialect is highly entertaining; I can hear the Irish accents in my head. Warm and comforting.

Jane of Lantern Hill, L.M. Montgomery
I hadn’t reread Jane’s story in years, but oh, I enjoyed watching her fall in love with Prince Edward Island (and learn to stand up to her shrew of a grandmother) again. Jane is practical and capable but still has an imagination, and it’s wonderful to see her spirit open up. Montgomery’s minor characters are always such fun – I loved getting reacquainted with the entire population of Lantern Hill.

Storm in the Village, Miss Read
The good people of Fairacre are horrified by the possibility of a new housing estate next to their beloved village – and they marshal their arguments to the local council. Miss Read observes and narrates, while carrying on her teaching routine and dealing with the thousand little events of village life.

Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us, Rachelle Bergstein
Bergstein presents a sartorial history of the last century – from how Ferragamo got his start to the crazy platform shoes of the ’70s to the obsession with Manolos caused by Carrie Bradshaw. Frothy and fun but well-researched, with lots of cool historical nuggets. The story of shoes since 1900 is in large part the story of femininity in contemporary American culture, and it’s a fascinating one. To review for the Shelf (out May 29).

The Meryl Streep Movie Club, Mia March
A charming Maine inn, a handful of Meryl Streep movies and a group of estranged relatives who need to reconnect? The perfect recipe for a lovely debut novel about family, chasing your dreams and becoming who you’re meant to be instead of remaining stuck in the past. March’s characters felt like friends, and their love of Meryl made me want to go watch all her movies. To review for the Shelf (out June 19).

A Place Called Sweet Shrub, Jane Roberts Wood
This sequel to The Train to Estelline (see above) takes Lucy from her East Texas hometown to eastern Arkansas, where she and her husband confront racial tensions. This one didn’t work for me the way the original did – it was fun to spend time with Lucy again, but I preferred her adventures in West Texas.

Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride, Alyssa Harad
Serious English-major type Alyssa didn’t expect to fall in love with perfume – but the story of how she flirted with it, read obsessively about it and then gave herself up to the obsession is both delicious and fascinating. Full of tidbits about the perfume industry and lusciously described scents, and peopled by elegant, quirky characters (who all smell wonderful), this memoir swept me away. (It reminded me, in a wonderful way, of Molly Birnbaum’s Season to Taste.) To review for the Shelf (out June 28).

(This post contains IndieBound affiliate links. And the graphic was made for me by the lovely Sarah.)

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