Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’

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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bookstore lenox ma interior

We recently (re)visited The Bookstore in Lenox, MA. A bookish wonderland.

We are heading straight for Thanksgiving and, as always, I’m thankful for good books. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Finding Serendipity, Angelica Banks
Right before finishing her latest book, the novelist Serendipity Smith disappears. Her daughter, Tuesday McGillycuddy, must travel to the land of Story to find her mother (with her faithful dog, Baxterr) – but the adventure doesn’t go quite as planned. Sweet, whimsical and so fun. Found at Book Culture in NYC.

The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
Why do we travel? What do we gain from exploring new places? How can we become more thoughtful travelers? Alain de Botton explores these and other questions in this series of travel essays, with “guides” such as Vincent van Gogh and John Ruskin. He’s an observant, lyrical and occasionally cranky narrator. Thought-provoking and highly enjoyable. Recommended by Laura.

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly
It’s springtime in the Texas Hill Country, and Calpurnia Tate has all she can do to keep her brother, Travis, and his ever-expanding collection of stray animals out of trouble. Meanwhile, Callie keeps learning about astronomy and biology from her grandfather and starts assisting the local vet. A fun historical novel with a wonderful, spunky heroine. (I also loved Callie’s first adventure, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.)

A Place We Knew Well, Susan Carol McCarthy
For 13 days in October 1962, the U.S. held its breath as tensions in Cuba ratcheted up and up. McCarthy explores the Cuban Missile Crisis through the lens of a tightly knit family in a small Florida town. Tense and well-crafted. I loved protagonist Wes Avery: such a deeply compassionate man.

Between Gods, Alison Pick
Raised in a Christian household, Alison Pick was shocked to discover that her father’s Czech relatives were Jewish – some even died in the Holocaust. In her thirties, preparing for marriage, she undertakes the difficult journey of conversion to Judaism. Pick seems more interested in religious participation than a personal connection with (either) God, but this is still a luminous, moving, achingly honest memoir. Found at The Bookstore in Lenox.

Girl Waits With Gun, Amy Stewart
After their mother’s death, Constance Kopp and her two sisters are living peacefully on their farm in rural New Jersey. But when a powerful, ruthless silk factory owner hits their buggy with his car and refuses to pay up, things get ugly. A witty, whip-smart, action-packed novel of a woman who became one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the U.S.

Plainsong, Kent Haruf
Two elderly rancher brothers take in a pregnant teenage girl, at the suggestion of a compassionate teacher. Another teacher must raise his two young sons alone after his wife leaves. A luminous, quietly powerful story of ordinary people acting with great generosity and kindness, told in Haruf’s spare, beautiful prose.

Sheer Folly, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple’s 18th adventure finds her at a(nother) country estate, doing research for an article and investigating a(nother) crime. These books are my Cadbury milk chocolate: smooth, sweet and delightfully English.

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

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the bookstore lenox ma

Lots of reading happening this month – I’m blazing through quick YA novels and mysteries while working more slowly through a few longer, more contemplative novels. Here’s the most recent roundup for you:

The Apprentices, Maile Meloy
This sequel to The Apothecary (which I loved) finds Janie Scott and her small band of unusual friends scattered across the world. When Janie gets wrongfully expelled from her boarding school, then kidnapped, her friends Benjamin and Pip team up to save her and prevent nuclear activity on a remote Pacific island. I enjoyed seeing these characters again, but the plot often felt disjointed and crowded (too many subplots). Not as good as its predecessor, but I’d read a third novel just to see what happens to Janie and Benjamin.

A Royal Pain, Rhys Bowen
Lady Georgiana Rannoch (aka Her Royal Spyness) is asked to entertain a visiting Bavarian princess, while moonlighting as a maid and trying to build an independent life in London. When three dead bodies turn up within a week, Georgie starts sleuthing, trying to figure out how the deaths are related and who’s responsible. Fun and frothy, like its predecessor (second in a series).

Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry
Orphaned as a child, Jonah Crow (known as Jayber) lived first with relatives, then in an orphanage, where he began studying and trying to “make something of himself.” But he found his way back to his home county, where he became the barber of Port William, Kentucky, and also became inextricably tied up with the life of that small community. This quiet, wise, gently meandering, melancholy book was a pleasure to read, and a loving portrait of a vanishing time and place. I’m glad I finally picked it up.

Sunshine on Scotland Street, Alexander McCall Smith
Our friends on (and near) 44 Scotland Street are dealing with the usual problems (crying babies, overbearing parents, baffling relationships) and several new ones (Danish filmmakers, Scottish doppelgangers). I missed Angus and Domenica, who were honeymooning in Jamaica for most of the book, and Pat, who appeared very seldom. But I always enjoy spending time with these characters, particularly Bertie (so wise for a six-year-old) and Cyril (the world’s only gold-toothed dog).

Royal Flush, Rhys Bowen
After a disastrous attempt to hire herself out as a dinner companion, Lady Georgiana Rannoch flees home to Scotland, where she must deal with a large, unruly house party (those gauche Americans!) and do a spot of sleuthing for the British government. A series of unfortunate accidents, including a near-death experience for Georgie, makes her wonder if someone isn’t trying to kill her or her brother – or if the real target is closer to the throne. The dashing Darcy O’Mara reappears, as do several other recurring characters. Great fun – these books are highly enjoyable brain candy.

The Sisters Weiss, Naomi Ragen
Rose and Pearl Weiss grow up loved and sheltered by their ultra-Orthodox parents in Brooklyn in the 1960s. But when Rose discovers a love for photography, she is shamed and sent away. Though she agrees to an arranged marriage, she flees before she reaches the altar, breaking off all contact with her family. Forty years later, when Rose’s niece (Pearl’s daughter) learns the truth about her aunt, she embarks on a reckless, rebellious journey of her own. A fascinating portrait of an ancient, insular community, and a sensitive look at a painful dilemma: the choice between freedom and family, loneliness and an often stifling community. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 15).

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