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Posts Tagged ‘math’

bookpeople austin tx interior

(The first floor of BookPeople in Austin, where I spent several blissful hours last month.)

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman
My friend Jacque has been urging me to pick up the Mrs. Pollifax series for years. I loved this first installment, in which Mrs. Pollifax, bored with her quiet widowhood, volunteers for the CIA! So much fun and packed with fascinating Cold War-era detail.

The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life, Alex Bellos
Parabolas, circles, negative numbers and pi aren’t just for math class – they show up again and again in the real world. Bellos delights in exploring the quirks of mathematics. Technical at times, but mostly entertaining. To review for Shelf Awareness (out June 10).

Henrietta’s War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942, Joyce Dennys
I picked this one up on Jaclyn’s rec and loved it. Henrietta (the author’s alter ego) writes letters to a childhood friend about life in her Devon village during WWII. I giggled over her descriptions of the villagers’ antics, reading the best bits aloud to my husband. Such fun.

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
I’d never read this classic gothic tale, but tackled it for book club. Reminded me strongly of Jane Eyre – grand house, dark brooding leading man haunted by his first wife, etc. Suspenseful, but deeply sad, and I wanted more spirit from the narrator.

The Stories We Tell, Patti Callahan Henry
Eve Morrison has the perfect life: a successful husband, a daughter, a thriving letterpress business. But when her husband and sister are injured in a car accident, she must decide whose story she believes, and whether the glossy image of her life matches the reality. A moving story of love, family and gaining the courage to move on. To review for Shelf Awareness (out June 24).

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax’s second adventure finds her flying to Istanbul to make contact with a Communist agent. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and she ends up on a wild ride across Turkey with a band of gypsies and a mismatched group of outlaws. Slightly outlandish, but so much fun.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield
An exploration of Resistance (to creativity) and pithy advice, which can be summed up as: Do the Work. (The first 100 pages were great; the last 60 pages, musings on the Muse, totally lost me.)

The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink, ed. Kevin Young
A savory, sweet, surprising collection of poems about eating, cooking, foraging and memories of food. (Includes an astonishing number of poems about blackberries – not that I’m complaining – and a whole section on barbecue.)

Henrietta Sees It Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945, Joyce Dennys
This sequel to Henrietta’s War (see above) is a little grimmer than its predecessor: tempers are fraying as the war drags on. But Henrietta still reports on village life with wit and humor. She reminds me of Miss Read (though she’s a doctor’s wife instead of a schoolteacher).

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

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may books 2 charles lenox

Call Me Zelda, Erika Robuck
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were the darlings of New York and Paris society – for a while. This novel depicts Zelda in the years “after the party,” starting at a psychiatric hospital in Baltimore. Nurse Anna Howard, assigned to Zelda’s care, is drawn to the Fitzgeralds but wary of their magnetism. Anna is a fictional but wonderfully sympathetic character, who bears her own scars from World War I and the years after. An absorbing, bittersweet yet hopeful novel. (I also enjoyed Robuck’s previous book, Hemingway’s Girl.)

The Fleet Street Murders, Charles Finch
When two prominent London journalists are murdered in the same night, gentleman detective Charles Lenox can’t resist investigating – while also attempting to run for Parliament in the north. Dashing back and forth on trains, meeting villagers and reading news reports from London, Lenox has his hands full. A fun twist on a London mystery, and an interesting look at local elections in Victorian times.

Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math, Daniel Tammet
An autistic savant who has set a world record for the most publicly recited digits of pi, Daniel Tammet sees numbers a bit differently than most people do. In this essay collection, he explores math as it relates to family relationships, poetry, language, chess and other topics. Some of the essays get a bit abstract if you’re not a mathematician, but others are accessible and engaging. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 30).

A Stranger in Mayfair, Charles Finch
As he adjusts to married life and attempts to launch his career in Parliament, Charles Lenox gets distracted by a case: a footman in the house of an acquaintance has been murdered. Soon, the man who asked Lenox to take the case begins warning him away: what is the family hiding? Cleverly plotted, with lots of twists and (of course) a bit of personal drama. Great fun.

Hungry: What Eighty Ravenous Guys Taught Me About Life, Love, and the Power of Good Food, Darlene Barnes
A former personal chef, Darlene Barnes never expected to become a frat cook. But the six years she spent cooking for the men of Alpha Sigma Phi (and insisting on fresh, local food whenever possible) taught her many lessons, not all of them about food. A fun, snarky inside look at fraternity life and communal eating (with recipes). To review for Shelf Awareness (out August 6).

A Burial at Sea, Charles Finch
Charles Lenox heads to Egypt on a clandestine government mission, only to assume his old detective role when two crew members are murdered. As the Lucy sails southward, Lenox must watch his step as he attempts to find the murderer. A fun journey in a different setting, though I missed Lenox’s family and friends who usually appear.

The Clover House, Henriette Lazaridis Power
Calliope Notaris Brown grew up spending summers with her mother’s relatives in Greece, but hasn’t returned in five years. But when her uncle dies, she must go to claim her inheritance, and try to unravel a web of family secrets. I found Callie frustratingly self-absorbed, but I liked the setting and her family, and enjoyed the flashbacks to the 1940s in Greece.

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