Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘middle grade’

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!

What are you reading?

Advertisement

Read Full Post »

brattle bookshop doors boston

February has been a strange month – I’ve been fighting a weird upper respiratory infection, and the weather has swung from frigid to balmy, with very little snow. Meanwhile, here’s what I have been reading:

The Cuban Heiress, Chanel Cleeton
Two women – and the man on whom they both want revenge – board the SS Morro Castle, a pleasure cruise between New York and Havana. Elena is determined to get her daughter back, and Catherine (who’s not really an heiress) is wary of both her fiance and a mysterious jewel thief she meets. I like Cleeton’s historical novels, but this one felt a little thin; I prefer her series about the Perez sisters. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 11).

Pride & Puppies, Lizzie Shane
Dr. Charlotte Rodriguez is swearing off men after dating too many not-Mr.Darcys. She gets an adorable golden retriever puppy, Bingley, and everything is fine – except she might be falling in love with her sweet neighbor, George. Meanwhile, George is head over heels for Charlotte but weighing a possible move back to Colorado (with plenty of unsolicited advice from his sisters). I loved this modern-day Austen-inspired romp with two wonderful main characters (and so much puppy cuteness).

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, Valarie Kaur
I picked up Kaur’s memoir at Yu and Me Books in NYC and was blown away. Kaur tells the story of her childhood in California, her family’s Sikh faith, her experience mourning and documenting hate crimes after 9/11, and her journey into love, healing and activism. She’s a strong writer and an even stronger person. Thought-provoking and compelling.

The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Language and Literature, Katie Holten
Holten, an Irish artist and writer, has invented a tree alphabet – and this gorgeous collection of essays, poetry and quotes features each piece in English and in her Trees font. Wide-ranging, thoughtful and an urgent call to preserve and cherish the trees we still have. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 4).

The Lioness of Boston, Emily Franklin
When Isabella Stewart Gardner came to Boston as a newlywed, she struggled to find her place in the rigid, wealthy Brahmin society. After struggling with infertility and losing a young child, she eventually began traveling and buying art – becoming a famous “collector” of both art and people. This novel – elegant, intimate, fascinating – narrates Isabella’s story in first person. I loved it, and it made me want to go back to her museum. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 11).

The Stories We Tell, Joanna Gaines
This book showed up in my Christmas stocking, and I’ve been reading it slowly. I like its emphasis on owning all the parts of your story, though lots of it seemed vague and repetitive. I most enjoyed the parts where Gaines actually shared her personal experiences. Warmhearted, but a mixed bag.

A Murderous Relation, Deanna Raybourn
Veronica Speedwell and her colleague, Stoker, are called upon to investigate a scandal possibly connecting a prince to the Whitechapel murders. The case takes them to an exclusive brothel and all over London – including face-to-face with several villains they didn’t expect. A fun entry in this highly entertaining series; I was glad they didn’t dive over-much into the Jack the Ripper cases.

How to Be Brave, Daisy May Johnson
Calla North is used to looking after her mother, Elizabeth, who knows a lot about ducks but not much about everyday life details. But when Elizabeth goes on an expedition to the Amazon and Calla is sent to boarding school, she must band together with an unlikely crew of friends (and nuns!) to rescue her mother. A super fun middle-grade adventure with engaging characters.

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

What are you reading?

P.S. The fifth issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, came out recently. Sign up here to get on the list for next time!

Read Full Post »

book catapult bookstore interior san diego books

We’re halfway through February (and more than halfway through winter – I hope!). I’ve recently been to the West Coast and back again. Here’s what I have been reading:

A Treacherous Curse, Deanna Raybourn
Veronica Speedwell and her colleague, Stoker, are drawn into a third mystery surrounding some artifacts from an Egyptian archaeological dig. A fun romp involving a diadem, a possible curse, complicated relationships and a chase through the sewers of London (very Les Mis). I’m enjoying this clever series – I flew through this one on a cross-country plane ride.

Tumble, Celia C. Pérez
Adela “Addie” Ramirez is floored when her stepdad proposes adoption. She loves him, but it’s a big decision, especially since she knows next to nothing about her biological dad. Addie’s sleuthing leads her to nearby Esperanza, N.M., and the Bravo family – her family – of legendary luchadores. I loved watching Addie navigate her new family dynamics, step into her own identity and deal with a big theatrical performance at school. Wise and warmhearted.

The Wife App, Carolyn Mackler
After she finds out her husband is cheating, Lauren Zuckerman files for divorce. While toasting her new life, she and her two best friends, Madeline and Sophie, hit on an idea: an app to make money from all the mental-load tasks that wives typically do for free. The app, and its launch and ramifications, will change all their lives – and change the way all of them think about work and relationships. A smart, funny, occasionally sexy ode to female empowerment and going after what you really want (while juggling childcare, relationships and camp forms). I blew through this in one sitting. To review for Shelf Awareness (out June 27).

Choosing to Run, Des Linden
Like many people, I was completely awed by Linden’s gritty, historic 2018 Boston Marathon win in terrible conditions. Her memoir intersperses an account of that day with the larger story of her life and career. She’s plainspoken, engaging and dedicated. As a runner and a Boston resident, I loved it. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 4).

The People’s Hospital: Hope and Peril in American Medicine, Ricardo Nuila
Confession: I put off reading this ARC because I feared it might be depressing. But Nuila’s insider account of practicing medicine at Ben Taub, an unusual public hospital in Houston, and the lives of his patients is anything but. Compassionate, detailed, accessible (and yes, occasionally infuriating), this is a wise look at how American medicine is failing nearly all of us, and a glimpse of a different way forward. Urgent and timely. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 14).

Coronation Year, Jennifer Robson
London, 1953: the coronation of Elizabeth II approaches, and the residents of the Blue Lion, a small inn, are hoping it will change their fortunes. Edie, the owner, needs a financial and morale boost; photographer Stella is building a new life after some horrific wartime experiences in Italy; and Jamie, an Anglo-Indian artist, has landed a big commission. I love Robson’s warm, thoughtful, well-researched historical fiction, and this is a lovely look at ordinary people during a historic time for Britain. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 4).

Luck and Last Resorts, Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Yacht stewardess Nina Lejeune is focused on work and fun, but she’s been hiding from her feelings about chef Ollie Dunne for years. When Ollie gives her an ultimatum, Nina has to finally see if she’s brave enough to pursue the life she wants. I found Nina maddening – it took her forever to face her issues – but I liked how this played out.

A Dangerous Collaboration, Deanna Raybourn
Veronica Speedwell and her colleague Stoker (see above) end up on a remote Cornish island, trying to solve the mystery of a woman who disappeared on her wedding day. The case involves Stoker’s brother, the dead woman’s husband, his sister (who has a passion for poisons) and various other characters. Highly entertaining, like this entire series.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
I’ve loved Alcott’s story since I first read it at age 7, and it’s been a delight to reread it slowly, this winter, along with Annie and others. It’s comforting and tender and true, and it has shaped so many of my ideas about work and love and womanhood. I love it still.

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

What are you reading?

P.S. The fifth issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, came out recently. Sign up here to get on the list for next time!

Read Full Post »

three lives bookstore interior

January has been a long year, as someone commented on social media recently. The latest batch of books, fortunately, has been excellent. Here’s what I have been reading:

Under the Henfluence: Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People Who Love Them, Tove Danovich
Danovich dreamed of owning chickens during her years in Brooklyn – but when she moved to Oregon and ordered three chicks, she had no idea how they’d change her life. A warm, engaging, often hilarious deep dive into chicken-keeping, the poultry industry, chicken care and the ways these little birds steal their owners’ hearts. Informative and fun. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 28).

Island of Spies, Sheila Turnage
Hatteras Island, 1942: As World War II heats up, Sarah Stickley “Stick” Lawson and her two best friends, Rain and Neb, hunt for mysteries to solve on the island. They’re soon caught up in some real espionage, possibly involving the cranky postmistress, two enigmatic visitors, a couple of baseball players and Stick’s older sister. I loved this middle-grade novel about family and secrets and standing up for what’s right; I also adore Turnage’s Three Times Lucky and its sequels.

The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything, Kara Gnodde
Siblings Mimi and Art have always been close – especially since their parents’ tragic death. But in her thirties, Mimi gets restless and wants to find love. Art – a mathematical genius – agrees to help her if he can use an algorithm. When Mimi falls for Frank, another mathematician, Art is distressed for a few reasons. A thoughtful exploration of sibling dynamics; I loved Mimi’s friend Rey, and Frank himself. (Heads up for a few seriously heartbreaking death and hospital scenes.) To review for Shelf Awareness (out February 28).

Other Birds, Sarah Addison Allen
When 19-year-old Zoey moves into the condo she inherited from her mother on tiny, beautiful Mallow Island, she’s hoping to uncover some family secrets – but other secrets start to emerge almost immediately. From the resident turquoise birds to the suspicious death of one of her neighbors, plus a local reclusive author, Mallow Island is teeming with mystery. I love Addison Allen’s warm, enchanting Southern fiction; this one has some engaging characters, but also lots of deep sadness around abuse and addiction.

Operation Sisterhood, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Bo and her mum have always been a team, and Bo likes it that way. But when Mum announces she’s getting married, they move from the Bronx to Harlem and in with Bo’s new stepdad, his daughter, another family who shares their house, and a menagerie of pets. Bo – an introvert, baker and happy only child – likes her new family, but struggles to adjust. A warm, funny middle-grade novel (like the Vanderbeekers turned up to 11) with lashings of Black girl magic.

The Covenant of Water, Abraham Verghese
Verghese’s second novel traces the epic story of a family in southern India afflicted by a mysterious condition: one person in every generation dies by drowning. Spanning seven decades, the story begins with a child bride coming to Parambil, the family estate, and continues through several generations of love, loss, marriage, death, medical school and social change. Verghese is a medical doctor and it shows; the medical detail is painstaking (and occasionally gruesome). I read his memoir My Own Country in college and was blown away; he’s a powerful writer. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 2).

People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry
Poppy and Alex – polar opposites – have been best friends since college, taking an annual summer trip together. Until two years ago when they ruined everything. Poppy, floundering at work, is determined to salvage their friendship with one last trip to Alex’s brother’s wedding in Palm Springs. A funny story of travel disasters and friendship that might tip over into love; Poppy is wacky and oblivious, but eventually gains a little self-awareness. Fun for the winter doldrums.

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

What are you reading?

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

Read Full Post »

As the snow swirls down outside, I’ve been plowing (ha) through books – poetry, fiction, memoir and strong women, as usual. Here’s what I have been reading:

Swan, Mary Oliver
I adored this Oliver collection, unsurprisingly – especially the first poem, and several others. She writes so well about nature, the interior life, seasons and paying attention. Perfect morning reading.

Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women, Alissa Wilkinson
I’ve known Alissa online for years, and loved her book of essays on smart, strong, bold women – Hannah Arendt, Edna Lewis, Maya Angelou, Laurie Colwin and others – who had interesting things to say about food, gathering, womanhood and community. If that sounds dry, it isn’t; Alissa’s writing sparkles, and each chapter ends with a delectable-sounding recipe. Found at the lovely new Seven and One Books in Abilene.

Running, Lindsey A. Freeman
As a longtime runner, a queer woman and a scholar, Freeman explores various aspects of running through brief essays – part memoir, part meditation, part academic inquiry. I enjoyed this tour of her experience as a runner, and the ways she writes about how running shapes us. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 14).

Beyond That, the Sea, Laura Spence-Ash
During World War II, Beatrix Thompson’s parents send her to the U.S. to escape the bombings in London. Bea lands with a well-off family, the Gregorys, and her bond with them – deep and complicated – endures over the following years and decades. A gorgeous, elegiac, thoughtful novel about love and loss and complex relationships. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 21).

Winterhouse, Ben Guterson
Elizabeth Somers, an orphan who lives with her curmudgeonly relatives, spends a surprise Christmas vacation at Winterhouse, an old hotel full of delights. She makes a friend, uncovers a dastardly plot, makes some mistakes and discovers family secrets. I liked Elizabeth, but I really wanted this to be better than it was.

The Belle of Belgrave Square, Mimi Matthews
Julia Wychwood would rather read than go to a ball – but the only way to placate her hypochondriac parents is to plead illness. She’s rather miserable when Captain Jasper Blunt, a brooding ex-soldier in need of a fortune, arrives in London and begins pursuing her. A fun romance that plays with some classic tropes; I loved Julia (a fellow bookworm!) and her relationship with Jasper. I also loved The Siren of Sussex; this is a sequel of sorts.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, Michelle Obama
Michelle needs no introduction from me; this book discusses some of the tools she uses to steady her during challenging times, such as knitting, exercise, friendship and keeping her perspective straight. I loved the insights into her marriage and her relationship with her mom, and her practical, wise voice. So good.

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

What are you reading?

P.S. The fourth issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, came out last week. Sign up here to get on the list for next time!

Read Full Post »

mostly books interior abingdon uk bookshop

I’ve been blowing through books in the first days of 2023 – so it’s time for a roundup (already!). As we dive into a new year, here’s what I have been reading:

Mastering the Art of French Murder, Colleen Cambridge
Tabitha Knight is loving her sojourn in postwar Paris with her grand-pere – especially since she has Julia Child for a neighbor. But when an acquaintance is found stabbed with Julia’s kitchen knife, Tabitha undertakes a bit of amateur sleuthing. A fun, clever start to a new mystery series; technically my last book of 2022. Coming out in April; I read an ARC.

God’s Ex-Girlfriend: A Memoir About Loving and Leaving the Evangelical Jesus, Gloria Beth Amodeo
Raised in a fairly laid-back Catholic faith, Amodeo joined Campus Crusade for Christ as a college student. This memoir details her experience with Cru, as it’s now called; explores the reasons she clung to the community she found; and charts her struggles to get out of it. Thoughtful and relatable, though the ending felt rushed. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 21).

Code Name Sapphire, Pan Jenoff
German political cartoonist Hannah Martel escapes to her cousin Lily’s house in Belgium after the Nazis discover her true identity. There, she joins the Sapphire Line resistance network, working with the prickly Micheline and her brother Matteo. But the network is (always) in jeopardy, and its members face danger and compromise at every turn. A compelling WWII story inspired by a real-life train break; Hannah and Lily’s relationship is especially complex. I found the ending really depressing. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 7).

Freestyle, Gale Galligan
Cory Tan loves nothing more than dancing with his crew of friends. But when his parents freak out about his grades and get him a tutor, he makes a friend and discovers a new hobby – yo-yo throwing. I adored this sweet middle-grade graphic novel (a Christmas gift from my guy) about friendship, stretching your horizons, apologizing and trying new things. So joyful and fun.

The Porcelain Moon, Janie Chang
Pauline Deng loves working in her uncle’s antique shop in Paris with her beloved cousin Theo. When war breaks out and Theo joins the Chinese Labour Corps as a translator, big changes come for them both, as well as for Camille, a young woman in the village where Theo is stationed. I flew through this well-written novel about a relatively unknown slice of WWI history. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 21).

A Perilous Undertaking, Deanna Raybourn
Lepidopterist Veronica Speedwell and her colleague Stoker have settled into their jobs cataloging the collection of a London gentleman. But when they get asked to investigate a murder, things get way more interesting. A fun, well-plotted mystery (though I agree with my friend Jess – too many phallic jokes). I like Stoker and Veronica, and Raybourn’s writing is highly entertaining.

Her Lost Words, Stephanie Marie Thornton
Both Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley (who never knew her mother) longed to take the world by storm. Thornton’s novel unfolds both women’s stories in alternating timelines, charting their emotional and financial struggles as well as their writing (with despairs and successes). A little long, but ultimately fascinating – like its subjects. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 28).

A Spoonful of Murder, Robin Stevens
Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells travel to Hong Kong to mourn Hazel’s grandfather. When they arrive, they find some surprises – including a new baby brother for Hazel, and soon, a murder. I enjoy this British middle-grade series; I love Hazel as a narrator, and I especially enjoyed the sensitive explorations of the dynamics between the girls in a new setting.

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

What are you reading?

P.S. The fourth issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, came out last week. Sign up here to get on the list for next time!

Read Full Post »

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!

What are you reading?

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

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and we are deep in year-end giving projects at work, and my beloved Darwin’s closed its original location yesterday. It’s been a lot, to say the least. Meanwhile, here’s what I have been reading:

Absolutely Truly, Heather Vogel Frederick
Truly Lovejoy is not thrilled about moving to tiny Pumpkin Falls, N.H., after her pilot dad loses an arm in Afghanistan. But she grows to love helping at her family’s bookstore, and even finds new friends and a mystery to solve. I love Frederick’s cheery middle-grade novels and I adore Truly – stubborn, brave, kind and obsessed with owls. A fun reread.

The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre, Natasha Lester
Orphaned at 13, Alix St. Pierre has spent her life trying to prove herself, and she spent World War II doing excellent work in intelligence. But she’s haunted by one failed mission. As she’s working in PR for Christian Dior in 1947, that mission and its characters resurface. A brilliant, propulsive, beautiful and heartbreaking novel about a woman faced with so many impossible choices. I loved it. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 10, 2023).

The Bullet That Missed, Richard Osman
Osman’s septuagenarian sleuths are back – this time tangled up with a couple of gangsters as they try to solve the cold case of a TV anchor who disappeared years ago. Witty, wry and so British – I love this series.

Windfall: The Prairie Woman Who Lost Her Way and the Great-Granddaughter Who Found Her, Erika Bolstad
Bolstad’s memoir takes us on her quest to learn more about her great-grandmother, Anna, a North Dakota homesteader who eventually was committed to an asylum. Curious about Anna’s story (and the possibility of money from mineral rights on Anna’s land), Bolstad takes multiple trips to the Dakotas, researching land laws, oilfield politics past and present and the treatment of women in Anna’s time. Thoughtful and thought-provoking; also familiar since I am from the oilfields of West Texas. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 17, 2023).

Yours Truly, Heather Vogel Frederick
Truly Lovejoy is thrilled to have her cousin visiting for Spring Break. But when someone starts cutting the sap lines on her friends’ farm, it leads to a full-blown town feud, and Truly and her friends are on the case. They also find an old diary with some intriguing secrets. I loved most of this story (also a reread), except for Truly’s clashing with her younger sister – it felt realistic, but soured things a bit.

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 next week. Sign up here to get on the list!

Read Full Post »

November is speeding by, with lots of golden leaves, local adventures, election excitement and good books. Here’s what I have been reading:

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting, Sophie Irwin
Annie recommended this delightful Regency romp, which follows Kitty Talbot as she hunts for a wealthy husband in London to save herself and her sisters from penury. When she meets the de Lacy family, their eldest brother – Lord Radcliffe – quickly figures out her game. I loved Kitty, her aunt Dorothy (a former actress) and Lord Radcliffe; also, the skewering of strict etiquette rules was hilarious. Thoroughly charming.

Merci Suárez Plays it Cool, Meg Medina
I adore this middle-grade series about a Latina girl finding her way at a posh private school (and with her loud, loving family). In this third installment, Merci is pulled between two groups of friends and navigating her feelings for a boy she kind of likes. Her beloved grandfather, Lolo, is also declining. I loved watching Merci try to figure things out – doing her best, messing up, apologizing, being stubborn and seeking advice from the adults in her life. So relatable.

A Trace of Poison, Colleen Cambridge
The village of Listleigh is hosting a Murder Fete, along with a short-story contest sponsored by Agatha Christie and her colleagues in the Detection Club. But when the local priest ends up dead from a poisoned cocktail, housekeeper Phyllida Bright decides to investigate. An engaging second mystery featuring Phyllida and her fellow staff, as well as Mrs. Christie (with cameos by Dorothy Sayers and G.K. Chesterton). Good British fun.

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, Priya Parker
I loved Parker’s interview with Alissa Wilkinson about this book, and had heard about it from Anne and others. Parker explores the purpose, structure and details of good gatherings and gives examples about how to shape them well. She’s a great storyteller and her ideas are thought-provoking (and often fun!).

The Wild Robot, Peter Brown
After a terrible storm, robot Roz finds herself stranded on a remote island. At first the local animals think she’s a monster, but she gradually adapts to them, and they to her. I loved this middle-grade novel (which both my nephews have enjoyed) about friendship and change and caring for our world.

The Lost Ticket, Freya Sampson
When Libby crash-lands in London after a bad breakup, she meets elderly Frank on the 88 bus, and discovers he’s been looking for the same girl (whom he met on that bus) for 60 years. Libby plunges into helping Frank search for the mysterious girl, and ends up finding a new community. An utterly charming novel about friendship, memory and dealing with big life changes.

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

What are you reading?

P.S. The second issue of my newsletter, For the Noticers, came out recently. Sign up here to get on the list for December!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »