Posts Tagged ‘Moffats’

Troubling a Star, Madeleine L’Engle
I’d been saving this last book in the Austin series – and it was the perfect read for a warm, lazy Saturday. I curled up on the couch and read all about Vicky Austin’s trip to Antarctica. Not my favorite of the Austin books, but a good ending to the series, and a fun adventure for a character of whom I’ve grown fond.

Horoscopes for the Dead, Billy Collins
I took my time with Collins’ new collection, dipping into it before bed for several weeks. His sly, witty, thoughtful gift with words is still present; there are some gems here. I love him because he makes my husband laugh – and makes me laugh – and then makes me pause and reflect on life’s quiet beauty, found in the little everyday moments.

The Moffat Museum, Eleanor Estes
This last Moffat book was a treat – who else would think of making a museum out of the old barn in their backyard, complete with stardust, a rusted brown bike and Rufus the Waxworks Boy? Jane and Rufus are in fine form, loving childhood as much as they ever did – but Sylvie and Joey are growing up, which gives the book a tinge of poignancy. Sylvie’s wedding is lovely, but it was Joey getting his working papers and leaving school that choked me up. And the ending is just perfect.

Loose Diamonds…and other things I’ve lost and found along the way, Amy Ephron
A lighthearted, frothy, sometimes random collection of essays about life in L.A., motherhood, marriage, and occasionally jewelry. Ephron often hides behind her cynicism, but I prefer her writing when it’s honest and a bit nostalgic. To review for the Shelf.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, Jennifer Reese
A cookbook-cum-memoir, born out of a desire to see whether making stuff from scratch is really worth it. Reese’s conclusions are always honest (each recipe carries a “Hassle” rating) and often hilarious. And some of these recipes (like the apricot-ginger bread!) look delicious. (Though I probably won’t be curing my own meat, or keeping chickens, any time soon.) To review for the Shelf.

When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
I picked this up at the Booksmith one night and spent the rest of the evening reading it. Such a fascinating story, with echoes of A Wrinkle in Time (the protagonist’s favorite book) and several interesting twists. The reader is just as puzzled as the characters for a while – and then, suddenly, beautifully, all the strange clues start to make sense.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris, John Baxter
Baxter is a bookworm and an expat (he’s an Aussie) living in Paris, and his musings on the City of Light are erudite, thoughtful and often charming. He does relish shocking people with tales of the seedy side of Paris, but there’s plenty of variety here. (Of course, it makes me want to go back to Paris. Le sigh.)

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, Ree Drummond
I love the Pioneer Woman’s blog and Twitter account – she’s hilarious – and I own her cookbook. (Yum.) So I loved her lighthearted, funny, romantic tale of falling in love with her husband, “Marlboro Man.” She pokes sly fun at herself and shares lots of embarrassing moments – no wonder she claims to “channel Lucille Ball” sometimes. But what I love most of all is her quiet commitment to love, honor and cherish her man forever. I’m working on that same commitment with my love.

31 Dates in 31 Days, Tamara Duricka Johnson
A funny, honest, refreshingly real account of one woman’s quest to revamp her dating habits – and learn to have fun again, instead of desperately clutching at each man as a potential mate. I liked her writing style, and appreciated her ingenuity – and energy! – in coming up with 31 dates. (To review for the Shelf.)

Theater Shoes, Noel Streatfeild
I loved Ballet Shoes, but hadn’t read this book till I found a lovely red vintage edition on Etsy. A wonderful tale of three half-orphaned children, who learn to sing, dance and act in wartime London. The details of theatrical life, the loving (but very human) siblings, the privations of wartime London – all are well rendered and come together to make a wonderful story.

Dancing Shoes, Noel Streatfeild
I liked this story too – though not quite as well as Ballet Shoes or Theater Shoes. Rachel and Hilary, sisters by adoption, have a deep and complex relationship that carries the book. Some of the other characters veer into stereotype at times, but there’s lots of dancing, some funny moments and a happy, if ambiguous, ending.

Oolong Dead, Laura Childs
It’s been a while since I picked up a Tea Shop Mystery. The writing is not brilliant, but the mysteries are intriguing, the characters comfortable and familiar, the tea shop itself a delightful spot. A fun bit of cozy mystery fluff.

Skating Shoes, Noel Streatfeild
Another lovely, hopeful story from the author of the Shoe Books. Harriet and Lalla bond through ice skating – and Harriet’s confidence begins to grow, and Lalla gradually learns she’s not the center of the universe. A sweet story (and Harriet’s brothers are wonderful supporting characters).

What are you reading lately?


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I tend to go through phases in my reading (though I do read a variety of genres in any given month). My Agatha Christie kick is going strong, thanks in part to the read-along. And I cannot get enough of the Moffats and their antics. But there’s more:

The Thirteen Problems, Agatha Christie
I enjoyed this collection of short stories featuring Miss Marple and her friends – I was amazed again and again at Christie’s skill in rendering plot twists and key details. I’m not a very good amateur sleuth (I never could solve the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries as a kid) – so Miss Marple astonished me (and everyone else) every time.

Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares
I love the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. LOVE them. So I was both excited and worried about this new chapter in the girls’ lives, right before they all turn 30. And it was more painful and tragic than I ever expected…but it wasn’t all heartbreak. Some wonderful moments of light and joy, too. Not my favorite of the series, but I enjoyed spending some more time with Bee, Carmen, Lena and Tibby (and all the people they love).

A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie
Miss Marple does it again – playing the sweet-old-spinster shtick to the hilt, while calmly digging up everyone’s secrets right under their very noses. She even confounds the Scotland Yard folks, which makes me love her even more.

Cooking with My Sisters, Adriana Trigiani
A delicious memoir-cookbook, complete with family snapshots and interjections from each sister, as well as lots of yummy-looking recipes. I checked it out from the library, but I may end up buying it – the recipes are that good. (It doesn’t hurt that we love Italian food at our house.)

The Moffats, Eleanor Estes
It’s been ages since I read this book – a fun tale of four siblings in Cranbury, Connecticut in the 1940s. (Similar to the Melendy Quartet, but with a slightly different flavor.) Jane, the third Moffat, narrates most of the fun, and there’s something in every chapter to make me smile.

The Middle Moffat, Eleanor Estes
Jane decides to style herself as the mysterious middle Moffat – and oh, the fun she has being in the middle! Just as charming as The Moffats. Jane is funny, sweet and utterly original – I especially love her friendship with Mr. Buckle, the oldest inhabitant of Cranbury.

Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics, Alisa Harris
I’m reviewing this for Shelf Awareness, so more to come – but I will say what I said on Twitter: this is a thoughtful, well-written and witty look at one girl’s journey from uber-conservative homeschooler to a moderate with lots of questions.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn
Review in the Shelf to come – but I loved this tale of a Cordon Bleu grad and her class of nine volunteers, gaining confidence by practicing knife skills, making their own vinaigrette and learning how to roast a chicken. A down-to-earth foodie memoir, with delicious-looking recipes.

Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses, Claire Dederer
After reading Lindsey’s gorgeous review, I picked this book up at the library. It’s a hilarious, often sad, poignant exploration of yoga as it relates to life – growing up, becoming a mother, learning how to argue with your spouse, learning to deal with quirky relatives, and coming to terms with the sadness of an unstable childhood. Really well done. (As an ambivalent sometime yogi, I could relate to Dederer’s mixed feelings about the practice.)

Rufus M., Eleanor Estes
The third book about the Moffats – more and more fun, with a dose of wartime travails (chilblains, too little coal, not enough money). The Moffats’ hardships never dampen their spirits for long, though. And the last chapter is purely beautiful.

Viola in the Spotlight, Adriana Trigiani
I find Trigiani’s books compulsively readable, and this second installment in the Viola series was no exception. Viola, teenage filmmaker, has grown up a bit since her first adventure (Viola in Reel Life), and she’s back in Brooklyn, learning to juggle two part-time jobs, figuring out how to be there for her friends and navigating life with a guy BFF who may feel something more. Good stuff.

Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers, Adriana Trigiani
Because I’ve read all of Trigiani’s novels and Cooking with My Sisters (see above), I knew the basic outlines of Trigiani’s family history. But oh, there were so many delicious details about Viola and Lucy, the grandmothers, and so many great lessons, from fashion tips to relationship advice to smart business sense. They were two powerhouse women, and their granddaughter writes about them with such love.

Time for the perennial question: What are you reading these days?

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