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Posts Tagged ‘Nantucket’

movement-of-stars-coverToday I’m excited to make my official debut as a member of the Great New Books review team.

Jennifer King invited me to join the team a few months ago. It’s a group of smart, lovely women who talk about books they love over at the Great New Books website. My first post, on Amy Brill’s The Movement of Stars, is up today.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve always been fascinated by the stars. Although I can’t name nearly all the constellations, I love to pick out the ones I do know: the Big Dipper, Orion, Cassiopeia, the Little Dipper pivoting around its anchor point, the North Star.

I love to watch the constellations shift their positions in the sky as the seasons change. This rhythm – seemingly steady, yet always surprising – is captured in both the title and the storyline of Amy Brill’s gorgeous debut novel, The Movement of Stars.

Please click over to the GNB website to read the rest of my review. I’ll see you there!

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bookshop window books charing cross road london
(Books on Charing Cross Road in London)

The Late Scholar, Jill Paton Walsh
I usually don’t like fanfiction. But Walsh’s mysteries featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Dorothy Sayers’ erudite pair of detectives, are well done and so fun. I loved this one because they return to Oxford, my beloved city and scene of my favorite Sayers book, Gaudy Night.

At Risk, Stella Rimington
This book introduces Liz Carlyle, MI5 agent, as she and her team attempt to stop a pair of terrorists bent on destruction and revenge. Grim, but compelling. Pretty good plane reading.

A Fatal Waltz, Tasha Alexander
Lady Emily Ashton’s third case finds her trying to exonerate a friend suspected of murder, while struggling not to be jealous of her fiance’s elegant ex-lover, an Austrian countess. An engaging setting (Vienna), though the plot did go on a bit.

The Heart Has Its Reasons, Maria Dueñas
I adored Dueñas’ debut, The Time in Between, but was disappointed by this, her second novel. The characters and plot had potential, but they – and the writing – didn’t grip me. (I wonder if the translation is partly to blame.)

Murder Most Unladylike, Robin Stevens
Two students at Deepdean School for Girls form a Detective Society – but are shocked when they find a real murder to investigate. Fun, witty and well-plotted. Found at Blackwell’s. (To be published in the U.S. as Murder is Bad Manners.)

Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins
I wanted to love this teenage love story set in Paris, but I found it melodramatic and lacking in substance. (I did enjoy Perkins’ debut, Anna and the French Kiss, several of whose characters reappear here.)

The Laws of Murder, Charles Finch
The eighth Charles Lenox mystery finds Lenox investigating the murder of a friend and colleague, while worrying he’s lost his detective edge. A leisurely, well-plotted mystery and a new stage in Lenox’s career. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 11).

A Bear Called Paddington, Michael Bond
I picked up this old favorite at the Paddington Bear Shop in London, and thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with Paddington. Such fun and funny adventures.

Emily of New Moon, L.M. Montgomery
I’ve made it a fall goal to reread this lovely, haunting series. This first book introduces the cast of characters and starts Emily on the path to becoming a writer. Full of gorgeous descriptions of PEI, old family legends and bits of whimsy and wonder.

Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and its People, 1602-1890, Nathaniel Philbrick
I loved Philbrick’s Bunker Hill and enjoyed this account of Nantucket’s early history, told via mini-biographies of colorful local characters. Occasionally gets bogged down in detail, but mostly quite interesting. Found in Gloucester.

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

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stone soup books interior camden maine

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books, Paul Collins
Collins moves with his wife and young son to Hay-on-Wye, a tiny Welsh town that boasts 40 bookstores and a large population of eccentric booksellers. He briefly works as a bookseller/shelf-arranger for Richard Booth, self-crowned King of Hay, while browsing the ever-growing stacks. Collins loves arcana, so his memoir occasionally veers that direction, but it’s a charming, quirky story of life in Hay, studded with wry observations on British life. Such fun. (Found at the Owl & Turtle Bookshop in Camden, Maine.)

Howards End, E.M. Forster
The writing in this classic novel was gorgeous, but the plot frustrated me. The titular house belongs to the wealthy (rather obtuse) Wilcox family, whose lives become intertwined with those of the independent, well-read, idealistic Schlegel sisters and the poor, uncultured bank clerk Leonard Bast. I had trouble sympathizing with any of the characters, or understanding their actions. Forster’s key idea is “Only connect,” but this novel was about missed connections. More a philosophical treatise than a good story.

The Movement of Stars, Amy Brill
Hannah Gardner Price, a young Quaker woman living on Nantucket in the 1840s, spends her nights observing the sky, hoping to discover a comet. When she begins teaching navigation to a young man from the Azores, the community starts to whisper – and with her father’s impending remarriage, Hannah may have to leave the only home she’s ever known. Gorgeous writing, especially the descriptions of the sky; Hannah’s struggle between the known and the unknown (and the tension thereof) is exquisitely drawn. I loved this book. Based on the life and work of Maria Mitchell, pioneering female astronomer.

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
When Louisa Clark loses her job at a cafe, she reluctantly takes a job caring for a quadriplegic man in his 30s. Will Traynor, former jet-setting traveler and arrogant businessman, is now confined to a wheelchair and very bitter about it. He and Lou drive each other nuts at first, but gradually become quite close. A heartbreaking story – though quite funny in parts – and a compassionate, nuanced look at complicated issues surrounding disability and death.

Under Wildwood, Colin Meloy
This sequel to Wildwood takes us back to the wilderness on the edge of Portland, Oregon, whose inhabitants (human and animal) are caught up in a bitter war. Prue and Curtis, two teenagers from Portland, find themselves fighting to save Wildwood while running for their own lives. A fun story, though the mythology of this world often gets complicated and over-detailed, and the narration sometimes grows over-elaborate. Not as good as the first one, but I’m sure I’ll read the third book when it comes out.

This post contains IndieBound affiliate links.

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