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Posts Tagged ‘Robin Hood’

book apple bench sunlight

And just like that, it’s June. I’m still catching up from a very full May – so here are the books I’ve been reading lately. It’s a short list, but a good one:

The Chelsea Girls, Fiona Davis
Hazel Ripley is expected to follow in her actor father’s footsteps, especially after her brother is killed in WWII. But a USO tour to Italy sparks her budding creativity as a playwright. Davis tells the story of Hazel, her fellow actress and friend Maxine, and the legendary Chelsea Hotel in NYC. A solid historical novel about female friendship, ambition and secrets. (I like Davis’ work.) To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 30).

Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past, Sarah Parcak
Space archaeology sounds like a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars – but it’s a real thing, and it’s changing the face of archaeology. Parcak shares stories from the field and explains how high-tech satellite imagery can make a real difference to the future of her field. Engaging, smart nonfiction. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 9).

God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America, Lyz Lenz
America is divided: we hear this all the time, and many of us are living some version of it. Lenz, a journalist who’s lived in the Midwest for years, saw her marriage and her church fall apart in the wake of the 2016 election. She’s spent time with many Christian pastors and congregants to try and understand what’s going on. The story, as you might imagine, is complicated. I’m a Texan living in New England and I have small-town Midwestern roots, so Lenz’s reporting and her personal experience resonated deeply with me. So insightful and honest. To review for Shelf Awareness (out August 1).

Sherwood, Meagan Spooner
Robin of Locksley is dead, and his people – including Maid Marian – are devastated. When Will Scarlet is thrown into prison, Marian impersonates Robin to help get him out. But her actions create a ripple effect, and while she loves her new role as Robin, she must keep it secret for various reasons. A clever YA take on the Robin Hood myth – though I didn’t love a couple of the plot elements. (I did love the Merry Men, especially Alan-a-Dale, and Marian’s maid, Elena.)

Unmarriageable, Soniah Kamal
Literature teacher Alys Binat, the second of five daughters, has sworn never to marry. But when she meets one Valentine Darsee, that may change. Kamal’s Pride and Prejudice retelling, set in early-2000s Pakistan, is funny and fresh. I especially loved Alys’ relationship with her best friend Sherry, and a few scenes between Alys and her father. Recommended by Anne.

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

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lido book tea toast breakfast table

The second half of July has been fast. The freelance work and other activities have been piling up, to my delight. And so have the books (as always).

Here’s the latest roundup:

At the Wolf’s Table, Rosella Postorino
Adolf Hitler famously feared death by poisoning, so he conscripted a handful of women to taste his food. Postorino’s novel imagines the story of one of them, Rosa Sauer, whose parents are dead and whose husband is missing in action. A somber, compelling, troubling account of wartime, complicity and wrestling with the consequences of one’s actions. Really well written. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 2019).

An Argumentation of Historians, Jodi Taylor
Max and her crew of time-traveling historians are back: scything up and down the timeline, from medieval England to ancient Persepolis. When Max finds herself stranded in 1399, she must adapt to an entirely new life, but there’s always a chance she’ll be rescued – isn’t there? This British sci-fi-ish series is so much fun, though I agree with a friend who said they need a new villain.

Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, Amy Stewart
Constance Kopp, lady deputy sheriff of Hackensack, N.J., is doing her best to keep on keeping on: watching over her female inmates, checking in on probationers, chasing down the occasional thief, and supporting her two sisters. But 1916 is a contentious (local) election year, and a lot of men aren’t too happy about Constance’s position anyhow. A smart, witty entry in this great series. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 11).

Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City, Albert Samaha
The Mo Better Jaguars of Brownsville, Brooklyn, are a longtime Pee Wee football powerhouse. Samaha’s book traces their story over two recent seasons, addressing the systemic  forces of racism and gentrification, the effects of family and school issues, recent research on concussions, and the spirit and grit of these young boys and their families. Reminded me strongly of Amy Bass’ One Goal, which I loved. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 4).

This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind, Ivan Doig
A friend passed on this memoir last summer and I finally got to it. Doig sets down the story of his childhood: raised by his father and grandmother, doing ranching work in rural Montana. Thoughtful and quiet, with so many good sentences and insights into how we are shaped by our families and landscapes. Well worthwhile. Part of my nonfiction #unreadshelfproject.

The Lido, Libby Page
Rosemary Peterson, 86, has been swimming at her local lido (an outdoor pool in Brixton, London) nearly all her life. When the lido is threatened with closure, she joins forces with Kate, an anxious young journalist, and their community to try and save it. A charming, hopeful story of unlikely friendship and banding together to fight for what matters. I also loved Rosemary’s memories of life in London during the war, and her long, contented marriage to her husband, George. Just wonderful.

League of Archers, Eva Howard
Elinor Dray, orphan and novice nun, has grown up hearing stories of the great Robin Hood. But when he’s killed in front of Ellie’s eyes, and she’s accused of the crime, Ellie and her friends (the titular league) take to the forest to continue Robin’s work and contact his Merry Men. I love a Robin Hood story and I wanted to love this one, but the pacing and plot didn’t quite work for me.

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

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july books 1

Summer reading season is in full swing – hooray! Here are the books I’ve enjoyed so far this month:

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards, Jen Hatmaker
I read Jen Hatmaker’s funny, snarky blog occasionally, but hadn’t read any of her books. This essay collection covers her usual mix of topics: imperfect parenting, messy marriage, trying to be a faithful person while sometimes being disappointed by the church. Funny and relatable, though I think she occasionally oversimplifies things. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 18).

To Davy Jones Below, Carola Dunn
On their honeymoon voyage to America, Daisy and Alec Fletcher end up (of course) investigating a couple of murders. The shipboard setting made for a fun change of pace and the end twist was certainly unexpected.

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Mary Norris
Norris has been a copy editor at The New Yorker for 30-plus years. In that time, she’s learned a few things about grammar and punctuation. This witty book combines anecdotes from her career with practical, thoughtful advice on various matters of style. Gloriously geeky and wonderfully informative.

Lion Heart, A.C. Gaughen
As Prince John continues his campaign of terror and extortion, Scarlet (aka Lady Marian) and Robin Hood must protect the people of Nottingham. A great conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy; I loved watching Scarlet grow as a character. Romantic and full of adventure.

Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph, Kristina Rizga
Characterized as a “failing school” by national testing standards, Mission High in San Francisco is a vibrant, diverse community full of passionate, skilled teachers and intellectually curious students. Journalist Rizga spent four years at Mission and uses it as a case study to explore education reform in the U.S. Thoughtful and well-researched. Particularly interesting to me because of my work at HGSE. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 4).

An Unwilling Accomplice, Charles Todd
Nurse Bess Crawford is tapped to escort a wounded WWI soldier to a ceremony at the Palace – but the next morning, he has disappeared. Then he’s accused of murder and Bess is accused of negligence. To clear her own name, Bess embarks on a journey to find him. Full review coming soon as part of a TLC Book Tour.

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

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2015 favorite books

I read a lot, as y’all know – I’m almost at 100 books for the year. And we are (somehow) halfway through the year already, so here are the books I have loved the most over the last six months:

Frothiest, Sauciest, Most Fun Chick Lit: The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan. Oxford, true love, tightly knit sibling bonds and a gaggle of quirky, loyal friends – what more could I ask for?

Most Insightful Memoir on Work & Life: Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin. A thoughtful, sensitive exploration of writing, carpentry and building a good life.

Best New Installment in a Beloved Series: A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear. Classic Maisie Dobbs in a fresh new setting, with new challenges. I will follow Maisie to the ends of the earth.

Smart, Witty, Utterly Delightful Sherlockiana: The Great Detective by Zach Dundas. A fantastic exploration of the Holmes phenomenon (past and present).

Best Book on Yoga & Life: Do Your Om Thing by Rebecca Pacheco.

Cheeriest British Fictional Companion: Mrs. Tim, aka Hester Christie. I enjoyed every page of the four books about her.

Most Evocative Travel Memoir: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. So many beautiful sentences.

Best Retelling of a Legend I Thought I Knew: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, which made me fall in love with Robin Hood all over again. (I still have a crush on the handsome fox from the Disney movie.)

Most Delicious Memoir of Food & Marriage: Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard, which I reviewed at Great New Books.

Snarkiest, Most Entertaining YA Novel: Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond.

Spunkiest Cozy Mystery Series: the adventures of Daisy Dalrymple.

Loveliest Story of a Quiet Life Well Lived: Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan (out in September).

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? I’d love to hear about them.

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april books

The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story, Martin Edwards
A fascinating, highly readable group biography of the men and women who transformed Golden Age (inter-war) detective fiction in the UK and beyond. Full of details about two of my favorites, Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 28).

Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
Trainee witch Tiffany Aching steps into a dance with the titular spirit of winter, and disaster ensues till she (and the Nac Mac Feegles) can figure out how to fix things. Funny and clever, but a little hard to follow.

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
I love the story of Mary, Colin, Dickon and their hidden garden – and there’s no better book to reread while I’m watching for spring. Old-fashioned and beautiful.

Lowcountry Bombshell, Susan M. Boyer
Private eye Liz Talbot takes a case involving a Marilyn Monroe lookalike and her crazy cast of hangers-on. Meanwhile, Liz’s personal life is getting complicated. Not as good as Boyer’s first mystery, but still fun.

The Truth According to Us, Annie Barrows
Layla Beck, pampered senator’s daughter, is sent to Macedonia, West Virginia, as a WPA writer in 1938. Boarding with the Romeyn family, she uncovers more than a few secrets – and learns a thing or two about truth and history. A big-hearted Southern novel; warm and charming. To review for Shelf Awareness (out June 9).

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, Heather Lende
After a near-fatal bike accident, Lende muses on faith, grief and small-town Alaska life while recovering slowly (and continuing her work as an obituary writer). The title comes from her own mother’s final instructions. Wise and moving.

Lady Thief, A.C. Gaughen
The sequel to Scarlet finds Robin Hood’s band dealing with court intrigue, a dangerous archery tournament and the slippery Prince John. Gripping and well told, though I found Scarlet (the heroine) frustrating at times.

Jane of Lantern Hill, L.M. Montgomery
Jane Stuart never knew she had a father – until he asks her to come spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island. One of my favorite spring books – I love smart, practical, capable Jane. And I love the descriptions of PEI.

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

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parnassus books nashville

Lowcountry Boil, Susan M. Boyer
Southern private eye Liz Talbot heads back to her hometown off the coast of South Carolina to solve her grandmother’s murder, and runs into a tangle of family drama and small-town politics. A well-written debut mystery full of colorful characters.

The Summer Invitation, Charlotte Silver
A light, sweet tale of two teenage sisters who spend a magical summer in NYC. The characters are paper-thin and so is the plot, but there are some lovely New York scenes. Recommended for starry-eyed young girls (anyone else will probably find it lacking).

If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska, Heather Lende
I loved Lende’s new memoir Find the Good (out 4/28). This book, her first, chronicles her family life and work (which includes writing both social columns and obituaries) in Haines, Alaska. Warmhearted and wise.

Scarlet, A.C. Gaughen
Will Scarlet is the best thief in Robin Hood’s band – but only a few people know he’s really a runaway girl. A fabulous twist on the Robin Hood story, full of high drama and romance. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
I somehow missed this adventure story as a teen, but enjoyed the tale of Charlotte’s treacherous journey on the high seas with a mutinous crew. She’s a little naive (but what 13-year-old girl isn’t?). Really fun.

The Four Graces, D.E. Stevenson
After finishing the Mrs. Tim series, I was ready for more D.E. Stevenson. This gentle novel follows Liz, Tilly, Sal and Addie – the four Grace girls – and their vicar father through an eventful summer. Charming and funny, though it ended too abruptly (and Addie hardly appears at all). Recommended by Jaclyn.

The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
Tiffany Aching wants to be a witch when she grows up – but she never expects to be aided by a band of wacky, hard-drinking, six-inch-high pictsies (the titular Wee Free Men). Hilarious and clever – my first Pratchett novel.

A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
Tiffany Aching’s second adventure finds her working as a witch’s apprentice – but things get sticky when she must battle an ancient, bodiless evil being. Witty and wise and full of heart (and sly humor). So much fun.

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

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