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Posts Tagged ‘young adult’

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We’re halfway through August, and I’ve managed a (masked) bookstore trip or two recently. I was thrilled to get back to Brookline Booksmith, pictured above. Here’s what I have been reading:

Carney’s House Party, Maud Hart Lovelace
I loved returning to this sweet Deep Valley summer story: frank, sensible, kind Carney Sibley is one of my favorites of Betsy’s friends. Lots of high jinks, but what I love most is watching Carney reassess her relationships and figure out how to be true to herself.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, Samira Ahmed
Reeling from an academic failure and a sort-of breakup, Khayyam Maquet is moping around Paris when she meets a cute French boy and discovers a mysterious Muslim woman who may have links to Lord Byron and Alexandre Dumas. I found Khayyam really frustrating, but liked the premise and all the Paris details.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max, Noelle Stevenson et al.
My girl Jaclyn sent me this comic recently. The Lumberjanes find themselves making friendship bracelets, battling dinosaurs and dealing with rogue deities (what?!) in this adventure. They’re fun and funny, though there’s a lot to keep up with here.

Be Holding, Ross Gay
Gay has proven his ability to ramble to good effect, and tie together seemingly disparate topics while he’s at it. (I loved his essay collection The Book of Delights.) This book-length poem is a paean to “Dr. J” Julius Erving, but also draws in sharecropping, photography, the violence done to black bodies in this country, love and joy. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 8).

The Lost Love Song, Minnie Darke
I loved Darke’s debut, Star Crossed, and also loved this sweet novel about a concert pianist, an unfinished love song, and the people it connects in surprising ways. It starts with Diana (the pianist) and Arie (the man she loves), but winds its way to London, Edinburgh, Canada, Singapore, New York and back to Australia. Inventive and lovely. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 13).

Burn Marks, Sara Paretsky
When V.I. Warshawski’s doorbell rings at 3 a.m., she’s none too pleased to see her alcoholic aunt Elena. Soon V.I. is drawn into a web of politics, arson, corruption and secrets, while trying not to get killed. This one started slowly for me, but it got more and more compelling.

Front Desk, Kelly Yang
Ten-year-old Mia Tang has a secret: she’s managing the front desk at the motel her parents run, while all three of them help hide Chinese immigrants in the empty rooms. Mia is spunky and kind, and I loved watching her befriend the weekly tenants and outsmart the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao.

Killing Orders, Sara Paretsky
V.I. Warshawski is shocked to get a call for help from her vindictive Aunt Rosa: a matter of forged securities at a Catholic priory. When multiple people warn her off the case, Vic keeps digging. So good – I read this third book out of order but it didn’t even matter.

Thirst, Mary Oliver
This is probably my favorite Oliver collection: she is wrestling with faith, and also paying exquisite attention to the natural world. I’ve loved revisiting her words over breakfast.

Guardian Angel, Sara Paretsky
Racine Avenue is rapidly gentrifying, and V.I. Warshawski gets caught between a longtime resident (and her dogs) and a chic new couple with unsavory ambitions. Financial corruption helps drive the case, but the personal aspects are stronger: V.I.’s investigation on behalf of her neighbor, Mr. Contreras; a rift with her doctor friend, Lotty; and her ex-husband’s possible connections to the new money. Grim, but gripping.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to local bookstores I love: Trident and Brookline Booksmith.

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We’re halfway through October, and the library holds are piling up, to my delight. Here’s what I have been reading:

An Irish Country Family, Patrick Taylor
I’ve read and enjoyed several earlier books in this gentle, amusing series set in 1960s Ulster, in the village of Ballybucklebo. Book 14 picks up the story of Dr. Barry Laverty when he was a medical student, and also as he’s trying to start a family with his wife, Sue. The plot also involves the usual small-town drama: births, deaths, local politics, love. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 12).

Dating is Murder, Harley Jane Kozak
An impulse grab at the library – the second mystery featuring greeting-card artist and amateur sleuth Wollstonecraft “Wollie” Shelley. When her friend Annika, a young au pair, disappears, Wollie tries to find her while juggling her part-time jobs (including reality TV). Wacky, fun, sometimes confusing, but enjoyable.

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, Ada Calhoun
It’s no secret that women are under stress–but Generation X women are particularly so, in every area of their lives. Calhoun takes on work, parenting, marriage and relationships, ambition, physical challenges and more from a witty, honest, thought-provoking perspective. I loved her previous book, Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, and her O Magazine essay, “The New Midlife Crisis for Women.” This book builds on the latter. I’m either a really young Gen Xer or an old Gen Y/Millennial, but so many of these concerns rang true for me. I will be handing this to so many friends. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 7).

The Bonniest Companie, Kathleen Jamie
I was looking for Jamie’s essays at the Strand (on Roxani’s advice) and found these poems instead. They are luminous and odd with occasional flashes of hope and loveliness, and lots of rugged Scottish landscapes.

The Second Home, Christina Clancy
The Gordon family has spent countless summers in Wellfleet, Cape Cod – but one summer when their kids were teenagers changed everything. As the family’s two grown daughters prepare to sell the house after their parents’ deaths, they must reckon with the long-term effects of that summer. Absorbing, heartbreaking and human; richly evocative. To review for Shelf Awareness (out June 2, 2020).

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss
I spotted this series at the Booksmith and decided to start at the beginning. Mary Jekyll is investigating some mysterious documents after her father’s death and finds more than she bargained for, including Diana, daughter of Edward Hyde, and a whole lot of mad-scientist craziness. This mystery-fantasy-girl-power-narrative (which also pulls in Holmes and Watson) was so much fun. I’ll definitely read the sequels.

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

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september books hydrangeas

The Knockoff, Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
When Glossy magazine editor-in-chief Imogen Tate returns after a six-month leave, she’s horrified to find that her former assistant Eve has taken over and is planning to turn the magazine into an app. A whip-smart, wickedly funny satire of the fashion publishing world and our cultural obsession with digital media. I loved it, and I was rooting for Imogen all the way. Recommended by both Anne and Ann.

Named of the Dragon, Susanna Kearsley
Literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw gladly accepts her favorite client’s invitation to spend Christmas in Wales. Once she arrives, Lyn has a series of strange dreams about a woman imploring her to take care of a young boy being pursued by dragons. An atmospheric novel that weaves together themes of love, grief and Arthurian legend. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 6).

Death Wears a Mask, Ashley Weaver
London socialite Amory Ames and her husband Milo attend a masked ball. They’re on the lookout for a jewel thief, but no one expects murder. Amory assists the police in their investigation, while confronting rumors about Milo and a French film star. Witty prose, a well-plotted mystery and a sensitive portrait of a difficult marriage. (I also loved Weaver’s debut, Murder at the Brightwell.) To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 13).

Kissing in America, Margo Rabb
Since her dad died, Eva Roth has found solace in romance novels, much to the disgust of her feminist mother. When her crush finally notices her, Eva dares to hope for her own romance – but then he moves to California. Eva and her best friend take off on a cross-country road trip filled with wacky experiences and surprising epiphanies about love and grief. This is not a typical YA love story – it’s so much better. Complex, funny and poignant. Recommended by Rebecca on All the Books.

How to Write a Novel, Melanie Sumner
Aristotle Thibodeau, age 12.5, plans to write the Great American Novel (in 30 days!) and thereby solve her family’s financial problems. Her novel is autobiographical, but the characters (single mom, zany little brother, handsome handyman) just won’t behave as Aris  wants them to. Entertaining (though too cutesy at times); full of wry quips (and footnotes) on the writing life. Found at Island Books in Newport, RI.

A Demon Summer, G.M. Malliet
Father Max Tudor is called to a nearby abbey to investigate a suspected poisoning via fruitcake. Soon after he arrives, another abbey guest is found dead in the cloister. This was one of those mystery solutions where two-thirds of the relevant information comes out at the very end, which I always find unsatisfying. (Besides, I like Max’s village and wish he’d get back to solving mysteries there.)

Middlemarch, George Eliot
I read this for my occasional book club‘s August meeting. (Obviously, I did not finish it in time.) I found it quite tedious at times, but witty and full of truth at other times. A mixed bag, but a classic I’m glad I finally read.

Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson
Emily’s best friend Sloane disappears – with no explanation – right before the summer they’ve been planning. She leaves Emily a list of 13 unusual tasks. With the help of a few new friends, Emily completes the list and discovers a new side of herself. I love Matson’s YA novels (complete with plenty of playlists) and this one was no exception.

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

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book culture shop interior nyc

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
Tough teenager Molly has one chance to stay out of juvie: helping elderly widow Vivian clean out her attic. But as they sort through decades’ worth of boxes, Molly learns about Vivian’s childhood and her journey west on an orphan train in 1929. The two women have more in common than they think. A poignant story and an evocative glimpse at a little-known slice of history.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, Alan Bradley
Sleuth-cum-chemist Flavia de Luce is back for a sixth adventure, in which her mother’s body is brought home from the Far East. But even a funeral isn’t simple at Buckshaw: several mysterious characters are lurking. Flavia’s grief (and her family’s) permeated this book, making it heavier than her usual escapades, but a couple of twists at the end open up exciting future possibilities.

Roomies, Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
The summer before college is a time of limbo: everything is about to change, but for now, life hangs suspended. As Elizabeth and her assigned freshman roommate, Lauren, begin exchanging emails, they have to deal with family struggles, new romances and the looming transition. Funny, poignant and wise. Zarr and Altebrando capture this time perfectly.

The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup, and One Family’s Quest for the Sweetest Harvest, Douglas Whynott
The maple syrup industry – tapping trees, gathering sap, making and selling syrup – is more complicated than it appears. Whynott visits lots of sugarhouses (where syrup is made) and interviews sugarmakers, pulling back the curtain on an ancient process and a modern industry. A bit disorganized at times, but full of fascinating info. Sure to stimulate cravings for pure maple syrup. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 4).

Being Sloane Jacobs, Lauren Morrill
Two teenage girls, both named Sloane Jacobs, bump into each other as they arrive in Montreal for skating camps and decide to switch places. Senator’s daughter Sloane Emily goes to hockey camp, while tough Philly girl Sloane Devon dives into the sequined world of figure skating. Both girls are struggling with family issues and burnout in their chosen sports. The charade is fun at first, but how long can they keep it up? I loved Morrill’s debut, Meant to Be, and also loved this story. (And they visit some of my favorite Montreal spots!)

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer, Micha Boyett
Micha is a fellow West Texas-bred Baptist girl and one of my favorite bloggers. Her memoir of finding prayer amid the daily grind of motherhood – through the Rule of St. Benedict and wise words from other friends – is like a long, cool drink of water. She writes gracefully and honestly about prayer, anxiety and hope. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 1).

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

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shoes book harvard yard

(Remembering the days when it was warm enough to sit and read in Harvard Yard.)

The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Since moving to Boston, I’ve reached for this book every winter. The Ingalls family’s hard winter gives me perspective – at least I’m not living off seed wheat! – and courage to face the bitter winds and freezing temps. I particularly love the bond between Pa and Laura, and their staunch bravery (and honest frustration) in the face of blizzard after blizzard. A favorite.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Sarah Addison Allen
Emily Benedict, orphaned at 17, moves from Boston to her mother’s North Carolina hometown, longing to discover her family history. She gets more than she bargained for and also meets an unusual boy. I like Allen’s gentle magical realism, but I had trouble believing in this book’s central conceit. Garden Spells is still my favorite of hers.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, Austin Kleon
A fun, fast, quirky list of creativity tips (per the subtitle). Good reminders about the importance of side projects, the potential to get ideas anywhere, and other aspects of the creative life. A quick hit of inspiration.

Meant to Be, Lauren Morrill
Type-A, straight-A Julia believes in being prepared for all scenarios. But on a class trip to London, she gets paired with Jason, a goofy, spontaneous rule-breaker who drives her completely crazy. Can Julia – and Jason – let go of the notion that “meant to be” is always what you’ve planned? A fun YA love story in a fabulous setting.

The Supreme Macaroni Company, Adriana Trigiani
Shoemaker Valentine Roncalli is finally marrying the man she loves, but juggling a new marriage and an established business proves challenging. I usually love Trigiani’s stories of women from big Italian families chasing their dreams, but this third novel about Valentine felt rushed and unsatisfying.

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

I’m joining Leigh’s February Reading Challenge, so I won’t be buying any books in February (though I will be using the library). Wish me luck!

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christmas books bookshop window tree stockings

City of God: Faith in the Streets, Sara Miles
My friend Kari loves Sara Miles, but this is the first book of hers I’ve read – a meditation on finding God in San Francisco, as Miles offers ashes to people on the streets on Ash Wednesday. She captures some tender, moving human moments, though some of the other themes (the gentrification of the Mission neighborhood, for example) felt repetitive. Messy, hopeful and sometimes lovely. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 4).

The House of Hades, Rick Riordan
Seven demigods are racing toward the Doors of Death – five of them on a flying ship, the other two from inside Tartarus. If they don’t seal the Doors, the earth goddess Gaea will wreak havoc on the world, but can they complete the quest and survive? A fun installment in Riordan’s fast-paced Heroes of Olympus series, jam-packed with entertaining mythological references. Lots of slapstick and adolescent humor, but some moments of self-awareness too: the demigods are growing up.

Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
My friend Julie gave me this book years ago, and I read it every December. It’s a gentle story of love, loss and new beginnings, of Christmas in a tiny Scottish village and unlikely friendships. The familiar scenes make me smile and the ending makes me teary. Rereading it is one of my favorite Advent rituals.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett
I love Patchett’s novel Bel Canto and adored this collection of essays on marriages (failed and successful ones), the writing life, the genesis of the bookstore Patchett co-owns (Parnassus Books), and her friendship with an elderly nun. Witty, wise and beautifully written. Now I’m debating which of Patchett’s other novels to read next.

To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing, Simon Garfield
I loved Garfield’s On the Map, and he tackles the subject of letter writing with his signature gusto. He traces the evolution of letters’ role in society, the development of the postal service, and provides excerpts – some touching, some scandalous – from great letter writers. Woven throughout are a series of World War II love letters, which are romantic, frustrating and endearingly human. A fabulous book on a wonderful subject.

Shepherds Abiding, Jan Karon
It’s almost Christmas in Mitford and Father Tim Kavanagh has a secret – he’s restoring a lovely old Nativity scene as a surprise for his wife, Cynthia. Several of his fellow townspeople have Christmas secrets, too. Sweet and heartwarming and funny, like all the Mitford novels.

The Nine Tailors, Dorothy L. Sayers
A stalled car brings Lord Peter Wimsey to a remote East Anglian village with a beautiful set of church bells, and a set of dark secrets. Murder and floods follow, but of course our intrepid detective solves the mystery. Moody and fascinating, with an unusual solution to the case.

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tealuxe emily deep valley maud hart lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley, Maud Hart Lovelace
I discovered Emily’s story – a lesser-known classic by the author of my beloved Betsy-Tacy books – a few years ago, and now I hanker for it every fall. Emily feels stuck in Deep Valley, caring for her grandfather while her friends go off to college. But she “musters her wits” – starting a Browning Club, taking dancing lessons, befriending a few Syrian families – and gains some much-needed self-confidence. She’s a winning, quietly strong, utterly relatable heroine. I adore her, and I love seeing all my favorite Deep Valley folks (Cab Edwards, Miss Fowler, Betsy Ray herself) again.

Thirty Days to Glory, Kathy Nickerson
Kathy (a dear blog-friend) sent me the e-version of her debut novel (out Oct. 25) for review. It’s a heartwarming holiday story about Catherine, an elderly widow who longs to do something important with her remaining days on earth, and Elmer, a down-on-his-luck drunk who needs something good to happen to him. Their stories intertwine in surprising ways. Bittersweet but hopeful.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy L. Sayers
When an elderly general turns up dead in his easy chair at his favorite club, everyone supposes he simply died in his sleep. But Lord Peter Wimsey suspects foul play – especially since the distribution of a sizable inheritance depends on exactly when the general died. Wimsey is coming into his own as a detective (and Sayers as a writer) – this mystery was great fun, and satisfyingly plotted.

Emerald Green, Kerstin Gier
Since Gwyneth Shepherd found out she’s one of an elite circle of time travelers, everything has been going wrong – including her relationship with Gideon, a charming but cocky fellow time traveler. In this conclusion to the Ruby Red trilogy, Gwen and Gideon must hopscotch back and forth through time to avert a disaster and to find answers to some pressing questions. Witty, romantic and fast-paced – a fun conclusion to a wonderful trilogy. It had been a year since I read the second book, Sapphire Blue; I’d like to reread these books all in a row.

Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro
I had the pleasure of meeting Dani when she read at Brookline Booksmith this month. Still Writing is a wise, quiet collection of musings, anecdotes and encouragement about the writing life. Divided into Beginnings, Middles and Ends, these short essays offer wisdom, guidance, humor and hope to those of us who return over and over again to the blank page. Lovely.

Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, Debora Spar
I found an article by Spar via Lindsey’s blog and picked up her memoir-cum-dissection of feminism, its effects, and the relentless perfectionism under which many women still struggle. Spar is president of Barnard College and a former Harvard Business School professor; I appreciated her insights on the differences between male- and female-dominated workplaces. She explores the dizzying array of options (for careers, childbearing and relationships) available to women, but I wanted more practical ideas on how to balance them. Not quite as good as Lean In, but still thought-provoking.

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portsmouth book & bar

Strong Poison, Dorothy L. Sayers
My Harriet Vane kick continues. This book introduces Harriet – on trial for poisoning her lover – and begins Lord Peter Wimsey’s quest to get her acquitted and make her his wife. Since Harriet is in prison for most of the book, she plays a much more minor role than I remembered. But I loved watching Peter (and his elderly accomplice, Miss Climpson) solve the mystery. They figured out whodunit quickly, but the why and the how are more interesting and complicated.

Owls in the Family, Farley Mowat
A fun, topsy-turvy story of one boy’s life in Saskatoon, on the Canadian prairie, and the high jinks that result when he adopts two owls (christened Wol and Weeps). Recommended by a Canadian friend and picked up at the charming Argo Bookshop in Montreal.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey
Orphaned and unloved after the death of her uncle, Gemma Hardy (born in Iceland but living in Scotland) must learn to make her own way in an unfriendly world. A beautifully written homage to Jane Eyre, Gemma’s story follows some of Jane’s: a stint at a miserable school, a position as a governess (this time on the Orkney Islands), a love affair with an older man. Like Jane, Gemma refuses marriage, but there her story turns off the path – toward her Icelandic roots. I wanted more of Iceland, but I loved Gemma’s fierce yet vulnerable voice and followed her adventures with great interest.

Whose Body?, Dorothy L. Sayers
After a brilliant book club discussion about Gaudy Night, I went back to the beginning – this book marks Lord Peter’s first appearance. A body is found in a London bathtub; in the same week, a wealthy financier disappears. Are the crimes connected? (Of course they are.) Wimsey and his policeman friend Parker investigate. Fun, light and elegant – with an interesting glimpse into Lord Peter’s experiences in World War I and their aftermath.

United We Spy, Ally Carter
I tore through this sixth (and sadly final) installment in Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, which I love. Cammie Morgan, her boyfriend Zach and her band of loyal friends (and spies) must rescue a friend from prison, track down the leaders of the secret society who are hunting them, and dodge Zach’s mother, a former Gallagher Girl who is out for vengeance. Fast-paced and mostly satisfying, with a sweet happy ending. (Though I hoped for a little more self-awareness from the narrator and a bit more resolution for her on life after graduation.) Carter’s books are so much fun.

The Sound and the Furry, Spencer Quinn
Bernie Little, PI, and his canine partner, Chet (who narrates), head down to Louisiana to track down a missing man. Down on the bayou, they find family feuds, stolen shrimp, a gang from Houston and a massive alligator who’s always hungry. Told in Chet’s trademark style, this is a tricky little case in a new and different setting for our team. I love Chet’s voice and it was so much fun to hang out with him again.

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The books I bought on Cape Cod last weekend, from Where the Sidewalk Ends, Reed Books and Yellow Umbrella.

I loved Code Name Verity (and am so happy to own it now); blazed through The Apothecary on the beach; and can’t wait to start the other two. (I’m also loving the color-coordinated covers.)

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Here’s a bonus interior shot of Where the Sidewalk Ends, whose name makes me think of both that Shel Silverstein book and that George Strait song.

where the sidewalk ends chatham ma

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Finding Colin Firth, Mia March
A sweet story of three women whose lives intersect in a small Maine town, where Colin Firth is filming a movie. A few characters from March’s debut, The Meryl Streep Movie Club, appear. I liked the characters (and the mouthwatering descriptions of Veronica’s “magic” pies). Predictable, but light and fun. (I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith, Fred Bahnson
A thoughtful memoir about the connections between faith and food, largely lost in the U.S. today. Bahnson explores several faith-based food movements, from an abbey in South Carolina to a Jewish organic farm in Connecticut, while musing about our ties to, and responsibility for, the land. Rambling at times, but still interesting. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 6).

The Finishing Touches, Hester Browne
Left on the doorstep of a London finishing school as an infant, Betsy Phillimore grew up amid white gloves and curtsies, but always wondered about her birth parents. When her adoptive mother dies, it turns out the school is in trouble, and Betsy jumps in to modernize it (while secretly researching her past). A fun, modern-day fairy tale.

The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett
“Retired” detective Nick Charles and his wife Nora get pulled into a missing persons case involving the family of an old friend. This book is known as a noir classic, and the plot was compelling, but I didn’t care for most of the characters. (I had hoped to like Nick and Nora better.) So-so.

Eat With Joy: Reclaiming God’s Gift of Food, Rachel Marie Stone
We’re all overwhelmed by conflicting messages about food, diets and calories. Stone takes a refreshing perspective, exploring the ways in which eating (and cooking and buying) food can be a creative, restorative, life-giving process instead of a string of worries. (She gardens and shops at farmer’s markets, but admits to ordering takeout regularly.) Unpretentious, encouraging and delicious (several recipes included).

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, Cris Beam
The U.S. foster care system is broken – and the statistics for drug abuse, homelessness, etc. among former foster kids are staggering. Beam follows several foster kids (mostly teenagers) and foster families in NYC, trying to understand where the system breaks down, and why. Heartbreaking, well-researched, and ultimately more descriptive than proscriptive. But one thing is clear: the system needs to change. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 13).

Surviving the Applewhites, Stephanie S. Tolan
After Jake Semple gets kicked out of yet another school, he comes to live with the Applewhites, a cheerful, chaotic family of eccentric creatives. Only E.D., age 12, is completely non-artistic, and she resents Jake’s intrusion into their family. But when a local theatrical production of The Sound of Music meets with several disasters, the Applewhites – and Jake – rise to the occasion. Fun and kooky.

Le Road Trip: A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France, Vivian Swift
A pair of middle-aged newlyweds take a wandering honeymoon in France, from Paris to country villages and back again. Swift’s watercolors and sketches accompany tidbits of history and musings on love, travel and the lure of the road. Lovely and amusing.

Swept Off Her Feet, Hester Browne
London antiques appraiser Evie Nicholson heads to Scotland to appraise a castle full of ancient furniture and clanking armor. She’s especially intrigued by the story of a Downton-esque American heiress who saved the estate from ruin – and by the handsome current heir, Robert. Fun and witty, full of meaningful glances, dusty heirlooms, complicated Scottish reels and a glorious candlelit ball.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot sets out to solve a murder in a small English village, with the help of the local doctor (who narrates). He interviews a varied cast of suspects, all of whom (of course) are hiding something. Intriguing, with a shocking twist near the end. Great fun.

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