Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for December, 2017

What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton – I knew immediately that I was going to want to read this.  While I still feel raw sadness over the election, I also believe that the first-person narrative by the first woman ever to be nominated for President by a major political party is an important historical document and a story that needed telling.  I also think that those who want Hillary to “be quiet” and “go away” are indulging in short-sighted misogyny.  (Does the same angry dismissiveness dog Mitt Romney and John McCain whenever they speak out about politics?  Of course not.)  What Happened was wrenching, but it was thoughtful, meticulously crafted, and quietly brilliant – in short, it was very Hillary.  It made me cry, but I loved it.

Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3), by Kevin Kwan – Needing something light and frothy in the extreme after the sobfest gut-punch that was What Happened, I turned to the final chapter in the saga of Nick Young, Rachel Chu, Astrid Leong and the whole gang.  Nick and Astrid’s beloved grandmother, Shang Su Yi, is on her deathbed and the entire family has come out of the woodwork to jockey for position in case she changes her will at the last minute.  Nick doesn’t care about his inheritance, but he travels to Singapore at Rachel’s urging so that his grandmother doesn’t pass away before they have healed their rift, only to find when he gets there that his grasping cousin, Eddie – hoping to inherit the estate in Nick’s place – has barred him from the house.  Rich People Problems is as full of twists, drama and designer label name-dropping as its predecessors, and it was so much fun.

Slightly Foxed No. 56: Making the Best of Ited. Gail Pikris – I have been a Slightly Foxed subscriber for a little over a year now, but somehow I just discovered that when you sit down and read an issue cover to cover, it counts as a book on Goodreads.  (Who knew?)  I figure if it counts there, it should count here, too – and a 96-page volume of personal essays about books (which is what every Slightly Foxed issue is) should be considered a book in any event.  So – the latest issue!  I read a few essays at a time and loved them all, as usual, but my favorite was the essay about the Chalet School books, which I am planning to read – at least some – in 2018.

The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher – My mom couldn’t believe I hadn’t read this before, because my grandmama had a copy and had loved Pilcher.  It took awhile – other library deadlines kept interfering in November – but I very much enjoyed the story of Penelope Keeling and her useless children.  (The kids really were the worst, which diminished Rebecca’s enjoyment of the book after I recommended it to her, I am sorry to report.)  I just adored it for its atmospheric setting and lush writing.  No detail was spared – and I didn’t want any details spared.  I wanted to know absolutely everything about what Penelope made Danus for lunch and how the wine was when she and Richard went on their date and what she grows in her garden and how she decorates her kitchen and solarium and, I mean, tell me all of the things.  I am only sorry that it had to end.

Slightly Foxed No. 1: Kindred Spirits, ed. Gail Pikris – I’m on a roll!  I’d been wanting to go back and read through the back issues (which I have been collecting, little by little, for the past two years) and I really enjoyed this first issue of the journal.  The essay Ex Libris starts the volume off strong, and I loved the short bits describing woodcut bookplates (since wood-cutting is one of my favorite art forms).

Christmas at Thrush Green, by Miss Read – There is a 2018 #MissReadalong going on over on Instagram, and they actually began in 2017 with Christmas at Thrush Green.  I don’t know that it was the best place to begin, because it was assumed that the reader knew most of the characters and was familiar with their stories and how they met their spouses, and for the most part, I wasn’t.  (I read Thrush Green, the first in the series, a couple of years ago but don’t remember much about it.)  But it was a quiet, comforting, warm and cozy way to spend a few evenings reading by the light of my Christmas tree, and for that, totally worth it.  I’ll probably revisit it next December and I’ll bet I enjoy it even more then, after I’ve read through the series as I am planning to do.

London War Notes, by Mollie Panter-Downes – This collection of Panter-Downes’ “Letters from London” to The New Yorker between 1939 and 1945 had been lingering on my “currently-reading” shelf for way too long, thanks to intervening library deadlines.  It’s no reflection on the book, which is heart-rending and utterly captivating.  Panter-Downes writes with equal parts pathos and humor about the experiences of living through the Blitz, rationing, and long periods of waiting with bated breath for news of an ally or updates from the front.  She, and her fellow Londoners, are stoic and determined, but also set on finding enjoyment and laughter where they can.  If nonfiction about World War II can be delightful, this is.

Christmas at High Rising, by Angela Thirkell – A quick collection of short stories featuring the Morlands and their friends at High Rising, this was the work of an evening and was delightful.  Tony Morland goes ice-skating and falls in and out of a crush on a French girl, everyone goes to the pantomime, Tony rides a horse – in short, it’s all the High Rising drama you could wish.  My only complaint was that despite the title, there was nothing particularly Christmassy about it.  There is a story that focuses on Valentine’s Day, a story about Tony’s summer holidays, but only one Christmas story that was not even set in Barsetshire.  I think I’d read that somewhere but forgotten.  Calling the book Holidays in High Rising would have been more accurate and I’d have been less disappointed then.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie – Here’s a book that is definitely about Christmas!  Poirot is called in to investigate a murder that takes place on Christmas Eve in an old English manor house.  Yes, please!  The victim, Simeon Lee, is the much-hated squire of the county.  He’s a well-known womanizer who delights in setting his children against one another, and – as always – there are no shortage of possible killers with both motive and opportunity.  (I love the cozy mysteries where the victim is so vile that you need not feel guilty for enjoying the story.)  Naturally, Poirot unravels the mystery, and the solution is quite surprising.  I enjoyed myself immensely in reading this on Christmas itself and for a couple of days after.

Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich – Having loved Erdrich’s Birchbark House series for children, I wanted to try one of her adult novels and figured I’d start with her new release.  She is clearly a breathtaking writer, but Future Home of the Living God fell flat for me (which from what I hear was a common experience).  The story focuses on a pregnant woman who is on the run after evolution mysteriously stops and the government begins seizing all pregnant women and, later, women of childbearing age.  It’s an interesting premise, but I felt like I was reading The Handmaid’s Tale again (with a couple of slight differences) and was also frustrated that there wasn’t more exposition of the apocalyptic event.  I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief while reading – especially dystopias and fantasies – but you need to tell me what I am suspending disbelief about, or at least give me a hint.  I’m going to try one of Edrich’s really highly acclaimed novels, like The Round House and LaRose, and I suspect I’ll like those better.

That does it for me for 2017!  Ten books (including two Slightly Foxed quarterlies) in December – a respectable finish to the year, I think.  I finished a couple that had been lingering on the shelf, and ended up enjoying both (The Shell Seekers and London War Notes) probably the most of anything I read this month.  The Christmas books were a highlight of the month, naturally, and What Happened was hard to read but so worth it.  And that’s the end of a year in reading!  I think I’m going to come in somewhere around 101 books for the year, but I haven’t done my official count yet – soon.  It’s been a good year and I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store.

What was the best book you read in December?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for November, 2017

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer – I picked up Dark Money on the recommendation of a coworker, and it was fascinating and truly eye-opening.  As a person who follows the news, I was aware of the Koch brothers and their political machine, but I had no idea how extensive the shadowy “Kochtopus” actually is, nor was I aware of many of the other wealthy families and individuals who have been quietly driving American politics.  Mayer’s reporting is excellent, and she shines sunlight into quite a few dark corners that – if I was missing them, I think most people are missing them.  I was particularly appalled to read about Ed Gillespie’s role in the gerrymandering that has taken place over the past decade – so that felt quite timely, since we were in the final days of the Virginia gubernatorial election when I was reading this.  After learning about Gillespie’s activities on behalf of the radical right-wing, I was even more relieved that Dr. Northam will be my next governor.

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng – Having just read Everything I Never Told You last month, I was particularly excited to get my hands on Ng’s new book.  Little Fires Everywhere, like its predecessor, takes place in suburban Ohio, opens dramatically, and presents a family saga as a page-turner.  When we first meet the Richardson family, their house is burning to the ground – the fire set by the youngest daughter, Izzy Richardson.  Izzy built “little fires everywhere” – setting up a campfire on each of her siblings’ beds “like a demented Girl Scout.”  The story then rewinds several months, and the reader learns how Izzy got to the point of setting her house on fire and running away.  It’s a twisting narrative of friendship, race, family and art, as Izzy and her siblings fall in with a mother and daughter who are newcomers to the town, and the entire community is shaken by a legal dispute over an adoption.  As with Everything I Never Told You, I blazed through Little Fires Everywhere, reading breathlessly and – at times – tearfully.  Ng is really a masterful writer – I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Coronation Summer, by Angela Thirkell – Not one of Thirkell’s Barsetshire books, Coronation Summer is a standalone novel about a young woman who, accompanied by family and friends, travels to London to join in the festivities surrounding Queen Victoria’s coronation.  It’s a very funny novel – particularly when it comes to the relationship between Fanny, the main character and narrator, and her best friend Emily, who is traveling with her.  Fanny likes Emily but doesn’t have much respect for her, and she drops snarky little asides about Emily, her speech and behavior, onto almost every page.  They’re rude in the most hilarious way.  Of course, Fanny’s satirical eye falls on almost everyone in her traveling group at some point.  Meanwhile, the reader is treated to an ongoing parade of activities – operas, concerts, parties, club breakfasts, melodramatic reveals of love poems hidden in books – the works.  And of course, Queen Victoria herself is spotted in a carriage.  It’s all good fun and utterly engrossing.

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, by Maya Angelou – I’ve read a few of Angelou’s poems before – the more well-known ones, like Phenomenal Woman, Still I Rise, and On the Pulse of Morning – but had felt more drawn to her memoirs, especially the classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  So I’d never before sat down with her poetry and read her works one after the other.  On their own, they’re gorgeous, but read as a collection, they’re absolutely breathtaking.  I paged through this collection reading one poem after the next, and found myself awed, humbled, moved, and deeply sorry that the experience ended so quickly – a couple of days is clearly not enough time to spend with Angelou.  While every poem was meticulously crafted and beautifully moving, I think I still have the same favorite, and even the same favorite lines: You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.

The Origin of Others, by Toni Morrison – I was in the middle of another book and had intended to finish it first, but after checking The Origin of Others out of the library, I couldn’t wait and had to dive right in.  This is a collection of lectures Morrison gave at Harvard University, speaking about race and “otherness” in literature and life.  Of course, it’s completely brilliant.  (And has the added benefit of being introduced by another writer I deeply admire, Ta-Nehisi Coates.)  Morrison tackles big topics such as the construction of the “other” and who it benefits to have a class of “others” or “strangers,” discusses the real historical events behind her most acclaimed novel, Beloved (which, to my detriment, I have not yet read – but I’m going to correct that soon), and sprinkles in bits of memoir and reflection on her own interesting life.  Coates, meanwhile, ties Morrison’s not-overtly-political lectures into current events, which gives an important perspective.  I read The Origin of Others in a couple of sittings over one morning – it’s a short book, but full of wonder – and was moved and inspired by every well-chosen word.

The Flight of the Maidens, by Jane Gardam – Three friends (Hetty, Una, and Lieselotte) learn that they have received prestigious state scholarships to attend universities.  Hetty is off to London to study literature, while Una and Lieselotte are bound for Cambridge and, respectively, physics and modern languages.  The Flight of the Maidens follows each of them as they go their separate ways over their last summer at home and the rest of the world adjusts to peacetime after years of World War II.  Hetty, who is nominally the main character, heads off to the Lake District to stay at a B&B and make some headway on her reading list; Una explores her budding womanhood with her Communist boyfriend, Ray, in a series of youth hostels; and Lieselotte – a Jewish refugee who has been living with Quakers in Yorkshire for seven years – doesn’t fly the coop so much as finds herself snatched away and “adopted” first by an elderly London couple and then by an eccentric American aunt.  So – I enjoyed this, but not as much as I’d expected to.  It was beautifully written, but I wasn’t engaged.  I expect that’s mostly a function of feeling like I had to read it (thanks to a library deadline) – so it seemed like work.  But I didn’t really enjoy any of the characters, with the possible exception of Lieselotte – everyone else just bugged me.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Like many, I was avidly anticipating the new Ta-Nehisi Coates, and he didn’t disappoint.  We Were Eight Years in Power is a look at the issues and conversations that were going on during the eight years of the Obama presidency (please come back!) via eight of Coates’ essays published in The Atlantic.  Each of the essays is prefaced with a short piece Coates wrote from the perspective of 2017, which read almost like blog posts.  I loved the essays – I’d actually read the last three: The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration; My President Was Black; and The First White President – in The Atlantic, so I was familiar with them already, but they greatly reward re-reading.  The best part, though, was the introduction Coates wrote for each piece.  He looks at each of his essays with a critical eye and is quite straightforward about what portions of each essay work well (in his opinion) and what he thinks could have been improved or stood the test of time.  It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the self-critical thought process of one of the major writers of our day.  Dare I say – I think I liked We Were Eight Years in Power even better than Between the World and Me.  (Don’t @ me!  Just read them both!)

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery – There is an ever-dwindling handful of L.M. Montgomery books I have not yet read, and The Blue Castle was, until recently, among them.  I have been trying to parcel them out so they last me awhile, but I knew there would never be a better opportunity than when Naomi and Sarah announced their #ReadingValancy readalong event for November.  So I burned one of my precious twenty-four book credits (how I’ve been thinking of Project 24) on a beautiful Sourcebooks paperback, and then I inhaled it.  You can read my thoughts at length in my rambling readalong post here, but – suffice to say – I LOVED every word.  Valancy is a charming heroine, and her rise from colorless and cowering spinster to happy, fulfilled person and wife was a delight from the first page to the last.  I loved following her journey, desperately hoped for a happy ending for her, and eagerly (as always) drank in LMM’s beautiful descriptive nature writing.  The fall and winter scenes, in particular, were delicious – I can perfectly understand why Sarah and Naomi wanted to read The Blue Castle in November.  It was bewitching.

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3), by N.K. Jemisin – The final installment of the story of Essun, Nassun, and the war between Earth and humanity, orogene and “still,” stone-eater and comm-dweller, is equal parts confusing and satisfying.  I am not normally a reader who insists on all installments in a series being published before I will read the series, but I can see the merit in that position, especially with a series like The Broken Earth Trilogy.  The books start out confusing, since the world is so complex and foreign and the terminology so unrecognizable, and reading them with long gaps in between doesn’t help.  I did read all three this year, I know, but it’s been months since I read the second book, The Obelisk Gate, and other than rough outlines, I’d pretty much forgotten what happened in it (and don’t ask me any questions at all about The Fifth Season, the opening installment, because I dunno).  I spent most of the book scratching my head and trying to remember who was who and what had come before in the narrative, and with a story as complicated and confusing as this trilogy, that really put me behind.  I did enjoy it, and did think that the ending was satisfying (won’t spoil it!) but a word of advice – these are all out now, so if you want to read the series, start from the beginning and read them in close succession.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater – I don’t think I mentioned reading this during my Monday reading posts, because it wasn’t my regular Metro- and post-bedtime-reading – it was so much better!  Mr. Popper’s Penguins was the first long chapter book that I read aloud to Peanut!  We have been working our way through it slowly, one chapter at a time, for about two months – reading a chapter most but not all evenings.  I chose it for a few reasons – (1) I hadn’t read it myself and thought it would be fun to experience something new along with Peanut; (2) the chapters are fairly short; and (3) Peanut and I have tickets to see the play version at the Kennedy Center in a couple of weeks.  The story was utterly charming and we had so much fun reading together and laughing at the penguins’ silly antics.  (And oh, that poor, forbearing Mrs. Popper…)  I loved the whole experience of reading a chapter book aloud to Peanut – that was something I’d been dreaming of and looking forward to since before she was born – and this was a perfect first readaloud.

China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2), by Kevin Kwan – I had sort of forgotten about Crazy Rich Asians, but with the publication of the third and final book in the trilogy and the announcement of the cast for the movie, I decided to revisit Rachel Chu, Nick Young, Astrid Leong, Kitty Pong, and the whole crew.  China Rich Girlfriend picks up a few years after Crazy Rich Asians ends.  It is virtually the eve of Nick and Rachel’s wedding, and Nick has not spoken to his mother since he and Rachel left Singapore, nor forgiven her for the way she treated Rachel.  Astrid has patched things up with her estranged husband, Michael, who has made it big and finally hit his first billion – but the money has changed him, and not in a good way.  Kitty, meanwhile, has thrown over Alistair Cheng and married a reclusive billionaire, but is finding it hard to break into high society in Hong Kong.  The plot is pretty thin, and the name-dropping of luxury brands is as obscene as it was in the first book, but GOLLY these are such good fun – and pure fantasy wish fulfillment for those of us who will never fly in our own private jets.  I’m rooting so hard for Nick, Rachel and Astrid, and even starting to have some sympathy for Kitty (who is a LOT of fun to read) as she stumbles through society (getting the better of everyone in the end, I might add!).  I have Rich People Problems, the third in the trilogy, on my library stack and I can’t wait.

What a November!  Eleven books – I think it must have been a long month.  Anyway, lots of good stuff here.  I had a gloriously fabulous time revisiting the Asian jet set in China Rich Girlfriend and poking around Victorian London in Coronation Summer, but I think the highlight of the month had to be The Blue Castle.  I just loved every moment spent with Valancy – my only wish is that there could have been more.  I know I’ll be coming back to that one again and again.  I’m also really pleased with the diversity of my reading in November – six out of eleven books, more than 50%, from writers of color.  Some Toni Morrison, some Ta-Nehisi Coates, some Celeste Ng, some Kevin Kwan – and more.  I’ve worked so hard to make sure that diverse voices are finding their way onto my reading list and making that commitment has truly enriched my reading life.  Now – onward to December!  I have a great pile of what I expect to be fabulous books to close out the reading year.  

What’s the best thing you read in November?

 

Read Full Post »

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for October, 2017

Something True, by Karelia Stretz-Waters – Tate Grafton is a barista who has given up her own career to help prop up the coffee shop that saved her when she was a teenager who’d been kicked out of her mom’s house.  She’s trying to make her peace with the fact that her life is passing her by, when Laura Enfield walks into the coffee shop and asks if there is a “women’s bar” nearby.  Laura is looking for a one-night stand, and she draws Tate in – but things get extremely complicated when their paths cross again.  So, I picked this up to fulfill a task for the Book Riot Challenge – read an LGBTQ romance.  It was okay – the writing was good, the plot was engaging and the ending satisfying – but what I realized is, romance is not my genre.  (I already knew this.)  I certainly wanted to know what was going to happen, and I kept reading even while shaking my head over the characters’ terrible decision after terrible decision.  So I’m glad I gave it a shot, but it didn’t turn me into a romance reader.

The Golden House, by Salman Rushdie – This book, Rushdie’s answer to the 2016 election, was heavily hyped and I was really excited to read it.  The book centers upon a young filmmaker named Rene who becomes one of the few people allowed into the inner sanctum of the reclusive Golden family – patriarch Nero, his young Russian supermodel wife Vasilisa, and his three troubled sons.  Rene watches as the Golden family begins to collapse.  Meanwhile, the Joker – of comic book fame – announces his candidacy for President of the United States and amasses legions of followers who respond to his insane proclamations with a chant of “Ha! Ha! Ha!”  So – the Joker parts were the most interesting to me, and there were not nearly enough of them.  The Goldens themselves didn’t really interest me, with the possible exception of Vasilisa.  It seems like, try as I might – and I do try mightily – I can’t seem to get Rushdie.

See America: A Celebration of Our National Parks and Treasured Sites, by the Creative Action Network – I picked this book up on a whim, off an endcap at the library.  The artists of the Creative Action Network have put together a collection of “See America” illustrations – one for every legacy national park and most of the smaller NPS-managed sites – in the style of the “See America” posters created to advertise the national parks during FDR’s Works Progress Administration.  The posters all echo the WPA posters in style, and each is accompanied by a one-paragraph description of the park and a map showing where it is located.  As with any art book, some of the illustrations were more to my liking than others, but I really loved most of them – no surprise there, because I love the national parks.  The only thing that bugged me about the book was that there were a few careless typos.  For instance, one national monument was noted as having been designated “by President Barack Obama in 2008” – well, President Obama was not sworn into office until January of 2009; I don’t think President-elects have the power to designate national monuments during the transition period.  And Cape Cod National Seashore was referred to as being in “Texas and Oklahoma” – which, no.  It was correctly located in Massachusetts on the map, but the text was wrong.  I felt that careful editing should have caught both of those, since they jumped off the page at me and I wasn’t reading for typos.  But other than that irritant, I really enjoyed the book.

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng – I tore through this family saga, which opens with perhaps the most gripping line of any literary novel: “Lydia is dead, but they don’t know it yet.”  (Right?  How can you not keep reading after that?!)  The book follows the Lee family – parents James and Marilyn, whose mixed-race marriage in the 1950s caused seismic waves that are still reverberating years later, and their three children, Nathan, Lydia and Hannah.  Lydia is the favorite, and struggles with the weight of parental expectations piled upon her shoulders, while Nath and Hannah fade into the background.  When she disappears and is later found dead, each member of the family copes differently.  Everything I Never Told You is a family story disguised as a thriller disguised as a family story and is completely and utterly captivating.  I was turning pages at a breakneck pace, wanting to smack both of the parents and hug Nath and Hannah tight.  I think I finished the book in less than 24 hours – I just couldn’t put it down.

Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson – Nimona is a bloodthirsty sixteen-year-old shapeshifter who walks into the lair of local villain Lord Ballister Blackheart and offers herself up as a sidekick.  Blackheart is initially skeptical, but agrees to take Nimona on – she doesn’t really give him a choice – and she instantly ups his villain cred and gives him a leg up in his ongoing dispute with his archnemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin.  It doesn’t take Nimona long to both announce her presence and to discover that Goldenloin’s employers are up to some shady dealings.  Blackheart, for his part, is not nearly as villainous as he’s made out to be by the people he supposedly terrorizes, and Goldenloin is far from the golden hero.  As Blackheart and Nimona launch a plot to expose the Institute of Heroes for what it truly is, Blackheart finds himself caring almost paternally for Nimona.  (Awwwww…)  So, I just loved this.  It was sweet, funny, silly and touching.  Blackheart was my favorite, and I was cheering for him to get some resolution – and Nimona kept everyone, including the reader, on their toes throughout. A total delight.

Beartown, by Fredrik Backman – Backman’s books have gotten so much hype and buzz, that I felt compelled to give him a try.  Perhaps it was all that buzz, but I liked – but didn’t love – Beartown.  It should have been a story right up my alley – Beartown is a small rural hamlet that shares one obsession: hockey.  The town’s hopes and dreams for the future are completely invested in its junior hockey team, which is about to play in a major semifinal match, and the town elders hope that if the juniors win, it will bring the town enough attention to attract a hockey academy and rescue the sagging local economy.  It’s a lot of pressure to put on a group of kids, and it’s unsurprising that the semifinal match leads to a violent incident that ends up ripping the town apart.  So – it was certainly a gripping novel, and some of the characters – Amat, Peter, Bobo and Maya in particular – really did draw me in and make me care about them.  But overall, I sort of wanted more.

Dawn (Xenogenesis/Lilith’s Brood #1), by Octavia Butler – I have been wanting to read more of Butler’s work since I read the splendid Kindred last year, and there seemed like no better time to check out Lilith’s Brood after the announcement that there will be a dramatic adaptation.  Lilith Iyapo is one of a handful of survivors of an apocalyptic event that has all but eradicated the human race.  She and her fellow survivors have been plucked off Earth by a group of aliens, and kept in a suspended animation state while the aliens cleaned up the planet and prepared to reintroduce humanity.  But the aliens are far from disinterested benevolent helpers, and they plan to exact a price for their assistance to the residents of Earth.  Lilith is chosen as their emissary to humanity, and the repercussions are violent and terrifying.  Well – obviously, because this is Octavia Butler – Dawn was brilliantly written and astonishingly creative.  It was also pretty violent and weird, and while I loved the book and certainly plan to continue reading the series, I’m probably not going to want to see it play out visually on a TV screen.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline – Another majorly hyped book, and one that has been on my TBR for ages.  I didn’t want to find myself avoiding the movie on account of not having read the story first, so I finally made the effort to get a copy from the library.  Ready Player One tells the story of Wade Watts, a teenager in 2044, whose life is consumed by a virtual video-gaming platform called “The Oasis,” and a hunt for an “Easter Egg” that was hidden deep within the system by its creator – the finder of whom will be the heir to an enormous fortune.  Years go by after the creator’s death with no progress, but one day, Wade finds the first clue – and all hell breaks loose.  Ready Player One was tons of fun – and would have been even more fun if I had gotten more than 10% of the 1980s pop culture and gaming references.  I tore through it in two days, and recommended it to Steve and my BFF, both of whom also devoured it.  And now we’ll be ready for the movie.

On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service (Her Royal Spyness #11), by Rhys Bowen – Lady Georgianna Rannoch is cooling her heels in Ireland, waiting at Kilhenny Castle for her beloved’s return, when she receives two letters forwarded from her brother’s house.  One is a plaintive missive from her best friend, Belinda, who is pregnant and alone in Italy.  The other is from the Queen, summoning Georgie to Buckingham Palace to discuss Georgie’s wish to surrender her place in the line of succession and marry Darcy O’Mara, a Catholic.  Georgie rushes to London to meet with the Queen, who seems willing to agree to Georgie’s marriage, but – typical! – has a little task for Georgie in the meantime: spy on the Prince of Wales and make sure he doesn’t secretly marry Wallis Simpson during a house party in Italy.  It’s a good opportunity for Georgie to make the Queen happy while fitting in a visit to Belinda, so Georgie willingly agrees.  But it’s 1935, times are troubled, and there is more at stake than any royal marriage – several of the attendees at the party are highly placed Nazi and Italian Fascist operatives, and Georgie finds herself conscripted into spying on more than one fellow party guest – and then when one of the guests is murdered, things get really interesting.  As always, I was absolutely delighted with the latest Lady Georgie mystery.  I love where Bowen is taking all of the characters, and I can’t wait to find out what’s next for Georgie, Darcy, Belinda and all the gang.

The Collected Plays 2010-2015 by Portland Preschoolers, by Andrew Barton – “Read a book published by a micropress” was the most baffling and confusing Book Riot Challenge task of the year.  It took me months to figure out what to read – but I sort of figured that if I could find a micropress that published one book I was interested in, then that same press would publish other books I was interested in.  (Does that make sense?)  Anyway, eventually I happened upon Two Plum Press and The Collected Plays 2010-2015 by Portland Preschoolers, which I have declared to be the greatest book ever written.  Barton compiles a collection of AMAZING plays by kids in his preschool drama class, and they are everything that is wonderful and fabulous.  My favorite play was “Paris When It Sizzles,” but I loved them all.  (Honorable mentions to “The Hamster’s Adventure With the Baby Show” and “The 3 Little Deer, the 3 Little Ponies, and the Big Bad Volcano.”)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza is looking ahead to a long and boring summer of bumming around town with no friends when he meets Dante Quintana at the pool.  The boys bond and quickly become best friends, and their parents become friendly too.  At the end of the summer, an accident prompts Dante to declare his feelings for Ari – feelings that go beyond friendship.  The rest of the story shows how Ari comes to terms with Dante’s love for him, and gradually realizes that he loves Dante.  I listened to the audiobook of this highly acclaimed young adult novel, and the narration by Lin-Manuel Miranda added even more depth and emotion to the story.  Although it took me almost the entire book to really feel invested (likely because of my habit of listening to audiobooks in short bursts and then letting days or weeks go by without returning to the story) by the end I could absolutely see what all the fuss was about.  This was a beautiful book.

Poems Bewitched and Haunted, ed. John Hollander – Looking to both read something spooky at the end of the month and check off another Book Riot Challenge task (a collection of poems in translation on a subject other than love – not all of the poems in this collection are in translation, but enough are that I think it counts) I grabbed Poems Bewitched and Haunted off my shelf.  With offerings from everyone from Homer to Shakespeare to Emma Lazarus, and on subjects ranging from witches to haunted houses to “dangerous wooers,” there’s something for every poetical taste in here, and it’s all deliciously spooky and Halloween-y.  Such a fun way to spend the last couple of days of the month – shivers abound.

 

Not a bad month of reading, if I do say so myself!  Twelve books – I’m still a bit behind on my Goodreads goal of 100 books for the year, but this month’s total has helped, and it also isn’t really important, so.  Lots of good ones, too!  I’m actually hard pressed to pick a highlight, or even a few highlights.  Poems Bewitched and Haunted was such a fun way to close out the month and spend Halloween.  Of course, any visit with Georgie is bound to delight, and On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service was no exception.  Ready Player One and Nimona were pure fun, and Everything I Never Told You was as gripping a page-turner as any family saga ever could be.  And now, onward to November!  I have a small heap out from the library, and I’m expecting some excellent reads to come in via the holds queue any day now, so look for those.  I’m also hoping to spend time with some comfort reads from my own shelves, and I am planning to partake in Sarah and Naomi‘s #ReadingValancy readlaong of L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle.  It’s going to be a great month as we head into the big season of cuddling up with a book and a hot beverage, so do check back in with me!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for August, 2017

Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue – I quickly rushed to my library website to reserve a copy of Behold the Dreamers after the news broke that it was the next Oprah Book Club pick.  (I got in just in time, because I was able to get a copy fairly quickly, but the holds queue is now a mile long.)  It was a wonderful, heart-rending, riveting story and I was glued to the book, reading feverishly and fighting the temptation to skip ahead and see what would happen in the next few chapters.  Mbue tells the story of two marriages – Jende and Neni Jonga, Cameroonian immigrants working to carve out a place for themselves in America, and Clark and Cindy Edwards, wealthy New Yorkers whose marriage and life is upended by the financial crisis.  Jende works as Clark’s chauffer, and Neni does temporary stints as a maid in their summer home, and both become unwillingly drawn into the collapsing Edwards home while struggling to stay afloat themselves and obtain legal immigration status for Jende.  I won’t say much about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of reading it – other than to tell you that there are a couple of surprising twists, and the book ends differently from many others in the immigration narrative sub-genre (but still in a satisfying way).  Go read it!

A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster – I was in the mood for a classic, but not something too terribly long or challenging, and A Room With a View fit the bill perfectly.  I’ve been moving my Barnes & Noble Classics edition from house to house since high school and I finally made the time to acquaint myself with Lucy Honeychurch, Charlotte, the Emersons, Mr Beebe, and the rest of the gang.  The book opens with Lucy traveling in Italy, chaperoned by her older spinster cousin Charlotte (who is a bit of a wet blanket and not a very good judge of character).  In Florence, they meet the Emersons, a father and son traveling together who have, for some inexplicable reason, been shunned by the rest of the guests at their small hotel.  As Lucy gets to know the Emersons, she begins to realize that her own social circle leaves much to be desired, and she starts to develop feelings for George Emerson, the son.  Of course, she can’t acknowledge any of this, and so she winds up engaged to a man of her social class and previous acquaintance, who happens to be a big jerk.  (SHOCK.)  Lucy’s journey toward shaking off social expectations and learning what will make her truly happy is fun to read, even if I did want to smack her from time to time.

Anusha of Prospect Corner, by A.M. Blair with Maram Ken and Samira Ken – Full disclosure, first of all.  The author is a blogging friend of mine (who I recently had the pleasure of meeting for the first time in person!).  I assure you, however, that my affection for the writer has not at all clouded my judgment.  Anusha of Prospect Corner is a delight from the first word to the last.  A modern, diverse and multicultural retelling of Anne of Green Gables, Anusha introduces Anusha Smyth, who leaves her father’s house in a cookie-cutter suburb she calls “Camazotz” (love the L’Engle shoutouts!) to live with her mother, Pramila Carter, and uncle Manoj in a big, old, rambling house in Philadelphia.  Like Anne, Anusha is a redhead and a dreamer.  Anusha likes her red hair, but is sensitive when questioned about how she could be a redhead and also have Sri Lankan heritage.  Pramila – the Marilla character – is a doctor who has spent most of her time working abroad after her divorce from Anusha’s father, but who agrees to move home and live with her brother Manoj so that Anusha can move in with them.  Anusha’s exploration of the neighborhood, her friendship with sweet Dee Brooks, and her touching relationships with her mother and “Uncle Manny” are a joy to read – and even the side characters are delightful; I absolutely loved the update that Amal and the girls gave to Thomas Lynde (who becomes Thomas Lowry, the son – not husband – of the neighborhood busybody and a teacher at Anusha’s school; I was hoping he and Pramila would fall in love!).  I’ve been reading about this project on Amal’s blog since she and her twin daughters first started working on it together, and I’m so very glad that I finally got to sit down with the book.  (And inspired to do something similar with Peanut when she is older…)

Only three books this month… a very slow month for me, indeed.  I blame summer!  It was a busy month of running around, working, and spending time with family and friends on vacation, which didn’t leave much time for reading.  What I did read, however, was all great.  The highlight was Anusha of Prospect Corner, and not just because the author is a friend.  But I enjoyed everything I read this month – and I’m looking ahead to a fun and productive September in books.  Check back each Monday to see what I’m reading, and at the end of the month for reviews.

Read Full Post »

I usually try to get this post up by the end of June, but here it is mid-July and I’m just now getting around to sharing my ten favorite books of the first half of 2017.  Blame summer!  There’s just so much to do and so much to share – but, slowly but surely, I’m catching up all around and ready to talk reading for the first half of the year.  I’ve read some great books this year – as always.  It’s been a big comfort reading year for me, as I knew it would be.  So, without any more preface, my ten favorites (so far, and as always these are books read in 2017 but not necessarily published this year) from the first half of the year:

Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope – The second volume in Trollope’s celebrated Barchester series returns us to our old friends Eleanor and Mr Harding.  The cataclysmic waves that reverberate through Barchester after the Bishop dies and a new Bishop with a completely different philosophy takes over are riveting.  Wonderful new characters – Mrs Proudie, the Thornes, the Stanhopes and more – enter the world and it’s just a delight all around.  I laughed out loud in nearly every chapter and enjoyed every second of this book – probably my favorite of the year so far.

The Making of a Marchioness, by Frances Hodgson Burnett – A romance between two decidedly unromantic characters – what could be better?  Emily Fox-Seeton, a gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, unwittingly and unintentionally charms one of the most eligible aristocratic bachelors in all of England.  The proposal – over a fish bucket! – is an absolute gem.

 

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly – If you had no idea that black women worked at NASA in huge numbers (as “computers” – mathematicians) and that they were responsible for the calculations that kept WWII planes in the air and brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back home, then you are just like me.  This was a fascinating book that deserves all the attention it got.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I want to!

Northbridge Rectory, by Angela Thirkell – I mistakenly skipped a couple of novels in the series and ended up in the middle of WWII, and it turns out it’s totally true what Thirkell bloggers say – the WWII books are the best.  This one follows Verena Villars, wife of Vicar Gregory Villars, and a surrounding cast of neighbors, friends and billeted officers.  It was delightful and I was truly sorry when it ended.

 

Greenery Street, by Denis MacKail – A rare novel indeed, Greenery Street tells the story of a happy marriage.  Ian and Felicity Foster tie the knot and set up their first home in Greenery Street, where they tackle all of the common travails of newlywed-hood: Money Concerns; Family Drama; Rude Neighbors; and Problems With The Servants.  (What, you haven’t had that last one? Ha!)  It’s a joy and a hoot.

 

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas – Starr Carter, aged sixteen, is on her way home from a party with her oldest friend Khalil when they are stopped by the police.  Moments later, Khalil is dead – a victim of police shooting – and Starr’s life is changed forever.  Starr deals with her legal limbo as “the witness”; her grief over losing her friend; and the different reactions of others in her neighborhood and school communities.  It’s a powerful, heart-rending read.

 

Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood – Atwood’s contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare Project follows a washed-up old theatre director who takes his revenge on the former underling who betrayed him in the most Atwood-Shakespearean way possible: with a psychedelic and terrifying production of The Tempest, performed by a local correctional facility’s inmates.  Like ya do.

 

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge – Maria, orphaned but not alone, arrives at Moonacre Manor to live and claim her birthright.  On her first moonlit drive in, she sees a magical white horse.  Maria discovers that Moonacre is a lovely, magical place but with a tinge of old sadness, and she sets about correcting a generations-old mistake and righting the wrongs of the past.  Lovely and charming.

 

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles – Count Alexander Rostov is in his thirties when he is found to be an unrepentant aristocrat and sentenced by the Bolshevik to a lifetime of imprisonment in the grand hotel he calls home.  Count Rostov’s sphere of movement is limited but he comes into contact with fascinating and wonderful characters from every walk of life, while Soviet history takes place right outside his window.  I just adored Count Rostov and every other resident of the Metropol.

Emily Climbs, by L.M. Montgomery – A re-read of my favorite installment from my favorite series, Emily Climbs follows Emily Starr as she leaves New Moon to attend high school in Shrewsbury.  Like with any good L.M. Montgomery novel, there are parties and social events, a healthy dose of academic competition, and a whole lot of gorgeous descriptive writing.

 

Ten!  It was a good first half of 2017 – at least where books are concerned!  (Don’t get me started about the news.)  I read some good ones and it was tough to whittle them down to ten favorites.  I can already tell that it’s going to be hard to choose a top ten at the end of the year…

What books stood out for you in the first half of the year?

Read Full Post »

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for June, 2017

Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit – Solnit wrote Hope in the Dark back in the 2000s, in response to the Bush Administration and its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she recently updated it and made it available at a reduced price for those who need a dose in 2017, which I call very decent of her.  Making the case for hope even when sanity and community seem to have fled the world, Solnit works her way through the recent history of the global social justice movement, explaining how so much more has been achieved than we realize, and how the journey is a victory in and of itself.  Solnit argues against making the perfect the enemy of the good and holds up examples of successes as reasons to celebrate – reminding readers that while, yes, the goal is a perfectly just society, and of course we’re nowhere near it, we’ve achieved great things already.  The book is a perfect antidote to the storms raging in our political landscape right now.  It took months to read because I downloaded it to my phone (and reading for more than a few minutes on my phone gives me headaches) but it was well worth it and I am sure I will come back to this slim but comforting book.

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett – Patchett’s latest novel was hotly anticipated and widely acclaimed.  The book opens when Bert Cousins shows up uninvited at a Christening party for little Franny Keating, kisses Franny’s mother, and sets in motion the dissolution of two marriages and the combining of the Keating and Cousins families.  Franny and her sister Caroline grow up spending their summers in Virginia with their mother and Bert, and they bond with Bert’s children over a mutual dislike of their parents – then one day, tragedy strikes.  Years later, grown-up Franny begins an affair with an elderly author.  When she tells him about her life, he decides that it should be a book… and Franny loses control of the narrative.  So – I liked, but did not love, Commonwealth.  None of the characters were particularly likeable, and I found it hard to care what happened to them.  I appreciated the skill with which the novel was written, but it didn’t really do anything for me.

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? And Other Questions You Need Answers To When You Work In The White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco – I’d been eyeing Mastromonaco’s memoir of her years in the Obama White House and was planning to check it out of the library when I realized that the audiobook was read by the author and used an Audible credit to grab it.  I started listening immediately and loved it.  Mastromonaco is chatty and engaging, and her memoir of her career is fascinating.  She has worked for Bernie Sanders, John Kerry’s Presidential campaign, and of course for President Obama.  Mastromonaco doesn’t tell her life story in chronological order, but instead shares her stories in chapters organized around traits and values that she believes helped her succeed in her working life.  Of course she was right at the center of things for many years, and she delivers plenty of fascinating insider details about the Kerry campaign and the Obama campaign and White House, which she intersperses with terrific career and professional advice.  The audio production was wonderful as well.  I think this is a memoir I’ll definitely listen to over again.

Greenery Street, by Denis Mackail – When we meet Ian and Felicity Foster, they are a young couple planning their marriage, looking for their first home and plotting out their new life together – which makes them perfect candidates for Greenery Street.  Greenery Street, almost a character in and of itself, is a small side street in London that makes it a specialty to lure young married couples to set up housekeeping there.  The street is charming, lined with houses that are just the right size for a couple starting out in life (and a few servants, of course).  But every couple who sets up housekeeping on Greenery Street has their departure preordained; the moment the word “nursery” creeps into conversation, the house will begin to seem small and Greenery Street will be expelling the new family – on to a bigger home for them and on to a new young couple for the street.  Greenery Street follows Ian and Felicity through their first year of marriage, before they too add a baby and depart from the street, and it is simply a joy to read.  Funny, engaging, and simply delightful – we sympathize with Ian and Felicity through Family Drama, Rude Neighbors, Money Worries, and Problems With The Servants (that last being the most hilarious).  We learn what Ian and Felicity read, what they eat, and how obsessed they are with their dog.  Nothing much happens, and I could have stayed in the Greenery Street world happily for months.  (There are two sequels, Tales from Greenery Street and Ian and Felicity, but they’re next to impossible to find – so here’s my official request that Persephone publishes the whole series and not just the first!)

Northbridge Rectory (Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire #10) – Oops.  For some reason I thought Northbridge Rectory was next up in Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series and ended up skipping from six to ten.  Luckily, these are books that can be read out of order.  I loved Northbridge Rectory (and got a huge kick out of the fact that I was reading Greenery Street at the same time – which was written by Thirkell’s brother Denis Mackail).  Northbridge Rectory follows the inhabitants of the village of Northbridge for several months during one WWII autumn and Christmas season.  The Rectory is the focal point and we get to know Verena Villars, the Rector’s wife, particularly well.  Mrs. Villars is responsible for supporting her husband in his ministry as well as hosting a group of billeted officers – one of whom is quietly in love with her.  (She has no idea and would be astonished if she knew.)  We watch, along with Mrs. Villars, as the village prepares for war and the rest of the residents of Northbridge find themselves in and out of all sorts of matters of the heart.  It was a delightful read and I can see why the WWII novels are some of Thirkell’s most popular.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan – I’d heard so much about this debut novel and it didn’t disappoint.  Defying the Vicar’s order that the church choir be disbanded since all of the men are off at war, the women of Chilbury reorganize themselves as the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.  The book follows several of them for one summer – sweet Mrs. Tilling; scheming Miss Paltry; wild Venetia Winthrop; and more – as they navigate the new wartime reality of their lives.  There are squabbles over loves, there are tragic losses, and there is a lot of singing.  The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir was a lovely and ringing testament to the power of community to help us through the darkest times.  I couldn’t put it down, and ended up finishing it in two days – much to my disappointment, because I’d have liked to spend a lot more time with the choir.

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders – This was one that I felt compelled to read because of all the buzz it was getting.  Young Willie Lincoln has died of typhoid and been interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Georgetown.  On the night of Willie’s funeral, his father, President Lincoln, pays a visit to the cemetery and holds his son’s body.  The result – a battle for Willie’s soul – is told via a cacophony of voices, as excerpts from both real and imagined historical accounts of Lincoln’s life and presidency as well as in a structure reminiscent of a play, with the players being the other shades who are present with Willie in the cemetery on the night of the President’s visit.  Well – I certainly appreciated the wildly creative nature of Lincoln in the Bardo, and I cried buckets while reading it.  I can understand the buzz and hype and I don’t think they’re misplaced.  For me, though, I am at a stage where I really want comfort reading, and Lincoln in the Bardo is very much not comfort reading (especially if you have children).  I couldn’t put it down, and I thought it was astonishingly well-done, but it gave me nightmares.

A bit of a slow June – seven books, including one audiobook.  That seems to be par for the course in the summertime.  But there were certainly some gems amongst the handful this month – Greenery Street, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, and Northbridge Rectory were all delights.  (I’d probably rank Northbridge Rectory the highest if you absolutely made me pick a favorite this month, but please don’t make me.)  Next month will probably be more of the same type of reading – I’m on a major comfort zone reading jag, and not even mad about it – but I’m hoping to post a better number for you, since we’re not going out of town again for awhile.  (Not that my weekends won’t be packed with activity, because they always are.)  Check back!

What was the best thing you read in June?

Read Full Post »

It’s summer, and with summer comes summer reading season – the best season of all, right?  I have a suspicion that my own summer reading may be curtailed this year; I’m predicting that most of my time will be spent in the water with a certain small Pisces who can’t get enough swimming.  So I’ll leave the “books to pack in your beach bag” posts to other blogs and instead tell you about some absolutely gorgeous picture books that we are reading to celebrate summer in all its glory.

Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey.  Naturally starting with a classic!  Time of Wonder is an absolutely gorgeous book – one of the tribe of children’s books that is more like poetry than prose, and the accompanying illustrations are perfect as well.  Time of Wonder is perhaps less well-known than some of McCloskey’s other works, like Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, but it is a treasure.  Written in the second-person singular, it meanders through late spring, when “you” arrive on “your island” in Penobscot Bay, through summer’s high season, through a hurricane, and finally to the end of the season and a bittersweet goodbye (don’t forget to pack your toothbrush!) until next season.  The night-boating scene is simply gorgeous, and the approach of the hurricane is one of the most beautifully written suspense scenes I’ve read in any literature.

Hattie and Hudson, by Chris Van Dusen.  From an old favorite to a new favorite!  We recently brought Hattie and Hudson home, and the kids are OBSESSED.  Hattie is a young girl who loves to explore in her canoe, and Hudson is a lake monster who is lured out of his isolated cave and to the surface when he hears Hattie singing one day.  The two immediately become good friends, but their friendship seems as if it may be short-lived when the townspeople discover Hudson’s presence and decide to remove him from their lake.  Can Hattie save her new friend?  It’s a beautifully illustrated book – not to mention a sweet story about getting to know someone before you judge them – and as we prepare to head to my parents’ lakeside camp for a mini-break this summer, the kids are having so much fun reading it (and speculating on the possibility that there might be a Hudson in the Sacandaga…).

Good Night Beach, by Adam Gamble.  The Good Night Our World series gets a lot of airtime in our house.  We have a stack of them now – everything from Good Night California to Good Night Mermaids.  Both kids love them, but Nugget is particularly into Good Night Beach.  He’s a total beach bum, and when he can’t actually be splashing in the waves, he is always happy to relive the glory days through Gamble’s fun writing and Cooper Kelly’s joyful illustrations.  As with the other Good Night books, Good Night Beach begins with a “Good morning!” and “Are we ready to share a wonderful day?”  It progresses through a day of sandcastle-building, tidepool-watching and sandwich-munching until the sun sets and we sleepily murmur, “Good night, beach.  Thank you for sharing a wonderful day.”

And Then Comes Summer, by Tom Brenner.  I just discovered Brenner’s books last fall, and And Then Comes Summer is his newest.  Rather like Time of Wonder, it’s almost more poetry than prose.  There’s no plot to speak of – it’s just page after page of gorgeous writing celebrating the season, accompanied by sweet, happy, and utterly captivating illustrations.  Brenner’s neighborhood kids sell lemonade, visit the ice cream stand, ride their bikes to a Fourth of July parade, and beat the heat at the lake – sounds like a perfect summer to me!

What’s your favorite summer-themed children’s book?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »