24 April 2008

Books Read Since March 25

• Treasury of Easter Celebrations, Ideals
Collection of verse and essay about the Easter holiday. As always in these Ideal publications, lovely photographs to accompany the text.

• In Dublin's Fair City, Rhys Bowen
In the latest [paperback] installment of Bowen's Molly Murphy mysteries, Molly represents a now-wealthy Irishman who has just discovered he had a sister who was left behind in Ireland. He dispatches Molly to the old country to find her if possible; as always, trouble finds Molly when she switches places with a famous stage actress onboard ship and the woman's maid is murdered. Once she arrives in Ireland even more troubles (and The Troubles) await. A page-turner "cozy" set in turn-of-the-century New York and Ireland.

• The Time Thief, Linda Buckley-Masters
In Buckley-Masters' sequel to The Time Travelers (previously titled Gideon the Cutpurse), Peter has been left behind in 18th century England, while his father and his friend Kate fight for a way to return for him. When they do find the antigravity machine to transport them into the past, one wrong setting sends them into Peter's future, where young man Peter realizes they are not searching for him, but for the boy Peter he was so long ago. Meanwhile, the cunning Tar Man learns his way around 21st century London while returning to his life of crime. Nonstop action from chapter first to chapter last. The one thing wrong with this book? The final novel in the trilogy doesn't come out until next year!

• All's Well That Ends, Gillian Roberts
In the final book in the Amanda Pepper mystery series, Amanda's best friend Sonia swears her stepmother Phoebe was murdered and Amanda agrees to help her; in addition, she must cope with the plight of her new husband's family, their lives destroyed by a hurricane, and tries to solve the mystery of a student who is acting peculiarly. I'll miss Amanda, but Roberts has given her a fine farewell appearance.

• In the Shadow of the Moon, Francis French and Colin Burgess
Most space books concentrate on the moon landings, so it was refreshing to find this volume that covers the "long lost" Gemini program in its first half and the pre-moonflight Apollo missions and the later Skylab flights in its second. Readable and absorbing.

• Flapper, Joshua Zeitz
Enjoyable history of the change that overcame women in the 1920s, freed from restrictive clothing and even more restrictive manners. Zeitz begins with the romance of Scott Fitzgerald and his madcap wife Zelda, reputedly the "founders" of the "flapper" movement despite Fitzgerald's denials, through the clothing reforms brought dazzlingly to life by the unconventional Coco Chanel, and then to the women who spread the flapper style through popular culture: movie actresses like Colleen Moore, Clara Bow and Louise Brooks. The author makes the decade come alive.

• Through the Children's Gate, Adam Gopnik
I had enjoyed Gopnik's kidfic King in the Window, so picked up this collection of essays written after he and his family returned to NYC after living for some time in France. I've been reading this book and thinking of this post, asking myself, "Am I going to say I like it or not?" I guess in general I like it, although there is waffling in certain chapters that bores me. The psychiatrist chapter was almost complete gibberish; was it meant to be? I have many Jewish friends, yet I thought maybe I had to be Jewish to understand the Purim chapter. On the other hand, the material about Gopnik's children (especially his son's method of coping with 9/11 and his daughter's imaginary friend) is wonderful, his New York observations are inventive and readable, and the chapter about his terminally ill friend sad and joyous all at once.

• Great Web Typography, Wendy Peck
Well...what it says. :-)

• Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs & More, Earl Proulx/Yankee Magazine
A find from the remainder table: today all this repurposing would be called "recycling" or "green"; long ago reusing milk jugs and cleaning with vinegar would be called "sensible." Tons of good hints on what to do with all that junk that needlessly ends up in landfills.

• Boston Ways: High, by and Folk, George F. Weston
This is a wonderful book. Weston takes us neighborhood through neighborhood in Boston, pointing out odd streets, odd roads, and the personalities that lived on each through the founding of the city to the present. Even more delightful because Weston's "present" is 1957, pre-Government Center and urban renewal, so we hear once again about Cornhill, "the Old Howard," and Scollay Square. His tongue is firmly in his cheek in the lively and colorful text, if, sadly, occasionally he is a bit patronizing toward minorities, ethnic groups, and women.

• A Pictorial History of Radio, Irving Settel
From its origins to the mid-1960s, when disk jockeys, rock'n'roll and talk-show hosts took over from Jack Benny, Inner Sanctum, and reporting of World War II.

22 April 2008