Books I read this week: June weeks 3 and 4

These are the books I’ve read in the last two weeks.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Clubby Genevieve Valentine was pretty much custom made for me. It’s an adaptation of the fairy tale of the twelve dancing princesses, set during the 1920s. A man desperately wants a son and heir, such that his wife gets pregnant 12 (or more) times and disappointingly gives birth to 12 daughters. Each daughter is consigned to live upstairs in the mansion, never to be seen by the father except on rare occasions, and then, only the eldest daughters. When the mother dies, the daughters are basically held captive as their father refuses to let them leave the house, ostensibly for their own safety, but really because he is ashamed of them. The girls pass the time by learning to dance, and when the second eldest decides to run away, the eldest, Jo, does the only thing she can think of. She takes the oldest of the girls and sneaks out of the house to go dancing. Every night following, for 8 years, the girls sneak out to speakeasies and nightclubs to dance. Eventually the father decides that they all need to be married off, and what happens after that is fascinating. The characters are gorgeously written, the aura of the 20s realistically portrayed, while at the same time there is a distinct feeling of fairy tale glitter. There is no magic in the story, just a gorgeous story of the intense love that sisters can have for each other. I highly highly recommend this one.

I love the opening line of the book so much, ” By 1927 there were twelve girls who danced all night and never gave names, but by then the men had given up asking and called them all Princess.

Hattie and Mattie, when they’re dancing with each other, feel they’re the only ones who matter, the only two girls in the world at all. Hattie and Mattie, when they’re not dancing, still feel that way, despite themselves.”

” Still, the crowd seemed to hang back from the stairs, waiting for them to burst into song or pull out revolvers or throw their shoes at the unsuspecting.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peaceby Sarah Mackenzie is a short little wonder of a book. It’s less than 100 pages, but it’s so hopeful and inspiring. The whole idea of the book is that if we “let go and let God” as they say (she doesn’t use that phrase in the book), that homeschooling can be far less stressful than it has the potential to be. She’s all about working hard, but letting God guide what you’re doing when it comes to homeschool, and trusting that he will make up where you lack.

“We choose anxiety as our guide, instead of humbly submitting to God and letting Him guide us.

“God doesn’t call us to this work and then turn away to tend to other, more important matters. He promises to stay with us, to lead us, to carry us. He assures us that if we rely on Him alone, then He will provide us all that we need. What that means on a practical level is that we have to stop fretting over every little detail. We need to stop comparing. We’ve got to drop the self-inflicted view that we are the be-all-end-all of whether the education we are offering our children is going to be as successful as we hope it is. After all, our job is not to be successful- success itself is entirely beside the point. It’s faithfulness that He wants. God is good! He isn’t going to let us pour our hearts out for our children only to be left choking on the dust of our mistakes.

The Quickby  Lauren Owen is an interesting book. Although the reviews claim a “shocking twist”, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything at all by saying that it’s a pretty standard vampire story. Anyone who doesn’t see the vampire angle coming from pretty much the first page hasn’t read very many vampire books. That being said, I think everyone who loves Twilight should read this book, because this is real, solid, well done vampire goodness.

The story centers around a young woman, Charlotte, who goes to London to find her brother James when he goes missing. She discovers the secrets of the Aegolius Club and meets a couple who study and hunt vampires, and it’s a good gothic romp. The point of view changes multiple times through the book, giving insight into various vampires in different walks of life (the dead), as well as the living (the quick of the title) who surround them.

Paige shook his head. “We weren’t friendly. We disapproved of each other.  (What an odd idea, James thought later, when Paige had gone to bed. To disapprove of one’s father, as if he were simply another person about whom one might be allowed to have an opinion.)

The Grand Budapest Hotel: The Illustrated Screenplayby Wes Anderson is, as is probably obvious, the screenplay of the movie. I highly enjoyed the movie, and enjoyed reading through the screenplay. I love Wes Anderson and his dialogue.

The movie, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the story of the concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and what happens after the death of one of his beloved patrons. There are robberies and murders and pastries and it’s a wonderful ride.

Let’s make a solemn blood-pact. We’ll contact the black-market and liquidate “Boy with Apple” by the end of the week, then leave the country and lay low somewhere along the Maltese Riviera until the troubles blow over and we resume our posts. In exchange for your help, your loyalty, and your services as my personal valet, I pledge to you: one-point-five percent of the net sales price.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikryby Gabrielle Zavin is absolutely gorgeous. Oh, I love this book. It’s the story of A.J. Fikry, widower and bookstore owner, and how his life is changed when a 2 year old girl is left in his store for him to care for when her mother commits suicide. It’s all about books and people who love books and bookstores and words and all of the things that make my heart sing. I really don’t know that I can do this book justice, I just think you should read it.

A.J. apologizes but he is not sorry. Who are these people who think a book comes with a guarantee that they will like it?

“Every word the right one and exactly where it should be. That’s basically the highest compliment I can give.”

The words you can’t find, you borrow. We need to read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)by Mindy Kaling really surprised me. I love Mindy Kaling, and I expected the book to be witty and good, what I didn’t expect was to come away from it thinking that I would be giving it to my girls to read when they’re in high school. She has a great number of wise things to say about being a smart kid with particular interests in high school, and how her experiences shaped her into who she is now. She wasn’t ever a popular kid, but was a highly intelligent and observant one. Her insights into the world are funny and awesome. Below are her thoughts about the fact that the song Jack and Diane was subconsciously memorized by everyone who has ever heard it. And then another funny observation.

I wish there was a song called “Nguyen and Ari”, a little ditty about a hardworking Vietnamese girl who helps her parents with the franchised Holiday Inn they run, and does homework in the lobby, and Ari, a hardworking Jewish boy who does volunteer work at his grandmother’s old-age home, and they meet after school at Princeton Review. They help each other study for the SAT’s and different AP courses, and then, after months of studying, and mountains of flashcards, they kiss chastely upon hearing the news that they both got into their top college choices. This is a song teens need to inadvertently memorize.

I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.

The month’s total is 10 books consisting of 3180 pages. I’m in the middle of a book about teaching mindfulness, and I want to start a novel, but time has been in short supply since I’ve been rewatching Sherlock with my Dad. Sometimes Cumberbund Bandersnatch takes precedence.

What are you reading?

One thought on “Books I read this week: June weeks 3 and 4

  1. Thank you for the recommendations!! I’m interested in reading 4 of them, especially the 12 princesses.

Leave a Reply