Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Books to Explore a New Genre With

I have my favorite few genres that I read, and sometime I find it tricky to break out of my usual reading habits.  But by stepping out of my usual genres I've discovered some great reads that I would've otherwise missed out on experiencing.

Here are some suggestions if you're looking to try something new as your next read.

The Lost Family - Jenna Blum  Historical Fiction 

Resigning himself to solitude, chef and Auschwitz survivor, Peter Rashkin, in 1965 Manhattan, devotes himself to running Masha’s restaurant, until he meets and marries June, but the horrors of his past soon overshadow him, June and their daughter.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper - the wealthy mother of a famous actor - enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service. Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home. Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who's as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz. Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

Spinning Silver - Naomi Novak Fantasy

A re-imaging of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin.  Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father's inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem's fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered.

Dr. Garrett Gibson, England's only female physician, and Ethan Ransom, a former Scotland Yard detective with mysterious loyalties, share a one-night stand before becoming embroiled in a dangerous mission that is complicated by their growing feelings for one another.

The Outsider - Stephen King  Horror
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation...An eleven-year-old boy's violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City's most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. The case seems ironclad, especially when Anderson and the district attorney are able to add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. But Maitland has an alibi, and it turns out his story has incontrovertible evidence of its own. How can two opposing stories be true?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Armchair Travel: France

France just won the World Cup! Here's some fiction that will take you to France - no passport necessary.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Quirky and delightful, Nina George’s book focuses on Jean Perdu, owner of the Literary Apothecary, a floating bookshop. When a new tenant in his apartment building sets in motion events that force Jean to re-evaluate his past, he finds himself floating off down the rivers of France in search of lost love, new love, and friends he didn’t know he needed.

The French Girl by Lexie Elliot
Six friends from Oxford University spend an idyllic week in the French countryside that ends with a missing neighbor, the enigmatic Severine. Fast forward ten years and Severine turns up. Or rather her skeleton does in a well on the property. All six friends are suspects. Will the loyalties hold and who put Severine in the well? This is a fun, taut thriller.

Paris for One and other stories by Jojo Moyes
A collection of eight short stories is complemented by a novella in which a young woman abandoned during a romantic mini-vacation gathers the courage to embark on an independent tour of Paris.

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
A U.S. release of an award-winning best-seller from Morocco follows the relationship between a working French-Moroccan couple and their too-good-to-be-true nanny, whose devotion to their children spirals into a psychologically charged cycle of jealousies, resentments and violence.

The Paris Secret by Karen Swan
While assessing art in a Paris apartment that has been abandoned since the war, fine art agent Flora is thrown into the glamorous world of the Vermeils family until she makes a discovery that brings about a scandal.

Murderous Mistral: a Provence Mystery by Cay Rademacher
Vilified for his successful corruption investigations into his colleagues, Capitaine Roger Blanc is relocated to the south of France at the expense of his marriage and tackles a first murder case involving a reviled outsider whose demise is linked to the dark undercurrents of Provence.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Summertime, Food and Fun

So here we are, in the warm and steamy summer in Chicago, and the food festivals are off to a terrific start, from neighborhood rib and burger fests to Taste of Chicago and Taco Fest. Tacos are my favorite so I try really hard to make it to that festival every year. Check out some of the festivals around town and check out some food fiction listed below, whatever your favorite. Enjoy!

Cooking for Picasso
Kitchens of the Great Midwest
When In Doubt Add Butter
Pomegranate Soup
How To Cook a Tart
Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love
The Book of Unholy Mischief

Thursday, July 12, 2018

In A Recent Memoir, Senator John McCain Rests His Case

Anyone who has followed the saga of Sen. John McCain or ever reacted with emotion to his words or actions will recognize the man speaking in this farwell volume.
The Restless Wave is a plain-spoken and often painful personal accounting; a résumé of a contentious career and a defense of controversial political decisions. It may inspire or enrage. But it is less an effort to provoke such conflicting responses than a paean to McCain's idea of America.
McCain wants to celebrate the America he knew — or perhaps only imagined — in the full flower of its global pre-eminence. Call it heritage or call it myth, it is a concept of America that McCain clearly feels he personifies, and one he senses is passing even as he reaches the end of his own life.
This is a man who should have leave to speak his mind. He has served more than 30 years in the U.S. Senate, after serving almost as long in the U.S. Navy. He suffered more than five years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, ran twice for president as a Republican, once as his party's nominee. Through it all, he has been stubbornly individual, at times cantankerous and even exasperating to friend and foe alike, relishing his political persona as "The Maverick."

At its best, the prose in The Restless Wave has some of the terse effectiveness we associate with the 20th century writer Ernest Hemingway. And on his final page, McCain returns to the model of the Hemingway character he calls his hero, Robert Jordan of For Whom the Bell Tolls. That novel ends with Jordan lying wounded on open ground, armed to fight one last battle that he knows will end with his death. "The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for," Jordan says to himself, "and I hate very much to leave it."
To this, McCain adds his own response: "And I do too. I hate to leave it. But I don't have a complaint. Not one. It's been quite a ride. ... I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times."