Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

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Summer always means digging into dozens of good books. A rainy, lazy 4th of July weekend and a stack of tempting titles mean I’ve been reading even more than usual. Below, the books I’ve tackled so far this month:

Butternut Summer, Mary McNear
A story of summer, first love and second chances in a Minnesota lake town. Heartwarming and pleasant, if predictable. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 12).

Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax heads to Morocco, posing as the aunt of an unpleasant CIA operative. Things (as always) become complicated and she finds herself fleeing through the desert with unlikely companions. Possibly the best Mrs. P adventure yet. I could NOT put this one down.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice, Alix Christie
Christie’s novel delves into the story of Johann Gutenberg and his secret printing workshop, told through the eyes of his apprentice, Peter Schoeffer. Utterly fascinating. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 23).

The Ides of April, Lindsey Davis
I liked Enemies at Home enough to pick up the first mystery featuring Flavia Albia, a private informer in ancient Rome. Albia’s sharp tongue and the intriguing setting made this a satisfying read, though I figured out the killer before she did.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
My third read of this classic and I found it as powerful as ever. I love the vividly drawn characters, especially Scout and Atticus, and the ending makes me weep. One of the great American novels, wise and engrossing and moving.

The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career, L.M. Montgomery
I bought this slim memoir at the L.M. Montgomery homestead in Cavendish, and loved her account of her childhood and early writing ambitions. Her love for the Island comes through in every line.

The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, Agatha Christie
Miss Marple investigates a death by poisoning at the local grand estate, using her famous blend of gossip and intuition to find the killer. Ingenious and fun – Christie makes perfect summer reading.

Ravenscliffe, Jane Sanderson
This sequel to Netherwood continues the intertwined adventures of working-class folks in a Yorkshire mining town and the local earl’s family. It’s Downton-esque in the complex upstairs-downstairs connections. Not as good as the first one, but compelling.

Kitchen Chinese, Ann Mah
I loved Mah’s memoir, Mastering the Art of French Eating, so picked up her novel, which follows Chinese-American Isabelle Lee as she tries to build a life in Beijing. Great food descriptions, but the story is predictable and Isabelle is frustratingly naive and dense. Pass (but pick up Mah’s memoir).

Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax is summoned to Sicily by an SOS from an old CIA pal. Art forgery, old enemies and Interpol all come into play before a resolution is reached. A little hard to follow, but still fun.

The Prank List, Anna Staniszewski
This sequel to The Dirt Diary finds Rachel Lee determined to help her mom’s cleaning business succeed – even if drastic measures are required. I like Rachel as a narrator, but the “pranks” often cross over into sabotage. So-so.

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

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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History, Lewis Buzbee
A rambling, charming account of the author’s passion for books, his time working in bookstores, and a brief history of publishing. I dipped in a few pages at a time and really enjoyed it. Found at Book & Bar in Portsmouth.

The House on an Irish Hillside, Felicity Hayes-McCoy
I read about this memoir on Sarah’s blog ages ago. The author describes the western Ireland peninsula of Corca Dhuibhne, near Dingle, and the process of making a second home there with her husband. Filled with bits of history and folklore, with lovely meditations on community and finding one’s place in the world.

A Hundred Summers, Beatriz Williams
As the cream of New York society summers in Seaview, R.I., old secrets bubble under the surface. Lily Dane must confront her feelings for the man who’s now married to her (vicious) best friend – and a massive hurricane will upend more than just buildings. Deliciously scandalous, lushly described. Smart beach reading.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Beatriz Williams
When Vivian Schuyler receives a suitcase belonging to an unknown great-aunt (the titular Violet), she starts digging into Violet’s complicated past. Vivian is bright and sparkling but didn’t seem entirely real, and Violet seemed hopelessly naive. Still a compelling (if often uncomfortable) narrative. (I was glad to see Aunt Julie and Lily from A Hundred Summers again.)

Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
Orphans Alina and Mal grew up together – best friends against the world. But then Alina discovers a power she never knew she had, which will change not only their lives but the future of their country. Fascinating, romantic YA fantasy with a setting based on Imperial Russia.

Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo
This sequel to Shadow and Bone finds Alina and Mal on the run, then returning to Ravka (their homeland) to gather an army and fight the Darkling. Meanwhile, Alina grapples with the implications of her power to summon the sun. Deeper, faster-paced and even more exciting than the first book.

International Night: A Father and Daughter Cook Their Way Around the World, Mark Kurlansky and Talia Kurlansky
Kurlansky and his 13-year-old daughter spin the globe and cook a meal from whatever country they land on. Each meal is prefaced by Mark’s thoughts on that country (he’s been to many of them). Delicious-looking, fairly straightforward recipes – lots can be made with/for/by kids. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 19).

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan
When Anna Trent loses two toes in a freak factory accident, she ends up in Paris apprenticing with a high-end chocolatier. A really lovely story of recovering from trauma, opening up to love, and (of course) falling in love with Paris. (Should be paired with good chocolate.)

Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax and her new husband head to Thailand on holiday and agree to do a “little job” for the CIA – which, of course, ends up being bigger than they thought. Another fun, fast-paced, twisty adventure.

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

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My 2014 book list is growing rapidly. As usual, I can’t wait until the end-of-year lists come out to share my favorites with you. Here, some gems from the first half of 2014. (Links go to my brief reading-roundup reviews.)

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year?

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The Story Hour, Thrity Umrigar
Therapist Maggie is good at maintaining professional distance from her clients. But when she meets Lakshmi, an Indian immigrant who attempted suicide, Maggie’s boundaries dissolve. The two women become friends after a fashion, but each has secrets that will jeopardize their relationship and both their marriages. Umrigar tells a good story, though I found Lakshmi’s speech (a primitive pidgin English) jarring. (I’m married to a therapist, so I found the main plot distressing.) To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 19).

The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley
Roger Mifflin (of Parnassus on Wheels fame) has settled down in his Brooklyn bookstore, with his wife Helen, dog Bock, and a new apprentice. Sinister forces are at work, though, and Roger uncovers a nefarious plot with the help of a young advertising man. Dragged a bit in the middle, but still bookish and fun. Recommended for bibliophiles.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Tita, the youngest daughter of a domineering Mexican mother, is forbidden to marry, so she channels her passions into her cooking. I normally love foodie novels and magical realism (see: Chocolat), but this one felt melodramatic, and I didn’t like the ending.

When Audrey Met Alice, Rebecca Behrens
First Daughter Audrey Rhodes is bored and lonely in the White House – till she unearths a diary written by Alice Roosevelt. Inspired by Alice’s antics (keeping a pet snake, smoking on the roof), Audrey tries a few of her own, with amusing, sometimes disastrous results. Lighthearted and fun.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family, Kathleen Flinn
This foodie memoir (Flinn’s third) chronicles her family’s history, with simple, hearty Midwestern recipes. It’s a typical American story in many ways, but full of heart – I loved it. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 14).

Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha, Dorothy Gilman
After her recent adventure in China, Mrs. Pollifax is called back to Hong Kong, where she meets a psychic and runs into an old friend. Twisty and entertaining, as always, though the psychic stuff was a little weird.

Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate to the U.S. from Hong Kong, Kim struggles to stay afloat at school while helping her mother at a Chinatown factory (read: sweatshop) in the evenings. Kim’s voice is sharp and clear, and I was absorbed by this tale of hard work, tough conditions, deep love and difficult choices. Highly recommended.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
I’d never read this book and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I did not like it. I found Holden as phony as all the people he castigates for being such fakes.

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

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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Ruth Reichl
As the new food critic at the New York Times, Ruth Reichl can no longer eat out anonymously. So she invents half a dozen disguises – including a timid divorcée, a warmhearted hippie, and her own mother – to fool the waitstaff at NYC dining spots. Each disguise teaches her something about herself (and I love how none of them fazed her young son). Delicious, moving and entertaining.

Mrs. Pollifax on Safari, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax is off to the wilds of Africa, to take photos of animals and track down a fugitive assassin. Of course, nothing goes as planned – she gets kidnapped by Rhodesian terrorists. A little weak, plot-wise, but still a fun ride.

Parnassus on Wheels, Christopher Morley
New England housewife Helen McGill is surprised when a traveling bookstore shows up at her doorstep – and surprises herself, by buying the bookstore and taking to the open road. Utterly charming and packed with adventure. Highly recommended by Anne.

Small Blessings, Martha Woodroof
Tom Putnam, mild-mannered English professor, has resigned himself to a quiet, dull life. But then his wife dies, he learns he has a son (who then shows up on his doorstep), and he falls in love with Rose, the new woman on campus. Predictable but entertaining, with a cast of (sometimes overly) wacky characters. (I received an ARC; this book comes out Aug. 5.)

Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins
Lola Nolan, budding costume designer, is happy with her life in San Francisco – until her former crush moves back in next door. Lola is sweet and funny, though not very self-aware. A fun, offbeat YA love story (though I liked Anna and the French Kiss a lot better).

The Angel of Losses, Stephanie Feldman
An odd, mystical family saga, linking Jewish folktale with modern-day scholarship and the European ghettos of World War II. Interesting concept, so-so execution. (I received an ARC; this book comes out July 29.)

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, Jenny Colgan
After being laid off, Isabel Randall decides to take a leap of faith, opening the titular cafe in north London. A delicious story (with recipes) of friendship, pursuing your dreams, and a bit of romance. Classic and highly enjoyable chick lit.

Enemies at Home, Lindsey Davis
Private informer Flavia Albia takes on a complicated case: a double murder and robbery, possibly committed by slaves. A fun, snarky (if at times confusing) mystery set in ancient Rome. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 15).

Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax goes undercover again – this time into China, to help smuggle a man out of the country. Twisty plot, interesting characters and a happy ending. Perfect.

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

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The Divorce Papers, Susan Rieger
Criminal lawyer Sophie Diehl gets roped into working a high-profile divorce case. Told entirely through letters, emails, case law and other court documents, this is a wickedly funny, entertaining story of love, divorce and coming to terms with your past. (I’m no lawyer, but I enjoyed it.)

Delicious!, Ruth Reichl
Billie Breslin has landed a job at her dream workplace, the NYC food magazine Delicious!. When the magazine folds, Billie stays on to answer the phones and finds a cache of letters written to James Beard by Lulu Swan, a plucky young cook from Ohio, during WWII. A big-hearted, beautiful story of family, food, love, New York, and finding your way home. (Packed with mouthwatering food descriptions, as one might expect from Reichl.)

Landline, Rainbow Rowell
I loved Rowell’s Attachments and also enjoyed Fangirl. Landline is much more bittersweet: the story of Georgie and Neal, struggling to save their marriage. By some time-space fluke, Georgie discovers she can call Neal’s parents’ house on her mom’s landline and talk to his former self, giving her a fresh perspective on their relationship. Compelling, but somehow unsatisfying. (I received an ARC; this book comes out July 8.)

The Geography of You and Me, Jennifer E. Smith
I love Smith’s YA novels about unlikely love. This one was charming, but lacked the depth of her previous ones. Lucy and Owen get stuck in an elevator during a blackout in NYC, spend a wonderful evening together, then both abruptly move away. They stay in touch through postcards, while adjusting to big life changes. Whimsical and poignant.

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage, Molly Wizenberg
Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life is one of my favorite food memoirs ever. This book tells the story of how Wizenberg and her husband came to open the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle. A slow start, but it has some great insights on marriage and workplace culture. (Also some delicious-looking recipes.)

Buzz Kill, Beth Fantaskey
When her school’s unpopular football coach is murdered, Millie Ostermeyer is determined to find out who did it – especially since her assistant-coach dad is a suspect. The (handsome) new kid helps her investigate. Cute and funny – scatterbrained, blunt Millie is the anti-Nancy Drew.

The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver’s debut novel follows Taylor Greer, a smart-mouthed Kentucky girl who heads west and finds herself building a new life in Arizona. Full of eccentric characters; warmhearted, funny and moving.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver
After years in Arizona, Kingsolver and her family move to Virginia and decide to try eating entirely local for a year. This involves lots of gardening, farmer’s markets, raising poultry, and longing for off-limits luxuries. Occasionally preachy, but highly informative and passionate. Includes mouthwatering recipes. A re-read and well worth it.

The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax is off on another adventure, this time smuggling passports into Bulgaria and also managing to save a few lives. Full of wild coincidences, but really fun.

The Chapel Wars, Lindsey Leavitt
When Holly’s grandpa dies, she’s shocked to learn she’s inherited his Vegas wedding chapel, and that it’s in dire financial straits. Can she save the chapel, while possibly dating the grandson of the rival chapel owner next door? A smart, funny story of family, grief, first love and the wackiness that is Vegas (Leavitt’s hometown).

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

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(It’s not quite warm enough to lounge in Harvard Yard with a book. But it will be soon!)

I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever, Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster
The subtitle says it all. Two best friends – one baseball nut and one baseball hater – embark on an epic (some would say completely insane) cross-country baseball road trip. Wryly funny (if repetitive at times). Recommended for baseball fanatics. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 6).

Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor, Patrick Taylor
A fun installment in Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series, with all the usual colorful characters in the village of Ballybucklebo. I missed Barry, the young doctor who usually works with O’Reilly, but this was good comfort reading.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, ed. Jocelyn K. Glei
This short book is packed with productivity tips from 20 authors. Further inspiration to create a schedule for myself and work on blocking out distractions. Recommended by Anne.

Scarlet, Marissa Meyer
This sequel to Cinder follows Cinder’s escape from prison but focuses more on Scarlet, a French farm girl on a search for her missing grandmother (accompanied by Wolf, an enigmatic street fighter). The storylines intertwine in surprising ways. Much darker and more exciting than Cinder. I can’t wait to read Cress (book 3).

Death in a Strange Country, Donna Leon
Commissario Guido Brunetti investigates the death of a young American sergeant stationed near Venice. Brunetti is likable and thoughtful, but the plot of this mystery dragged, and the ending was downright unsatisfying.

Catching Air, Sarah Pekkanen
I devoured this book in a day. Pekkanen tells a warm, relatable (but not predictable) story of two couples who move to Vermont to run a B&B. The men are brothers with a troubled history, but the story belongs to the women, who are each dealing with big questions about children, vocation and love. To review for Shelf Awareness (out May 6).

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser
I’ve been meaning to read this book forever. Zinsser’s practical, witty guide is packed with useful advice for journalists, memoirists and business writers – anyone who wants to (or has to) write nonfiction.

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

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A Presumption of Death, Jill Paton Walsh & Dorothy L. Sayers
I’m usually wary of authors adapting another author’s characters – but Jill Paton Walsh superbly continues the story of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. As World War II heats up, Peter goes abroad on a secret mission and Harriet takes the children to the country, where (of course) she has to solve a mystery. Full of familiar village characters (from Busman’s Honeymoon) and two truly wonderful bits of code-breaking.

Hoot, Carl Hiaasen
As the new kid at his Florida middle school, Roy is trying to stay under the radar. But a mysterious barefoot boy and his tough soccer-player sister introduce Roy to a group of tiny burrowing owls – which lead all three kids into a confrontation they hadn’t expected. Funny at times, but definitely aimed at middle-school boys.

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: And Two Other Short Guides to Achieving More at Work and at Home, Laura Vanderkam
I loved Vanderkam’s 168 Hours and enjoyed these three short, pithy productivity e-guides. Useful tips for making the most of your mornings, weekends and work hours. I’m paying more attention to where my time goes, and am planning to implement some of Vanderkam’s ideas. Smart and practical.

Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris, Ann Mah
When Ann Mah’s diplomat husband was posted to Paris, she began planning all the culinary adventures they’d have together. But when he was called to Iraq for a year – alone – she had to revise her plans. A lovely memoir of creating a home in a new place, with lots of French culinary history, mouthwatering recipes and nods to that other American diplomatic wife, Julia Child.

The Attenbury Emeralds, Jill Paton Walsh
Lord Peter Wimsey recounts his first case – the recovery of a stolen emerald – to his wife Harriet. Then the emerald’s current owner turns up, needing Peter’s help again. The retelling of the first mystery dragged on and on – it only got interesting when the second case started to pick up. Not nearly as good as Walsh’s other two adaptations, but still entertaining once it picked up steam.

Jane of Lantern Hill, L.M. Montgomery
I reach for this book every year when winter digs in its heels and it seems spring will never come. I love watching Jane discover the world of P.E. Island, but even better is watching her blossom into a confident, happy young woman. Charming and fun.

Cinder, Marissa Meyer
Linh Cinder, gifted mechanic, has a secret: she’s part cyborg. When the prince asks her to fix his personal android and her sweet stepsister falls ill, Cinder gets drawn into a web of politics, medical testing and the secrets of her own past. A slow start, but a really fun take on the story of Cinderella. First in a series – I can’t wait to read the sequel! Recommended by Leigh and Jessica.

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

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tbr table books march 2014

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey
A fascinating compendium of the daily routines of dozens of writers, artists, composers and other creatives. So many addictions and lots of creative torment, but a surprising number of these folks found that day jobs kept them sane (and enabled them to eat). As a writer with a day job, I get that. Recommended by Anne.

Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers
I’ve seen the movie many times but finally decided to read the book after seeing Saving Mr. Banks. The book contains some familiar incidents (Uncle Albert, the Bird Lady, etc.), but Mary Poppins herself is quite different from Julie Andrews’ character. Fun, but I honestly prefer the film version.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read Adichie’s debut, Purple Hibiscus, in college and found it moving and troubling. Americanah is more sweeping, more powerful, sometimes wryly funny. It traces the journey of Ifemelu and Obinze, two Nigerians who fall in love as teenagers, move abroad (Ifemelu to the U.S. and Obinze to England), then are reunited years later. It asks big questions about race, class and love. After Leigh, Heather and Christie mentioned it on Twitter in the same week, I couldn’t resist.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, Sheila Turnage
Mo LoBeau and her best friend Dale have a few new mysteries to solve: is there really a ghost at the ramshackle inn outside their town? What’s the new kid at school really up to? And can they scrape a passing grade on their history paper? Loved this story – hilarious and tender, just like Three Times Lucky.

My Accidental Jihad, Krista Bremer
A secular surfer girl from SoCal, Krista Bremer never imagined herself married to a devout Muslim. But then she met Ismail, a kind Libyan who captured her heart. Bremer recounts their love story and explores her discomfort with her husband’s culture in this memoir. Her writing is elegant, but I was astounded by her ignorance on certain issues. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 22).

Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, Nina Mukerjee Furstenau
This slim food memoir combines Indian recipes with flashes of memory from the author’s childhood, spent in Kansas with occasional visits to her Indian relatives. A slow start, but beautiful writing, though I wished some of the reflections had gone further. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not compensated for this review.)

Stay, Allie Larkin
When Savannah’s best friend marries the man she’s adored for years, she impulsively orders a dog off the Internet. Her new pup is cute, but he’s huge, and Van has to mend her broken heart while training her dog and dealing with grouchy neighbors and her newlywed friends. A fun novel about love, family, friendship and fresh starts. (Language warning.)

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

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Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time, Rachel Bertsche
I loved Rachel’s first memoir, MWF Seeking BFF, about her quest to find friends in a new city. This book chronicles her attempts to make over her life á la celebrity role models: Jennifer Aniston’s workouts, Tina Fey’s work ethic, Julia Roberts’ brand of Zen. She also muses on the lure of celebrity culture and shares her struggle to have a baby. Funny, engaging and wise. To review for Shelf Awareness (out July 1).

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, Brigid Pasulka
Once upon a time (in the 1930s), a young man nicknamed “the Pigeon” fell in love with the beautiful Anielica. But war and hardship delayed their marriage and changed their journey in unexpected ways. Decades later, their granddaughter moves from her small village to Krakow after her mother dies, trying to find her way in life and love. Pasulka interweaves the two narratives masterfully. Moving and beautifully written. Recommended by Jaclyn.

You are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves, Hiawatha Bray
After working for millennia to map the world, humankind has solved the problem of location. Our smartphones, GPS devices and other transmitters can track our locations at any time – but at what cost? Bray summarizes the history of location technology and considers the issues surrounding modern tracking devices. Thought-provoking. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 1).

The Sun and Other Stars, Brigid Pasulka
I loved Pasulka’s debut (see above) and loved her second novel even more. Set in a tiny Italian village, it’s a tale of family, love, grief and calcio (soccer). As Etto grieves the deaths of his mother and brother, he befriends a Ukrainian soccer star and his sister, who teach Etto a thing or two about calcio and about living with joy. Sharp, funny and beautiful. (My copy came from the publisher, but I was not compensated for this review.)

When the Cypress Whispers, Yvette Manessis Corporon
Daphne has always loved spending summers on the Greek island of Erikousa with her grandmother. But when she returns as a young widow struggling to raise a child and run a restaurant, she learns a few family secrets and meets an utterly exasperating man. A semi-predictable love story, given depth by the World War II events and enriched by mouthwatering descriptions of Greek food. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 1).

Rooftoppers, Katherine Rundell
As an infant, Sophie was found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck. When the authorities threaten to take her away from Charles, her kind but eccentric guardian, Sophie and Charles flee to Paris in search of Sophie’s mother. Sophie meets a gang of “rooftoppers” – children who live on the roofs of Paris – who aid in her search. Whimsical and charming, though the ending felt abrupt.

The Collector of Dying Breaths, M.J. Rose
In the 16th century, a young Italian man becomes Catherine de Medici’s perfumer and co-conspirator in court intrigues. In the present day, Jac L’Etoile, perfumer and mythologist, is grieving her brother’s death and trying to solve several mysteries. The stories intertwine in surprising ways. Lush descriptions, but a bit creepy. To review for Shelf Awareness (out April 8).

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

I participated in Leigh’s February Reading Challenge, trying not to buy books this month. Look for a report on Monday.

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