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Posts Tagged ‘perfume’

plot thickens boston public library steps

The second half of June has flown by – life is a bit scattered but the books are helping keep me sane. (As is my library – pictured above.) Here’s the latest roundup:

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, Ruth Reichl
Reichl, a longtime food critic, became the editor of Gourmet magazine in 1998. This memoir is the inside-baseball story of her years there, Gourmet’s evolution, some of its most famous stories (and personalities), and its eventual end. I like Reichl’s writing, but I want to love her and I don’t quite. I can’t figure out why. Still an entertaining, well-written story for foodies.

The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, Elizabeth L. Cline
I loved Cline’s first book, Overdressed – a hard look at the fast-fashion culture and what it’s costing us. Her second book lays out methods for clearing out our closets and then shopping consciously: buying less, recycling or donating old clothes responsibly, and buying better-quality clothing made by brands that pay fair wages and treat the earth with care. Lots of common sense, but it’s great to have all this info in one place. Several fascinating Q&As with fashion industry pros. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 20).

The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
I’d only read this little-known Montgomery novel once, and then Jenny co-hosted a read-along on Instagram. I was way too late to join, but loved my second read of Valancy’s story. She’s a delight, and I loved watching her step into exactly the life she wanted.

Today We Go Home, Kelli Estes
When Larkin Bennett comes back home after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, she’s grieving the death of her best friend Sarah and struggling with PTSD. Among Sarah’s possessions, Larkin finds a diary written by Emily Wilson, an ancestor of Sarah’s who lived and fought as a man during the Civil War. Estes’ second novel is a solid dual-narrative story of several strong women, a century and a half apart, fighting to be taken seriously on and off the battlefield. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 3).

The Library of Lost and Found, Phaedra Patrick
Martha Storm, volunteer librarian, spends her time offering to do tasks for other people so she can feel useful. But when she reconnects with her grandmother Zelda–after believing Zelda died 30 years ago–Martha starts rethinking some of her life choices and possibilities. A sweet, engaging, bookish story, though I had trouble believing Martha was quite that naive.

The Scent Keeper, Erica Bauermeister
Emmeline spends her childhood on a remote island with her father in the Pacific Northwest. He keeps drawers full of scents in glass bottles, and they forage for food. But as a teenager, Emmeline is forced into the outside world, where she finds friends but also betrayal. I’ve loved Bauermeister’s previous novels, and this one – despite a slow start – is engaging and lovely. I don’t think the plot is quite as strong as her others, but I loved the characters and the musings on scent and memory.

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You, Dina Nayeri
Most of us see “the refugee crisis” in the headlines but don’t have a sense of what these individual human experiences are like. Nayeri, a former refugee from Iran, delves into her own experience and that of many others: living in camps, awaiting asylum hearings, living underground (in various countries) after being rejected. She’s blistering in some of her critiques, strikingly human in her storytelling. Compassionate, prickly and compelling. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Sept. 3).

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

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libros viajes casa del libro sevilla

Hello, friends. I’m back from a glorious 10-day vacation in Spain, which included (among other things) lots of librerías.

I’m not fluent in Spanish, so I couldn’t read most of the books, but I loved seeing foreign editions of books I know and new-to-me libros in Spanish. This shot is from Casa del Libro in Sevilla.

I brought along a pile of English-language books to read, and here they are:

My Oxford Year, Julia Whelan
Roxanne sent me a link to this book and of course I had to pick it up: a young American woman who’s always dreamed of Oxford goes there as a Rhodes scholar, and falls in love with the city (and more). A little frothy, but with surprising depth, an engaging cast of characters and so many wonderful details about my favorite city.

It Happened Like This: A Life in Alaska, Adrienne Lindholm
Lindholm has always had a taste for wildness and open space – so she moved to Alaska in her twenties, chasing both. She chronicles her journey in an honest, luminous memoir of her years working for the National Park Service and building a life in the backcountry. Thoughtful and compelling and lovely. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 21).

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Barcelona, 1945: Daniel Sempere visits the Cemetery of Forgotten Books with his father and discovers a novel by an obscure author called Julián Carax. As Daniel digs into Carax’s life story, he gets caught up in a twisting narrative of love, revenge and family secrets. An absolutely fantastic, dark, witty, absorbing novel – reading it on bus rides between Spanish cities was just perfect.

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, Mario Giordano
When she turns sixty, Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily, intending to drink herself peacefully to death. To her surprise, she finds herself enjoying her new hometown. And when her young handyman is murdered, she tries her hand at a bit of amateur sleuthing. A witty, vividly described, slightly madcap mystery romp full of colorful characters. First in a new series. Recommended by Anne (it’s in her Summer Reading Guide).

Jolly Foul Play, Robin Stevens
When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong return to their boarding school, an unpopular fellow student is murdered right under their noses. But who killed her, and why? Who is spreading rumors and secrets around the school? And can Daisy swallow her pride and let a few other friends help with the detecting? Stevens’ fourth mystery had both an excellent plot and some keen insight from Hazel about how people treat one another.

The Secret Ways of Perfume, Cristina Caboti
Elena Rossini comes from a long line of female perfumiers, but she’s fought against making perfume her career and life. At a crossroads, though, she moves to Paris and begins to embrace perfume. This novel started strong (and the scent descriptions are wonderful) but fell a bit flat toward the end. Still fun. Found at Librería Reguera in Sevilla.

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

What are you reading?

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perfume garden book

We are (as I may have mentioned a few times) in the middle of a move, and my brain is full of boxes and packing tape and change of address forms.

But in my quieter moments this week, Kate Lord Brown’s novel The Perfume Garden (which I bought in Halifax) has been a delight.

What are you reading?

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Because of my freelance gig as a Shelf Awareness reviewer, I get a batch or two of books every month, to try out and possibly to review. Last spring, Alyssa Harad’s gorgeous memoir, Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride, landed in my mailbox, and I savored every luscious description of perfume and every heart-stirring passage. (Read my gushing Shelf review.)

coming to my senses alyssa harad paperback

I admit to being a perfume novice. I have long worn Banana Republic’s Classic perfume, spicy and citrus-y, which my mom used to wear and which smells like elegance to me for that reason. But Alyssa’s book intrigued me enough that I’m sniffing out (ha) a few new scents. Her descriptions (and her blog posts) are absolutely swoon-worthy.

Of course, Coming to My Senses isn’t just about perfume. It is also about Alyssa coming to terms with herself as a woman who enjoys perfume, and about finding her way both in life and love (including an unconventional path to wedded bliss). It is brave and tender and lovely, like all the best memoirs – even if you’re not a perfume hound.

Alyssa’s book is out in paperback on June 25 (with a gorgeous new cover, above). You can pre-order it now from your favorite indie bookstore. And she has generously offered a copy for me to give away to a reader.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below telling us about your favorite perfume and/or a smell you love, and I’ll draw a name early next week.

Happy sniffing!

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1. Damp earth after a rain.
2. Woodsmoke on a cold night.
3. The Leaves candle, from B&BW.
4. Banana Republic Classic perfume, which I started wearing because my mom wore it. So elegant.
5. Coffee perking (though I won’t drink it).
6. Cinnamon tea brewing. (I will drink this, gladly!)
7. Fresh buttered popcorn.
8. My husband after a shower. Mmmm.
9. Ripe peaches, dripping with juice.
10. Sweet treats baking in the oven. (A combination of butter-sugar-chocolate-yum.)
11. Mesquite-grilled chicken (sadly rare around here).
12. Old books.
13. Pepperminty lip gloss.
14. Curry.
15. Spring flowers with a subtle scent – tulips, daffodils.
16. Boston’s North End – garlic, butter, pasta, heaven.
17. Apple cider simmering on the stove.
18. Fresh-picked basil.
19. Pine needles.
20. Vanilla – so wholesome and sweet.
21. Citrus fruit.
22. Towels fresh from the dryer.
23. Salty sea air.
24. Soup simmering – tomato, Tuscan sausage, butternut squash, jalapeno, chili. The smell of spice and nourishment.

What do you love to smell?

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