Saturday, August 4, 2012

August reading (more book recommendations)

After not reading many books (or as many as I normally do) this spring, I went on a bit of a reading tear the last month. Below are eight more books I recommend.

As per usual, if you click on the book title, you will be taken to the Amazon listing.

Looking for more book recommendations? Here you go.

Read a book you'd recommend? Please leave the title and author in the Comments.

(Note: As many, or most, of you know, I prefer the happy to the sad; to laugh rather than to cry; stories of the functional rather than the dysfunctional.... You get the idea. Basically if the jacket copy contains the words heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, I cried, or a tragic... I ain't reading it. Though there are the occasional exceptions.)

Herewith, eight good reads that will if not make you chuckle or smile (in parts) will entertain or enchant or provoke (in a good way).


The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. I had sworn off romance novels (aka fairy tales for frustrated housewives and single women), so was somewhat pissed to discover that what I thought was a work of historical fiction (a story of intrigue between the French and the British that takes place in early 19th Century France) was, in actuality, a romance novel. Sigh. (I really should pay more attention to jacket covers.) That said, it was one of the best romance novels I've read -- well written, with interesting characters (to me the characters were the best part), an intriguing plot, and okay, I'll fess up, the romance part was fun. (Note: I just clicked on the Amazon description after writing that and snorted. Makes me feel ridiculous -- also that I should have gone into marketing romance novels. Seriously, people get paid to write this stuff?)

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore. I have another confession to make: I have never read a book by Christopher Moore. Yes, yes, I know several of you have recommended Moore over the years, and I tried to read at least one of his books. But for some reason I couldn't get into his stuff. Until I picked up Sacré Bleu, which our wonderful librarian recommended to me. Having just returned from a trip to France, and having an abiding love of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, I was immediately sucked into Moore's latest, which claims to be about the color blue (or ultramarine), which it is. But it is more a sly, witty work of historical fiction covering the French art world of the 1890s. If you are a Christopher Moore fan, a lover of Paris (particularly during La Belle Epoque), and/or a fan of Impressionism, this book is a must read -- though you may not think of Impressionism in the exact same way again after reading it.

The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones. Knowing little about early Islam or the Prophet Muhammed, I found The Jewel of Medina, the fictional story of the Prophet's favorite wife Aisha, a fascinating read.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. This book came highly recommended by a friend who knows of my love of Italy (particularly the Cinque Terre region) and my picky reading habits. And while Beautiful Ruins is populated with its share of dysfunctional people and heartache, I still enjoyed it -- and wanted to catch the next plane to Italy, or at least eat some Italian food, while reading it.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. I'm not sure why I loved this book. Maybe it's because I love magical realism and the exotic, or maybe it's because I'm a bit of a geek. But I could not put it down. Literally. A story of hackers and jinns, Arabian royalty and rabble, good and evil, Alif the Unseen takes the reader on an extraordinary journey into the unseen -- a kind of modern Arabian Nights.


The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: A Vish Puri Mystery by Tarquin Hall. If you didn't already know (from previous Book Nook posts), I am a huge fan of Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri mysteries. Set in India, and featuring India’s Most Private Investigator, The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken takes Vish Puri into "the dangerous world of illegal gambling to solve the murder of a high-profile Pakistani on Indian soil." If you like a mystery with a sense of humor set in a (somewhat) exotic locale, I highly recommend Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri mysteries, beginning with The Case of the Missing Servant.

Black Moonlight by Amy Patricia Meade. A charming, light mystery set on an island just off Bermuda in the 1930s. I hadn't read the previous three Marjorie McClelland mysteries, but I had no problem getting into (and enjoying) Black Moonlight. The perfect beach -- or pool or hammock -- read.


Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them by Frank Langella. I am not a big fan of memoirs, but I enjoyed Langella's frank reminiscences of famous people he met (or almost met) -- actors, writers, politicians -- over the course of his career. Interestingly, with one exception (Rachel "Bunny" Mellon), all of the people Langella writes about are dead (hence the title, a pun).

Until fall, I wish you happy reading.


Sugar Daze said...

I just downloaded sample of Beautiful Ruins to my kindle. About to look up some of the other books you have recommended. Thanks!

Dave S. said...

Re Langella, I saw what you did there.

J. said...

@Dave S., sometimes I think I write these posts just for you. ;-)