I have read so many good books lately, I just had to share!
All of the books below, which I have listed alphabetically by author (and linked to Amazon, so you can read more about them) would make for excellent summer reading. Books with an asterisk (*) are ones I highly recommend, which I am planning on including on my Favorite Reads of 2013 list.
To see previous book recommendations, click here -- or on the Book Nook label at the end of the post.
And if you recently read a book you would recommend (not just to me but to other readers), please leave the title and the author's name in a Comment.
The Marrying Season by Candace Camp. Great name for a romance writer, no? I hadn't heard of Candace Camp before reading The Marrying Season, but I would definitely check her out again. What is the book about? Does it really make a difference, people? It's a romance novel. Meaning, it takes place in Regency era England (or around that time), where there's some beautiful aristocratic woman in trouble, who is rescued by an unlikely (yet noble and, of course, extremely handsome) suitor (who happens to be quite skilled in the art of love), even though she doesn't think she wants or needs to be rescued, and, in the process of falling in love, they have some stupid misunderstanding or impediment that temporarily keeps them apart, before they realize they cannot live without each other and/or work together to overcome whatever obstacle(s) lies in their way. And they live happily ever after. (Or not. We never really find out.)
When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James. Another romance novel. See above. (About romance novels. I've been a little stressed out lately. And whenever I am stressed out, I go in search of a romance novel. Hey, it's healthier than drinking or doing drugs.)
Together Tea by Marjan Kamali.I know it's cliched, but I really did laugh then cry reading this fabulous, heartwarming book about an Iranian mother and her Iranian-American daughter -- and their quest to belong in the United States after fleeing Iran in 1980. Indeed, I found it hard to believe this was Marjan Kamali's first novel, it was so beautifully written and flowed so effortlessly.
I think any woman who has lived in a foreign country -- or far from where she was raised -- especially if she raised a family in a new place, will relate to this story. The book also gave me a fresh prospective on what it was like to be an Iranian in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as well as what it was like to be an Iranian in the United States just after the hostage crisis.
Above all, though, the book is a warm and often funny love story, between a wife and a husband, a mother and a daughter, and the daughter and the boy she meets while visiting Tehran in 1996 (when much of the novel takes place). I cannot recommend this book enough.
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. My gratitude to Laura from my local Book Buzz group. Even though she barely knows me, she knows what books I will like. In fact, I liked The Spellman Files (aka Document #1) so much, I read the other four documents immediately after -- and placed a hold on Document #6, which is coming out in a few weeks.
In brief, the documents, I mean books, are accounts of the Spellmans, a family of private detectives (except for son David, who abandons the family business early on to become a lawyer), as narrated (primarily) by Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, the socially maladjusted older daughter who has been working in the family business since she was 12. While each book contains a whodunnit, it's the side stories that make the books so much fun and keep you turning the pages. (My favorite in the series was Document #4, The Spellmans Strike Again, but you should really read the books in order, starting with the first one.)
In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman. WARNING: This book will make you crave a hamburger, constantly. Specifically an In-N-Out burger. And fries. And a shake. East Coasters, you are screwed. That said, I thought this was one of the best business books, or books about a business, I've ever read, up there with The Emperors of Chocolate. While I have never had an In-N-Out burger, I knew about the chain -- and greatly enjoyed Perman's most recent book, A Grand Complication, which I recommended in my last book post. If you are at all a fan of the burger chain or enjoy a good nonfiction book about business, in this case an iconic family business with a side order or scandal and intrigue, check out In-N-Out Burger.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Another first-time novelist. Another great read. I don't know where Wecker got the idea for this book, but she clearly did a lot of research on Jewish, Yiddish, Syrian, and Middle Eastern history, religion, customers, and mysticism. If I were to categorize this book, I'd say it was a work of magical realism that takes place in turn of the (20th) century New York City.
Part Arabian Nights, part Kabbalah, The Golem and the Jinni tells the tale of Chava, a golem, a woman made of clay, and Ahmad, a 1000-year-old (give or take 100 years) jinni, a being made of fire, who has spent most of his life trapped in a bottle, both of whom wind up in New York City in 1899 due to circumstances beyond their control. But really it is a story about the immigrant experience and how often hard it is to adapt to another culture when you feel other -- and how important kindness and friendship are.
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