Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall in love with a good book

Time for another Book Nook post!

As per usual, the books are divided into Fiction and Nonfiction and then listed alphabetically by author. I have also included a link to each book's listing on, where you can learn more about it. 


Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin.If you are a fan of magical realism, or the movie Romancing the Stone, you will enjoy Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. (Bad title, good book.) The book takes place in the jungles of New York City and the Yucatan. And the hothouse flower of the title is recently divorced advertising copywriter Lila Nova (at least that's who I think it is), who, shortly after reluctantly buying a Bird of Paradise from an exotic plant dealer stumbles across an exotic-plant-filled laundromat and its equally exotic, mysterious owner one evening -- and winds up in a rainforest in Mexico on a quest to find the "nine plants of desire." Botanically informative (and accurate) as well as an enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon.

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory. It's been ages since I'd read a Philippa Gregory book, and I had forgotten what a good writer she was (is). The White Princess is her latest, part of her Cousins' War series, and it tells the story of Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV of England who marries Henry Tudor, Henry VII. While I remember reading about the War of the Roses (the Cousins' War), Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I in school (many, many years ago), I recall nothing about Henry VII -- and I found the book very interesting and enlightening. (While I know Gregory's works are categorized as historical fiction, The White Princess, like many (all?) of her other novels, is heavily based on fact, which you can see from a quick glance at the bibliography.)

Cloche and Dagger: A Hat Shop Mystery by Jenn McKinlay. The latest (newest) series from mystery writer Jenn McKinlay (whom I had never heard of before but learned is very popular). Set in modern-day London, Cloche and Dagger tells the story of American Scarlett Parker, who flies off to London to help her eccentric cousin Vivian, a talented, in-demand milliner, run the shop they inherited from their grandmother. This is after an embarrassing video of Scarlett seemingly crashing an anniversary party and tossing cake at her supposedly divorced boyfriend has gone viral, forcing her to hideout in her Tampa apartment for days. However,when she arrives in Notting Hill, she is greeted not by her cousin Viv, who is nowhere to be found, but by Viv's handsome yet stodgy (and somewhat cantankerous) business manager, Harrison Wentworth, in her stead. Soon after, one of the shop's clients is found dead, in nothing but the hat Scarlett had just sold her -- and Scarlett and Harrison must prove that Viv didn't do it. A fun read with great characters.

Edward Trencom’s Nose: A Novel of History, Dark Intrigue, and Cheese by Giles Milton. If you enjoy subtle English humor (is that redundant?) and wit -- and stinky cheese -- you will enjoy this whimsical novel about a family of cheese connoisseurs with an exceptional nose and destiny. Like many of the books on this fiction list, Edward Trencom's Nose takes place mainly in England, specifically in London, in 1969. A jolly good read -- well written and amusing, with an imaginative, suspenseful plot that will keep you guessing until near the end.

Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie. I enjoyed this collection of mystery short stories, set in late 1950s Cambridge, England. (I know, England again.) The tone and style are reminiscent of classic British detective or mystery novels, which I grew up reading and adoring. (Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie both spring to mind.) But I wish I had read the previous Sidney Chambers book, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, first.


The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention That Changed the World by Amir D. Aczel. As a bit of a directional dyslexic (i.e., someone with a very poor sense of direction, who often cannot tell North from South or East from West), I was immediately drawn to this book when I spied it on my stepfather's bookshelf. A fascinating look at the history of the magnetic compass, how it came to be used aboard ships, and how it changed navigation, ushering in the age of exploration. Really makes you appreciate early explorers and their ability to navigate by the stars, as well as more modern day navigators. A good, informative read.

Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House that Herring Built by Mark Russ Federman. This wonderful, heartfelt, humorous memoir, told by the former owner/proprietor of Russ & Daughters, a famous appetizing store on the Lower East Side of New York, is a must read for Jews of a certain age, true New Yorkers, and those whose idea of perfect Sunday morning includes a bagel with lox and/or smoked fish. While I intensely dislike smoked fish and most of the delicacies, or "foods one eats with a bagel," that Russ & Daughters is known for (somewhere in Heaven my father is weeping), I loved this book -- and made the spouse read it right after me. He, in turn, bought a copy for his brother. (Warning: This book can be hazardous to your waistline if, like us, you suddenly feel yourself craving bagels with all the fixings and act upon these cravings.)

So what have all of you been reading? Don't be shy. Tell me -- via a comment. I am always looking for a good book (albeit one that you would not characterize as "depressing" or "heartbreaking" or "dark" or "poignant" or "morbid").

Btw, you can find previous book recommendations by clicking the Book Nook label at the bottom of this post or this Book Nook link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since I try to read "young adult" novels before my teen daughter, I was hooked on the Mortal Instruments trilogy (now 5 books plus prequels)long before the movie and while everyone else was swooning over "Twilight." (Hated Twilight, btw.) I also love the teen angst novel, "Zombies Don't Cry." Books for grown-ups include the Jefferson Bass Body Farm series, "The Last Romonov," and, most recently, The Game of Thrones series.