Jeanne and Abby's Picks
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon is a very funny novel about a woman in a midlife crisis who agrees to anonymously participate in a survey about marital happiness. Between her obsessive connections to Facebook, Google searches and the survey, this married mother of two gets caught between reality and fantasy, and discovers things both enlightening and world-rocking.
*Optioned by Working Title in a major film deal.
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shispstead. Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Wedding plans are being finalized as his daughter prepares to marry the father of her unborn child. Shipstead cleverly weaves a tale of who’s who, boozy parties, disappointing houseguests and ultimately, what really matters.
The Red House by Mark Haddon. The Red House is a domestic drama set in England where every character is coming to terms with something or experiencing a revelation. Eight people who hardly know each other, though some are related, are stuck together for a week in the countryside. There are infatuations, quarrels, jealousies, undercurrents and alliances.
Translated from the Swedish
Drowned by Therese Bohman is set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under your skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the aroma of coffee becomes ominous. The story seems simple, but the reader will hold their breath wondering who did it and why.
So Pretty It Hurts by Kate White. Bailey Weggins, the thirty-something, true crime journalist featured in Kate White’s murder mysteries investigates and writes for Buzz, a leading celebrity magazine. She is invited to a weekend party in a music mogul’s mansion in upstate New York. The guest list has plenty of celebrities and plenty of problems. The relaxing weekend getaway turns out to be more like an Agatha Christie whodunit. In So Pretty It Hurts, Bailey once again finds herself a moving target—running closer to the truth and farther from safety.
Incendiary by Chris Cleave. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, a woman mourns the loss of her husband and son at the hands of one of history’s most notorious criminals. Her working-class life is blown apart when the stadium where her boy was is blown up by terrorists. Incendiary is this mother’s appeal in a letter to Osama bin Laden, as their executioner, to understand her very desperate sadness of a broken heart.
The Time In Between by Maria Duenas. The Town Sira Quiroga is a young Spanish dressmaker engaged to a solid suitor when a suave salesman comes into her life and turns it from ordinary to extraordinary, but uncertain. Spain is in a civil war and the new regime is cultivating alliances with Nazi Germany. The Time in Between will appeal to fans of romance novels as well as mystery and historical fiction.
Blind Sight by Meg Howrey. Blind Sight introduces the seventeen-year-old narrator, Luke Prescott, who has been brought up in a bohemian matriarchy by his divorced New Age mother, a religious grandmother, and two precocious half-sisters. Having spent his lifetime agreeably between the poles of Eastern mysticism and New England Puritanism, Luke is fascinated by the new fields of brain science and believes in having evidence for his beliefs. He is writing his college applications when his father—a famous television star whom he never knew—calls and invites him to Los Angeles for the summer.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. “It’s not you, it’s me — you’re great.” “I’m so sorry, but this just isn’t working out.” “I think we should see other people.” Whether it was the boy who dumped you in the sandbox for that kid with the bright red fire truck or the girl who abruptly stopped answering your notes during algebra, no one makes it through life without exposure to that miserable condition known as the breakup. And now we have Daniel Handler (who also writes as Lemony Snicket) giving us the lowdown on the rise and fall of one break in particular in Why We Broke Up.
Grilling for Life by Bobby Flay. Grilling is the most basic method of cooking there is. It dates back to the time of cavemen — food plus fire equals good. Healthy and never bland, Grilling for Life is my favorite grilling cookbook all year round; especially Smoky and Fiery Skirt Steak with Avocado-Oregano Relish and Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fontina and Prosciutto with Sage-Orange Vinaigrette.
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. This week I am recommending two very different memoirs by two very different chefs. First is Yes,Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (June 26th release date.) I always appreciate a memoir where the author is willing to take an honest look at their life choices, and I believe Samuelsson does just that. Born in Ethiopia, Marcus (may I call you Marcus?) was orphaned at 18 months of age and along with his older sister, adopted into a loving family in Sweden. When Marcus learned the career he dreamed of as a professional soccer player was not to be, he joined the food service track in high school and found his real gift. Stints in top kitchens around Europe proved a great training ground, but it was at Aquavit in NYC he found his stride and entered the world of culinary star. It's safe to say you don't reach those heights without a great deal of ambition and a few wrecked kitchens along the way. It was relatively recent that Marcus developed a deep interest in his Ethiopian roots and he has incorporated that culture into his kitchen. He is now chef/owner of Red Rooster in Harlem, where I would love to dine.
Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey. The second chef book is Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey. Following her training at the French Culinary Institute Shockey followed the common path of arranging stages at various restaurants (basically unpaid internships consisting of crazy hours but with a huge opportunity to learn) each with their own focus. An interesting journey of culture and learning what you think and hope makes you really happy may not in fact bring you joy.
Trail Of The Spellmans by Lisa Lutz. For a fun ride to greet the beach season, go with Lisa Lutz's Trail Of The Spellmans. This one is the 5th entry in the entertaining Spellman Files series (also known as Document 5). The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of private detectives. There's no such thing as normal when you have a family devoted to the gathering of leverage and unwillingness to accept concepts such as "privacy" and "personal space."