The Books I Read in June 2017

I’m back in Boston and might need a few days to recover from my road trip. I didn’t know that they can be so exhausting. But walking around every day takes its toll. Today I’ve spent most of the time on my wonderful, comfortable sofa instead. This is also the perfect moment to present to you the books I read last month.

Like in May, I continued reading Fluke’s “Murder” series about Hannah Swensen. She still finds a lot of corpses and, with the help of her family and friends, eventually finds the murderers. I am a huge fan of her shrewd cat, but also of many of the human characters. They are all so round and develop more and more throughout the series. The recipes are great as well – reading them makes me hungry though.

Joanne Fluke: “Blueberry Muffin Murder”, [amazon_link asins=’B00DB790V4′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’eaf5a9d4-6a47-11e7-adb4-a1ab519e613a’] – Preparations are underway for Lake Eden, Minnesota’s annual Winter Carnival–and Hannah Swensen is set to bake up a storm at her popular shop, The Cookie Jar. Too bad the honor of creating the official Winter Carnival cake went to famous lifestyle maven Connie Mac–a half-baked idea, in Hannah’s opinion. She suspects Connie Mac is a lot like the confections she whips up on her cable TV cooking show–sweet, light, and scrumptious-looking, but likely to leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Joanne Fluke: “Cinnamon Roll Murder”, [amazon_link asins=’B00NLHJPOG’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’e616fae1-6a46-11e7-be5c-594661c3e0d0′] – April is a busy time for Hannah Swensen and her bakery; the warm weather makes folks in Lake Eden, Minnesota go wild for something sweet. When Hannah hears that the Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band will be playing at the town’s Weekend Jazz Festival, she’s more than happy to bake up a generous supply of their namesake confections to welcome the band to town. Before the festival even begins, tragedy strikes when the tour bus overturns. Among those injured is Buddy Neiman, the band’s beloved keyboard player. Buddy’s injuries appear minor, until his condition suddenly takes a turn for the worse – as in dead. Hannah’s no doctor, but she suspects that the surgical scissors someone plunged into Buddy’s chest may have something to do with it. Hannah isn’t sure just how she’ll unravel the mystery, but one thing’s for sure: nothing’s sweeter than bringing a killer to justice.

Joanne Fluke: “Red Velvet Cupcake Murder”, [amazon_link asins=’0758280351′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’0c56b29a-6a47-11e7-b9e3-bf7de45b071f’] – This summer has been warmer than usual in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and Hannah Swensen is trying to beat the heat both in and out of her bakery kitchen. But she’s about to find out the hard way that nothing cools off a hot summer day like cold-blooded murder. . .
It’s a hot, muggy evening, and the last thing Hannah wants to do is squeeze into a pair of pantyhose for the Grand Opening of the refurbished Albion Hotel. But with Hannah’s famous Red Velvet cupcakes being served in the hotel’s new Red Velvet lounge, she can’t bring herself to back out.

Joanne Fluke: “Blackberry Pie Murder”, [amazon_link asins=’0758280386′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’47481d53-6a47-11e7-af4a-57d98cdcb169′] – It’s been a sleepy summer for the folks of Lake Eden, Minnesota. In fact, it’s been a whole four months since anyone in the Swensen family has come across a dead body. And that means Hannah Swensen can finally focus on her bakery … or can she? Life is never really quiet for Hannah. After all, her mother’s wedding is a little over a month away and guess who Delores put in charge of the planning? Yet just when Hannah believes her biggest challenge will be whether to use buttercream or fondant for the wedding cake, she accidentally hits a stranger with her truck while driving down a country road in a raging thunderstorm. Hannah is wracked with guilt, and things get even worse when she’s arrested … for murder! But an autopsy soon reveals the mystery man, his shirt covered in stains from blackberry pie, would have died even if Hannah hadn’t hit him. Now, to clear her name, Hannah will have to follow a trail of pie crumbs to track down the identity of the deceased, find a baker who knows more about murder than how to roll out a perfect pie crust–and get herself to the church on time.

Joanne Fluke: “Double Fudge Brownie Murder”, [amazon_link asins=’0758280416′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’bb922990-6a47-11e7-9c32-2d15db23aa9d’] – Hannah is nervous about the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident. She’s eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gavel and Hannah is the number one suspect.

Joanne Fluke: “Wedding Cake Murder”, [amazon_link asins=’1617732184′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’702b2f47-6a47-11e7-b3be-17ef7869d6a5′] – Hannah is thrilled to be marrying Ross Barton, her college crush. And her excitement only grows when she learns he’ll be able to join her on her trip to New York City for the Food Channel’s dessert chef contest. She’s especially nervous about facing Alain Duquesne, a celebrity chef with a nasty reputation. But before he can tear into Hannah’s layer cake, she finds him stabbed to death on the show’s kitchen set. Out of the oven, as the saying goes, and into the bright lights of Broadway, as Hannah tries to solve a mystery with more layers than a five-tiered wedding cake …

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh: “Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age Story”, [amazon_link asins=’150115950X’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’193b5e0f-6a48-11e7-87aa-dfee4ced9498′] – At nine years old, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh watched from her home in New Jersey as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That same year, she heard her first racial slur. At age eleven, when the United States had begun to invade Iraq and the television was flooded with anti-Muslim commentary, Amani felt overwhelmed with feelings of intense alienation from American society. At thirteen, her family took a trip to her father’s native homeland of Jordan, and Amani experienced firsthand a culture built on pure religion, not Islamic stereotypes.
Inspired by her trip and after years of feeling like her voice as a Muslim woman was marginalized and neglected during a time when all the media could talk about was, ironically, Muslim women, Amani created a website called MuslimGirl. As the editor-in-chief, she put together a team of Muslim women and started a life dedicated to activism.
This is the extraordinary account of Amani’s journey through adolescence as a Muslim girl, from the Islamophobia she’s faced on a daily basis, to the website she launched that became a cultural phenomenon, to the nation’s political climate in the 2016 election cycle with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. While dispelling the myth that a headscarf makes you a walking target for terrorism, she shares both her own personal accounts and anecdotes from the “sisterhood” of writers that serve as her editorial team at MuslimGirl. Amani’s honest, urgent message is fresh, timely, and a deeply necessary counterpoint to the current rhetoric about the Middle East.

I saw this book in the public library and liked reading it very much. It mostly is a teenage becoming adult book, but ever since 9/11 Muslims have had many more problems. Amani also touches upon present U.S. politics. In the end it is a great description of a girl finding herself, her religious belief, and a profession that allows her to help other Muslim teenage girls and to promote her religion as the peaceful one it actually is.

Tala Raassi: “Fashion Is Freedom: A Girl from Tehran and Her Rise to the Runway”, [amazon_link asins=’1910536792′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’50aeec6b-6a48-11e7-ab38-2750040549cb’] – Since the tender age of eight, Tala Raassi knew she was meant to work in fashion. But in Iran, a woman can be punished for exposing her hair, let alone wearing the newest trends. Determined to follow her dream, Tala pushed back. She never imagined her behavior would land her in prison or bring the cruel sting of a whip for the crime of wearing a miniskirt.
Tala’s forty lashes didn’t keep her down-they spurred her to start her own fashion label. Fashion Is Freedom is an incredible memoir that crosses the globe, from Iran to Las Vegas, and inspires women everywhere to be fearless.

Raassi starts describing life in Iran, which for the rich doesn’t seem to be too bad. But unfortunately, she and many of her friends were punished with lashes after they had attended a co-ed party. This books describes the beautiful and the horrible sides of Iran. It then explains why Raassi wanted to leave the country and try her luck in the U.S. The second part of the book is more about her trial and error when she tried to become a fashion designer. I liked the first part more than the second one, but that might be my personal preference on personal life stories over business ones.

Sophie Kinsella: “My Not So Perfect Life”, [amazon_link asins=’1784162825′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’76b2fa5b-6a48-11e7-83f3-b97ad74b046a’] – Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Kinsella’s novel is funny and entertaining. It is one of those easy reads in which most people recognize themselves a little by the main character. Katie pretends to have an amazing life, but reality looks a lot different. She hits bottom when she has to go to her family after she lost her job. But of course she has many ideas to rescue herself – and get back at her former bad boss.

Elif Shafak: “Honour”, [amazon_link asins=’0241972949′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’aad67443-6a48-11e7-86a7-131791037363′] – ‘My mother died twice. I promised myself I would not let her story be forgotten’. And so begins the story of Esma a young Kurdish woman in London trying to come to terms with the terrible murder her brother has committed. Esma tells the story of her family stretching back three generations; back to her grandmother and the births of her mother and Aunt in a village on the edge of the Euphrates. Named Pembe and Jamila, meaning Pink and Beautiful rather than the names their mother wanted to call them, Destiny and Enough, the twin girls have very different futures ahead of them all of which will end in tragedy on a street in East London in 1978. A powerful, brilliant and moving account of murder, love and family set in a Kurdish village, Istanbul and London.

Another great novel by Elif Shafak. I liked in particular how the narrator switches between the different characters and tells all their stories and perspectives. Besides, I am always fascinated by stories from living in Turkish villages. Oh, and of the concept of honour. And the fact that the whole story is resolved only at the very end.

© janavar

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