Readers Guide: 'American Grown' by Michelle Obama

Susie Stooksbury

“Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel

As he continues to deal with the political and religious fallout of the marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, an event he expertly orchestrated in Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is now charged, three years later, with manipulating the end of that controversial union. Anne has produced no male heir and has become too outspoken for Henry’s taste. Her family, too, have become a nuisance –– besides, the king now has his eye on demure Jane Seymour. Hilary Mantel continues her award-winning take on Cromwell’s life and career serving the Tudor king in “Bring Up the Bodies.”

“American Grown” by Michelle Obama

In “American Grown,” First Lady Michelle Obama tells of her experiences growing a wide array of vegetables on the South Lawn of the White House. She also takes us beyond her own little patch to highlight community gardens and the positive effects they are having across the country. Included in her sumptuously illustrated book are delicious recipes that will inspire you to begin your own kitchen garden.

“Shadow of Night” by Deborah Harkness

When last we saw newlyweds Diana Bishop, a scholar and reluctant but naturally gifted witch, and Matthew Clairmont , renown geneticist and vampire, they had literally stepped back in time to Elizabethan London. Their mission: to find the secret of Ashmole 782, the mysterious manuscript that has endangered everything they hold dear. Deborah Harkness continues her All Souls Trilogy, which she began in last year’s publishing hit  “A Discovery of Witches,“ with “Shadow of Night.”

“Heading Out to Wonderful” by Robert Goolrick

Small Southern towns have a way of attracting trouble, and little Brownsburg, Va., is no exception in Robert Goolrick’s “Heading Out to Wonderful.” Northerner Charlie Beale ends up there after the war with a suitcase full of cash. A butcher by trade, he signs on with local shop owner Will Haislett and soon becomes the new best friend of Haislett’s 5-year-old son, Sam. But trouble starts to brew when Charlie meets Sylvan, the teenage wife of the town’s richest man, abusive Boaty Glass. Young Sam becomes witness to Sylvan and Charlie’s torrid affair –– a match that soon leads to tragedy.

“Istanbul Passage” by Joseph Kanon

During the war, Istanbul was an exotic mecca –– a haven for enemies and allies alike, held in suspension while the world went to war. American businessman Leon Bauer helped do his patriotic part by performing small, odd jobs for the Allies, mostly as a courier. At the end of the war, he is given one more assignment: to help smuggle in a refugee who seems to be wanted by all sides. The routine operation turns ugly –– a life is lost, and just as the city must begin to create a place in the new world order, Leon must find his way among people he now no longer trusts. “Istanbul Passage” is the latest by the talented Joseph Kanon.

“Wife 22” by Melanie Gideon

Suffering from a case of the 20-year-marriage blahs, Alice Buckle –– wife of William, mother to Peter and Zoe, frustrated playwright –– signs up to take an online survey for women who have been married a long time. The opportunity to really focus on what she has mostly denied is an eye-opener for Alice, who soon finds herself having disturbing feelings for her assigned anonymous researcher. Melanie Gideon’s “Wife 22” is a treat.