Spotlight: Recent Foodie Fiction

Each of these novels has an enticing blend of food, relationships, and quirky women coming of age, no matter their age. And just a warning: you’ll be hungry after you finish reading!

citybakerThe City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller (2016)

After her fancy dessert goes up in flames (as does her fancy workplace), Olivia escapes to Vermont to bake for a small inn. In the process, she meets a delightful cast of characters and discovers what’s really important in life. Check out Mary P.’s review for more about the story.

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Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (2015)

It’s all about Eva. Told from multiple points of view and through a series of short stories, the novel unfolds to share different parts of the renowned chef’s personality.

 

deliciousDelicious! by Ruth Reichl (2014)

After Billie gets a job at a food magazine, she encounters engaging characters, describes mouth-watering food, and explores the foodie side of New York. Read a full review of the book here.

Did you know? We’ve got a whole list of Foodie Fiction!

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (2015)

naturebeastAlthough Louise Penny again returns to Three Pines, Quebec, for her latest mystery, she introduces new characters to interact with Inspector Gamache (now retired), his son-in-law Guy, the poet Ruth, and other regulars. This story gives insight into how Ruth becomes the unusual character and poet she is. To start the story, a nine-year-old boy tells such outlandish tales that no one believes anything he says, but then he actually finds something extraordinary in the woods, and then goes missing to the great distress of his parents. Some of the residents plan to perform a play but most of the actors back out when they learn of the terrible nature of the writer.

Could there be some connection among the missing boy, the rejected play, and the extraordinary evil in the forest? In the author’s note, we learn The Nature of the Beast is based on an actual occurrence at the Canadian-U.S. border and thus fits nicely with the location of Three Pines and its fictional characters.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (2010)

kitchenhouseSeven-year-old Lavinia, orphaned on her ship bound journey to America, becomes the indentured servant of the Captain and his family. She is to live in the kitchen house of the captain’s tobacco plantation under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter.  It is here that she calls home and develops deep relationships with her adopted family. The slaves all take Lavinia under their watch and teach her the ways of the slave quarters, kitchen house, and the big house, but she is treated differently because of her white skin.

As Lavinia matures into a young woman, her role on the plantation changes and she finds herself caring for the mistress of the big house who has fallen to the addictions of opium. Lavinia is trapped between these two different worlds and her loyalties, love and life are all endangered. Kathleen Grissom’s The Kitchen House tugs on your heartstrings as Lavinia makes life choices and her world and its surroundings are forever changed.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

13thtaleDiane Setterfield masterfully weaves together a gothic tale of suspense, mystery, and loss. The novel follows the story of two women, one a reclusive author, Vida Winter, who has weaved together so many stories about her life no one knows the truth and the other a young biographer, Margaret Lea, who has been chosen by Winter to take down her true story before Winter succumbs to old age and various ailments plaguing her.

Winter’s tale unfolds mainly in flashback, recounting her eccentric upbringing and the tragedy that tore her family apart. The reader is left to figure out which character Winter is in her tale. Meanwhile, Lea is forced to look to her own past, the loss of her twin and the resulting withdrawal from day-to-day life of her mother. She tries to examine how it has shaped who she is and how she can move forward with her own life. Themes explored include identity, loss, reconciliation, death, and twins.

The Thirteenth Tale was originally released in Australia as an adult novel, but subsequently was released in the United States as a novel targeted to young adults. In 2007, it won an Alex Award, which is annually given to ten books written for adults that have a special appeal to young adults.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller (2016)

citybakerWhen renowned pastry chef Olivia Rawlings sets a banquet hall on fire with her Baked Alaska dessert, she decides that it is time to move on and find another job and another life. The safest place she can think of is Guthrie, Vermont, where her best friend Hannah lives.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is delightful and fun to read. Olivia comes to realize that the small town offers her a sense of belonging and purpose. This sweet story from debut author Louise Miller is filled to the brim with yummy desserts and warm feelings. A treat!

Stay tuned for other foodie fiction – a featurette is coming from Jennifer later this month.

Spotlight: Psy/Changeling Series by Nalini Singh

slavetoIn Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series, there are three main classes of humans and humanoids that can intermarry and have children: humans, changelings, and the psy. Humans are well, human; pretty self-explanatory! The psy, like their name suggests, are psychic beings with different powers depending on the person. Some can predict the future or are empaths, while other still are insanely powerful telekinetics that can kill a person just by thinking about it. The changelings have nothing to do with the type in commonly known in mythology that steal children away in the night and replace them with their own. Actually, they are similar to were-creatures. The main two types that Singh’s series focuses on are wolf or leopard changelings but there are changelings of many animal types, no one is quite sure how many!

Dive into this universe where the changelings, humans, and psy are on the brink of war with each other. only two changeling clans and a few rogue psy can help prevent disaster. Start with book 1 – Slave to Sensation.

The Circle by Dave Eggers (2013)

circleImagine if Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Apple were all bought out by the same mega-company. All of your data, from your food preferences to your medical history, would be linked and readily available. All of your work and your social life would be online. Then imagine there are cameras everywhere that you can check feeds of at any moment to keep an eye on revolts in the Middle East or the surf conditions at your favorite beach. All of this and more are possible with the Circle—and this future is not too far off from our own.

The main character, Mae, is a newbie at the Circle, working in Customer Experience, answering tech questions, but her role at the media giant quickly grows as the Circle becomes the center of her life. Readers will follow in awestruck terror as Mae becomes tied up in this world, even at the risk of her parents and former friend, even at the risk of her own privacy. This book is not a thriller, but at times, it might feel like one, as you shout helplessly at the page for Mae and others at the Circle to change their ways. Dave EggersThe Circle – a sci-fi dystopia – will feel all too familiar to anyone concerned with technology, social media, and privacy, and serves as a warning as well as being a page turner you won’t be able to put down.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (2015)

circlingsunAfter her acclaimed novel The Paris Wife, Paula McLain tackles yet another adventurous woman of the early twentieth century: Beryl Markham. Markham had an unconventional upbringing in Kenya after her mother’s return to England. Her father loved her, but was caught up in his own business and personal concerns. She learned to survive on her own with the help of friends in the local Kipsigis tribe. Markham struggled to maintain her personal relationships and marriages. She was most comfortable around horses and wide open spaces. She finally realized her true calling flying above her beloved African landscapes.

Check out Circling the Sun today.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (2015)

fatesfuriesIn Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, the story of marriage is told by multi-faceted characters Lotto and Mathilde. Lotto, who is destined to be a world famous playwright, unfolds his love for Mathilde in the Fates, while Mathilde’s dramatically different perspective of their marriage is revealed in the Furies.

While unsure of where the story is going in the first section of the book called Fates, the reader is brought into a whirlwind of discoveries and uncovered truths in the Furies. The core of this marriage lies possibly in its secrets rather than in its truths and the unfolding of this complicated duo won’t disappoint.

How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng (2015)

bakepiWhat does Eugenia Cheng have in common with Thomas Jefferson and Descartes? Well they all believe in first principals, truths held to be self-evident. Yet Cheng is much more fun to read (or listen to) when she drifts away into cooking or engaging friends over a cocktail. Of course, she is dead serious when she uses the rules of logic to go from those first principals to a conclusion that also must be true. She sees math as an adventure, like cooking and she awakens the reader’s curiosity to new concepts like category theory. New ideas are just fine if they don’t cause a contradiction or an upset stomach.

Throughout How to Bake Pi, she helps the reader gain understanding of concepts like abstractions, generalizations, and axioms, particularly as they relate to math (or cooking). I found Cheng’s book both enlightening and a pleasure to read. And check out The New York Times review.