Our book review roundups usually include about half a dozen books. But this time I’m doubling the reviews. For the summer book review roundup, there are dozen books to order or download. Two of them are free! The reviews are short but they’ll give you an idea of the treats inside each book! Have a simply sizzling Summer.
Romantic feel-good novels are always a must-have in your vacation carry-on. Maggie Finds Her Muse by Dee Ernst (St. Martins Publishing Group April 20, 2021) combines the romance of Paris, with um..romance! Maggie is a writer who wrote a best seller and a follow-up, but now she has writer’s block and can’t seem to get her life together. Her editor persuades her to go to Paris to get inspiration and find her muse. I really like that the romantic subjects are over 40,
The story is so charming. It’s also refreshing and therefore, more interesting because the heroine is a normal, mature woman. The characters are likable, relateable, and intelligently written. Whether Maggie finds her muse or not, you’ll cheer her growing confidence and want to get your passport ready for when you can go to France again, too! Buy/Download this book
FREE! Mystery and Romance
Two authors are offering their romantic novels for free on amazon.
Book #1 free from the Iron Tornados series:
When I’m in the mood for a romantic thriller, Olivia Rigal is my favorite author. In 2014 advicesisters.com featured Stone Cold (An Iron Tornadoes MC Romance Book 1)Kindle Edition by Olivia Rigal. Then in 2015 we reviewed Olivia Rigal’s Cold Burn (An Iron Tornadoes MC Romance Book #2). There have 10 in the series including Hurricane Watch (reviewed in 2020.
Ms. Rigal knows how to create romantic suspense. Each bok thrills with secrets, suspense, danger, and romance. If you like bad boys who turn out to be surprisingly not so bad after all, Download book #2 Cold Burn for free.
Book #1 free from the Kentucky Green Series:
Mystery and Intrigue: Definitely not a feel-good is Madam A Novel by Phoebe Wynne (St. Martin’s Press May 18, 2021). Rose Christie is a modern woman who finds herself teaching classics at Caldonbrae Hall, a prestigious school for girls. It has a great reputation and a 150-year history. She has no idea what she’s getting into, But once she’s nestled above rocky cliffs in the Scottish Highlands. she realizes not all is what it seems. Soon Rose begins to question what the school is really all about and what role she is asked to play.
Are the graduates of Caldonbrae Hall girls ready for the future, or is their fate going to be something else entirely? It’s not just a culture clash of tradition and feminism. The setting and the book itself are “dark.” However, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Buy/download this book
Keep them guessing is the #1 mantra of mystery thriller writers. It’s well done in The Fiancée: A Novel by Kate White (Harper paperbacks, June 29, 2021). Summer is an actress with ambition and no self-confidence. Her Husband Gabe and his 9-year-old stepson join her for a family gathering on his parents’ big estate in Pennsylvania. Summer anticipates lounging by the pool and enjoying her mother in laws’ excellent cooking, All is well until Gabe’s younger brother shows up with “Hannah” (also an actress) and they announce their engagement.
Summer recognizes Hannah as someone she worked with previously. However, Hannah refuses to acknowledge it. As the weekend progresses, Hannah (full of the confidence Summer lacks) charms everyone. However, when Summer’s mother-in-law is found dead. she’s sure Hannah had something to do with it –but did she? This is a psychological thriller that really will keep you guessing. Buy/download this book
Gone: A Search for What Remains of the World’s Extinct Creatures by Michael Blencowe (Hachette/ Leaping Hare Press April 27, 2021). Is this a book about one man’s obsession with creatures we have pushed into extinction, The author goes to museums to find long-dead species, and he goes back to the habitats of more than 11 creatures that no longer exist. Mankind has not been that kind to other species. But on the other hand, one must consider the time, culture, and experiences of those who ate the Stellar’s sea cow or the Pinta Island Tortoise. Some didn’t know any better but some just did it to survive.
Each chapter does a deep dive into a particular animal and how and when it became extinct. I couldn’t help but feel sad, even angry, that we would treat living things with disregard. However, there is a positive as new flora and fauna plants become known all the time. If nothing ever becomes extinct (e.g. dinosaurs) could we have lived with them? Unless we are all wiped out by our own foolish hands, living things will continue to evolve on Earth, as others say “sayonara.” Buy/download this book
The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who survived the Worst of Nazi Germany by Gwen Strauss (St. Martins Press May 4, 2021) will already have been published. If you believe that sisterhood is powerful, you will know it for sure when you read this absolutely horrifying and yet gripping tale. Nine idealistic women all under 30 years old joined the French resistance smuggling supplies and information through Europe to defeat the Nazis. They were arrested and subjected to such horror and brutality by the Nazis your skin will crawl.
Anyone who says the holocaust didn’t exist must read this book. The author is related to one of “the nine” and it’s a well-researched book. Those who forget history “man’s inhumanity to man” are doomed to repeat it. So keep your eyes open, read the book, and learn something essential about the human spirit that no evil power can destroy. Buy/download this book
The Metropolitan Stories A Novel by Christine Coulson (Other Press, April 20, 2021) is called a novel, but I’m not sure how much is really fiction. Therefore, it’s in the non-fiction section of this book review roundup. Hidden away behind the famous art and artifacts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is an entirely different world. There are more than 2,000 employees you’ll never even see. But most of them have a passion for beauty. The author offers a personal, private look at this amazing place.
Ms. Coulson began at “the Met” as a Summer intern and then spent the next 25 years rising through the ranks of the museum until she left to become a full-time writer. There is fact in this fiction, although I am sure details have been changed to protect privacy. The author is someone I’d love to sit down and have drinks with! You’ll find the book inspiring, educational, and very interesting. Buy/download this book.
Fab for Foodies!
Advicesisters.com always includes a few cookbooks in our book review roundups. This time I have selected some books that have nice recipes, but these focus on “place” as well as recipes.
If you’ve ever inhaled the aroma of a fresh truffle, the sublime experience will stick with you forever. In the book Cooking With Truffles: A Chef’s Guide by Susi Gott Seguret (Hatherleigh Press ltd, April 27, 2021) You will find 150 (mostly easy) recipes that use truffles in some way shape, or form. However, while the recipes are meant for the addition of truffles, most can be made without them. The photos are gorgeous. You will also get some information about the history of truffles, their seasonality, and where you can grow or find them (even in the United States).
I loved the book even though the author eschews anything that isn’t a fresh truffle. As I am writing this, truffles are, for the most part, out of season. If all you can find are dried truffles or truffle oil, I still think that you can have an excellent truffle experience. Buy/download this book
Artistic Places by Susie Hodge illustrated by Amy Grimes (White Lion Publishing, 2021) is part of the Inspired Travellers’ Guides. This book has colorful, fanciful illustrations of various cities and the artists that were inspired by them. The text is minimal with just a few pages devoted to each place and each artist. However, you’ll use it less as a guidebook and more as an armchair traveler. However, one day you might actually use the information to take trips to these unique places. Until we can widely travel again, it’s still “eye candy.” This would make a lovely house gift for your weekend host.
Flavour With Benefits (France) by Cathy Connally and Charley Best (Collesano Publishing, April 2021) is part travel book and part recipes. The book starts with a brief history of Veuve Clicquot champagne and beautiful photos of Epernay and Rheims. Recipes follow inspired by the region. The first section also acknowledges the women who were and still are instrumental in the champagne industry. The book meanders through France offering recipes and photos. There’s a section about Metz and the Miracle of an Artichoke (recipes from the Lorraine region in eastern France).
Drive through the Vosges hills and the Winelands of Burgundy. Continue to Lyon, Provence, Marseille, and the Nearby Coastal Mountains of the Calanques. However, the back of the book has recipes for a healthy lifestyle (the crystallized ginger recipe is a must-try). The book will take a prized place on your bookshelf. Buy/download this book