8 Droolworthy Novels For Foodies

8 Droolworthy Novels For Foodies via From Left to Write

8 Droolworthy Novels For Foodies via From Left to Write

I love all things food. I love the process of it all: grocery shopping, cooking, and eating. I especially love reading novels about food and cooking because give me plenty of recipe inspiration. Not to mention they make me wish for a comforting bowl of beef stew or a nice glass of red wine.

Warning: make sure you have plenty of snacks before reading any of these books. Even better, make one your next book club read and serve food inspired by the recipes in the novel!

8 Droolworthy Novels For Foodies

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl: Famous restaurant critic has beautifully captured the food mecca that is New York City. West coaster Billie Breslin has an amazing talent: with just a few tastes, she can name all the ingredients used (or missing) from a dish. Instead of using her skill in her passion for baking, she forgoes any sort of cooking to work as assistant to the editor of Delicious! magazine. Just as she gets settled in, the magazine is abruptly shuttered. She takes a lonely job of maintaining the magazine’s hotline in order to pay her bills. Reichl’s vivid descriptions made me wish I could hop the next train up to New York for my food pilgrimage.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris: Yes, both the chocolate and Johnny Depp are incredibly drool worthy in the movie version. But if you haven’t read the book, you’re missing out. Harris beautifully weaves magic and whimsy with plenty of decadent chocolate to draw out the small villages’ dreams and desires. Definitely buy that box of chocolates before you cozy up with this novel.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen: A blend of food and magic, the novel explores two women who lives are opposite of the other. Josey escapes by reading romance novels and eating junk food in her closet. The town’s bad girl mysteriously shows up and starts living in her closet and Della Lee turns Josey’s life upside down. One more thing, Della Lee refuses to leave Josey’s closet. Each chapter is named for Josey’s favorite sweets, so make sure you stock up on some chocolate bars before reading!

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister: My friend Erin of Read-at-Home Mama recommended this book to me. Every month, students gather at Lillian’s restaurant  for her cooking class. They each have struggles outside the kitchen: a new mother struggling with her new identity, an Italian immigrant adapting to American life, a young widower among others. As they slice, chop, and stir in class, they students discover more than a delectable dish to fill up their bellies.

 Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love by Megan Caldwell:  Who doesn’t love a book about classic literature and food? Newly single, Molly starts her culinary writing career by penning luscious descriptions for New York’s newest, soon-to-be hot bakery. It was supposed to be a simple job, but she soon finds herself the center of attention of two men. This fun, witty novel will make you wish for flaky croissants and decadent danishes.

The Naughty Girls Book Club by Sophie Hart: With her suburban bakery cafe ailing, Estelle starts a book group in order to gain more customers. The first meeting falls flat as the strangers attempt to discuss classics. Before her new customers bolt, she suggests an erotica book club instead. Don’t let the title fool you. This novel isn’t about blindfolds and chains. You’ll fall in love with each book club member as they rediscover themselves in the process. And Estelle’s baked goods are to die for–if only paper tasted as good as her muffins.

The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy: One of our past virtual book club selections, this novel has stuck with me. There’s story behind every pastry. That’s what freelance writer Reba discovers when she visits Elsie’s German Bakery. Reba discovers Elsie’s life before she immigrated to the United States. Elsie was a young German struggling to survive at the end of World War II. Over coffee and handmade baked goods, Reba finds answers she didn’t even know she was looking for.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: I couldn’t create a list of drool worth books without including this classic. Tita, the youngest daughter in a Mexican family, is fated to remain unmarried in order to take care of her mother. She’s not allowed to marry her love Pedro. Instead, he marries her older sister in order to be near Tita. While Tita can only love him from a far, she imbues every dish she makes with her current emotions. Everyone who eats it can feel the love and passion (or distress) she cooks into her food. After you read the book, make sure you watch the (steamy) movie version!

Post image adapted from photo by David Leggett via Creative Commons.

Book Club Discussion: If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

If I Fall If I Die FL2W Book Club Banner

If I Fall If I Die FL2W Book Club Banner

It’s book club discussion time for our first pick of 2015: If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie (Hogarth). In the novel Will is a young boy who lives in two worlds: Outside and Inside. Due to his mother’s severe agoraphobia, he’s lived Inside for most of his life. So what happens when breaks the rules and goes outside?

Filled with many dichotomies, this novel inspired a wide range of responses from our book club members. Head over to their blogs to read our book club discussion for If I Fall, If I Die:

Have you experienced anxiety or fears like our book club members have? 

Visit Michael Christie at his websiteFacebook, and Twitter. Grab a copy of If I Fall, If I Dieand share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Review: Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

An immensely satisfying novel filled with stolen art, love, lies, and changing identities.

I was sure what to expect when I picked up Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm. I was promised intrigue, lies, and an unreliable narrator. Thanks to the popularity of Gone Girl, unreliable narrators have popped up in too many books. However, Unbecoming draws you in from the very beginning, whether you believe Grace or not. Of course, the romantic setting in Paris, France doesn’t hurt either.

Julie, as Grace calls herself in France, has started a new life under the radar. She’s hiding from her small Tennessee hometown and the  two men she loves, who have just been released on parole.  Both were jailed for a crime that Grace helped planned. The job when bad, but Grace was already on a plane to Europe–with a stolen oil painting in her suitcase. She creates a new life for herself in an antiques repair shop, waiting for her lies and her past to catch up with her.

Unbecoming kept me on my toes the entire time. I wasn’t sure what Grace would reveal next and if there was any truth to it. Usually I find myself hating unreliable characters, but I really liked Grace.  I wanted her to be happy. Even if she is a thief. The novel’s pace is steady, allowing the reader time to attempt to unravel Grace’s web of lies.

I hesitate to compare this novel to everyone’s beloved The Goldfinch (which I loathed) because the only thing they have in common is a priceless stolen painting. But my brain keeps going back to Tartt’s book (now being read by book clubs everywhere).  Unbecoming will make a great book club read. You’ll find plenty to discuss from Scherm’s novel.

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm releases on Thursday and I highly recommend it. Read it with a friend because you’ll want someone to discuss it with after!

Considering the novel for your book club? Download the Unbecoming book club guide for discussion questions, author interviews, and cocktail recipes!

10 Must Read Speculative Fiction Novels

10 Must Read Speculative Fiction Novels via From Left to Write


10 Must Read Speculative Fiction Novels via From Left to Write

I fell in love with science fiction back in middle school thanks to Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, and Margaret Atwood. I’ve always had a thing for alternate reality and post-apocalyptic novels, but I didn’t realize there was a name for it: speculative fiction. The term is attributed to author Robert Heinlein and is defined as “any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.”

It’s a broad definition, but I like that it doesn’t limit authors’ imaginations. I’ve compiled a short list of must-read speculative fiction novels. Don’t think of these just as science fiction novels because some like Station Eleven or The Leftovers are genre bending–they’re probably shelved in literary fiction. What stood out for me about these books are the character development and world building. How do we change as a person and how does society adapt when we’re faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges?

I hope you’ll discover some new to you books. Don’t forget to share your recommendations in the comments!

10 Must Read Speculative Fiction Novels

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson: I picked this book at random off my library’s shelves and immediately fell in love. One day 10-year-old Tyler and his friends wake up to find the sun has disappeared and replaced by an empty black barrier. While its heat still reaches the planet, it’s no longer the focal point in our sky. Years later, they discover that alien barrier was erected to save Earth, but something is wrong. Time is moving faster outside the barrier and our sun will only last 40 more Earth years. Tyler and each of his friends deal with the impending apocalypse differently, but can they save themselves before it’s too late?

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: Upon discovery of a new planet, how do we choose who to send as emissaries to an unknown species? How about four Jesuit priests, a young astronomer, a physician, her engineer husband, and a child prostitute-turned-computer-expert? This book just begs to be read and reread. Incredibly nuanced, the novel isn’t just science fiction, but a search for God and love as well.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson: Looking for a fun, thrilling read? Told in several different voices, this page turner imagines what life would be like if our robots and machines take over the world. This theme isn’t knew, but Wilson’s take on it is exciting and action packed. Don’t miss his follow up Robogenesis.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta: If you’re watching the HBO series, you must read the novel. I confessed I gave up on the television series because it was too confusing–the show takes place a few years after the novel. Perrotta imagines what happened to the people left behind after the Rapture. Very compelling.

The Passage by Justin Cronin: I’m not into books about vampire like creatures, but The Passage is one of my all time favorites. In a post-apocalyptic future, the United States is overrun by vampire-like people, created from an experiment gone wrong. To save the human race, small self-sustaining colonies are created, but what happens when the younger generation decides to leave? After you read it, you’ll want to read the second of the trilogy, The Twelve.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: I loved this novel–it was part of my 2014 top ten books.This genre bending book is a compelling story about Shakespearean troupe touring the midwest after a flu epidemic takes out 95% of the world. Trust me, you’ll love this one. My full review.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: This classic is now required reading in some high school English classes. I wish it were in mine (many, many years ago). In the the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, many elite, upper class women are barren. In order to have children, these men and women hire reproductive Handmaids, who turn over their babies to the elite, “morally fit” wives. I read this as a teen and it blew my mind. I wonder what I’ll see reading it as an adult.

Wool by Hugh Howey: I ran into Hugh Howey at Book Expo America a few years ago and totally went a little fan girl over him. Not my best moment. However, his Wool series is action packed and the silo world he builds makes you feel almost claustrophobic. Our future world is ruined and toxic, and people are forced to live in self-sustaining underground silos. All they know is that Outside is bad and dangerous, but what happens when one of their own chooses to leave?

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee: This is my first book by the author and it won’t be my last. Beautifully written, this novel revolves around the declining future America and its labor class, who were shipped in from environmentally ruined China years ago. Each member of society has his or her roles and should never deviate or want for more. Fan leaves the labor settlement B-Mor (formerly Baltimore) to search for her lover. She discovers entirely different societies outside of her own.

What would you add to this list?

January Book Club: If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

If I Fall If I Die FL2W Book Club Banner

If I Fall If I Die FL2W Book Club Banner

I love the smell of a fresh new book club selection! Our first book club pick of 2015 is  If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie (Hogarth). Our members are in the throes of reading it and it’s good. The novel is told from the point of view of a young boy, who has never been Outside:

Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and loving, full of art, experiments, and music—but confined to their small house.

But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside.  With the help of an artistic loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedom of skateboarding, Will is pulled far from the confines of his closed-off world and thrust headfirst into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers.

If I Fall If I Die by Michael Christie

Join us on January 22, when we discuss  If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie. The book releases on January 20th, so pre-order your copy now because this is an amazing read! Then come back and share your thoughts on the novel.

Want to learn more about our Canadian author? Visit Michael Christie at his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Review: Before I Go by Colleen Oakley + Giveaway

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

My first review of 2015 comes highly recommended! I read Before I Go by Colleen Oakley in December, but wanted to wait until closer to its release date (Jan 6) to share it with you. Back in May, I chose it as one of my Book Expo America top book club picks. I’m glad to say that the book has lived up to its hype.

Daisy, now 27 years old, is living the perfect life. Or as perfect as life can be when one is in remission for breast cancer. She’s eats organic green smoothies, goes to yoga regularly, and is working on her Master’s thesis. She’s married to Jack, her brilliant veterinarian-in-training.  On the of her “cancerversary,” as she and Jack calls her cancer-free celebration, she learns that her cancer has returned. With a vengeance.

The cancer has spread through her entire body. Her oncologist gives her only four more months. As Daisy takes stock of her life, she releases that her husband could not survive without her. His brilliance makes him a great vet, but practical aspects of life escape him. Instead of focusing on her health, she decides she must find Jack a new wife. With the help of her best friend Kayleigh, Daisy scouts parks and internet dating sites for the next Mrs. She becomes so focused on her task that she doesn’t realize her world is falling apart right before her eyes.

First of all, any story about a stage IV cancer patient might sound like a depressing read. I’m not saying that this novel won’t make you cry, but I found myself laughing at Daisy and Kayleigh’s antics. The comedy is just enough to keep you from ugly crying-until the end. For a book about cancer, I found the book surprisingly easy to read. Daisy is so freaking likable. So is Kayleigh. I can totally see the book turned into a movie.

If you haven’t chosen your first book for 2015, definitely pre-order Before I Go now so you can read it as soon as it releases on Tuesday. Seriously, it’s that good.

Make sure you follow Colleen Oakley on Twitter (she’s super nice), on her website and on Facebook. Then come back next week for our interview with her!

GIVEAWAY: Win a copy of Before I Go, courtesy of the publisher (US addresses only)! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. (If you’re reading this via email, click through to the post to enter.)

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