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52 in 52: Books Read in June, July and August

These are in no particular order but I swear, I did read them all in the last three months. :-) 

44. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson:  Tiffany is one of my fellow Debutante Ball  partners (look for another post from me on this next week). As a result, I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this haunting novel. Her book will be available in January, but you can pre-order at the link above. Mary is a teenager in a violent and scary group home where she is finishing out her punishment for allegedly killing a baby when she was nine years old. It's shocking to imagine a young child in jail at all and Tiffany takes you right into the heart of that madness. I read the book in two nights--one of them leaving me with only five hours of sleep--but it was worth it! This was definitely my most unexpected read of the year. I can't wait till it is out in January so the rest of you can dig in!

43. The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller: Oh how I adored this book! Louise is a baker herself and she knows how to serve up deliciousness in her prose as well as in real life. This is a wonderful, romantic, funny story that makes me desperate for autumn, warm cups of coffee and cookies, fall leaves and bucolic Vermont views. Yum, yum, yum. A must read. 

42.  Il Cuoco Segreto Dei Papi by June di Schino:  I began translating this book from Italian last year but finished it up this year. This is one of the books that has been crucial to my research on my second novel, THE SECRET CHEF

41. Food and Knowledge in Renaissance Italy: The Paper Kitchens of Bartolomeo Scappi by Deborah L. Krohn:  I love social media. In a Facebook group that I'm in for food writers, a woman connected me with food historian Ken Albala, who then recommended this fantastic book to me. It's an in depth look at Scappi's cookbook and it's already given me several new possibilities for where I could run with my next novel. 

40. Venice and Food by Sally Specter: This book is one of the most wonderful cookbooks I own.  If you love Venice, you must seek this book out. It's beautifully illustrated and the history of the food and culture of Venice described within has made this book an invaluable resource for the parts of THE SECRET CHEF that are set in Venice. Laura Morelli (whose books I also highly recommend) told me about this book.

40. What to Do Before Your Book Launch by M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers: Not a pleasure book, but valuable for me all the same. With FEAST OF SORROW coming out next April, this was good timing to read. In particular it gave me a lot of eye-opening advice on the world of traditional publishing so hopefully I won't be blindsided by things that may happen. 

39. The Chef's Apprentice by Elle Newmark: A lovely novel set in Renaissance Florence about a young thief who is caught in the act and given a second chance working for a very special cook who has a very unique role in life--to preserve knowledge within a secret society. It's a novel full of food, love and intrigue. I was sad to hear that Newmark had passed away from cancer as it means I won't have the chance to see what she'll write next. 

38. Buon Appetito, Your Holiness by Mariangela Rinaldi and Mariangela Vicini:  I liked this little book, full of recipes paired with the Popes that might have eaten them. It was full of great description and the recipes are historical enough but I was disappointed in that much of the pairings were pure conjecture on the part of the authors. For example, a little bit more research would have shown they could have paired several more dishes by Scappi with several different popes, so that was a bit frustrating to see. 

37. The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore: Moore is a master of humor and this was clearly evident in this fabulous tale, a curious and fun reworking of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Othello and Poe's The Cask of Amontillado with a randy serpent thrown in for good measure. I had a few actual LOL's during this book. If you love British humor and historical fiction, this is a perfect pairing for you. 

36. The Venetian's Wife by Nick Bantock: I didn't find this to be the best of Bantock's books. It didn't have the same sort of charm that Griffin and Sabine had. I picked it up for the title, which is rather misleading considering the story is about a ghost who directs a woman on a quest to find long lost statues including one of Shiva. The ending felt like a cop-out, like he just got bored with the story and wrapped it up, argh.

35. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Marukami: This is often hailed as one of Marukami's best novels and while it was enjoyable, I would not categorize it above 1Q84, Wind Up Bird Chronicle or Kafka on the Shore. It's a coming of age love story between Toru and Naoko, two very odd people in an odd, mostly doomed relationship. I liked it, but not my favorite of his.

32. The Giant's House: A Romance by Elizabeth McCracken: What a strange book! I follow Elizabeth on twitter and love her quick wit so thought I'd check out one of her novels. This is the oddest love story I've read in quite some time (odder than Norwegian Wood, even). In 1950, a librarian falls in love with a young boy but not just any young boy, but one destined to become a giant. Their friendship turns to a strange romance as he grows and he ages. It is set in Cape Cod and I confess that I did a lot of Googling to see if it was real--she paints such a fantastic picture. I'll remember this book for a long time. 

32. The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell:  My editor at Touchstone sent me Ian's book when she learned that I was working on a book set in the Vatican (albeit several years earlier). I dove right in and was not disappointed. This is a psychological thriller with incredible historical research fueling every aspect of the story.  I highly recommend you pick this one up! Later I reached out to Ian for some advice on Vatican research and he pointed me in the direction of some excellent resources including Paul Letarouilley's Vatican, which I think is now one of the most beautiful books that I own--AND it's already proved super helpful for my work on THE SECRET CHEF. I am indebted! 

31. Uprooted by Naomi Novik: This book won the Nebula award and is a finalist for the Hugo, so of course it must be amazing, and it was. It's an unusual stand-alone fantasy tale with a Dragon that's not a dragon and a forest that is not what it seems. I stayed up super late devouring this novel. One of my favorite reads this year.

30. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: I heard they are already going to make a movie of this and I was pleased to hear it. This book is a serious mind-fuck, a Schrödinger's cat experiment come to life with terrifying consequences. There were some weak spots in it where I wondered why the characters didn't question some of the actions/inactions of others, but the pacing was good enough that it didn't matter. I had to know what was going to happen. It will be crazy to see how Sony takes this book to life on the big screen.

29. Interference by Amélie Antoine:  This was one of my freebies from having Kindle Unlimited. It was another book that rocketed the reader through it at a quick pace. It has a bit of a Gone Girl sort of beginning where you are wondering what happened to the missing wife. The narrator is suitably unreliable for the first half of the book and then there is a monster twist that left me saying, WTF? I am not sure I buy the seemed somewhat contrived (and possibly illegal), and yet, there is a part of me that wonders why no one had thought of it yet.