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Heat Index: 5 Hot New Books that Use Food and Drinks as Supporting Characters

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There’s nothing like food and drinks to bring a group of people together, whether it’s a special occasion, a holiday or good ol’ fashion picnic, at the heart of it all is the food we eat and the cocktails we drink. So it makes sense that the incorporation of food and drinks in the thing we love most, books, would be a must. Not only do the characters in these stories rely on food to get them through their day, but the delicious cocktails and fine cuisine take on a life all its own within the pages of these five hot new books and ultimately become the supporting characters in each novel.

Sweetbitter: A Novel, Stephanie Danler (Knopf, May 24, 2016)

sweetbitterThermometers“Gorgeous, sensual prose and a page-turning plot line that casts a spell down to the very last sentence of the final page…tantalizing in all the right ways” Refinery29

Heat Index: Twenty-two-year-old Tess moves to Williamsburg in 2006 and quickly falls prey to the sights around her. After landing a job at a Manhattan restaurant, Tess meets Simone and learns that life is so much more than she could have ever dreamed. Add in a tattooed bartender, Jake, who everyone warns her about but she can’t seem to stay away from, and you’ve got yourself a triangle that will set Tess’ life on fire. As we follow Tess’ year of ups, downs and learning experiences, we also get to see how she immerses herself in the restaurant business and how growing up can be both sweet and bitter. This one’s a page-turner that you’ll be sorry you skipped.

Temperature: 88°

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge: A Novel of Magic and Mixology, Paul Krueger (Quirk Books, June 7. 2016)

last-call-at-the-nightshade-loungeThermometers“The main character makes this book great, as the voice and insight are believable and fun. This book will appeal to a wide range of sf fans as the rest of the cast is believable and the hidden world of tremens (demonlike creatures) is great.” Booklist

Heat Index: What is better than magically mixed cocktails? The correct answer is: nothing! When Bailey Chen’s former high school hookup opens her eyes to what walks the city at night, she must decide between the safety of “real life” or the underground world that fights monsters with mixed drinks. From vodka to whiskey to tequila, each liquor has its own power and when it seems that a serial killer is on the loose, Bailey must decide if she’s going to join this new world and fight the evil that lurks at night or if she’s going to go leave it behind and go back to being “normal.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book; what a fun read Krueger has conjured up with Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge.

Temperature: 89°

A Taste of Nightshade: A Novel, Martine Bailey (Thomas Dunne Books, January 2016)

a-taste-of-nightshadeThermometers“Set in northern England in the late 18th century, with plenty of local color, romance, intrigue, and deception… For fans of conniving―and not particularly lovable―rogues and roguesses.” Kirkus 

Heat Index: It’s 1787 in Manchester and young criminal Mary Jebb is in hot water after swindling Michael Croxon’s brother. After being condemned to seven years of transportation to Australia, Mary swears she will exact revenge. When Michael marries Grace Moore in 1789, it’s not all happiness and roses, and Grace seeks out friendship and advice from her new cook… Mary. Little does anyone know what Mary has planned and the new owners of Delafosse Hall are in for a ride. Bailey’s second novel set in the 18th century is funny, exciting and adventurous and the culinary-style writing, as well as the inclusion of 18th century recipes really set this book apart from the others on this list.

Temperature: 91°

The Memory of Lemon:  A Novel, Judith Fertig (Berkley, June 14, 2016)

the-memory-of-lemonThermometers“A lot of ingredients, but Fertig, a cookbook author as well as a novelist, manages to whip them into a satisfying confection. The description of sweet treats is yummy. . . .” Booklist

Heat Index: If you loved The Cake Therapist, you’re in for a treat with Fertig’s latest novel. Claire “Neely” Davis has to let her emotions take over because that is the only way she can envision what palette each of her clients has. Typically Neely can sense what pastries her customers will love, but her ca problematic bride-to-be is throwing her off. Not only that, but she’s got a budding romance to navigate, the return of her absentee father to worry about and a divorce looming. It’s safe to say things aren’t going well for Neely. But what happens when you mix the good with the bad? Typically, you make something delicious; which is exactly what this book delivers: pure deliciousness.

Temperature: 93°

The Witches of Cambridge: A Novel, Menna Van Praag (Ballantine Books, February 2016)

the-witches-of-cambridgeThermometers“Intriguing and original . . . The magic that works wonders for modern-day English witches also charms readers in this delightful and quirky romantic tale.” Publishers Weekly

Heat Index: Amandine Bisset is not only a professor, she’s also a witch and she teaches at the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. But something’s brewing in the air and Amandine can sense a shift. If only she could have her student Noa’s gift of hearing people’s innermost thoughts, then she’d have an idea of how to help. But Noa doesn’t hold the same regard for her “gift” and is hoping to get rid of it any way that she possibly can. Meanwhile, professor Kat has her own set of issues when her sister conjures up a love potion, putting it in the pastries that Kat’s crush happily eats. The love triangle this sets in motion is one that Kat will soon realize she should be very worried about. The Cambridge witches have a lot in store for them and I promise you’ll be glad you went along for the ride. I’m definitely a Praag fan, and this latest novel sealed it for me.

Temperature: 94°

Beth Wasko is a lover of all things books, TV, movies and music. She’s obsessed with traveling, photography and scrapbooking. When she’s not at her day job, she’s catching up on the latest “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” news (read: drama!). Known as “The Real G.G. [Gossip Girl]” by her nearest and dearest, this former New York City gal is always looking for the next new adventure, even if it means it’s within the pages of a novel.

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