FEAR OF DYING A Novel
By Erica Jong
$26.99 St. Martin’s Press
For decades, author Erica Jong has been an outspoken champion of women and the ways we look at love, sex and relationships. Her groundbreaking first novel Fear of Flying rocked our worlds and made us believe in the power of our own sexuality and the ability to call the shots in our lives. Well, now she’s done the same thing again in her latest novel FEAR OF DYING, a story about love, sex, familial ties and the decisions we make when faced with our own mortality.
Vanessa Wonderman has had a stellar life. An actress with a large and impressive body of work, she sees her best days as being behind her. Her life, once consumed by moviemaking and motherhood, has become all about caretaking, as her parents cling to the last vestiges of life and her husband, 20 years her senior, grapples with a serious illness. Meanwhile her daughter, also an actress, is pregnant, and as Vanessa squires her to ultrasounds and on baby-clothes shopping sprees, she begins to question the fleeting nature of life, wondering how, in the blink of an eye, she went from sexually relevant being to matriarch, and she vows to change the trajectory of her life, which she believes is leading her to a big, fat dead end.
In a flash of inspiration, or maybe it’s hysteria, Vanessa decides to post an ad on Zipless.com, a website inspired by the writings of her dear friend, Isadora Wing, where she can find a “no strings attached” hookup or two and regain her youth in the process. But when her well-intentioned plan begins to take on a life of its own, Vanessa is left with more questions than answers, ultimately discovering that there’s more than one way to contain her restless energy and fulfill her fantasies.
Moving, enthralling and laugh-out-loud funny, this novel is not to be missed. Jong’s conversational-yet-poetic prose is instantly addictive and relatable, and her ability to tell a great story has not diminished one iota over the years. A perfect bookend to her debut novel, Jong has brought us full circle, making this read not only great, but utterly satisfying.
MY KITCHEN YEAR 136 recipes That Saved My Life
By Ruth Reichl
$35.00 Random House
If you are like me and millions of other devoted fans, the day Gourmet Magazine went out of business was a dark day indeed. Of course, it was darkest of all for Ruth Reichl who had served as the devoted and brilliant editor of the epicurean tome for a decade. The shift from her busy life as a writer, editor and professional foodie to the ranks of the unemployed was a tough transition to handle, so she did what she always did in times of trouble: retreated to her kitchen. And in doing so, something miraculous happened: she rediscovered food and its place in her life. This led her to create her latest cookbook MY KITCHEN YEAR, a testament of her dedication to all things food. And we are oh-so glad she did.
As Reichl began to find her way through what ultimately became a journey of self-discovery through cooking, she started tweeting about the recipes she was creating. And what that ultimately translated into was this book, part diary, part memoir and part cookbook divine; a poem that she paired with each extraordinary dish, making the cooking experience feel personal. Reichl takes us through the seasons and the dishes that bring a sense of comfort, celebration and connection which makes for a year of amazing recipes and cooking experiences. For instance, her recipe for “Food Cart Curry Chicken” is prefaced by this thought: “The entire city smells like Curry. Passing the fourth halal chicken cart, I can’t resist. Spicy, tangy, irresistible. The taste of now.” A little farther on, we find the light and luscious recipe for “Fried Oysters” which is heralded by this tweet: “Oyster Morning. Raining in Portland. Woke with the memory of lemons and the mysterious flavor of crisply fried kumamotos. Satisfied.” And who wouldn’t want to eat a big slice of “The Cake That Cures Everything” when it is prefaced by this musing: “Glorious white winter wonderland. Sparkling sun. Melting ice. A perfect day for chocolate cake.”
Peppered throughout with phenomenal photographs of gorgeous food, scenery and Reichl herself, this is a cookbook unlike any other. All at once comforting and enervating, you’ll want to make every recipe in this little tome and share the bounty with family and friends. And while you’re at it, be sure to give each of them a copy of this book, which is a feast unto itself.
EDISTO JINX An Edisto Island Mystery
By C. Hope Clark
$15.95 Bell Bridge Books
Author C. Hope Clark brings her second book in the Edisto Island Mystery series to life with EDISTO JINX, the story of metaphysical mysteries and a murderer on the prowl.
Callie Morgan has had a rough summer. It hasn’t even been two months since she came face to face with a Russian mobster who was looking to finish the job his crime-family started when they murdered Callie’s husband and burned her Boston home to the ground. A retired police detective, Callie has come to Edisto Beach with her teenage son Jeb to try and begin her life anew and dispel the ghosts of her past. But now, it seems, ghosts of a different stripe are invading her domain, as the deaths of six women stretching over the past six years, known as the Edisto Jinx, claim her attention. Everyone on Edisto takes it for granted that these deaths were accidental and according to her psychic and mildly psychotic neighbor Sophie, the spirits of the dead get restless every August, the month when these women died. But Sophie is freaked out because the spirits are especially edgy now, as the hottest month of the year has just claimed its latest victim.
Of course, Callie is convinced that two and two makes four and these accidental deaths were not accidents at all, but rather a string of cleverly-concealed murders. And now it’s up to her to convince Police Chief and resident hunk, Mike Seabrook that she’s right. The fact that there’s an undeniable attraction between Callie and Mike only serves to stir the pot of mayhem which is quickly coming to a boil, but as Callie begins to receive threats on her life, things really begin to heat up. And as a local reporter and a mystery blogger start lighting up the Twitter-sphere with Callie’s every move, her life takes an unexpected turn and it’s anybody’s guess when she’ll find her way back to the straight and narrow of her perpetually rocky life, if at all.
A hands-down whopper of a read, this one had me from word one. Clark is a great storyteller with a talent for bringing fully-formed characters to the page whom you grow to care about as surely as if they were real. Although it’s not necessary to read Murder on Edisto, the first book in this compelling series, before diving in to EDISTO JINX, once you’ve devoured this book, I feel certain that you’ll want to circle back around and read the prequel so you can spend even more time with Callie Morgan and her delicious cast of compatriots.