5 Women-fueled Foodie Fiction Treats Summer 2016


Just paying the bills here. After all,  it's my blog and I'd be stupid not to prompt you to read my book! Did I write about food? No. Well, sort of. There is a, now infamous, scene in book one where main character Evie McFagan takes SnoCaps and dumps them all over her popcorn. I frequently do this sinful task. You should try it. In book two, I do make mention of some insane culinary oddities such as mellified man--a concoction of a sacrificed human embalmed in honey--and no, I did not make that up. Click the link if you dare.  

One last plug: I made Motif Magazine's Summer Reading list for the second year in a row!


5 Foodie Summer Reads!



A Taste of Heaven, like all of Penny's other work, is an off-beat, light-hearted, and fun romantic romp. It's easily accessible and if it were an establishment, it would be your favorite local bar that serves delicious appetizers, local, draft beers, and inventive, seasonal cocktails. The bartender would be clever, funny, and make you feel as though you are always amongst friends, as she guides you through your relaxing evening.

Penny is like that, she’s your fun bartender, and reading A Taste of Heaven was like a well-deserved night out.

Penny has been an amazing cheerleader in my writing life. Her support and belief in my work has prevented me from quitting and pursuing quilting (or any of my other inane hobbies). It is an absolute pleasure to share her work with you today--and to encourage you to go support her

“Create one perfect bite.”
Good little widow Sophia Brown always follows the rules. When the producer of a cooking competition requests an amuse-bouche, the chefs stick with proteins. Sauces. A savory concoction. She has only one shot to impress the judges on A Taste of Heaven. But in a moment of defiance, she creates an extraordinary dessert, one that combines both the bitter and the sweet, just like her own life.
That one bite changes everything.
After a year grieving for her dead husband, forty-seven-year-old Sophia is finally ready to break out of her shell. Unfortunately, there is a large, angry obstacle standing in her way. Scottish chef Elliott Adamson has a chip on his shoulder the size of Loch Ness, and he’s blocking her path to victory.
Spurred by her daughters, she embarks on a poignant adventure that takes her from the wildflower fields of Vermont to the wind-swept vista of North Berwick, Scotland. Fear, courage, and inspiration from unlikely places will mark this journey, and Sophia is determined to persevere until the very end.
A TASTE OF HEAVEN is a 57,000 word short novel that includes a foodie romance, second chances, and a wee bit of haggis.


2. Chocolat
by Joanne Harris

This breathtaking novel is one of three! I had no idea! I read this book a long time ago and I'm quite certain the other two books in the series, The Girl with No Shadow and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé came out while I was knee-deep in house renovations. Which meant I was too tired to do anything but peel wallpaper, sleep, then repeat for two years. I am excited to return to these delicious novels and immerse myself once more in the fantastical village of Lansquent, a place where food becomes magic in the hands of main character, Vianne Rocher. 

Let’s be honest, food truly is magic.

In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival.Chocolat's every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It's a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.


3. Blessed Are the Cheesemakers
by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Disclaimer: I have not read this book. BUT I WANT TO! It drew my attention because it takes place in Ireland and it's about life, but more importantly it's about cheese. I'm sure the life part is more valid and meaningful to some people, but not me. 

Cheese trumps all. (Now if cheese could just trump Trump, we would all live happily ever after—sort of).


Set on a small Irish dairy farm, this tender and funny debut novel follows two lost souls as they try to carve out new lives amid a colorful cast of characters reminiscent of those in the hit film Waking Ned Divine. Abby has been estranged from the family farm since her rebellious mother ran off with her when she was a small child. Kit is a burned out New York stockbroker who's down on his luck. But that's all about to change, now that he and Abby have converged on the farm just in time to help Corrie and Fee, two old cheesemakers in a time of need. Full of delightful and quirky characters--from dairy cows who only give their best product to pregnant, vegetarian teens to an odd collection of whiskey-soaked men and broken-hearted women who find refuge under Corrie and Fee's roof--BLESSED ARE THE CHEESEMAKERS is an irresistible tale about taking life's spilled milk and turning it into the best cheese in the world.



4. Dim Sum, Dead Some
by Em Kaplan

Another book I have not read, but I was drawn in by my love of Dim Sum and the positive reviews I read regarding this tasty-looking mystery. Dumplings are tiny masterpieces that neatly hold flavor and happiness. It is my hope that this book will do the same for me this summer!

Reading her novel is akin to enjoying a good meal at a nice restaurant rather than being rushed into and out of a fast-food joint
— Mike Billington, author


Josie Tucker is back! In this second, standalone mystery, the cranky food critic with the bad stomach, finds herself in San Francisco investigating the disappearance of a secretive software entrepreneur. 
Ivan Sorokin is missing. Who wants him out of the picture--his wife, his business partner, or the stripper who holds his heart?
Josie Tucker stands on Beach Street with her back to the San Francisco wharf. Above her, the Ghirardelli sign winks in the dusky twilight, seducing her. The ice cream parlor lights beckon like a lactose lothario, a casein casanova, trying hard to woo her. But her heart longs for dumplings, for dim sum.
Dim sum means "heart's delight." Imagine nibbling at a savory golden pouch stuffed with delicately seasoned meat. If a lover offers the morsel on the tips of exquisitely lacquered chopsticks late in the morning while reclining on silken cushions...that's food for the heart. 
Chinatown. Dim sum. Murder. Josie's perfect ingredients for adventure. 


5. Under the Tuscan Sun
by Frances Mayes

I realized, as I started reading the reviews, that I had not read this book. I have only seen the movie and have deluded myself into believing that I had once read it! The reviews were mixed. Some called Frances "materialistic and shallow", while others regaled her joy and enthusiasm as she embraced her second home (and the culture) in Italy.
The movie was a game-changer for me. It filled me with hope. The Frances of the film presented the image of a woman who can do things on her own--without a man, without a child. A woman, on her own, could create a community of love, and sustain that love. Each woman in the movie presented a very different female role-model to my younger self. The aging actress, who was a force of nature in her own right, also lived alone, presenting the idea, that even later in life, a partner is not completely necessary. The pregnant lesbian best-friend showed me that a sexual partner (of any gender) was not necessary in the raising of a child. These female rolls were foreign to me, falling far outside the expected female box that I had been shown as an 80s kid. Now I think about reading the book and I am nervous about reading this memoir... 

Perhaps I should leave what I know behind, and experience the book from a fresh standpoint. If you do the same, will you let me know?

Widely published poet, gourmet chef, and travel writer, Frances Mayes opens the door to a voluptuous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside. What she shares with her readers is a feast for the senses as she explores the pastoral Italian landscape, history and cuisine.


Please enjoy these foodie summer reads, and if you do read them, or have any other suggestions I have missed, feel free to let me know! 

Heather Rigney

Writer, artist, and underwater fire-breather, Heather Rigney is the author of The Merrow Trilogy, a dark historical fantasy series. Heather also likes to make stuff. Stuff with words, stuff with paint, stuff that's pretty, and stuff that's not. Heather's stories reflect a dark childhood spent in the woods of northern Rhode Island. At the moment, she resides in Pawtuxet Village, RI with a family (both chosen and created) that she adores.