Vacation or Staycation. Here’s What to Read Right Now

Here’s what I took to WBRC Fox 6 Good Day Alabama this month: two buzzy works of fiction and a new (technical) barbecue book.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

This New York Times bestseller and National Indie bestseller and USA Today bestseller offers a tour of the world (and many of its significant moments in art and history) with a ghost. Addie LaRue, in a desperate effort to avoid an arranged marriage and a life of insignificance, made a deal with the devil when she was a young woman in a French village in 1714. The Faustian bargain allows her to live forever (or until she’s tired of living), but she’s cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. It’s the beginning of an engrossing story that spans continents and centuries with the occasional famous-person encounter. Addie is immediately forgotten by everyone, and she cannot leave a mark—she can’t draw or write or make things or even say her own name—but she finds a way to leave behind impressions, through art and suggested ideas, that make her immortal in a different kind of way. Then one day, nearly 300 years after her encounter with the darkness in the French forest, she meets a boy in a New York bookstore who remember her name.  I listened to this one while walking, and it’s 17 hours long—perfect for a long, long car trip.

The Cage by Bonnie Kistler

This twisty, new thriller kept me guessing until the end (even after I thought twice that I had it all figured out). It starts with two women alone late one night in the offices of an international fashion conglomerate. One is the head of HR; the other is a newly hired corporate lawyer. They both get into the elevator, but only one comes out alive when it reaches the ground floor. The question, of course, is murder or suicide? There are plenty more questions, it turns out. Bonnie Kistler is a former Philadelphia trial lawyer, and in this legal thriller she writes convincingly from the point of view of Shay Lambert, a young lawyer whose career started off so well before being derailed by bad luck and an even worse economy. When she lands this dream job with Claudine de Martineau International, Shay thinks she can finally turn her life around. But the dream job turns out to be a nightmare when she finds herself being framed as a killer. What starts as a locked-room mystery soon expands to the wider world. Ultimately, though, this book is about a smart woman figuring out things for herself and making her own way in the world.

Seared:  The Ultimate Guide to Barbecuing Meat by Genevieve Taylor

This is not your typical barbecue book. Live-fire cooking expert Genevieve Taylor gets into the science of why different cuts of meat need to be cooked in different ways, and she even explains the physics of how fire works, detailing at length the properties of a “good fire.” There are plenty of delicious and colorful recipes here, too. The book is divided into two sections—Beast and Bird—and further divided into Fast and Slow within those sections.  She offers tips on buying your meats, setting up your grill, sourcing your fuel and lighting the fire. There’s lots of technical advice on brining and marinading, smoking and braising, super-hot searing and low and slow cooking. Taylor spent years teaching cooks how to work over an open flame, and this is the most recent (brand-new , in fact) of her 12 cookbooks on the subject. 

I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor Book Center, and I often visit my local library.

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