In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a culinary mystery, romances of the American Revolution, a self-aware fantasy, New York stories, and a musical scrapbook.

★ Oink

By J.L. Newton

Synopsis: The head of the women’s studies department at Arbor State University, already dealing with a budget crisis, becomes enmeshed in an inquiry into the attempted homicide of biologist Peter Elliott.

PW’s Takeaway: The winning lead, superior prose, and clever plotting set this above the pack. Recipes are a bonus.

Comparable Titles: Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series

Sample Line: “If it had been a case of attempted harm or murder, was it my corn bread or someone else’s that had been the vehicle?”

Read the review.

★ Hamilton’s Battalion

By Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Rose Lerner

Synopsis: These three delightful romance novellas from a trio of authors tell tales of marginalized characters falling in love during and after the American Revolution.

PW’s Takeaway: Strong, appealing protagonists, witty dialogue, and well-researched history make these three stories shine.

Comparable Titles: Elizabeth Cobbs’s The Hamilton Affair

Sample Line: “She’d forgotten what it felt like to love Nathan, the strength and joy of it. ”

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Dragon’s Tale

By Joseph Malik

Synopsis: When disgraced fencer Jarrod Torrealday accepts a job from a sorcerer, he finds himself fighting a war in the fantasy land of Gateskeep.

PW’s Takeaway: This is a highly enjoyable story for fans of self-aware epic fantasy.

Comparable Titles: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series

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New York

By Terence Clarke

Synopsis: This winning collection of stories from Clarke celebrates the art, passions, and people of the city of New York.

PW’s Takeaway: A gem of a collection…There are no weak stories here.

Comparable Titles: John O’Hara’s The New York Stories

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John Prine Beyond Words

By John Prine

Synopsis: Country/folk singer Prine’s memoir, with song lyrics and photos, tells the stories behind his songs.

PW’s Takeaway: Prine’s lavish scrapbook is a keepsake for fans.

Comparable Titles: Henry Horenstein’s Honkey Tonk

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