In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a cyberpunk thriller, a food writer’s study of historic recipes, a short story collection, and others.

A Hastiness of Cooks

Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Synopsis: Food writer Bertelsen offers a fascinating study of historical recipes dating back to the late 1300s.

PW’s Takeaway: A remarkable volume littered with insight and a wealth of resources. Writing with warmth and wisdom, Bertelsen proves herself to be an excellent instructor.

Comparable Title: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Sample Line: “Cookbooks reflect many facets of human culture, but do not necessarily record what people ate. Therefore, you must take cookbooks with a proverbial grain of salt.”


Mikel J. Wisler

Synopsis: In the near future in Brazil, Mexican-American teacher and nun Riley Bekker, a frequent sleepwalker, wakes from a blackout and begins to question the veracity of her memories.

PW’s Takeaway: Cutting-edge nanotechnology and stimulating philosophical conundrums permeate this high-octane cyberpunk caper from Wisler.

Comparable Title: Charles Stross’s Singularity series

Sample Line: “The cold ground pressed hard against her cheek. She blinked away the cloudiness while tasting dirt.”

Carved in Bone

Michael Nava

Synopsis: In Nava’s eighth novel, gay Latino lawyer Henry Rios struggles to make ends meet.

PW’s Takeaway: An authentic and satisfying mystery.

Comparable Title: Max Tomlinson’s Vanishing in the Haight

The Era of Lanterns and Bells

Ann Tinkham

Synopsis: Tinkham offers a collection of 12 wide-ranging short stories.

PW’s Takeaway: A rich and contemplative collection.

Comparable Title: Jeanette Winterson’s The World and Other Places: Stories

The Noise of War: A Tale of Ancient Rome

Vincent B. Davis II

Synopsis: Davis’s second of a series unfolds in 105 BCE.

PW’s Takeaway: Davis demonstrates his notable skill in recreating Roman history.

Comparable Title: Steven Saylor’s Novels of Ancient Rome series