What's on the Menu?

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

We are excited to share with you a sample of our favorite literary recipes for mystery, love, and life.

  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

    2010 by Bender, Aimee

    For young Rose Edelstein, it all started with a piece of lemon cake (topped just right with chocolate frosting). Her mother had baked this cake for Rose's birthday and Rose, unable to wait until her official birthday celebration, cuts herself a piece of cake. Instead of being treated to the delicious combination of lemon and chocolate, Rose, in its place, is treated to what her mother was feeling when she made this cake. From this point onward, Rose is able to taste the emotions of every person behind the food she eats. This is a moving story about food, family, and one girl’s struggle to find her unique place in this world. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • A Deadly Inside Scoop

    2020 by Collette, Abby

    A cozy whodunit that centers around an ice cream shop—I loved the setting, quirky characters, and sleuthing. And now I have a serious craving for all things ice cream. If you enjoy this one, the second book in this cleverly written series is A Game of Cones. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • A Taste of Sage

    2020 by Santos, Yaffa S.

    Imagine being able to sense the emotions of others via their cooking. Lumi Santana can do that. After her experimental Dominican restaurant fails, she takes a job as a sous-chef for a traditional French restaurant and immediately tangles with chef Julien Dax. But when she tastes his cooking, Lumi connects with him on an entirely different level. Enemies to lovers, recipes included. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Arsenic and Adobo

    2021 by Manansala, Mia P.

    Much to Lila Macapagal’s distress, the landlord wants to close down Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. Of course, a murder thickens the plot and she is the prime suspect. This gentle mystery is definitely a yummy treat, with its relatable characters, engaging style, and food lore sprinkled throughout. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

    2019 by Dev, Sonali

    From one of my favorite romance authors, this is a unique reworking of Jane Austen's classic novel from a multicultural and food-forward perspective. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Hummus and Homicide

    2018 by Kashian, Tina

    Kebab Kitchen is in deep trouble after a bothersome health inspector is found dead at the back door. With plenty of details about Mediterranean dishes, this is a tasty read (and the first in a series) for fans of culinary cozies. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake

    2021 by Hall, Alexis J.

    In this delectable romantic comedy of a book, single mom Rosaline becomes a contestant on a televised cooking competition called Bake Expectations, hoping it will lead to a better life for her and her kid. Yes, the challenges and love interests keep us guessing. Pair this with a few episodes of The Great British Baking Show and you’re all set for finding your happy foodie place. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Savor the Moment

    2010 by Roberts, Nora

    Nora Roberts whisks together 2 cups of friends-to-lovers romance, 4 tablespoons of friendship, a pinch of wedding business shenanigans, and an endless amount of mouth-watering cakes to create a sweet, fun, and relatable love story. I have lost count of how many times I have reread this book. Recommended by Penny.

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  • White Truffles in Winter

    2012 by Kelby, N. M.

    A celebrity chef before the term existed, Auguste Escoffier introduced haute cuisine to the English-speaking world while transforming the hospitality industry. Kelby's novel imagines an elderly Escoffier tinkering with his autobiography in 1930's Monaco. But his attempts to impose narrative logic on his own life keep spinning into stranger-than-fiction anecdotes and oddly poetic recipes for everything from ortolan to American-style fried chicken. The result is a tribute to both food and storytelling. Recommended by Andrew.

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  • America Is Not the Heart

    2018 by Castillo, Elaine

    Food is never just food. A favorite dessert connects two people—and highlights their very different class backgrounds. The menu of a restaurant reflects immigrants' shift to a more "American" diet even as they seek the dishes they remember. A midnight feast of pancit noodles heals a makeshift family. These moments are scattered throughout Castillo's novel about a Filipino American community in the early 1990s. Most are subtle; all of them stick with the reader. Recommended by Andrew.

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  • Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

    2019 by Lim, Roselle

    Natalie inherits her mother's restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown, though she hadn't spoken to her in seven years. Many businesses are failing and people are moving away. A local seer tells Natalie that she needs to make three recipes from her grandmother's cookbook to help the struggling community, and her restaurant will succeed. I adored the setting, the characters, and its storytelling warmth. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest

    2015 by Stradal, J. Ryan

    This unfolds like a tapestry of ingredients. I actually was drawn into the book because of the structure of different narrators and points of view surrounding the main character. She is someone on an extraordinary path, someone with a “once-in-a-generation palate.” Someone I wanted to know. But the clincher for me was the part that took place at my alma mater, which is spot-on accurate and elevated an already intriguing novel. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Toriko

    2018 by Shimabukuro, Mitsutoshi

    This is going to be one action-packed culinary adventure for you. You may be wondering, how can a manga/anime about cooking be described as such? Well, when your rare “ingredients” are octopus mammoths, fire bears, and war dragons, how can you obtain them without throwing a few punches, right? Recommended by Penny.

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  • The Donut Trap

    2021 by Tieu, Julie

    Twenty-two and jobless, Jasmine Tran returns home and falls into the humdrum routine of helping her folks run Sunshine Donuts. As mouth-watering as these donuts are, a rent hike threatens the shop and Jasmine feels more stuck than ever. But wait, this is more than a foodie family story—it’s also a romance, and a former crush enters her orbit. Finding a way forward is on the table, with plenty of glaze, sprinkles, and cuteness to hit the spot. Recommended by Sharon.

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