Food and Connection, Island Intrigue –and Poopgate?

The Literary Hill

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Eastern Market chef Jonathan Bardzik’s second edition of “Simple Summer” is packed with delicious new recipes and stories.

A Celebration of Food—and Life

In his second edition of “Simple Summer,” Jonathan Bardzik presents a slew of innovative recipes—including scrumptious new offerings for breakfast (poppy seed ricotta waffles) and shared dishes (nectarine glazed wings)—as well as loads of delightfully discursive stories and helpful tips.

Bardzik’s focus has shifted slightly from his 2014 edition of the book, which was subtitled “entertaining with ease.” This time around, it’s all about “joy and connection.” No need for a “perfectly executed and timed menu,” he maintains. For Bardzik’s version of “scruffy entertaining,” “the only effort you need to make is a warm welcome—and maybe something cold to drink.”

Of course, it helps to have some farm-fresh ingredients on hand and a recipe or two in your back pocket. This is where “Simple Summer” comes in. From his mom’s zucchini pancakes to watermelon gazpacho and raw corn salad, every recipe bursts with flavorful goodness. And if some of Bardzik’s creative combinations may seem a tad unusual (blueberry and portabella mushroom tacos?), just trust him. The Eastern Market chef won’t steer you wrong.

“Simple Summer” is a big bear hug of a book, with Bardzik’s warm and generous spirit providing the best seasoning of all. “Every meal should be a moment of joy and a celebration,” he writes, “best shared with those we love.”

Jonathan Bardzik is the author of two other cookbooks, “Seasons to Taste” and “Fresh and Magical Vinaigrettes,” and has a new TV series on Revry, “Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons to Taste.” www.jonathanbardzik.com

Island Intrigue

Jimmy Walsh is a former Boston cop trying to drink away his troubled past on a Caribbean island, “where every day is a fresh start.” He takes tourists out on diving excursions, enjoys a side hustle supplying them with drugs, and always has an ample supply of beer on hand. But even paradise has its demons.

Across the sound from Jimmy’s dock is a private island owned by a rich and powerful man named Jonathan Alderman. Helicopters ferry presidents and politicians back and forth, but the island’s shadowy doings remain a mystery to the locals—until one night when a woman claiming to be a Senator’s daughter asks Jimmy to take her there on his boat.

J.D. Krueger explores the seedier side of life in a tropical paradise in “A Very Private Island.”

In J.D. Krueger’s new thriller, “A Very Private Island,” there’s something fishy going on at Alderman’s island. What Walsh glimpses after dropping his passenger off—including a young female employee who is clearly frightened—troubles him. “Something seemed off,” he thinks. “Something was wrong.”

His unease only deepens when the Senator turns up dead and the alleged “daughter” disappears. Then a pair of goons starts threatening Jimmy. Will the washed-up police detective survive long enough to get to the bottom of things? And if he succeeds, will it be enough to redeem his past mistakes?

With a nod to recent scandals, “A Very Private Island” exposes the inequities inherent in the pursuit of justice, pitting a politically connected man who is, in every sense, the king of his castle, against one lone crusader trying to breach the drawbridge. “We were all good once,” Jimmy says. “I’m trying real hard to be good again.”

JD Krueger is originally from Massachusetts and now lives on Capitol Hill.  This is his third thriller novel, and he has also written the dystopian science fiction novel, “Flora 5,” under the name Ben Larracey.

PoopGate

 An otherwise routine State of the Union address makes news when it’s interrupted by a bird who lets one fly right onto the president’s “perfectly sprayed, fluffy hair.” The president is furious, “PoopOnPOTUS” quickly becomes a Twitter hashtag, and the Capitol is all aflutter searching for the elusive bird. For Fina Mendoza, locating the feathered miscreant becomes something of a mission. She does, after all, have her reputation as a detective to uphold.

In Kitty Felde’s “State of the Union,” young detective Fina Mendoza goes in search of a bird who pooped on the president’s head in the Capitol.

In “State of the Union,” Kitty Felde’s second Fina Mendoza mystery for young readers (7-12 years), the fourth grader is feeling a little more comfortable on Capitol Hill than she was in “Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza,” when she had just moved here with her sister and her father, a newly-elected representative from California. She has settled into a routine, going to school (where she struggles with fractions) and walking Senator Something, a shaggy pooch who belongs to a Congresswoman.

Things get a little unsettled in the Mendoza household when Fina’s grandmother comes to live with them. Her fragrant cooking reminds them of home, but she becomes something of an embarrassment to Fina and her teenage sister—and especially to their father, whose work on a special immigration committee is undermined after Abuelita is interviewed on TV at a protest. Will they all be able to resolve their differences and live amicably together? Will Fina find and rescue the displaced bird?

Packed with lots of inside-DC poop (sorry), “State of the Union” is a frisky and entertaining read that’s also full of heart, compassion, and valuable lessons in tolerance and understanding.

Kitty Felde is a journalist who covered Congress for public radio and is currently host of the award-winning “Book Club for Kids” podcast and creator of the “Fina Mendoza Mysteries” podcast. www.kittyfelde.com

Dearly Departed

If you could live your life without experiencing pain of any sort, would you? That’s one of the conundrums posed in E.J. Wenstrom’s new science fiction novel, “Departures,” where, under the domed Quads of the Directorate, everyone’s life is “optimized and perfect.” As one citizen notes, “No one hardly even gets a paper cut in the Directorate.” Careers and marriages are carefully assigned and everyone’s date of departure is printed on her wrist at birth, all “neat and tidy.”

E.J. Wenstrom’s “Departures” follows two sisters struggling for autonomy in a controlled, post-apocalyptic world.

But what happens when things don’t go as planned? Evalee Henders has always been scheduled to depart at age 17, but for some reason, the morning after her “death,” she wakes up, groggy but still very much alive. Whisked out of her home in a body bag, she is rescued from the crematorium by a group of rebels who spirit her to their camp outside the domes, which she discovers is nothing like the toxic, ruined wasteland she’d been led to expect. What else, she wonders, has the Directorate been lying about?

Meanwhile, her younger sister Gracelyn is convinced she heard movement in Evie’s room the morning after her supposed departure. A model citizen, even Gracelyn begins to question her orderly existence, “the tight schedules, the carefully-monitored food…the complying and optimizing… I can’t believe I ever bought into all this,” she thinks. But can she break free? And how much will she be willing to give up in order to find her sister?

“Departures” is an absorbing, thought-provoking book that questions the choices people make, the choices that are sometimes made for them, and whether “a life dedicated to just avoiding the bad” is really much of a life at all.

E.J. Wenstrom is a sci-fi writer whose book, “Mud,” the first in her Chronicles of the Third Real War series, won the Royal Palm Literary Awards’ Book of the Year. www.EJWenstrom.com