Category Archives: 2019 Book Reviews

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 30: The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

It is interesting how a certain sub-genre presents itself to you as a reader. I have not been a historical fiction reader throughout my reading life. However, I read several historical fiction novels over the past couple of years. Beginning with the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay like Children of Earth and Sky, A Brightness Long Ago, and the Sarantine Mosaic Series (Sailing to Sarantium & Lord of Emperors) and I recently finished The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli. I love reading novels about art, music, food, books and how those things helped shape a society in the story. Well, I add The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King as my latest addition to this neighborhood of books.

The Chef’s Secret was inspired by the life of Bartolomeo Scappi in 16th century Italy during the height of the Italian Renaissance. Scappi was a chef of several popes during his time. King chose to tell a story including some known facts about his life as well as imagined possibilities that made the novel a fascinating read.

Bartolomeo died in 1577 and leaves his estate to his nephew, Giovanni Brioschi. Giovanni was Bartolomeo’s apprentice and successor to becoming a chef for the popes. He received Bartolomeo’s journals with instructions to burn them. However, Giovanni decided to decode his uncle’s journals and learned about a secret world that will change everything in his life.

Scappi’s life was a lot of more colorful than Giovanni ever knew about his uncle. And the secrets he uncovered about Bartolomeo could bring a heavy price into his life. Illicit Love, Murder, Deception and the definition of family were all brought into the light by Giovanni.

King tells a fast-paced, readable story that captures the flavor of 16th century Italy and creates a solid protagonist in Giovanni. I enjoyed my journey into this world and wanted to stay long after I finished the book. The Chef’s Secret is one of my favorite reads of 2019 and I highly recommend this excellent novel.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 29: The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli tells the story of Luca Vianello, heir to a gondola-making business. However, he is a participant to a tragedy that strikes the business and alters the course of his life. Luca begins to pick up the pieces of his life and becomes a boatman to an established and famed… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 28: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

King writes an interesting, psychological story about a nine year old girl that gets separated from her family and lost in the woods. King probes the internal psyche of a young girl in such a situation and uses the power of imagination in the form of her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon of the Boston… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 27: Map of Shadows by J.F. Penn

J.F. Penn wrote a fast-paced, dark fantasy thriller about a young woman named Sienna that belongs to a family of mapmakers and their connection to another world called the Borderlands. Map of Shadows is the first book of the trilogy and does a solid job of setting up the conflict between the people of this… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 26: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

One of the most often quoted verses of biblical scripture is from the New Testament book of 1 Timothy 6:10: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Even if you are a non-religious person, I’m pretty sure you have heard that verse of scripture in a secular fashion. It seems… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 25: Chronicle Of A Death Foretold

For the world-renowned novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, most readers have read or attempted to read One Hundred Years of Solitude or the more accessible Love In The Time of Cholera. Some (like me) have read both novels. However, Garcia Marquez has a body of work that gets overlooked by those aforementioned books. I was in… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 24: How The Light Gets In by Louise Penny

One of the great joys of reading is coming upon a series that you would have never read at first glance. This has happened to me with the Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny. I’m a not a big mystery or crime fiction reader. However, I read The Long Way Home two years ago and… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 23: Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

                “Sometimes a journey can take you far away from home. It can take you far away from what you believe. From the only world you have ever known. And make you realize how much we are connected to each other. Also, how divided we can be.” This… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 22: Little Dreamers by Vashti Harrison

            My 10-year-old daughter, Norah, was looking forward to reading this book together when she heard about it. Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World by Vashti Harrison celebrates the contributions of women from all over the globe.  Untold stories of women in business, art, literature, architecture, and science reveals… Continue Reading