Books set during World War II have been hot for a while, but The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan stands out in a delightful way. If you loved 2007’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Ryan’s novel is the perfect read for you. The novel is told entirely through letters, journal entries and newspaper clippings. Chilbury is a small British town that has seen most of its men go to war, leaving the choir short of half its members. But instead of shutting down the choir, an indomitable group of women decide to continue practicing and performing as a ladies’ choir. The novel follows the lives of a handful of the choir’s members—from 13-year-old Kitty Winthrop at the manor to the widowed Mrs. Tilling—as they adjust to wartime on the home front. The endearing characters and their triumphs, sorrows, heartbreaks and love stories make this a wonderfully poignant and charming read. —Raela Schoenherr
Raela Schoenherr is an editor at a Minnesota publishing company. She loves to talk books and writing on Twitter at
Perfect for the dog days of summer is the classic Americano cocktail. A traditional Americano is comprised of Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda. This month, I’m excited to feature Tattersall Distilling’s twist on the classic formula. Tattersall adds a touch of California chardonnay to accompany the wine-based vermouth, which creates their own blend of botanicals. Weighing in at 18 percent alcohol by volume, this cocktail is bottled mixed and ready to pour on the rocks, or as an addition to your martini. I highly recommend their Italiano, too. 750ml, $23.99.
Kevin Castellano CSW, CSS, is the general manager at Wayzata Wine & Spirits.
On Pleasure, Leslie Feist enters like a specter from the abyss and refuses to leave until her spirit has been satisfied. The songstress and former member of Canadian treasure Broken Social Scene retains her charming pop sensibilities, but also takes more unexpected liberties with her fifth release. Bold production elements give the album an explicit “lo-fi” quality (for example, “A Man Is Not His Song” ends with an outtake of Mastodon’s “High Road”). It is the dynamic guitar work, however, that constantly drives the record forward and warrants the required PJ Harvey comparison. Feist certainly has a flair for the dramatic. If you only remember Feist for her most famous song, “1234,” just remember that it was written by someone else (and used to appear in her set list as “Sally’s Song”) and be sure to give Pleasure a couple spins. The album is available online and at local book and music stores.
Sean Schultz is a lifelong musician who enjoys consuming popular culture. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two dogs.