The Other Windsor Girl

The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock

Princess Margaret is 19 when Vera Strathmore’s cousin Rupert introduces them. Vera, who lost her fiancé in the war, writes romance novels under a pen name and dreams of moving to New York City to write. Swept up in Princess Margaret’s social set, Vera becomes a lady-in-waiting to the temperamental princess. In Blalock’s novel, the princess enjoys dancing, drinking, smoking, flirting, and Captain Peter Townsend. Vera puts her writing dreams on hold indefinitely, and her work for the princess gets more demanding over the years. Viewers of The Crown will be familiar with the plot and setting, but Vera’s viewpoint has both clarity and empathy. A fun, escapist read, with plenty of gorgeous gowns.

Brenda

Mistletoe & Mr. Right

Mistletoe & Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler

The Tuesday Evening Book Group recently read and discussed The Tourist Attraction, a romantic comedy that begins the Moose Springs, Alaska series by Morgenthaler. This is the sequel; fun, heartwarming, and full of small town Alaska quirkiness. Rick Harding runs the local pool hall/pizza joint and caters only to locals, not tourists. He lives with his nephew Diego, who reluctantly works at the town’s resort. Unexpectedly, Rick falls for rich developer Lana Montgomery, who just might be interested. Lana and her friend Zoey have taken up the challenge to find the Santa Moose, a rogue moose who has it in for the town’s holiday decorations. Lana wants her family’s company to build luxury condos in Moose Springs, but the local residents aren’t very welcoming. This is a fun, light read. A third book, Enjoy the View, is expected in January. Mistletoe & Mr. Right will be published October 6.

Brenda

The Lost Jewels

The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning

Long buried treasure. An American historian specializing in jewels, Kate Kirby. Her great-grandmother, Irish immigrant Essie Murphy. An antique pendant worn by Kate’s cousin Bella. All of these, along with a handsome photographer, are linked to the true story of the Cheapside Jewels, over 500 pieces of jewelry buried in a cellar sometime before the Great London Fire of 1666, and uncovered in 1912. They include a diamond from India, an emerald from Columbia, and a cameo of Queen Elizabeth I. Kate and photographer Marcus search for the story of these jewels and find long-hidden secrets of Essie and her sister. A page-turner that’s occasionally bittersweet but ends happily in two time periods, this is a good readalike for historical novels by Beatriz Williams, Kate Morton, and Fiona Davis.

Brenda

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut by Sarah Graves

No worries; no one is harmed in this mystery by the doughnuts or other pastries sold at The Chocolate Moose in Eastport, Maine. There is a connection between Eastport’s Pirate Festival and a body found with a stuffed parrot on its shoulder in a downtown cellar. Bakers and amateur sleuths Jake and Ellie race to investigate, especially as Jake has been framed and is a murder suspect. Jake (short for Jacobia) has a number of close calls in this mystery, but also learns to drive a speed boat and enjoys time with all four generations of her expanding family. The coastal Maine setting is vividly drawn, the main characters are appealing, and the pacing is brisk; this is the perfect light mystery to read on Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19.

Brenda

 

Camino Winds

Camino Winds by John Grisham

Camino Winds follows the faster-paced Camino Island, starting with a book party and dinner hosted by wealthy bookseller Bruce Cable, followed quickly by a hurricane. Bruce and several of his friends shelter in place on the island. In the aftermath of the destructive storm, thriller writer Nelson Kerr is found dead. Fellow writer Bob Cobb and bookstore intern Nick Sutton help Bruce investigate. When the manuscript of Nelson’s next book is discovered and the topic is massive fraud at nursing homes, Bruce thinks the book may have been motive enough for murder. With business slow while the Florida island recovers from the hurricane, Bruce travels with wife Nicole, then fires the detective agency he hires to find Nelson’s murderer. I enjoyed Michael Beck’s audiobook narration, and the Florida island setting. The plot is very different from Camino Island, but both remind me of Clive Cussler’s adventure novels. For a heartwarming novel centered around a hurricane, try The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe.

Brenda

 

September Virtual Book Discussion: The Right Sort of Man

On September 22 at 7:00 pm, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group on Zoom as we discuss The Right Sort of Man, by Allison Montclair. This historical mystery is set in London in 1946. Here is my earlier review. Register for the book discussion here. Copies of the book will be available soon at the Circulation Desk. Visit Media on Demand (Overdrive/Libby) for ebook and eaudiobook availability.

Brenda

The Relentless Moon

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

In 1963, Nicole Wargin is a pilot, the first lady of Kansas, and an astronaut. She also has an eating disorder, and her husband Kenneth may run for president. In this award-winning alternate history series, a meteor strike in the 1950s precipitated the creation of the International Aerospace Coalition, with the goal of creating colonies on the Moon and Mars. Sexism and racism are still very much factors in this version of the 1960s. Nicole gets to fly shuttles on the moon, but doesn’t get to pilot the big rockets. She is sent to the Moon to investigate possible sabotage. There are several small malfunctions, short power outages, a non-fatal poisoning, and an increasing sense of suspense, as there are clearly terrorists on the Moon. Also, there is a polio outbreak on the Moon, and unrest back in Kansas. A complex, relatable character in her fifties, Nicole needs all her skills as a diplomat, investigator, and her experience as an astronaut to save the colony on the Moon. I had the pleasure to attend a virtual author event through a local bookstore, and heard more about the series, which begins with The Calculating Stars. Readalikes include Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, and the Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, beginning with The Disappeared.

Brenda

 

The Last Stargazers

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers by Emily Levesque

This memoir is a really enjoyable read for anyone interested in popular science. Levesque combines her own experiences with recent history and trends in astronomy. Interviewing numerous colleagues for this book, Levesque entertains with stories of viewing the sky at huge telescopes on remote mountains, complete with jet lagged drives on gravel mountain roads, encounters with tarantulas, scorpions, and close calls with lightning strikes and volcanic eruptions. Carefully planned observing time in places as remote as Chile’s Atacama Desert, scheduled far in advance, can be disrupted by bad weather or mechanical difficulties. Advances in astronomy, her own research, sexism and racism in the field, and controversy over building new telescopes are described, along with her excitement at viewing the 2017 solar eclipse, and the disorientation of remote viewing far away from some modern telescopes. Readalikes include Lab Girl by Hope Jahrens and The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seaver. The Great Courses video lectures A Field Guide to the Planets narrated by Sabine Stanley may also appeal. 

Brenda

 

 

 

Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

A video that goes viral sparks the charming multicultural romance of Zaf and Dani. Zafir, a university security guard who runs a nonprofit for young athletes, is a former Rugby pro who couldn’t handle the media attention after a family tragedy. Danika teaches literature and is a Ph.D. student. A bisexual witch, her last relationship ended badly when she couldn’t commit. Dani brings Zaf coffee every morning, and they flirt mildly. A video of Zaf carrying Dani after an elevator mishap becomes a media sensation, which helps raise funds for Zaf’s foundation. Dani is looking for a friend with benefits, so they agree to fake date for a few weeks. Zaf falls hard for the surprisingly insecure academic, who he totally gets. Their very frank language is the spiciest part of this very engaging British contemporary romance. Their supportive families are a humorous bonus. Warmhearted and funny with witty dialogue, this is ultimately a joyful, rewarding read of two complex, diverse characters who belong together. The first Brown Sisters book, Get a Life, Chloe Brown is going on my to-be-read list. Book 3, Act your Age, Eve Brown, is expected next March.

Brenda

The Exiles

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with a novel set in the 1840s, in England, on a perilous ocean voyage aboard the Medea, and on an island in southeastern Australia. This is not the sort of book I was in the mood to read, yet I couldn’t put it down. Naïve governess Evangeline is transported as a convict to Australia along with young Hazel, an herbalist and midwife, who delivers Evangeline’s baby on the ship, along with a sympathetic doctor. Also on the island unwillingly is Mathinna, orphaned daughter of an Aboriginal chief, who is taken from her stepfather by the governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). Hardship, the abuse of power, the resilience of women, opportunity, and hope fill this well-researched epic novel. This is an August LibraryRead selection.

Brenda