Return to Virgin River

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Fans of the long running Virgin River series or the new television series will rejoice with the publication of this book. Virgin River is a tiny town set in Humboldt County in Northern California. Suspense novelist Kaylee Sloan, struggling with writer’s block while grieving her mother’s recent death, rents a house from family friends, only to suddenly need a new place to stay. Kaylee, finding a warm welcome at Jack’s Bar, the local gathering place, winds up at the guest house owned by local artist Landry Moore. Kaylee brings her laptop to Jack’s Bar most days, but gets little writing done there, so she starts a second book, a romance featuring a version of herself. Kaylee, with the help of friends new and old, finds her own happy ending, and finishes her books. Favorite characters from past books reappear, leaving fans satisfied yet still hoping for more books in the series. Readers who enjoy heartwarming contemporary romance set in small towns will also enjoy. Start anywhere in the series, or with the first book, Virgin River.

 

Brenda

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Marrying right before World War I, Agatha Miller followers her mother’s advice to put her new husband Archibald Christie first. Unfortunately, other than surfing and playing golf, nothing Agatha does seems to make Archie happy. She even puts time with her daughter Rosalind at a lower priority, and leaves her behind to travel with Archie. Finally, Agatha thinks about what makes her happy: time with her daughter, mother, and sister Madge, and writing mysteries. It’s not so enjoyable reading about Agatha and Archie’s increasingly unhappy marriage. Then Agatha suddenly vanishes in December 1926, the same day she and Archie have a loud argument during breakfast. The story really takes off here, and the disappearance is related from Archie’s point of view, as the police become suspicious of his role in her disappearance. I wanted to know more about Agatha Christie’s life after reading this novel, which is based on the real disappearance of the author. It’s been 100 years since the first Hercule Poirot mystery was published; so it’s perfect timing for a novel about the creator of Poirot and Miss Marple. This mystery will be published in late December.
Brenda

Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

Haimey DZ is an engineer, living on a salvage tug with shipmind Singer, pilot Connla, and their two cats. They explore a derelict ship, only to discover an alien parasite and a booby trap. After an encounter with judicar Cheeirilaq, who resembles a giant mantis, their ship is pursue by pirates, including Zanya Farweather, who’s also encountered the alien parasite. Haimey, who had some of her memories inactivated by a judicial proceeding as a young adult, has to figure out who she really is, plus learn to function in gravity. I really enjoyed reading this fast-paced, entertaining, and thought-provoking space opera novel. Readalikes include books by Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Valerie Valdes, and C.J. Cherryh. Machine is Elizabeth Bear’s next book, also set in White Space.

Brenda

 

Fall Reading

What I’m Reading Now

I’m currently reading several different books. It’s an eclectic assortment of titles, that I’m reading at home, at work, and in between. I don’t finish all the books I start, but these are keeping my interest so far.

I have skimmed a digital review copy of Zoë Bakes Cakes by Zoë Francois, which will be published in March. Zoe is the coauthor of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I don’t bake many cakes, but the photos look appealing and there are recipes for bundt cakes as well as fancier layer cakes.

I am almost done reading Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear, a long science fiction novel. I’m reading this on my breaks at work.

Fun, lighter reads for my current mood include The Case of the Curious Crystals by Shanna Swendson, Well Met by Jen DeLuca, and Cat Me If You Can by Miranda James. These make enjoyable reading at home. I’ve read other books by these authors, so they are a sure bet. I’m also listening to the audiobook An Amish Christmas by Amy Clipston, mostly during my commute.

At work I’m also reading Musical Chairs, by Amy Poeppel, a contemporary novel about the founding members of a musical trio. This is a book I’m considering for a future book discussion.

Another review copy is Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life by Jess Phoenix, a memoir by a woman geologist/volcanologist. Science memoirs have been great escapist and informative reading for me this year. This will be published next March.

 

Up Next

I will reread The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman, for an upcoming library book discussion. For consideration for a future book discussion, I will read or listen to In Five Years by Rebecca Serle.

I plan to read The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie. I’m creating a book display for the 100th anniversary of the first Agatha Christie mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. I haven’t read many of her mysteries featuring Hercule Poirot, and this one is recommended.

I’m looking forward to reading a new fantasy novella by Lois McMaster Bujold, Masquerade in Lodi. Bujold is one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy authors.

A couple of review copies I want to read include Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food by Mark Bittman and Project Hail Mary, a science fiction novel by Andy Weir, author of The Martian, to be published next May.

That’s a lot of books, even for me! What’s on your list of books to read?

Brenda

Well Played

Well Played by Jen DeLuca

Well Played is a sweet romantic comedy set in Willow Creek, Maryland, which hosts a renaissance faire on four July weekends. Stacey looks forward to the faire all year, and this year she’s more involved in planning the faire, and helping arrange the wedding of two of her friends. A receptionist at a dentist’s office, Stacey lives in a small apartment over her parents’ garage. A former cheerleader who’s always smiling, she’s best known for her fondness for pumpkin spice lattes. A typical evening finds her home with her cat scrolling social media posts, or hanging out at a local bar with her friend Mitch. In the past, she hooked up with a hunky faire musician named Dex, and sends him a flirtatious text, which unexpectedly starts a long-distance relationship by text and email. The next July, Stacey’s shocked to learn she’s been writing to Dex’s cousin Daniel, the band manager. Well Played is the sequel to Well Met, but I will happily read them out of order. A third book is planned for 2021.
As I hoped, this is a good readalike for The Falcon Always Wings Twice, a cozy mystery set at a renaissance faire.

Brenda

 

How to Astronaut

How to Astronaut by Terry Virts

Retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts offers an entertaining and informative look at what it’s like to be an astronaut. Colonel Virts first flew to the International Space Station on the shuttle Endeavor, helping install the cupola module. Later he spent 200 days on the space station in 2014 and 2015, launching on a Soyuz spacecraft with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and Italian astronaut Samantha Christoforetti. Humorous anecdotes abound, including the difficulties of getting his extra-large head into a helmet, and learning to cut Christoforetti’s hair. The failure of three cargo ships to reach the space station postponed their return date, but Virts still gives a thumbs up for the quality of food they ate. He slept better in zero gravity than on Earth; verified by one of the many science experiments he worked on. Three spacewalks and filming an IMAX documentary were highlights. If you’ve ever wondered what life in space is like, Virts covers everything I could think of, from adapting to zero gravity to what he missed most on Earth. The most sobering chapter is when he served as family support for the crew of Columbia, and was with the family members when the shuttle exploded. An Air Force Academy graduate, Colonel Virts was a test and fighter pilot with the Air Force before he joined NASA. Virts thoroughly prepared for his spacewalks in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (a huge pool) before his spaceflights. What if scenarios are also described, as well as the wonder of being in space and looking back at Earth. This memoir is a great read for space buffs. Virts is also the author and photographer of View From Above : An Astronaut Photographs the World.
Brenda

 

 

 

November Virtual Book Discussion: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

On November 24 at 7:00 pm, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group on Zoom as we discuss The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. This is a witty and heartwarming novel about an introvert who suddenly learns she’s part of a big, complicated family. Please register online. My earlier review is here. Copies of the book are available now at the Circulation Desk; visit MediaonDemand/Libby for eBook and eAudiobook copies.

Brenda

The Switch

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Workaholic Londoner Leena Cotton has a panic attack at work, and takes two months off. She ends up switching places with her grandmother Eileen, and moves to her cottage in a small Yorkshire village. The Cotton women even exchange phones and laptops so Leena won’t be tempted to work. Eileen, 79, is pretty happy but is having trouble finding romance in her small town. At Leena’s London flat, with two quirky roommates, she organizes a social club for seniors and has a fling or two, while also spying on Leena’s London boyfriend. Back in Hamleigh-in-Harksdale, Leena ends up on the May festival committee, befriending her grandmother’s grumpy neighbor Arnold, and plays Easter Bunny with the help of former classmate Jackson’s little girl. Both women have challenges adjusting to their new environments and neighbors, but relish their new projects and Leena learns to re-connect with her mother Marian, and start dealing with her grief over her sister’s recent death. Mixed grief and humor, with a strong sense of place and appealing, quirky characters. Grandmother Eileen is especially appealing, embracing life and love in London at 79. A light feel-good story that makes for an absorbing, enjoyable read.

Brenda

Interview with a Dead Editor

Interview With a Dead Editor by Shanna Swendson

The day Lexie Lincoln is laid off from her job as a newspaper reporter, she’s invited to interview for a job as a reporter and assistant editor for a small town newspaper. Unfortunately, she finds the editor’s body before she even gets to interview. An ice storm strands her in town, and police officer Wes Mosby is having trouble confirming her alibi. I enjoyed the small town Texas setting with good food and quirky characters, including a ghost. The cozy mystery with a paranormal twist was well-plotted, and Lexie is pleasant company with a plausible reason to investigate a suspicious death. If she can clear her name, Lexie just might be interested in moving to Stirling Mills, especially as the job includes a cozy Art Deco apartment. I’m looking forward to the second Lucky Lexie mystery, Case of the Curious Crystals. Readalikes include books by Sophie Kelly, Joanne Fluke, Donna Andrews, as they are cozy mysteries with appealing characters, some humor, and small town settings. Shanna is the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series. This ebook is available from Libby/Overdrive/MediaonDemand.

Brenda

Under a Dark Sky

Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day

The Tuesday Evening Book Group is discussing this award-winning psychological suspense novel set at a dark sky park near Mackinaw City, Michigan on October 27, on Zoom. Copies of the book are still available at the Circulation Desk, and downloadable audiobooks are available from Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby. Eden Wallace, 34, has been a widow for 9 months. She found the reservation for a suite at the park her husband Bix had made, for their anniversary weekend. She needs a getaway, but Eden is afraid of the dark. At the park, she learns there’s been a mistake; the rest of the cabin has been booked by a group of six 20-somethings. One of the six is killed in the night, and they’re all suspects, even Eden. Then there are more accidents. Readers who enjoy psychological suspense novels will race through this tense tale as Eden uncovers secrets and wonders who she can trust among the five remaining friends and police officers Warren Hoyt and Bridget Cooley. Full of surprises, this is not a book to start after dark.
Brenda