The Last Garden in England

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

Readers of historical fiction who like a strong sense of place and enjoy multi-period novels will enjoy this appealing novel. In 1907, Venetia Smith designs a variety of garden rooms for Highbury House in rural Warwickshire. A rose fancier provides romantic interest here. In 2021, Emma Lovett is searching for plans, drawings, and letters to help her and her crew restore Venetia’s neglected gardens.

In 1944, widow Diana Symonds and land girl and amateur artist Beth Pedley try to prevent the gardens being plowed under for crops during World War II. Most of the house is a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers run by Diana’s sister-in-law, which causes some conflicts. Cook Stella Adderton and her young nephew Bobby are also featured here. The stories all connect in the end, making for a satisfying read, though the characters struggle with loss in two of the time periods. I should mention that some of the names are confusing; in one chapter we meet Captain Hastings, then he’s referred to as Graeme further on; I would have liked a list of characters.

Readalikes include The Lake House by Kate Morton, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert, and historical novels by Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Rhys Bowen. Readers may also want to browse the gardening section; I found some beautiful books by Jackie Bennett: The Writer’s Garden and Shakespeare’s Gardens.

Brenda

 

March 2020 Virtual Book Discussion

On Tuesday, March 30, the Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet via Zoom at 7:00 pm to discuss Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore.

This is a remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study with her best friend, or go on tour with her boyfriend’s band? She wakes up as 51-year-old Oona, and learns that she will jump through time every birthday. Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? World traveler? Married? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

Please join us! Visit the library’s website for more information and to register for the discussion.

Brenda

 

Beginners

Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt

Journalist Tom Vanderbilt was inspired by his young daughter to step off the sidelines and learn some new skills. He describes his experiences as a beginner in chess, singing, surfing, drawing, juggling, ocean swimming, snowboarding, and helping to make a wedding band to replace one lost while surfing. I really enjoyed the sections on learning to sing, in which he takes private lessons and then joins a no-audition Britpop choir, and surfing, where he gets lessons and surfs in places ordinary and exotic. Vanderbilt also explores the educational psychology of how and when we learn new skills, and finds that it’s challenging to be an adult beginner, but very worthwhile. His writing style is engaging and and readers may be inspired to try something new. Readalikes include The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Range by David Epstein, and Grit by Angela Duckworth, and the author’s first book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do.

Brenda

Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasure by Jane Cleland

The gorgeous cover drew me to this book. While there are several other books in this mystery series, I was pleased that I could pick up this one and get immersed in the story without reading the earlier books. Set on the Atlantic coast of New Hampshire, the mystery is centered around an antique trunk containing the Egyptian box and cat statue pictured on the cover. Antique dealer Josie Prescott and her husband buy a house from Maudie Wilson, whose nieces have persuaded her to move to an assisted living apartment. When doing a walkthrough of the house before renovations, Josie finds the well-hidden trunk, which becomes an object of interest to many. Maudie, Josie, and Josie’s friend Zoe are memorable characters, and the antiques business is fascinatingly described. The setting is appealing, especially as Josie loves to go hiking on the dunes or in the woods. I plan to read the first book, Consigned to Death, and see if I enjoy it as much as Hidden Treasure. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

Brenda

The Windsor Knot

The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

When a young Russian musician is found dead at Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth doesn’t think the investigation by MI5 is headed in the right direction. With help from her new assistant private secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a veteran and daughter of Nigerian immigrants, the Queen secretly makes inquiries. In the spring of 2016, the Queen is soon to turn 90, and enjoys talk of horseracing, walks with her dogs, and giving well-deserved honours. The mystery is clever and intricately plotted, but I most enjoyed the characterizations of the Queen, who is depicted as shrewd, loyal, and an excellent judge of character, and of Rozie, along with the wonderfully described setting of Windsor Castle. The first book in a planned series, this compulsively readable and engaging mystery is sure to delight fans of The Crown and readers of British mysteries with amateur sleuths.

Brenda

February Virtual Book Discussion: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

On February 23 at 7:00 pm, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group on Zoom as we discuss Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. In this contemporary novel of adventure and friendship, an eccentric billionaire invites the city of Boston on a treasure hunt for a share of his fortune.  Here’s my recent review.  Please register online here. Copies of the book are available now at the Circulation Desk;  visit MediaonDemand/Libby for eBook and eAudiobook copies and Hoopla for ebook copies.

Brenda

Ms. Adventure

Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life by Jess Phoenix

Full of adventure on land and sea, Jess Phoenix describes her education and adventures in becoming a geologist and volcanologist, from Hawaii to Ecuador. She’s a member of the Explorers Club in Manhattan, and has run for Congress. Some of her most compelling stories including research on an underwater volcano, and in parts of Mexico where the danger comes from clashes between drug cartels and the police. She has also had her share of misadventures and injuries, not necessarily work related, and struggled to show real science during filming a Discovery television show. Her ultimate goal is to make science more inclusive and share her love of science. Readers of real life adventure or popular science will enjoy Jess’s story, which will be published March 2.

Brenda

 

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

After an eccentric billionaire collapses at a hospital fundraiser, the city of Boston is invited to participate in a treasure hunt for a share of his fortune. Researcher Tuesday Mooney, along with young neighbor Dorry, friend and former coworker Dex, and rich, mysterious Archie, explores train tunnels, an abandoned theater and a haunted house, all while occasionally talking to her first best friend, Abby, who’s been missing for years. Full of adventure and suspense, this love letter to Boston is full of engaging, witty, complex characters, and is a feel-good treasure to read and savor. Readalikes include Escape from Mr. Limoncello’s Library, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Ready Player One, and The Westing Game. This will be the library’s February book discussion selection.

Brenda

Majesty

Majesty by Katharine McGee

This is an enjoyable coming of age story set in an alternate American future, in which George Washington was crowned king. In this sequel to American Royals, Beatrice is now America’s first queen, and is feeling burdened with her new responsibilities, especially the expectation that she will marry a nobleman. Her fun-loving sister Samantha is now the heir, and has her own romantic problems, as does her friend Nina, along with Nina’s rival, Daphne. There is more pomp and circumstance than glitz and glamor in this second book. The main characters are appealing and I didn’t predict the ending. While the author could write another American Royals book, none is currently planned. Perfect for royal watchers looking for an entertaining read.

Brenda

Readalikes for The Bridgertons

Readalikes for Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series

The Bridgerton series begins with The Duke & I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, An Offer from a Gentleman, and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Four others follow, along with three collections of novellas.

If you’re waiting to read some of the Bridgerton books, try these prequels first:

Because of Miss Bridgerton, The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband, The Other Miss Bridgerton, and First Comes Scandal. These are about the Rokesbys, the generation before the eight Bridgerton siblings.

Regency Romances

Ashley, Jennifer. A MacKenzie Clan Christmas

Balogh, Mary. The Proposal, A Matter of Class, A Very Special Christmas

Beverley, Jo. Forbidden, The Rogue’s Return, To Rescue a Rogue, The Secret Wedding

Britton, Christina. A Good Duke is Hard to Find

Byrne, Kerrigan. All Scot and Bothered, How to Love the Duke in Ten Days

Chase, Loretta. Ten Things I Hate About a Duke

Coulter, Catherine. The Sherbrooke Bride, The Sherbrooke Twins

Darcy, Clare. A Regency Trio

Dare, Tessa. Any Duchess Will Do, The Wallflower Wager

Enoch, Suzanne. Hit Me with Your Best Scot, Scot Under the Covers

Heath, Lorraine. Beyond Scandal and Desire, The Earl Takes a Fancy

Heyer, Georgette. The Convenient Marriage, Cotillion, False Colours, Frederica,  The Grand Sophy, Venetia

James, Eloisa. My Last Duchess, Say Yes to the Duke

Jordan, Sophie. The Duke Effect, The Duke’s Stolen Bride

Kelly, Carla. Libby’s London Merchant, Marian’s Christmas Wish, Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour, One Good Turn, Summer Campaign, The Unlikely Master Genius

Kleypas, Lisa. Chasing Cassandra, Devil in Spring, A Wallflower Christmas

Leigh, Eva. My Fake Rake, Would I Lie to the Duke?

Lorret, Vivienne. Lord Holt Takes a Bride, My Kind of Earl

MacLean, Sarah. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, Daring and the Duke, The Day of the Duchess, How the Dukes Stole Christmas, Wicked and the Wallflower

Quick, Amanda. I Thee Wed, Wicked Widow

Quincy, Diana. Her Night with the Duke

Quinn, Ella. The Marquis and I, The Most Eligible Lord in London

Riley, Vanessa. The Duke, the Lady, and a Baby

Sebastian, Cat. Two Rogues Make a Right

Spencer, Minerva. Notorious

Waite, Olivia. The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows

Waters, Martha. To Have and to Hoax

Regency Anthologies

How the Dukes Stole Christmas

A Homespun Regency Christmas

Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection

The Last Chance Christmas Ball

Seduction on a Snowy Night

Victorian Era Romances

Dunmore, Evie. Bringing Down the Duke, A Rogue of One’s Own

Garwood, Julie. For the Roses

Shupe, Joanna. A Daring Arrangement, The Devil of Downtown, The Prince of Broadway, The Rogue of Fifth Avenue

 

Happy reading!

Brenda