The Best of Us

The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

Best known for her Virgin River series, Carr’s recent books are set in small town Colorado. Leigh is a doctor who meets Rob when she stitches his son Sean’s hand. Rob’s older son Finn is attracted to Maia, who’s facing a health crisis. Leigh’s Aunt Helen, a mystery writer and retired teacher, sells her Naperville house and comes to Sullivan’s Crossing for a long visit with Leigh, only to find a good friend in Sully. A multi-generational romance with considerable small-town charm and gorgeous Colorado scenery, this fourth book set in Sullivan’s Crossing is a quick, emotional, and very enjoyable read. The first book is What We Find, but it doesn’t need to be read first to enjoy The Best of Us. Readalike authors include Debbie Macomber and Kristan Higgins.

Brenda

 

The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Edith, a famous pie baker at a Minnesota nursing home, doesn’t have a relationship with her younger sister Helen. Edith’s husband Stanley, a truck driver, and their granddaughter Diana are the center of her life. Helen, the brewer mentioned in the title, is ambitious but has settled. She married a classmate from her college chemistry class because he could help her run a commercial brewery, but their beer is nothing special. Edith can at least take pride in her pies. Diana gets in trouble breaking the law as an older teen but finds a second chance with a job at a small craft brewery. Of course Diana and Helen’s paths will eventually cross. Diana’s small brewery and the eclectic crew, including several grandmothers, are quite interesting, although I can’t tell gose from imperial stout. Readers who are familiar with craft beers will likely enjoy the brewing scenes even more than others, but it’s not essential.

A bittersweet family saga that makes for a pleasant read with an appealing Minnesota setting. I would have enjoyed more scenes with Edith and Stanley and had some questions about Diana’s motivations, but I quite enjoyed this novel overall.

Brenda

 

November 2019 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on November 19 (a week earlier than usual) to discuss The River, by Peter Heller. This is a contemporary thriller set in the Canadian wilderness that I found very hard to put down. Here’s my review.

The Crime Readers will meet at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien at 7 p.m on Thursday, November 21 to discuss The Song of the Lion, by Anne Hillerman, a Navajo mystery. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. I enjoy listening to this series on cd; this book is also available as a downloadable audiobook.

Copies of both books are available now at the Circulation Desk. Enjoy!

Brenda

The Andromeda Evolution

The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel Wilson and Michael Crichton

Fifty years after The Andromeda Strain, a mysterious structure appears in the Amazon rain forest. Project Eternal Vigilance is activated, and an international team of scientists is sent to investigate, including an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Fighter planes are on high alert should their exploration fail. Daniel Wilson was an excellent choice to write this sequel. The scenes in the rain forest are vividly drawn, as are the robotics on the ISS. Fast-paced from the beginning, the pace and tension intensify, and the fate of the expedition (and the planet) is always in doubt. Readers know that all the scientists will not survive, but the plot is far from predictable. This science fiction thriller is sure to be popular. Matthew Reilly’s Jack West series is a good readalike.

Brenda

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

After widowed Mary Archer is killed in London in the summer of 1899, Frances mentions that her late husband’s cousin Charles had been courting Mary, making him a suspect. Frances teams up with handsome neighbor George and young family friend Lottie to investigate Mary’s death in this lively sequel to A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder. Frances, Lady Harleigh, is shocked to learn that Mary was a gossip columnist and possibly a blackmailer. The off season in London has rarely been so exciting. Suggested for Regency or Victorian romance readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, or fans of Elizabeth Peters or Deanna Raybourn. Witty and delightful, this is a charming Victorian mystery with some humor and a hint of romance.

Brenda

The Tale Teller

The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman

Set in the Navajo Nation in the scenic American southwest, this is Anne Hillerman’s best mystery so far; her fifth novel continuing the tradition of her father Tony. Fans of either Hillerman’s books, and readers of contemporary American mysteries with police protagonists, along with readers attracted by the Four Corners setting, will be sure to enjoy. Retired police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is asked to look into items missing from an anonymous museum donation, including a valuable artifact linked to the Navajo’s Long Walk. Joe continues to recover his fluency in spoken English after an injury, preferring to communicate by writing or in spoken Navajo. As his companion Louisa doesn’t speak Navajo, their relationship has some ups and downs. Navajo Police Sergeant Jim Chee investigates a string of burglaries and a shooting, while Officer Bernie Manuelito discovers a body on a running trail, thanks to a loyal dog. Family and clan connections are very important here, with a number of secrets to be uncovered. The main characters continue to develop, adding greatly to this mystery’s appeal; a very satisfying read. The first book featuring Bernie is Spider Woman’s Daughter.
Brenda

 

The Second Sleep

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

Robert Harris has written books set in ancient Rome (Pompeii), in 1938 (Munich), and in the near future (Conclave), so I was intrigued to see a medieval setting. Young priest Christopher Fairfax travels to a small town to bury their priest, but all is not as it seems, for Christopher or for the reader. Very hard to put down, with plenty of unpredictable plot twists. An antiquarian society is deemed heretical by the Church in this often dark, thought-provoking thriller.
Brenda