The Case of the Wandering Scholar

The Case of the Wandering Scholar by Kate Saunders

While this is the second book in the Laetitia Rodd series, this is an excellent place to begin this thoroughly enjoyable Victorian mystery series. Laetitia is a middle-aged widow of an archdeacon, and sister to Fred, a criminal barrister. Fred occasionally finds Laetitia assignments as a discreet private investigator. She moves in a variety of society circles, has a wide acquaintance among the clergy, and can certainly use the money. A dying man is looking to be reconciled with his brother Joshua, once a scholar at Oxford, who now wanders the countryside. Mrs. Rodd’s search becomes tangled with a series of murders and a long-ago theft. When two young friends are arrested for murder, Laetitia investigates, along with the gruff Inspector Blackbeard. 1851 London and Oxford really come to life, the mystery is intricately plotted, and Laetitia is absolutely wonderful company. I look forward to her next assignment. The first book is The Secrets of Wishtide.



March 2020 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7:00 pm on March 24 to discuss Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. This sweeping family saga, set in Hawai’i and California from 1917 through World War II is the long awaited sequel to Moloka’i. Here is my earlier review.

On Thursday, March 19, the Crime Readers will meet at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien to discuss The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame). “Working as a private investigator after losing his leg in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike takes the case of a legendary supermodel’s suspicious suicide and finds himself in a world of multi-millionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, desperate designers and hedonist pursuits.” Discussion begins at 7:00 pm, with optional dinner at 6:00 pm. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public LIbrary.


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




Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter

This is a fascinating look at what happens to clothes, furniture, and other household items donated to Goodwill, to recycled laptops and televisions, and even what becomes of vehicles totaled after an accident. Journalist Adam Minter follows these items around the globe, starting with home cleanout services in Minnesota and Japan. He travels to Vermont, Toronto, Arizona, Mexico, west Africa and Asia. Many products cross borders and oceans to be repaired, resold, or repurposed. Damaged American cars and trucks are packed with needed repair parts, put on a cargo ship in New England, and repaired in West Africa, often sold and smuggled into Nigeria. The durability of clothes is decreasing, making it harder to repurpose, and some electronics are deliberately made difficult to repair. This well-researched book makes for compelling, thought-provoking reading.


Ever Faithful

Ever Faithful: A Vintage National Parks Novel by Karen Barnett

This novel set in Yellowstone National Park in 1933 has a wonderful sense of time and place. Nate Webber has dyslexia and can barely read, but loves to learn. Elsie Brooks, daughter of a park ranger, is saving money for college as a hotel maid in the park when she gets the chance to teach Nate’s Civilian Conservation Corps crew part-time. Elsie’s friends Mary and Rose welcome the chance of a summer romance, while a young park ranger is interested in Elsie, who’s hiding a secret of her own. The city boys of the CCC, many from New York City, find the hard work in the park challenging, but settle in quickly. A couple of small fires had me suspecting a character of arson, but this mildly inspirational story isn’t as predictable as I thought. Warm-hearted, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable, this trip back in time has me looking forward to reading Barnett’s other novels set in Yosemite and Mount Rainier National Parks.


Lady Clementine

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict

The struggles and triumphs of the wife of Winston Churchill make for an interesting biographical novel, especially the second half of the book, which covers World War II. The first half of the book doesn’t flow as well, as it covers the first thirty years of Clementine and Winston’s marriage. Clementine was always interested in politics, although she didn’t always share Winston’s views. He was moody and rather bombastic, but Clementine would stand up to him, soothe and support him, and they were a good team, at least according to this very well researched novel. Clementine struggled to balance being a supportive wife with being a good mother and running a household on a modest budget during the early years of their marriage, and occasionally took a rest cure to recharge. I really liked the chapters on Clementine’s work on the home front during the war, improving air raid shelters, helping Winston with his speeches, and being recognized internationally for her work with the Red Cross. Other recent books about the Winston and his mother Jennie include Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard and That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron. Readalikes include novels by Melanie Benjamin, Paula McLain, and Nancy Horan.




Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma

This is a compelling memoir of a young black woman learning to advocate for her needs as she grows up. Haben is the daughter of Eritrean immigrants, where her grandmother still lives. She was born deafblind, with some vision and hearing, but both are getting worse. She frequently felt left out in group settings, and learning to connect well with others is a challenge she took on. With occasional humor, Haben’s triumphs and setbacks include sliding down an Alaskan glacier, struggling to train with seeing-eye dog Maxine, learning to dance, and finding out what food was being served in her college cafeteria. Her parents’ protectiveness, while understandable, occasionally felt stifling, especially when she wanted to travel with a student group. At Harvard Haben uses a text-to-braille system and becomes an accomplished public speaker and advocate for disability rights. Clearly and elegantly written, this refreshing and uplifting memoir is highly recommended.


New African American Fiction

We have a display of new African American fiction and non-fiction to celebrate Black History Month. Here are some of the new fiction titles:

New African American Fiction

 Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame. Friday Black

Billingsley, ReShonda Tate. More to Life

Bird, Sarah. Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Bump, Gabriel. Everywhere You Don’t Belong

Grey, Anissa. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Hall, Rachel Hozell. They All Fall Down

Hurston, Zora Neale. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick

Jones, Tayari. An American Marriage

McMillan, Terry. It’s Not All Downhill from Here (March 2020)

Monroe, Mary. Over the Fence

Moore, Wayéto. She Would be King

Norfleet, Celeste. One Night in Georgia

Porter, Regina. The Travelers

Sexton, Margaret Wilkerson. The Revisioners

Thompson-Spikes, Nafissa. Heads of the Colored Peoples: Stories

Washington, Bryan. Lot

Whitehead, Colson. The Nickel Boys

Wilkinson, Lauren. American Spy

Winslow, De’Shawn Charles. In West Mills

Woodson, Jacqueline. Red at the Bone


Clark, Tracy. Borrowed Time

Holloway, Karla. A Death in Harlem

Locke, Attica. Heaven, My Home

Mosley, Walter. Down the River Unto the Sea


Cole, Alyssa. An Unconditional Freedom

Guillory, Jasmine. Royal Holiday

Hickman, Trice. The Other Side

Hodges, Cheris. Tempted at Midnight

Jackson, Brenda. Finding Home Again

Jenkins, Beverly. Rebel

Pope, Jamie. One Warm Winter

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Clark, Djèli. The Black God’s Drums

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Water Dancer

James, Marlon. Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Jemisin, N.K. How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color. Edited by Nisi Shawl

Onyebuchi, Tochi. Riot Baby

Okorafor, Nnedi. Binti: Night Masquerade

Penelope, L. Whispers of Shadow & Flame

Solomon, Rivers. The Deep

Thompson, Tade. The Rosewater Redemption

Turnbull, Cadwell. The Lesson

Urban Fiction

A’Zayler. Heart of the Hustle

Bryant, Niobia. Madam, May I

Dickey, Eric Jerome. Bad Men & Wicked Women

K’Wan. Wrath

Saundra. If It Ain’t About the Money