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

Leave Only Footprints

Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton

Armchair travel has been a reading theme for me this summer. Fortunately, there are a lot of terrific books that can take the reader on a virtual journey. In his first book, Emmy award-winning television correspondent Conor Knighton visits all the National Parks in the U.S. in 2016, beginning with the first sunrise of the year in Acadia National Park in Maine. Imagine visiting Alaska, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and American Samoa in the same year, along with all the other National Parks! Conor, recovering from a broken engagement, isn’t sure where he wants to live when his year of traveling is over. His writing is insightful, and occasionally funny. I would have liked more photos, but enjoyed the ones that are included. For videos from his time in the parks, visit his website. Different chapters cover the night sky, climate change, diversity in the parks, and how the most popular parks are coping with crowds. Knighton talks with many park rangers and guides, and is smitten by a litter of puppies in Denali, where dogsledding often makes more sense than snowmobiling. He gets advised to not always climb the highest peak, as the view and experience may be better from another less popular peak. Every cave tour has a moment of utter darkness, and while dark skies in some parks make for amazing stargazing, it’s getting harder to find an area without cellphone service. I enjoyed Knighton’s writing so much, I read several short passages out loud to my family. Since 2016, Conor has visited our newest national parks, including the Indiana Dunes, some national parks in other countries, and many islands.

Brenda