On Tuesday, May 25, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7:00 pm on Zoom as we discuss Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. This is a novel with a bit of magical realism, set in Bascom, North Carolina, where Claire Waverley is a caterer, using plants with special properties from her garden. Her quiet life is unsettled when her sister Sydney comes home after many years, along with her daughter. This is the first novel by Sarah Addison Allen; First Frost also features the Waverley sisters
Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk, we own the audiobook on cd, and the ebook is available for download from Media on Demand/Libby.
This is a contemporary novel of found family, centered around a café in London. After elderly artist Julian Jessop leaves a notebook telling of his grief after the loss of his wife in Monica’s Café, Monica posts a flier in the window looking for someone to teach a weekly painting class, hoping to connect with Julian. Monica puts her own wishes to become a mother in the notebook, and somehow the notebook travels to Australia and back, connecting a newly sober traveler, a struggling new mum, and more, all making connections through the painting classes and weekly dinners. There are secrets, lies, conflicts and quite a few coincidences, but in the end this is a heartwarming, cozy novel about new friendships and a little romance. This is a compelling and enjoyable first novel. Readalikes include The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister and Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson.
A fast-paced, character-driven science fiction novel set in the 25th century. Lieutenant Maxine Carmichael gets her first ship assignment in the NeoG, the Near-Earth Orbital Guard, joining the diverse crew of Zuma’s Ghost, assigned to Jupiter Station. The NeoG is the equivalent of today’s Coast Guard, rescuing stranded ships, searching for contraband, and locating missing ships. The small crew needs to find a role for Max in the upcoming Boarding Games, where she gets lots of attention for being a Carmichael; her sister is CEO of LifeEx. There is plenty of action and some danger but mostly this is an uplifting, entertaining, and enjoyable read. Similar authors include Becky Chambers and Elizabeth Moon. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Hold Fast Through the Fire, which will be published in July.
Ruthie Midona, 25, works in a retirement community and rarely leaves the grounds. She lives on the property and rarely leaves, except to shop at a local thrift store. When two wealthy 90-year-olds need a new personal assistant, Ruthie runs their errands until the community’s new owner suggests his son Teddy, who’s trying to save money for a tattoo parlor. Teddy is staying in the adjoining villa, and is clearly fascinated by Ruthie, when not busy with the hilarious requests made by the Parloni sisters. Temp Melanie is creating a dating profile for Ruthie, who hasn’t dated in years, and helps organize the residents’ holiday party. Opposites definitely attract for Ruthie and Teddy in this sweet and funny romantic comedy. An April LibraryReads pick, this is a funny and heartwarming story about how friends can become your found family. Readalikes include I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella and Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert.
Grace Porter celebrates earning her Ph.D. in astronomy with a short vacation in Las Vegas with friends Agnes and Ximena. She wakes up the last morning with a hangover, a wedding ring, and a picture of Yuki Yamamoto, who hosts a late night radio show in New York City. Back in Portland, Grace tries to live up to the expectations of her father, Colonel Porter. Biracial and queer, Grace is struggling to land an astronomy job, which she somehow thought would be easy. Grace is used to working hard and living up to her father’s expectations. Her response is to flee, visiting Yuki and her roommates in NYC, then her mother at the family orange grove in Florida. Essentially ghosting her friends for long stretches, they are still there when she needs them. I would have liked more about Grace’s astronomy studies; with perhaps a cool field trip to an observatory in Hawaii or Chile. But Grace’s story is much more about an identity crisis, her relationships with her friends, Yuki, and her parents, and learning to accept her own imperfections and uncertainties. Grace and Yuki are memorable characters, and this is an appealing and compelling read.
On Tuesday, April 27, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7:00 pm on Zoom as we discuss Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale, by Adam Minter. This book reveals what happens to donated and recycled objects, and even to totaled vehicles. Here’s my earlier review. Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk, the audiobook can be downloaded from Hoopla, and the ebook is available from Media on Demand/Libby.