On Tuesday, June 22, please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7:00 pm on Zoom as we discuss All Adults Here by Emma Straub. This is warm, funny, and keenly perceptive contemporary novel about the life cycle of one family–as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. By the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers. Here’s my recent review.
Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk. eBook and eAudiobook copies are available from Media on Demand/Libby and eBook copies are also available from eRead Illinois.
Comics about animals and their people are my comfort read. I used to have a stack of comic strip collections for when I was sick or in a reading slump. If I were to start a new stack, Living with Mochi would be on the top.
Mochi is a pug named after the Japanese sweet. His person is Gemma Gene—an architect who started doodling about Mochi on her way to work because she missed him so much. The drawings were a hit online (find them on Instagram @157ofgemma) and were turned into a book.
Each page is a little story with adorable drawings. Mochi enjoys the finer things in life and loves his Mami. He tolerates his Papi. He doesn’t realize he’s a dog and not a small human. I recognized my pug in Mochi and it was like having her back. The grunts, the dramatics, the appetite, even the smells. Anyone who’s had a beloved pet would enjoy the humor and the love that went into the comics.
For more light-hearted animal comics, I highly recommend Plum Crazy: Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat (adorable, family-friendly), She and Her Cat (introspective, teen and up), Chi’s Sweet Home (great for kids…and adults), and Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (by the artist known for his horror manga but the only scary thing here is how quickly he falls for two cats, and how they don’t care).
If you want more about pugs, try these. For kids, families, or the young at heart there’s Two’s a Crowd and Yay for Vaycay!) by Flora Ahn and the picture book Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino. Teens and up might like The Worrier’s Guide to Life by Gemma Correll (Gemma’s pug makes appearances and there’s more pugs in A Pug’s Guide to Dating) or Battlepug by Mike Norton (a Conan-like fantasy comic featuring a giant pug).
This is a witty and engaging contemporary family saga set in a Hudson Valley town in New York. The family members featured are Astrid, who takes a long look at her life after the sudden death of an acquaintance, her three children and oldest grandchild. Was Astrid a good enough parent to Elliott, Porter, and Nicky after the early death of their father? Is it time to tell them about her new love interest? Will an extended visit from granddaughter Cecelia, 13, be a chance to start over? Everyone here is at a turning point, including single and pregnant Porter, who raises dairy goats, Elliot deciding what business is best for a building he’s secretly bought on the downtown roundabout, and Cecelia starting school with only one new friend, August. Realistically flawed yet likeable characters make for a memorable read. Readalikes include Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel, Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry, Clock Dance by Anne Tyler, and The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo. This will be the library’s June book discussion selection.
This immersive, compelling read features an unlikely trio of friends who work at Bletchley Park during World War II, secretly trying to break the codes used by the Germans and Italians. Debutante Osla Kendall, who reads German fluently, is dating Prince Philip of Greece. On the train from London she meets ambitious Mab, a typist whose height gets her work on the machines at Bletchley Park and who is anxious to evacuate her little sister Lucy from London’s East End. Shy Beth, whose demanding mother rents Mab and Osla a room, finds her skill at crossword puzzles leads to work as a codebreaker. The strain of the work and the demand for complete secrecy affect the women’s relationships, although outlets such as their Mad Hatter book group help somewhat. In 1947 the women are no longer friends, yet Mab and Osla meet for tea in York in response to a desperate plea from Beth, who is trying to discover who framed her as a traitor. This crisis is set during the weeks, days, and hours leading up to the royal wedding of Osla’s Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. I loved the focus on the women’s war work and found this book, with its intensifying pace, hard to put down. Only the 624 page count will keep this book from being the top pick of many book groups. Readalikes include Code Girls by Liza Mundy, The Gown by Jennifer Robson, The Secret Lives of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay, and The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.
Mackenzie Dienes, winemaker at her mother-in-law’s winery, Bel Après, has an enviable quality of life. She and Rhys have a lovely house on the family compound, and his sisters Stephanie and Four have been her good friends for over 16 years. The extended family shares a personal chef, and Mackenzie has an office at home as well as at the winery, and her own bedroom suite. It’s true that she and Rhys have been friends rather than lovers for several years, but shouldn’t that be enough? Her wines are highly valued, her nieces and nephews live nearby, there are regular family dinners, impromptu gatherings when someone bakes cookies, and weekly Girls’ Night. When matriarch Barbara gets engaged, Mackenzie and Rhys see their marriage in a new light, and she decides it’s time to start over, perhaps with her own winery. I enjoyed the rural Washington vineyard setting, the camaraderie of Mackenzie and her friends, and the theme of starting over, along with a hint of romance. I did find the story rather predictable, and the character of family matriarch Barbara was over-the-top unlikeable. This is a quick, compelling read, perfect for a long weekend. Readalikes include Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Davie, The Promise and New Hope by Robyn Carr, The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas, and the forthcoming Blush, by Jamie Brenner.