November 2021 Book Discussion

Please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group in-person to discuss The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett. We will be meeting on the fifth Tuesday, November 30, at 7 pm in the 2nd floor Mahlke Meeting Room.

This is a mystery set at Windsor Castle in 2016, featuring Queen Elizabeth and her new assistant private secretary, Rozi Oshodi. Here’s my earlier review.

Please register online or at the Computer Help Desk. Copies of the book are available at the Circulation Desk. eBook and eAudiobook copies are available from MediaonDemand/Libby and eBook from eRead Illinois.

Hope to see you here!


Party of Two

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Another top notch romantic comedy from the author of The Wedding Date and Royal Holiday. Olivia Monroe has just moved to Los Angeles from New York City to start a law firm with her friend Ellie. Staying in a hotel before she moves into a rental, she chats with the hotel bartender about the lack of traditional desserts on the menus of trendy restaurants. A handsome stranger chimes in, and Olivia and Max enjoy a flirtatious conversation. She is surprised to see Max on the new that night; he’s California’s junior senator. They reconnect at a fundraiser, and Max sends dessert to her office. He is smitten, but she’s hesitant, especially as a black woman, to date a politician. Max is impulsive where Olivia takes her time making decisions; except what to have for dessert. When the pair go public with their relationship, it’s predictably stressful. Both accomplished professionals in their late thirties, I enjoyed their witty banter and descriptions of Olivia’s work. She definitely takes center stage; Max and his work as a senator are downplayed. This was a really enjoyable light read. Readalikes include The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole, and Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert.


A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Mona, 14, is an orphan who works at her Aunt Tabitha’s bakery. She has a knack with bread and cookie dough, and can make gingerbread men dance for the bakery’s customers. Her bread is exceptionally good, thanks to a sourdough starter named Bob. One early morning, Mona arrives at the bakery to find a body on the floor; someone who also had a magical talent. The dreaded Spring Green Man has struck, again. But Mona first has to clear her name, aided by the city’s Duchess. A boy named Spindle and a skeleton horse help her in what turns out to be a quest to save their city, aided by some really massive baked goods. By turns funny and deadly serious, this exciting Andre Norton Nebula Award winner is a good readalike for Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novels featuring Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men.


Termination Shock

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson’s new techno-thriller is set in the near future, and describes possible effects of climate change and one Texas billionaire’s idea to reverse global warming. Action-packed, with a variety of settings that include Texas, the Netherlands, New Guinea, and the Line of Actual Control in the Himalayas separating China and India. Saskia, Queen of the Netherlands, is flying to Houston when her plane is diverted by extreme weather to Waco, where a group of feral swine on the runway disables her plane. She’s traveling to Houston to meet T.R. Schmidt, who’s demonstrating a way to use sulfur to help lower temperatures and prevent a rise in sea levels. The feral swine, alligators, and the aftermath of a hurricane make for exciting travels, but this is just one plot line in this page turning novel by the bestselling science fiction author of Reamde, Seveneves, Anathem, and Cryptonomicon. Laks, a Canadian semi-observant Sikh who practices martial arts has his own adventures. Though some of the characters could be developed more, I found this to be an entertaining and informative look at a possible near future. Readalikes include New York, 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson and Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi.


My Four Seasons in France

My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life by Janine Marsh

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this memoir about a Londoner who relocates to the Seven Valleys area in northern France with her husband, where they spend over a decade renovating a rundown old house. Susan Duerden narrates the audiobook (available from Hoopla Digital). While Janine and Mark live in a tiny village, their life there seems very lively, with festivals, seasonal markets, eccentric neighbors, and the antics of farm and domestic animals. Even frustratingly slow internet is humorous here. Janine is a travel writer, and often travels by train to a different region, to discover its charms, then comes home to realize that France’s Opal Coast is where she wants to stay. Readers will feel well acquainted with many of the residents in the village, and long to travel there, or at least want to try some of the seasonal pastries or local cheeses mentioned. Excellent armchair travel with warmth and humor, with wonderful descriptions of food and drink.


Redhead by the Side of the Road

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

Micah Mortimer, 43, likes his routines. He goes for a run every morning before breakfast, then cleans his basement apartment before beginning work as superintendent in a Baltimore apartment building and making house calls for technical support as the Tech Hermit. Occasionally he sees his woman friend Cassia, but fails to empathize when her landlord learns she has a cat and she could get evicted. Micah’s mainly solitary world is upended when Brink, the 18-year-old son of his college girlfriend, shows up on his doorstep. Later, a gathering with his large, chaotic family has him wondering if they like Cassia, a fourth grade teacher, better than him. A bittersweet and yet heartwarming story of a man reluctantly learning to change his point of view. I’d like to see what Micah does next, and hope he makes some changes in his minimalist apartment. At 177 pages, this shorter book is a good introduction to the author of Clock Dance and many other acclaimed novels.