Better Luck Next Time

Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Ward Bennett spent the summer of 1938 working on a dude ranch near Reno, Nevada. The Flying Leap catered to wealthy women who spent six weeks living there, then got a no-fuss divorce in Reno. Handsome cowboys Ward and Sam chauffeured the ladies to and from Reno, served meals, took care of the horses, and guided the ladies on trail rides. Max and Margaret hired the men for their good manners and their looks. When Emily drove cross-country to Reno and Nina flew her plane there, the folks at the Flying Leap know they’re in for an eventful summer. Both amusing and dramatic, this character-focused historical novel was inspired by both of the author’s parents, and is an engaging and memorable read.

Brenda

May 2022 Book Discussion

Please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7 pm on May 24 for our in-person discussion of Apples Never Fall, by Liane Moriarty, a contemporary novel about a recently retired couple and their four children, and what happens after someone goes missing. See my earlier review here. Copies of the book are available for check out at the Circulation Desk. eBook and eAudiobook copies are available at Media on Demand/Libby and at eRead Illinois.   Please register online or at the Computer Help Desk. Hope to see you here!

Brenda

The Maid: A Novel

The Maid: A Novel by Nita Prose

Molly Gray enjoys cleaning, especially returning hotel rooms to a state of perfection. Mostly she enjoys her work as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, in an unnamed city. While many of the guest treat Molly as though she’s invisible, other guests, such as wealthy businessman Charles Black, verge on rudeness. Molly is very naïve and socially awkward, but has a few people she trusts and counts as friends at the hotel, including a bartender and Giselle, Charles Black’s second wife.

Lately Molly has been struggling to pay her rent, since the death of her beloved grandmother, so her supervisor’s habit of swiping Molly’s tips is doubly frustrating. When Molly discovers a body in a hotel suite, she becomes a person of interest. With the help of some unexpected friends, as well as remembering her Gran’s wise advice, Molly gets ready to testify in court.

Readers will worry about and cheer for Molly in this heartwarming debut with several clever plot twists. This is not a gentle read, though it’s low in violence. Suggested for readers who like eccentric yet charming characters, with a theme of found family. Readalikes include Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little, How Lucky by Will Leitch, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Brenda

London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency

London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir by Kate MacDougall

Kate has a dull entry level job at Sotheby’s auction house in London, appropriate for her university degree, but not very fulfilling. It isn’t going well, and Kate impulsively starts a dog-walking business. Her mother is upset, but partner Finlay, though not a dog lover, is supportive. In 2006, dog walking hasn’t yet caught on in London as it has in American cities, so Kate starts small. She quickly learns that the hardest part of the job is working with the dogs’ owners. Gradually Kate needs to hire other dog walkers, and meets rival Agnes. Each chapter is focused on a particular dog, their owners, and the neighborhood where they live. Even readers who prefer cats may enjoy this charming memoir, a coming-of-age tale with lots of heart and humor. The quirky personalities of the dogs are lovingly described, as Kate shares her successes and failures in business, and life. Muddy, messy, and joyful, this is an uplifting read.

Brenda

One Italian Summer

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Having briefly traveled to the future with In Five Years, Serle here gives Katy Silver a glimpse into the past, during a vacation to gorgeous Positano, Italy. Katy is mourning the recent death of her mother, Carol, and takes the trip they had planned together, leaving her father and husband Eric behind. At almost 30, Katy’s re-evaluating her life and her marriage, ignoring often cited advice to not make big decisions while grieving. Part of the book is a perfect beach read; armchair travel on the Amalfi Coast with amazing food and views. Katy is staying at family-owned Hotel Poseidon, which has very kind and helpful hotel staff. Adam, a fellow hotel guest, is clearly interested in a fling with Katy, and they enjoy meals and sightseeing together. The book takes an interesting turn when Katy meets 30-year-old Carol, who is happy to befriend her. Katy instantly recognizes Carol from early photos of her mother, yet never questions her presence, or why she has trouble connecting with Eric from her cell phone. A mix of grief, travel, and a little romance makes for a hard to put down weekend read.

 

Brenda

Recent Popular Science Books

I just finished reading First Steps: How Walking Upright Made Us Human by Jeremy DeSilva, and I was reflecting on how much I enjoy reading popular science books. I may only read a few each year, and I read them much more slowly than fiction, but I like learning about something new to me and appreciate the fine writing by a scientist or journalist who has really delved into a topic and is enthusiastic to share some of what they’ve learned with non-scientists. Other books I read this year include Kindred by Rebecca Wragg Sykes and The Arbornaut by Meg Lowman. Here is a list of recent popular science books in the library’s collection, along with a few about to be published. The variety of topics covered is remarkable, and I hope to enjoy more of these titles soon. Happy reading!

Brenda

Recent Popular Science Books

Biberdorf, Kate. It’s Elemental: The Hidden Chemistry in Everything

Black, Riley. The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World

Bryson, Bill. The Body: A Guide for Occupants

DeSilva, Jeremy. First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human

Dettmer, Philipp. Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive

Ellenberg, Jordan. Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else

Everts, Sarah. The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration

Frank, Adam. Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth

Kaku, Michio. The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything

Knoll, Andrew. A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

Levesque, Emily. The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers

Lowman, Margaret. The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us

Macfarlane, Robert. Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Nestor, James. Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Panciroli, Elsa. Beasts Before Us: The Untold Story of Mammal Origins and Evolution

Phoenix, Jess. Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life

Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda. The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime and Dreams Deferred

Raff, Jennifer. Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas

Raven, Catherine. Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship

Roach, Mary: Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

Scales, Helen. The Brilliant Abyss: Exploring the Majest Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean and the Looming Threat That Imperils It

Seager, Sara. The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir

Sheldrake, Merlin. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Simard, Suzanne. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Widder, Edith. Below the Edge of Darkness: A Memoir of Exploring Light and Life in the Deep Sea

Wohlleben, Peter. The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature

Wragg Sykes, Rebecca. Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

Zimmer, Carl. Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive