Of Blood and Bone

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

This second novel in the postapocalyptic paranormal trilogy Chronicles of the One has a great sense of place and compelling characters. As this is not realistic fiction, there are a few things readers need to accept: fairies, shape shifters, a chosen one, and fuel lasting over a decade. After a pandemic almost wiped out civilization in Year One, Lana Swift learned that her baby will be The One. Fallon Swift, now 13, will spend two years training with mentor Mallick in magic, fighting skills, and leadership while completing three magical challenges. Along with Duncan and Tonia, twin teens from the appealing community of Good Hope, Fallon and her family begin the shift from survival to rebuilding. This fast-paced novel is a good readalike for the postapocalyptic Change series by S.M. Stirling, beginning with Dies the Fire, especially for its thoughtful take on how new communities grow after a disaster.
Brenda

Alliance Rising

Alliance Rising by C.J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher

The dramatic, unexpected arrival of Finity’s End sparks a crisis at Alpha Station, the closest space station to Sol, which sends cargo ships every five years. Alpha Station resources have been directed to building a faster-than-light ship, which has glitches, an inexperienced crew, and too many security personnel. This is the welcome return of Cherryh and co-author Fancher to the award-winning Alliance-Union Universe, and a good place to enter a far future that includes Downbelow Station, Cyteen, Rimrunners, and Finity’s End. Told from three very different points of view: station master Ben Abrezio, navigator trainee Ross Monahan, and Finity’s senior captain JR Neihart. The space ships are owned and crewed by families, and Neihart is seeking an alliance to protect the rights of smaller ships and promote trade without being dependent on Sol or distant Cyteen. Low in violence, but with plenty of thrills and intrigue; very enjoyable space opera.

Brenda

The River

The River by Peter Heller

Best friends Jack and Wynn are launched on the adventure of a lifetime, canoeing the remote Maskwa River in Canada. They will have idyllic moments of camping, fishing, stargazing, and discussing books. But mostly it will be a desperate race for survival, with an approaching wildfire, rapids to run or portage around, and an increasing threat of violence from bear or man. Wynn is large and optimistic while Jack is wary and no stranger to tragedy. They’re well-prepared, until they lose some gear and rescue an injured woman. This compelling, action-packed novel is almost impossible to put down, and is a stunning, memorable read.

Brenda

Daughter of Moloka’i

Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Moloka’i was a bestseller and a favorite with book clubs, but I hadn’t read it until I heard about this forthcoming sequel. Daughter of Moloka’i is the compelling story of Ruth, an adopted Hawaiian-Japanese girl who grew up in Hawai’i and California, and was later sent to internment camps with her family during World War II. The daily life, joys, disappointments and hardships of the Watanabe family make for engaging reading. After Ruth is a mother herself, she receives an unexpected letter from her birth mother, Rachel, who lived in the leper settlement on Moloka’i. This poignant, family-centered, ultimately hopeful novel can be read before or after reading Moloka’i, and is a real pleasure for fans of character-driven historical fiction.
Brenda

We Must Be Brave

27We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

This is a splendid, moving novel about a young woman and the girls she mothers in southern England in the mid 20th century. Ellen Parr, born well-off, struggles when her father loses his money. Trying to cope in a run-down cottage with her impractical mother, Ellen finds unexpected kindness from her schoolmate Lucy’s family and a local handyman. Ten years later, recently married Ellen finds young Pamela asleep on a bus after Southampton is bombed in December, 1940. Although Ellen’s husband, a miller, doesn’t want to keep Pamela, they do. Eventually, they have to give Pamela back to her relatives in a heart-wrenching scene. Much later, schoolgirl Penny needs somewhere to stay after a flood and during school holidays. This first novel, while a tearjerker at times, is a compelling, satisfying, and ultimately heartwarming read.
Brenda

This Is How It Always Is

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

A contemporary novel about a family with five boys in Madison, Wisconsin facing a challenge when young Claude wants to wear dresses and sparkly barrettes. Rosie, an emergency room physician and Penn, a writer, agree that Claude can dress however he wants on vacation. But when Claude says her name is Poppy and wants to start kindergarten in a dress, the family worries about the consequences. When they relocate to Seattle, Rosie and Penn don’t know how and when to share that Poppy used to be Claude. Eventually the secret is revealed, and Rosie takes her youngest child to a rural clinic in Thailand for a time-out. Charming, compassionate, messy, and thought-provoking, the Walsh-Adams family reminds me of Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks and Hilary McKay’s Casson family (Saffy’s Angel), although these large families have different challenges. The Tuesday Evening Book Group will be discussing Frankel’s book this spring.
Brenda

Kingdom of the Blind

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Three people are asked to be executors for the estate of a woman they never met. Young Benedict is a builder, Armand Gamache is the head of the Surêté, currently suspended, and Myrna is a psychologist who owns a bookstore in Three Pines, Québec. Bertha was a cleaning woman who called herself the Baroness, and may or may not have left millions to her three children. A blizzard strands Benedict in Three Pines, where there are several wonderful food-centered scenes. These scenes provide a relief of tension in a rather dark entry in this award-winning mystery series. Gamache is trying to trace a shipment of deadly opioids before it arrives on the streets of Montreal. He doesn’t share all his secrets with his assistants Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste, who’s slowly recovering from injuries sustained in the previous book. The scene I found most riveting is a house collapsing with people inside. Some story lines from previous books are wrapped up here, while some new developments may take this series in an unexpected direction. Suggested for mystery readers who enjoy cunning plots with very well-developed characters. The first book in the series is Still Life.
Brenda