Daisy Darker

daisy darker jacketDaisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Fans of Agatha Christie’s  And Then There Were None, rejoice! Alice Feeney takes readers on a tense and tumultuous journey with this modern twist on a murder mystery classic.

Daisy Darker tells the twisted tale of the Darker family, who gather on a tidal island in Cornwall, United Kingdom, to celebrate the birthday of their beloved, if not eccentric matriarch. The party, which falls on Halloween and Nana’s eightieth birthday, proceeds as smoothly as can be expected for this dysfunctional clan until they begin to be murdered, one by one every hour, starting at midnight with the aforementioned matriarch and birthday girl. Adding to the suspense and unease is a raging storm that leaves the family stranded at Nana’s sprawling seaside mansion until morning. Seemingly no one in this deceitful crew is safe, as everyone from Daisy Darker herself to the pianist prodigy father has secrets to hide, even from those they are supposed to love the most.

Feeney expertly concocts an immersive and atmospheric setting by featuring a unique landscape and utilizing descriptive language. Said captivating language contributes to the visceral feeling of unease that readers are likely to endure, while turning page after page, as alluring settings are an Alice Feeney staple. This title is one of her more memorable works, and is chock-full of complex characters that are well-developed, snarky, and unreliable, which make the mystery all that more intriguing and onerous to solve. Told from the perspective of the title’s namesake, Daisy Darker combines short chapters, dramatic flashbacks, and an intricately crafted storyline, to leave readers feeling haunted and eager to discover who the most dangerous Darker really is.

Readalike titles include One by One by Ruth Ware,  An Unwanted Guest by Shari LaPena, and They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall.

Savannah

 

The Matchmaker’s Gift

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The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

I thoroughly enjoyed this charming dual timeline novel of a matchmaking grandmother and her granddaughter, a divorce lawyer. Happily, both stories make for compelling reading. At 10, Sara Glickman and her family emigrate from Eastern Europe to New York City’s Lower East Side, where she makes her first match. As a teen, Sara needs to keep her talent for matching soulmates hidden from the traditional male shadchanim and can only make introductions and hope for the best. One supportive rabbi encourages her work, and later Sara becomes a noted Jewish matchmaker. In 1994, her granddaughter Abby, a lawyer in Manhattan, inherits Sara’s notebooks. Abby’s work as a junior divorce lawyer is interesting but stressful; then she meets a client who doesn’t want the divorce she’s seeking, and another who’s reluctant to sign a prenuptial agreement before his third marriage. Abby learns she may have inherited her grandmother’s talent. New York City during the 1910s and 1920s and in 1994 are given just the right amount of detail, while Sara, Abby and their friends and family make for excellent company in this heartwarming read.

Brenda

Well Traveled

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Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca

Overworked lawyer Louisa “Lulu” Malone has had it with her demanding boss and resigns in a spectacular manner while visiting a Renaissance fair. Her cousin Mitch encourages her to spend some time offline, and along with her new friend Stacey, connects her with the Dueling Kilts music troupe. Lulu travels with the group from fair to fair, staying in an RV, befriending guitar player Dex MacLean, and helping a trio of tarot card readers. Dex has quite a reputation on the fair circuit, but Lulu soon realizes how serious he is about his music. Their developing relationship feels real, adding depth to this fun and enjoyable read. The author’s other romantic comedies are also set at least partly at Renaissance fairs. The first book is Well Met, but they also work as stand-alones. Readalike authors include Ali Hazelwood, Jill Mansell, Lucy Score and Jasmine Guillory. I’m delighted that Well Traveled will be a December LibraryReads pick.

Brenda

Two Magical Mysteries

steeped-jacket      Steeped to Death by Gretchen Rue

Phoebe is ready for a life change, and happily moves from Seattle to Raven Creek, Washington after she inherits a house and business from her Aunt Eudora. The house comes with Bob the cat, and the bookshop/tea room has an upstairs apartment that unexpectedly has a tenant she used to know. When a local woman demands that Phoebe sell her house and a body turns up behind the shop, Phoebe quickly realizes she needs to learn more about the town and her aunt. Some of Eudora’s teas seem to have magical properties. Also, Phoebe really should pay more attention to the cat. This was a fun, light read. More books featuring Phoebe are planned.

Whiskers and Lies by Sofie Kelly whiskers-jacket

Several previous books, beginning with Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, have shown librarian Kathleen Paulson settling into life in Mayville Heights, Minnesota. She runs the library, and is busy helping plan the Halloween party for the library’s Reading Buddies program. Kathleen is also hoping to discover the identity of the prankster who keeps leaving items in the library’s gazebo overlooking the river, from a small pool filled with jello to a headless horseman. In the past, magical cats Owen and Hercules have helped her investigate crimes in town, and they’re ready to assist when a visitor to town is found dead near the river. A visit to Mayville Heights always makes for very enjoyable reading.

Readalikes include:

Interview with a Dead Editor by Shanna Swendson

Brownies & Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon

Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker

Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

Enjoy! Brenda

Book Lovers

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Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Two driven, bookish New Yorkers meet their match in the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. Literary agent Nora Stephens is worried about her younger sister Libby, pregnant with her third child. When Libby suggests they spend August in Sunshine Falls, Nora agrees. One of her clients set a popular book there, and Libby has a list of small town activities, covering every romantic comedy trope. Nora is still busy with work, and when searching for a spot with good wi-fi, runs into Charlie Lastra, a book editor she dislikes. Charlie is helping his mother run the local bookstore, while also working remotely as an editor. Nora and Charlie reluctantly spend a lot of time together, gradually bonding over their love of books and publishing, striking plenty of sparks.

The focus of the story is partly on Nora and Charlie but also on the sibling relationship of Nora and Libby. Libby wants a sister, not another mother figure, and encourages Nora to relax and enjoy life a bit more. There is plenty of humor, witty banter, and the acknowledgement that workaholic city women deserve happiness too. The characters are realistically flawed yet still appealing. While there’s no diversity here, this engaging novel is a compelling, entertaining read. Readalikes include The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley, Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson, and Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan.

Brenda

Looking Up

Looking Up: The True Adventures of a Storm-Chasing Weather Nerd by Matthew Cappucci

Matthew Cappucci, meteorologist and storm chaser, shares his lifelong fascination with the weather in this compelling memoir. Readers will be caught up in Cappucci’s adventures as he experiences and clearly explains all kinds of weather events. A precocious weather nerd, he gave a presentation to the American Meteorological Society at age 15, and created an atmospheric sciences major at Harvard, including classes at M.I.T. At 25, he currently holds at least three jobs reporting on the weather. His recent article in the Washington Post describes unseasonably cold October weather in the Eastern U.S., complete with colorful maps and charts. As Cappucci, well equipped with a hail cover for his windshield, a hard hat and safety goggles, carefully plots paths of potential tornadoes or travels to Alaska or North Dakota for the northern lights, her shares plenty of interesting information on meteorology, vividly described. He is enthusiastic about all kinds of weather (and his beloved Waffle House), and it’s infectious. If, like me, you viewed the August 2017 solar eclipse from partly cloudy Woodridge, well outside the path of totality, Cappucci is likely to inspire you to travel about 150 miles south or southeast to view the April 2024 solar eclipse.

Brenda

The Bullet That Missed

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The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club meets for a third time in their upscale retirement village to charm readers while the 70-somethings gather to discuss and solve another cold case. This time Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim, and Joyce are looking at the disappearance of TV journalist Bethany Waites, whose car was found at the bottom of a cliff 10 years earlier. Bethany was investigating a money-laundering scheme. One of their earlier cases has had unintended consequences, as Elizabeth and husband Stephen have been threatened by a mysterious Viking, who demands that Elizabeth kill Viktor, or else. Viktor is a retired Russian Colonel, who was in the KGB when Elizabeth was a British spy. How Elizabeth approaches this dilemma makes for delightful reading, especially as Joyce records the scenes in her diary. Joyce gets to meet a TV personality when they’re looking into Bethany Waite’s case, and gets to swim in a private rooftop swimming pool. Former union organizer Ron gets to play snooker and drink whiskey with Russian Viktor, and a (possibly former) gangster. While the three men seem to have little in common, they certainly enjoy their time together. Elizabeth’s husband Stephen, who has dementia, gets more scenes here, including an adventure connected to rare books. Other characters from the first two books return, some in new and unexpected relationships. This novel is humorous and witty, and full of strong, dangerous men and women. That many of the characters are well over 70 simply adds to their charm. While not a cozy British mystery, it’s entertaining and heartwarming. Start with The Thursday Murder Club for maximum enjoyment. More entries are planned.

Brenda

Marmee

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Marmee: A Novel of Little Women by Sarah Miller

Do you have a favorite character in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women? Perhaps Jo, Amy, Beth or Meg. Here’s another looks at the March sisters from their mother’s point of view. Written as Marmee’s diary entries from late 1861 until December 1868, this heartfelt novel gives Marmee depth and a more fully developed personality, with her character based on that of Louisa May’s mother Abigail May Alcott, an abolitionist, suffragist, and activist. Imagine being, essentially, a single mother of four girls during the Civil War, struggling to make ends meet and worrying about your husband. Marmee looks back at her life to reveal the secret reason their social and financial circumstances changed. A friendship with the Hummel family becomes very meaningful to Marmee, as does her relationship with housekeeper Hannah. More satisfying than recent film adaptations while still a tearjerker at times, it’s a real pleasure to visit with the March family again. Readalikes include The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper, Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, and Caroline: Little House, Revisited, also by Sarah Miller.

Brenda

Fall Cookbooks

 

Fall Cookbooks: A Baker’s Dozen

While many of us find inspiration and recipes online, browsing a new cookbook can be a wonderful experience. Here are 11 new cookbooks, 2 baking books featuring cookies, and one review.

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Smitten Kitchen Keepers is another winner from Deb Perelman, the author of Smitten Kitchen Every Day. While not vegetarian, this cookbook is vegetarian friendly. I tried five recipes, and four are definitely keepers at my house: Green Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Butter (I’ve made this twice!), Breakfast Potato “Chips” with Sheet Pan Eggs, Zucchini Cornbread with Tomato Butter, and Date and Oat Shortbread Cookies, which were a hit with my coworkers at the library. Butterscotch Apple Crisp was good, but not great. There are plenty of suggestions for variations, along with Deb’s usual wonderful and witty headnotes. She has a small kitchen and cooks for a family of four, including one picky eater, who happily ate the pasta pictured above, which has plenty of garlic and spinach. This will be published November 15. 

More Fall Cookbooks

Clark, Melissa. Dinner in One

Flay, Bobby. Sundays with Sophie

Garden, Ina. Go-To Dinners

Karadsheh, Suzy. The Mediterranean Dish

King, Maren Ellingboe. Fresh Midwest

Rosenthal, Phil. Somebody Feed Phil the Book

Sarna, Shannon. Modern Jewish Comfort Food

Tandoh, Ruby. Cook as You Are

Williams, Odette. Simple Pasta

Yeh, Molly. Home is Where the Eggs Are

 

Fall Baking Books

Berenbaum, Rose Levy. The Cookie Bible

Tosi, Christina. All about Cookies

 

Enjoy! 

Brenda

 

November 2022 Book Discussion

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Please join the Tuesday Evening Book Group at 7pm on November 29* for our discussion of Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. In this first novel, Elizabeth Zott is a chemist in the early 1960s who becomes the host of an unexpectedly popular television cooking show. My earlier review is here.

Copies of the book are available for checkout at the Circulation Desk. eBook and eAudiobook copies are available from Media on Demand/Libby. Please register online or at the Computer Help Desk.

*Note different week. We are meeting on the 5th Tuesday, the week after Thanksgiving.

Hope to see you here!

Brenda