Royal Holiday

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

This is a fun, frothy contemporary romance, a very appealing read. Social worker Vivian Forest accompanies her daughter Maddie to England for a December vacation after Maddie gets a chance to be stylist to a young duchess for the Christmas season. Vivian meets Malcolm, the Queen’s private secretary, and he gives her a tour of the Sandringham estate, takes her riding, and the pair exchange notes delivered by footmen. Vivian is very down-to-earth, funny and considerate. Malcolm is a bit more formal and private, but is clearly smitten by Vivian. It’s so refreshing to have the main characters in a contemporary romance be in their fifties. The Sandringham and London settings make an amazing frame for the slightly predictable story so that the reader can enjoy armchair travel along with a joyful but not steamy romance. What Anglophile wouldn’t enjoy a private museum tour, or getting to park inside the gates at Buckingham Palace? What will happen when Vivian goes back to California with the possibility of a job promotion? Sadly, no scone recipe is included, but all the other ingredients for a perfect holiday read are there, from helping pick out a dress for the duchess to fireworks over the Thames River. Enjoy!

Brenda

Staff Favorites

Staff Favorites, 2019

These are some of the most memorable books we read or listened to in 2019. Look for a Staff Favorites display in January. Happy reading! Brenda

Fiction
Aciman, André. Call Me By Your Name (Korey)
Bardugo, Leigh. Ninth House (Denise)
Brennert, Alan. Daughter of Moloka’i (Brenda)
Chevalier, Tracy. A Single Thread (Brenda)
Collins, Bridget. The Binding (Meghan)
Frankel, Laurie. This is How It Always Is (Brenda)
Franqui, Leah. America for Beginners (Brenda)
Harris, Robert. Second Sleep (Brenda)
Heller, Peter. The River (George)
Hill, Joe. Full Throttle: Stories (George)
Jones, Tayari. An American Marriage (Meghan)
King, Stephen. The Institute (George)
Kwan, Kevin. Crazy Rich Asians (Debbie)
Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus (Korey)
Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere (Katie)
Prior, Hazel. Ellie and the Harpmaker (Brenda)
Ryan, Jennifer. The Spies of Shilling Lane (Brenda)
Setterfield, Diane. Once Upon a River (Katie)
Stein, Garth. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Debbie)
Waxman, Abbi. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (Brenda)
Williams, Beatriz. The Golden Hour (Brenda)

Graphic Novels
Arakawa, Hiromu. Silver Spoon (Denise)
Semikawa, Natsuya. Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu (Denise)

Mystery
Harper, Jane. The Lost Man (Brenda)
Hillerman, Anne. The Tale Teller (Brenda)
Montclair, Allison. The Right Sort of Man (Brenda)

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Chambers, Becky. Records of a Spaceborn Few (Brenda)
Cherryh, C.J. and Jane Fancher. Alliance Rising (Brenda)
Polk, C.L. Witchmark (Meghan)

Teen Fiction
Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon (Korey)
Lee, Stacey. Under a Painted Sky (Katie)
Shusterman, Neal. Scythe (Korey)
Thomas, Angie. On the Come Up (Katie)

Non-Fiction

Alexievich, Svetlana. Voices from Chernobyl (Denise)
DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (Denise)
Dumas, Firoozeh. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America (Katie)
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (George)
Higginbotham, Adam. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster (George)
Ingraham, Christopher. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now : Why We Traded the Commuting Life for a Little House on the Prairie (Brenda)
Keefe, Patrick Radden. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (George)
Land, Stephanie. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive (Brenda)
Magnuson, Margareta. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (Korey)
Mickelson, Phil. One Magical Sunday: (But Winning Isn’t Everything) (Debbie)
Pan, Jessica. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come : One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes (Katie)
Perry, Alex. The Good Mothers : The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia (Debbie)
Rich, Nathaniel. Losing Earth: A Recent History (George)
Rubenhold, Hallie. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (Meghan)

This Tender Land

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

The author of Ordinary Grace sets this adventure novel with echoes of Huckleberry Finn and The Odyssey in 1932 Minnesota and Missouri. Four kids head south in a canoe, fleeing loss and harsh treatment at the Lincoln Indian Training School. Odie and his older brother Albert are orphans heading to a barely remembered aunt in St. Louis, while young Emmy clings to Sioux teen Mose after she’s lost everything in a tornado. Mose is mute, and the group share an often secret sign language. They meet a healer with a revival tent show, a madam, traveling families and vagabonds, and find temporary haven in a soup kitchen and friendship in a Hoover town. Odie is a storyteller, Albert can fix most mechanical equipment, Mose goes on a vision quest, and young Emmy reminds an eccentric farmer of his missing daughter. Poignant and lyrically written, this story of an unlikely family on an epic journey has moments of conflict balanced with simple joys, unpredictable adventures, and the possibility of danger around every river bend. This remarkable character-driven novel is a compelling read.

Brenda

Dear Edward

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

What does it mean to start over at age twelve, having lost everything important, but suddenly famous? Eddie Adler is flying from New York City to Los Angeles with his older brother Jordan and his parents. His mother is in first class, working on a television script. Their flight is doomed, and Eddie will be the only survivor. The stories of several passengers and a flight attendant alternate with Eddie’s recovery. Eddie, now Edward, struggles with the burden of being the sole survivor. He lives with his aunt and uncle in New Jersey and is befriended by next-door neighbor Shay. What finally gives Edward a purpose is a cache of letters Shay and Edward find hidden in the garage, written to him by the families and friends of the other passengers. Although it’s hard to put down, this is not a thriller but rather a moving and melancholy coming-of-age story written with compassion, insight, and a glimmer of hope.
Brenda

Heartwarming Holiday Stories

In Christmas from the Heart by Sheila Roberts, Livi Berg is stunned when her charity’s biggest sponsor sends a frosty email with the news that they’re not sending a donation to Christmas from the Heart. Guy Hightower, running a family business with his brothers, regrets the email, but not his lavish lifestyle. When his sports car breaks down outside Pine River, Washington, Livi gives him a ride to her friend’s auto repair shop. Guy gives a fake name and is absorbed into village life while his car is repaired, even helping to judge a fruitcake contest. Predictably, Guy falls for Livi and Pine River, but hesitates to reveal his true identity in this cozy, heartwarming romance.

In Christmas Cow Bells, the first in a new cozy mystery series by Mollie Cox Bryan, Brynn MacAlister is settling into Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, along with her three cows. Brynn is a cheesemaker, getting ready for the farm market shop set to open soon in an old church. When her neighbor Nancy is critically injured in a fire at the old church, Brynn is as uneasy as her cow Petunia, and starts investigating, with help from Nancy’s teen grandsons and other local farmers. This is an appealing, very gentle mystery just right for holiday reading, especially as another cow, Buttercup, is rehearsing for a holiday pageant.

For more holiday reads, see my December book display of heartwarming holiday stories. Up next in my to be read pile is Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews, in which blacksmith Meg and her extended family get snowed in at a Virginia inn hosting an ornithology conference.

Happy holiday reading!
Brenda

America for Beginners

America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel about a Bengali widow who takes a cross-country trip from New York City to Los Angeles with a young Bangladeshi guide and a struggling actress as her companion. The trio stay at basic chain hotels and eat a lot of mediocre Indian food, visiting all the usual tourist sites. Pival has lost contact with her son, who may be in Los Angeles, and wants to confront his partner Jake. This is her first time away from Kolkata, India and I enjoyed seeing the country through Pival’s point of view. Rebecca, when not acting or picking up men in bars, works at a map store in New York City while young Satya is on his first tour outside the city, and is always hungry. This is a poignant, heartwarming, and occasionally funny character-driven story about outer and inner journeys. I’m looking forward to the author’s next novel, set in Mumbai, India.
Brenda

 

American Royals

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Princess Beatrice, 21, will one day rule the United States. Her brother Jefferson and sister Samantha, both 19, have far less pressure and have time for romance and travel, recently evading their security detail in Thailand. Their family is descended from George Washington, America’s first king, in this alternate history. Beatrice is encouraged to meet future suitors at a ball, as duty comes before love, or must it? A sequel is planned for this novel by the author of the Thousandth Floor trilogy, set 100 years in the future. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the characters are well-crafted and relatable. With plenty of drama, intrigue, and romance, this is an entertaining read, perfect for royal watchers.
Brenda