What We’re Reading Now
Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Jessica George’s Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong. Linnea
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
A strange, twisting novel that resists being pigeonholed into one genre. At its simplest, this is the tale of a girl and her adopted siblings trying to find their missing father. A little bit of horror, fantasy, and science fiction are mixed with metaphysical, philosophical ponderings for a truly excellent, one-of-a-kind reading experience. Shannon
Looking for the Hidden Folk by Nancy Brown
Part memoir, part travelog, part call for conservation, part investigation into the study of belief on a material, spiritual, and conceptual level, Looking for the Hidden Folk is a book that defies sitting in a single genre. Author Nancy Marie Brown share her decades long love of Iceland by giving a historical and literal background along with her own travels and multiple visits. All of this is centered around the belief in elves. Brown takes multiple approaches to this topic but doesn’t offer a solid answer to emerge. This becomes a strength for the book, allowing readers to make their own decision or to maintain a solid position of ambiguity. A great read for someone who has visited/will visit Iceland. Greg
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
Vera Crowder always loved the house her father built. But the Crowder house was created to hide the secret life of a serial killer. Vera just happened to call him Dad. When her estranged mother Daphne calls to tell her she’s dying, Vera ends up back at the house where it all began. Now a twisted tourist attraction, the house has two occupants: Daphne and Duvall, an artist capitalizing on the family’s dark history. As Daphne packs up the place she once called home, she revisits the haunting moments shared inside the walls. This twisty horror novel gives new meaning to the phrase “home is where the heart is.” Melinda
The Golden Spoon by Jessica Maxwell
It’s the 10th season of Bake Week and six new amateur bakers have been selected to compete for The Golden Spoon. As before, they’ll gather under a big white tent in the mountains of Vermont on the grounds of Grafton Manor, family estate of legendary baker and host of the competition, Betsy Martin. Surprised by the addition of a co-host, supposedly to bring in younger viewers, Betsy is unhappy with how the season is going long before murder is committed. Quirky characters, fun pop culture references, and a few surprising plot twists, keep the pages turning. Readers who enjoy The Great British Bake Off and classic closed room mysteries should pick this one up asap! Stacey
The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner
I loved Sarah Penner’s book The Lost Apothecary so I am eager to crack open her latest The London Séance Society. It opens in 1873, where the unlikely pair of Vaudeline D’Allaire, a renowned spiritualist, and Lenna Wickes, a woman investigating her sister’s death, team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve a high-profile murder. It’s sure to be a spooky and suspenseful read. Carol
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels: In 1986, Brian, a gay man who has spent the last six years in NYC, comes home to Ohio. The story is about reconciliation, grief, acceptance, and home.
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: In 1912, Agent Fatma of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, along with her girlfriend, Siti, must solve the murders of a secret brotherhood. The suspected murderer is Al-Jahiz, who opened the veil between the mystical and earthly realms 50 years ago and is now vowing to destroy the world because of it’s social oppressions.
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy: Saint Sebastian’s School is targeted by a serial arson and it’s up to Sister Holiday, of the Sisters of the Sublime Blood, to solve the case. This punk rocker nun must do all of this while confronting her checkered past and not get caught smoking…. Christine
Emily, a jaded Instagram astrologer, becomes obsessed with a client after reading his “perfect” birth chart. She pursues him romantically, with terrible consequences. In a parallel narrative, Dawn’s decades of unhinged dating behavior turn into a reputation that increasingly precedes her. Nobody is who they want you to think they are in this dark satire about image, excuses, and taking all the bad advice we can get. Annelise
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
A psychological thriller about a desperate mother, Isabelle Drake, who’s son Mason has been missing for a year, taken from his crib while he was sleeping, and the case has never been solved. She hasn’t slept for more than minutes at a time since her son went missing, and she is beginning to lose her grip on reality and to wonder what really happened that night. Her marriage has fallen apart and a true-crime podcaster has come to town offering to interview her and help bring publicity to the case. However, Isabelle has secrets in her past that may not stand up to the scrutiny of a podcast. Isabelle is desperate to know what happened to Mason, but will her deepest fears be true? Sara
YA Book Review: Live Your Best Lie by Jessie Weaver
Summer Cartwright is a 16-year-old influencer living a charmed Hollywood, California life. She’s rich, well-connected, and she just signed a massive book deal for an upcoming tell-all style memoir. When a new post from Summer’s Instagram account announces that the social media star will be dead in the next five minutes, the guests are her Halloween party think it’s just part of the entertainment. Her friends know different. That’s not Summer’s brand. Something is wrong. There were right-Summer was actually dead. As the police begin to investigate, those closest to Summer begin their own search for the killer. The suspect list keeps growing as the motive for the murder appears to be the book she was working on. If Summer was dead, would the book and the dark secrets it was set to reveal go away?
Told from the points of view of Summer’s bff, Grace, Summer’s ex-boyfriend Adam, Summer’s number one fan, Cora, and her one-time roommate, Lanie, Live Your Best Lie is a twisted, suspenseful debut. The narrator does an excellent job of juggling the various character points of view as well as flashbacks, but the inclusion of social media posts and comments, police interviews, and newspaper articles make for an interesting read. A delightfully wicked read as well as a timely cautionary tale-social media never tells the whole story and influencers only show what they want you to see.
Hand this to fans of Karen McManus and Maureen Johnson and anyone else who likes to solve the puzzle along with the characters. The clues are there for the clever reader, but so are the red herrings. Readers who make it to the end will be rewarded with a final twist you won’t see coming.
Thank you to Netgalley, Disney Audiobooks, and Melissa de la Cruz Studios for an advanced reader copy.
Getting Cozy With Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
Viv is ready to hang up her sword and quit the mercenary life for something quieter-and sweeter. Armed with a legend, an artifact, and a little known Gnomish beverage, Viv sets about opening her coffee shop on a ley line in Thune. Her new venture attracts a motley cast of characters, including a baker, a business-minded succubus, and the head of the local mob.
This book is as comforting as a latte and a warm cinnamon roll on a wintery day. Having spent nearly a decade working in coffee shops myself, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Viv’s shop open and evolve. I savored the pages dedicated to the pure joy of a cinnamon roll. I laughed each time Thandri had to change the chalkboard menu and delighted in meeting their customers. While this does take the better half of the book, it’s not all coffee and sweets. As Viv and her crew learn the ropes of the business, trouble is quietly brewing. But Viv isn’t just building a business-she’s building a community and family who have her back when tragedy strikes.
I cannot stress enough how absolutely charming and delightful this book is. If you enjoy a good slice of life story with quirky characters and happy ending, this one is for you. I recommend taking this book to a local coffee shop to be enjoyed with a latte.
Time to Try Something Different
I read If, Then by Kate Hope Day this weekend and cannot stop thinking about this debut work of speculative fiction.
In present-day Oregon, several neighbors who live in the shadow of Broken Mountain, a long-dormant volcano, begin having visions of themselves living alternate realities. These vision worlds are ‘could have been’s for some and ‘still could be’s to others, leaving the affected characters to wonder if they still have time to make better choices in their lives.
Among those with visions is Mark, a dad and scientist who is studying the effects of geothermal activity on animal behavior. Mark has visions of himself living in a tent in the wilderness. Convinced by this other Mark that a life changing environmental event is about to occur, he begins to build an underground shelter for his family. Meanwhile, his surgeon wife Ginny sees a different, happier version of herself, one in which she has left Mark to be with a coworker.
While not much action occurs in this well-written novel, I was swept up the possibility of what was to come with every page I turned. Pick up If, Then for an engrossing read with themes of regret, choice, and consequences. It’s good domestic drama that just happens to ask you to question the possibility of alternative universes along the way.
What we’re reading now…..
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
In the dystopian world of Celeste Ng’s latest novel, books are banned, children are re-homed, and Asian Americans are outcasts. Amidst it all, twelve-year old Bird is left with a handful of memories of his mother. Her presence and poetry have faded from his life, but a familiar image sparks his curiosity and forces him to revisit her disappearance. Melinda
The Making of Her by Bernadette Jiwa
Raised in a Dublin housing estate by an alcoholic father toward the end of the 1940s, Joan and her sister had to grow up fast. Working in a factory by age fourteen it made sense she would find the love of her life at eighteen. Martin Egan, son of a successful business owner, promised Joan the world until she became pregnant and he persuaded her to place the baby up for adoption. Thirty years later when their secret child makes contact, how will they each respond? Family relationships are seen from the women’s perspective and as we get to know the characters better, we understand how difficult and limited their choices truly were, making Joan, in particular, even more endearing. If you enjoy spending time with interesting characters, this is the book for you! Stacey
Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid
A sheltered wizard’s daughter falls in love with a ballet dancer while a monster stalks the streets and the bodies of brutalized men appear all over the city. A reimagining of the classic fairy tale “The Juniper Tree.” Shannon
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
Marra is a princess on a quest to save her sister with the help of a reluctant grave-witch and a dog she creates out of bone and wire. Along the way, their party grows, with the addition of Marra’s fairy godmother, whose blessings turn out to be curses and a loveable disgraced knight, whose heart is in desperate need of rescuing. Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher is an adult, revenge-filled fairy-tale that is equal parts action-packed, humorous, and original – a perfect feminist fantasy novel. Carol
The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White
In the 19th century, Sioux Falls, SD, became a haven for women seeking a divorce. Among the laxest laws in the country, women came from all the States and Europe to gain their freedom during a time that women had few rights. The book explores not only the social drama but political and religious drama, while telling detailed and entertaining stories of the women who took hold of their futures. Christine
Murder in the Park by Jeanne M. Dams
This story takes place in 1925 in Oak Park, an affluent suburb of Chicago. Elizabeth Fairchild is a close friend of Mr. Anthony, owner of a quaint antique store. Mr. Anthony is found stabbed to death and the local police think they have the killer. Elizabeth and a few others, including Mrs. Hemingway are certain the police have arrested the wrong man. At this point in the story the search is on for the real killer. Please stay tuned… Emma
The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo
In post-WWII Japan, Detective Kindaichi is called and warned that the reading of a local magnate’s will is certain to set off a series of murders. Though skeptical of the prognostication, Detective Kindaichi travels to the small town and awaits the reading. However, immediately upon his arrival, he is witness to a life-threatening accident that portends the danger to the magnate’s family yet to come. The detective must first uncover the family secrets to unravel the mystery. Trent
The Winners by Fredrik Backman
The final installment in the Beartown trilogy, about the resilient and closely knit community that puts hockey above all else. Taking place over two weeks, Beartown residents must prove their love for each other and for their town, struggling to move on from the past in the wake of numerous changes. Told in Backman’s signature reflective style, it’s hard to put this one down. Linnea
Dirt Creek by Hayley Scrivenor
When a 12-year-old girl goes missing in a rural Australian town during the worst heat wave in decades, tempers flare and townspeople with skeletons in their closets, and long histories together, begin to fall apart, and also to come together to search for the young girl. Kept me guessing for quite awhile. Sara
New Historical Fiction
Pilot Ward Millar makes a last-minute decision to bail out over North Korea. Unfortunately, even with a parachute, Ward breaks both of his ankles and is easily captured by the North Koreans and Chinese. Ward needs medical attention which his captors provide haphazardly if he shares information, mostly false information, with them.
At home when Ward’s wife, Barbara, receives notification that her husband is missing in action, she believes he still alive. Barbara is a woman of deep and sustaining faith and refuses to believe that Ward is dead despite what family and friends have to say.
North Korean soldier Kim Jae Pil is a Christian. He and his family have kept their faith secret to survive. Kim is forced to serve as a solder but wants to and plans to escape from the army and reunite with his family. Ward and Kim eventually meet and together plan their escape.
This novel is based on the true story of an American POW during the Korean War and a North Korean soldier who became unlikely allies. They were united in their shared faith in God during a daring escape to freedom. The novel is a story of courage, determination, unlikely friendship, and enduring faith.