Set in 1936, Darcy and Georgiana are expecting their first child when Darcy must travel to Paris. He invites Georgiana along who will be able to spend time in Paris with her best friend, Belinda. Belinda works for Coco Chanel, the French fashion designer. There are significant fashion shows taking place at the time Georgiana is visiting, so Belinda will be busy with work.
Darcy is on some kind of dangerous assignment in Paris when he asks Georgiana to intercept microfilm at one of Chanel’s fashion shows. Gerda Goldberg’s scientist husband has developed a poison gas detector the Nazis want. Gerda, a friend of Nazi leader Hermann Goring’s wife, will be in attendance at the show, and so will Georgiana. Gerda will have the microfilm and will give it to Georgiana.
The woman sitting in Gerda Goldberg’s seat at the fashion show was not Gerda. A pushy American woman from Pennsylvania took Gerda’s seat and ended up dead. Cyanide meant for Gerda was accidently given to the American.
This is the 16th entry in the “Royal Spyness Mystery” series. This series is just plain fun!
In 1940 during WWII, the Nazis occupied Haarlem, Netherlands. Lien and older sister Elif were teenagers when this happened. Both wanted to become part of the Dutch Resistance. Elif joined first. Before their father passed away, he taught the girls how to shoot. The pair underwent demanding training in order to become essential members of the Resistance. They were called upon to blow up bridges and trains, throw grenades, detonate bombs and occasionally kill someone. Lien became the marksman which became particularly useful on some of their assigned missions.
A great book for fans of WWII fiction!
The book is based on real-life sister operatives, sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen.
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.
Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano is the third book in the Finlay Donovan series. This newest addition picks up where book two leaves off, so it’s best to read them in order. Click on the covers to find these titles in the catalog.
Here’s a quick recap:
Finlay Donovan is a stressed-out writer and mother to two young children with a deadline, writer’s block, and an infuriating ex-husband. She does not need any more drama in her life, but that’s exactly what she gets after a meeting with her agent in a crowded coffee shop. Overhearing Finlay describe the plot of her new book, a customer mistakes her for a contract killer. Before she knows it, Finlay accidentally finds herself involved in a real life crime! Book two brings back Finlay and the motely crew she gathered in the book one-Vero, her nanny with a secret past and Detective Nick Anthony, the dreamy hot cop. This time it appears that Finlay is not the only one who’s done with her Stephen, her ex. On top of everything else, he seems to have attracted the attention of the Russian mob! Which brings us to book three. The unresolved issues of the previous book are still in play, so it seems like a risky move to enroll in the Citizen’s Police Academy, but that’s exactly what Finlay and Vero do. Danger, romance, and hilarity ensue. Vero’s past secret is revealed, as is the identity of the mysterious hitman, EasyClean, but fans will rejoice in the knowledge that there are still loose ends and further adventures of Finlay and Vero to come.
This series is pure addictive escapism. Non-stop shenanigans, close calls, and toddler antics are par for the course with Finlay and Vero. Fans of witty banter, will-they-won’t-they sexual tension, and the ugly realities of parenthood with enjoy this series. Finlay and Vero are quite the dynamic duo and the love interests are dreamy.
Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun is available January 31, 2023. Thank you to Netgalley and Minotaur Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Mrs. Ada Harris has lived alone in London since her husband went missing in WWII. Working tirelessly as a house-cleaner to make her living, Mrs. Harris hasn’t allowed herself to want much. But in 1957, when her husband is finally declared deceased and she stumbles into some unexpected money, she decides to treat herself –to a couture Christian Dior dress after spotting one in an apartment she cleans.
Mrs. Harris jets off to Paris and is almost laughed out of the designer’s storefront for being far too ordinary for such a fancy dress. It is only the cash in her hand that gets her dress ordered from the famous design house, which is coincidentally having a hard time making financial ends meet.
As Mrs. Harris patiently waits for her dress to be fitted and sewn, her generosity, honesty, wholesomeness and hopeful outlook can’t help but change all who she encounters and will unwittingly make a lasting mark on the future of the House of Dior’s business plan.
This charming film, which is based on the 1958 novel Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Parisby Paul Gallico, is like a breath of fresh air that will transport you to 1950s England and Paris with impeccable acting, lush sets, and gorgeous period costuming. Watch this old-fashioned story about self-love, hope and not letting life pass you by. In the end, Mrs. Harris Goes to Pariswill leave you feeling that everything will be just fine.
Non Fiction: Gender Studies, LGBTQ+, History “Hugh Ryan’s When Brooklyn Was Queer is a groundbreaking exploration of the LGBT history of Brooklyn, from the early days of Walt Whitman in the 1850s up through the queer women who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, and beyond. No other book, movie, or exhibition has ever told this sweeping story. Not only has Brooklyn always lived in the shadow of queer Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Harlem, but there has also been a systematic erasure of its queer history–a great forgetting.
Ryan is here to unearth that history for the first time. In intimate, evocative, moving prose he discusses in new light the fundamental questions of what history is, who tells it, and how we can only make sense of ourselves through its retelling; and shows how the formation of the Brooklyn we know today is inextricably linked to the stories of the incredible people who created its diverse neighborhoods and cultures. Through them, When Brooklyn Was Queer brings Brooklyn’s queer past to life, and claims its place as a modern classic.”
Fiction: Horror/Paranormal “IN AMERICA, DEMONS WEAR WHITE HOODS. In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die. Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up. Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?”
Fiction: Teen, Fantasy, Witches “On the way home from a party, seventeen-year-old Ivy and her soon-to-be ex nearly run over a nude young woman standing in the middle of a tree-lined road. It’s only the first in a string of increasingly eerie events and offerings: a dead rabbit in the driveway, a bizarre concoction buried by her mother in the backyard, a box of childhood keepsakes hidden in her parents’ closet safe. Most unsettling of all, corroded recollections of Ivy and her enigmatic mother’s past resurface, with the help of the boy next door.
What if there’s more to Ivy’s mother than meets the eye? And what if the supernatural forces she messed with during her own teen years have come back to haunt them both? Ivy must grapple with these questions and more if she’s going to escape the darkness closing in.
Straddling Ivy’s contemporary suburban town and her mother’s magic-drenched 1990s Chicago, this bewitching and propulsive story rockets towards a conclusion guaranteed to keep readers up all night.”
Fiction: Fantasy “Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.
Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon–like all other book eater women–is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories.
But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger–not for books, but for human minds.”
Fiction: Historical “Isobel Gamble is a young seamstress carrying generations of secrets when she sets sail from Scotland in the early 1800s with her husband, Edward. An apothecary who has fallen under the spell of opium, his pile of debts have forced them to flee Glasgow for a fresh start in the New World. But only days after they’ve arrived in Salem, Edward abruptly joins a departing ship as a medic–leaving Isobel penniless and alone in a strange country, forced to make her way by any means possible.
When she meets a young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is a man haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows–while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. As the weeks pass and Edward’s safe return grows increasingly unlikely, Nathaniel and Isobel grow closer and closer. Together, they are a muse and a dark storyteller; the enchanter and the enchanted. But which is which?
In this sensuous and hypnotizing tale, a young immigrant woman grapples with our country’s complicated past, and learns that America’s ideas of freedom and liberty often fall short of their promise. Interwoven with Isobel and Nathaniel’s story is a vivid interrogation of who gets to be a “real” American in the first half of the 19th century, a depiction of the early days of the Underground Railroad in New England, and atmospheric interstitials that capture the long history of “unusual” women being accused of witchcraft. Meticulously researched yet evocatively imagined, Laurie Lico Albanese’s Hester is a timeless tale of art, ambition, and desire that examines the roots of female creative power and the men who try to shut it down.”
Fiction: Science Fiction, Humanity/Identity “Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source — zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault. What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Debut novelist Bethany Morrow has created an allegory for our own time, exploring profound questions of ownership, and how they relate to identity, memory and history, all in the shadows of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.”
Fiction: Horror/Apocalyptic, Transgender “Beth and Fran spend their days traveling the ravaged New England coast, hunting feral men and harvesting their organs in a gruesome effort to ensure they’ll never face the same fate.
Robbie lives by his gun and one hard-learned motto: other people aren’t safe.
After a brutal accident entwines the three of them, this found family of survivors must navigate murderous TERFs, a sociopathic billionaire bunker brat, and awkward relationship dynamics–all while outrunning packs of feral men, and their own demons.”
Fiction: Asian American, Literary “Twenty-one-year-old Reed is fed up. Angry about the killing of a Black man by an Asian American NYPD officer, he wants to drop out of college and devote himself to the Black Lives Matter movement. But would that truly bring him closer to the moral life he seeks?
In a series of intimate, charged conversations, his mother–once the leader of a Korean-Black coalition–demands that he rethink his outrage, and along with it, what it means to be an organizer, a student, an ally, an American, and a son. As Reed zips around his hometown of Los Angeles with his mother, searching and questioning, he faces a revelation that will change everything.
Inspired by his family’s roots in activism, Ryan Lee Wong offers an extraordinary debut novel for readers of Anthony Veasna So, Rachel Kushner, and Michelle Zauner: a book that is as humorous as it is profound, a celebration of seeking a life that is both virtuous and fun, an ode to mothering and being mothered.
Fiction: Thriller, Historical, LGBTQ+ “Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene’s recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret–but it’s not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they’ve needed to keep others out. And now they’re worried they’re keeping a murderer in.
Irene’s widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept–his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand.
Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He’s seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn’t extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy–and Irene’s death is only the beginning.
When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business.”
Fiction: Mystery/Thriller, Anisfield-Wolf Winner “Percival Everett’s The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till.
The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence, and does so in a fast-paced style that ensures the reader can’t look away. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America’s pulse.”
Fiction: Science Fiction, Robots, Gender Non-Conforming “After A Psalm for the Wild-Built comes this tale of hope and acceptance in the second volume of the USA Today bestselling Monk and Robot series. After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home. They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe. Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?”
Fiction: Psychological, Women, Japan, Pacific NW “In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace–and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox–possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.”
This historical fiction novel is told from the perspective of Betty Gow, the Lindbergh’s 26-year-old Scottish nanny. Betty observed early on that the Lindbergh’s were very distant from their child and their home. Betty was ready to fill the gap and fell quickly in love with the little boy. She was the one who was responsible for the daily care of the toddler, Charles Lindbergh Jr.
On Tuesday, March 1, 1932, the child was kidnapped from the family home. The Lindbergh’s had built a twenty-room stone house on 390 remote acres near Hopewell, New Jersey. They were looking for privacy after Charles’ transatlantic flight from New York to Paris five years earlier. He was considered a hero.
The first suspect in the kidnapping was the nanny, Betty Gow. She was determined to clear her name from suspicion and help uncover what happened that night. All window shutters in the baby’s room were closed tight except for one. That shutter was warped and impossible to close. It was determined that the kidnapper came through that window and took the child leaving a ransom note demanding $50,000.
The toddler was eventually found dead seventy-three days later. The accused kidnapper, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was arrested two and a half years later. Hauptmann was executed for the murder on Friday, April 3, 1936.
This is a treat for fans of historical fiction. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the kidnapping and death of Charles Lindbergh Jr. The author offers a possible solution based a much research.
79-year-old former Hollywood actor Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell her story. She handpicks an inexperienced magazine journalist, Monique Grant, to write her biography. Monique is confused but delighted to be hired to write the legendary film actor’s life story. One requirement Evelyn insists upon is that the book must be published after her death. Evelyn also promises that all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Monique.
Evelyn has much to share. She was born to Cuban immigrants in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. She knew she needed more than that life. So, in the 1950’s Evelyn changed her appearance, got married, and headed to Hollywood. The book follows her life for the next 30+ years. Beautiful Evelyn became an adored Oscar winning movie icon who just happened to get married seven times.
This is an incredible story of old Hollywood glamour. Finally at the end of the book, Monique discovers why she was chosen to write Evelyn’s story.
I’m the first to admit when I’m in a reading slump. Like right now. Good thing there are so many leaves in my yard to rake. And, good thing that I have been keeping myself busy by binging a couple of awesome TV series that are based on books.
Based on musician sisters Tegan and Sara Quin’s best-selling memoir of the same name, High School tells the coming-of-age story of identical twins who are struggling to find themselves amidst the backdrop of ‘90s grunge culture. This honest, sometimes raw and moving show is about queer adolescence and explores themes of family, love and friendship. It has a killer soundtrack that sparks all the nostalgic feels. Fans of My So-Called Life, the band Tegan and Sara, or anyone looking for a story about discovering one’s self should check out High School, which is free to stream on Freevee. Oh, and if you want to read the memoir or listen to Tegan and Sara’s music, we’ve got those at the library for you to check out, too.
In other TV news, Masterpiece Mystery! has adapted Anthony Horowitz’s 2017 mystery novel Magpie Murders into a satisfying series that will soon be available on DVD from the library. The plot revolves around Susan Ryeland, a British book editor who is has been handed best-selling author Alan Conway’s latest novel. The day Susan finishes reading the manuscript and realizes that it is missing its last chapter – the part where readers learn “whodunit,” is the same day she learns that Conway has been found dead. When Susan goes in search of the book’s final pages, she unknowingly involves herself in a murder investigation. Both the book and TV show feature a story within the story and the action moves seamlessly between the historical novel and present day, despite multiple characters playing dual roles. If you enjoy British mysteries (à la Agatha Christie), a clever twisty plot, engaging characters and a satisfying conclusion, I recommend reading the book first. Then, tune into PBS Sunday evenings or place a hold on the DVD to catch Magpie Murders on the small screen. And, as a second season is in the works, prepare to become obsessed.