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Library - Brown Bag Booktalk
Stephanie, Judy, and Evelyn holding stacks of books and paper bags that spell out Brown Bag Booktalk

Looking for something new to read? Why not join Stephanie, Judy, Evelyn, and others at one of our quarterly Brown Bag Booktalks? You bring your lunch; we'll bring the coffee and some fresh-brewed book recommendations. At the end of the session, we’ll open the discussion for some recommendations of your own, so feel free to bring a book to share with the group!

The next booktalk will be Thursday, Nov. 3, at 1:15 p.m. at the Velma Teague Library. In the meantime, enjoy the booklist from the last booktalk! "JAC" are Judy's picks, "SCR" are Stephanie's picks, and "EL" are Evelyn's picks. Click on a book's title or cover image to find it in our library catalog.

For more information, please call 623-930-3430.

Brown Bag Booklist from August 4
Enchanted Islands : a novel

Amend, Allison Enchanted Islands (Fiction Amend) - When young Francis Frankowski left home with her best friend, Rosalie Mendel, she never dreamed that she would end up living in a makeshift hut on the Galapagos Islands during World War II. The Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, were vital to the allies because of their proximity to the Panama Canal.  When the Office of Naval Intelligence in San Francisco asked Frankowski to marry one of their agents and then move to Floreana Island, it was to monitor the actions of nine Germans who also called the island home. Based upon real characters, the novel explores life on the primitive island during and after the war. - SCR

The summer guest : a novel

Anderson, Alison The Summer Guest (Fiction Anderson) – This is a novel about three women tied together by the Russian short story writer and dramatist Anton Chekov. In 1888 a beautiful friendship develops between a young doctor, Zinaida Lintvaryova, and Chekov. Recently blinded by illness, she has returned to her family in the lush countryside of the Ukraine, where the Chekov family is on vacation. Although Zinaida is blind, she writes a journal describing their friendship and hints that Chekov is writing a novel. More than a century later, the diary has been discovered by Katya Kendall. Katya is married to an Englishman and they jointly own a publishing company. They ask Ana Harding to translate the journal into English so it can be published. Ana becomes consumed with Zinaida’s/Chekov’s world and sets off on a journey to find the lost novel. -JAC

A man called Ove : a novel

Backman, Fredrik A Man Called Ove (Fiction Backman) - Following in the footsteps of his late father, Ove has become a principled man.  Unfortunately, he has also become regimented, tight-fisted, and downright irritable.  He lives in a lovely community of small homes in Sweden, but he prefers to spend his days checking that people abide by the rules. One day his routines get shattered by a dark-haired pregnant woman trying to guide her husband’s vehicle out of Ove’s flower beds.  Of course, they are his new next-door neighbors.  Little by little, Ove’s barriers come tumbling down as they worm their way into his heart and the community becomes his family. - SCR

All men fear me

Casey, Donis All Men Fear Me (Fiction Casey) – This is the most recent book (number nine) in the Alafair Tucker Mystery series taking place in Boynton, Oklahoma. The United States has just entered the First World War and has scheduled the first draft lottery. This all exacerbates a clash between rabid pro-war (anti-immigrant) patriots and anti-conscription socialists. Alafair Tucker is caught between her brother, Rob Gunn, who is a union organizer, and her wildly patriotic sons. A group vandalizes the farm of Alafair’s German-born son-in-law. The main industry in the area is the Vitric Brick Company, where Alafair’s youngest son Charlie has just taken a part-time job. Several machines there have suspicious breakdowns, and a couple of supervisors are murdered. Some blame the unionists and socialists and others blame German spies. But Charlie is sure he knows who the culprit is and plans to solve the crimes. - JAC

The last midwife

Dallas, Sandra The Last Midwife (Fiction Dallas) - In a small Colorado mining town in the early 1880s, Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in the area.  Since the age of 10, she has been apprenticing with Nabby, her adoptive mother.  Gracy has always loved bringing forth many of the town’s children.  Though she has not always been successful, she has done her best with the mothers and babies. In 1880, however, she is accused of murdering one of the babies.  The town’s richest citizen has told the sherriff that Gracy left his baby dead with traces of the midwife’s navel string around his neck.  Though Gracy has been a revered member of the community, she must now go on trial for murder. - SCR

The inextinguishable symphony : a true story of music and love in Nazi Germany

Goldsmith, Martin The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany (Nonfiction 940.5318 G624i) – Martin Goldsmith has had a long career as an announcer on the classical music radio stations of NPR and, now, as the classical music program director of Sirius XM. This is the true story of his parents, two musicians who were caught in Nazi Germany. While I have read several accounts of classical music and the Nazi concentration camps, this was a totally different view of what happened in those evil times. Martin’s parents were in an orchestra of Jews (Kubu) that were expected to play music by Jewish composers for Jewish audiences. The orchestra could not play any music by German composers, although music by composers of other nationalities was allowed. The title comes from the title of the last symphony they played before his parents were able to legally escape Germany and the concentration camps. Not all members of Martin’s family were so fortunate. This is Martin’s story of self-discovery, a search that was hampered by the fact that his parents never spoke of their horrific experiences. - JAC

The excellent Lombards

Hamilton, Jane The Excellent Lombards (Fiction Hamilton) - The Lombard family has owned their apple orchard in Wisconsin for the past 4 generations.  Currently under the stewardship of Jim and Sherwood Lombard, it is also partly owned by May Hill.  Like all farms, they are threatened by encroaching development that could mean rising land values, higher taxes, and complaints from new residents.  Despite the odds, Jim’s daughter, Mary Francis, wants no more than to carry on the orchard as part of the next generation’s stewards. - SCR

The next pandemic : on the front lines against humankind's gravest dangers

Khan, Ali Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers (Nonfiction 614.4 K45n) - Dr. Khan was inspired to study medicine by his father.  After he completed his residency in pediatrics and internal medicine, he was selected for a two-year fellowship to work at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.  This was a position that he remained at for almost 25 years until leaving to assume the top spot at the University of Nebraska’s College of Public Health.  Over the years, Dr. Khan was instrumental in helping to map out origins of deadly outbreaks of Ebola, SARS, Zika, and other contagious diseases all over the world. - SCR

The murder of Mary Russell

King, Laurie R. The Murder of Mary Russell (Fiction King) – The title of this book left many of Laurie R. King’s fans fearing that the long-running series of the partnership between Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell was coming to an end. Their long-time housekeeper is Clara Hudson. Mrs. Hudson is out shopping when a strange man arrives at the doorstep, claiming to be her son. Mary Russell answers the door and is told an unbelievable story by Samuel Hudson, who then produces a gun. When the scene is discovered, a pool of blood on the floor and the smell of gunpowder in the air, all clues point directly to Clarissa Hudson (now known as Clara). A frantic Sherlock Holmes puts aside his grief in order to solve the mystery. Nothing will ever be the same. - JAC

Two if by sea

Mitchard, Jacqueline Two If by Sea (Fiction Mitchard) – Just hours after his wife, unborn son and most of her family die in a tsunami on Christmas Eve in Brisbane, Australia, former police officer Frank Mercy rescues a three-year-old boy from a submerged car. Frank can’t really understand why he decides to sidestep the law and take the boy, Ian, home to the Wisconsin horse farm where Frank grew up.  Ian has an extraordinary gift: he has a telepathic ability to calm down animals and make enraged people behave. Frank is only interested in protecting the deeply frightened child. Frank begins training an equestrian woman, Claudia, who is also a psychiatrist, for the Olympics. As it becomes obvious that Ian can get people to do whatever he wants, it becomes imperative that Frank and Claudia find a way to protect him from those who want to subvert his gifts. - JAC

The body in the wardrobe

Page, Katherine Hall The Body in the Wardrobe (Fiction Page) – This long-running series of mysteries features Faith Fairchild, who is a minister’s wife, caterer, mother of two and part-time sleuth. This time she pairs up with her friend, attorney Sophie Maxwell, who has just moved to Savannah, Georgia with her new husband Will. Sophie sees a dead body, but no one else believes her. Her new husband is in Atlanta on business, and Sophie has been given the task of finding a new house for them. Unfortunately, the real estate agent is a former girlfriend of Will’s, so that is not going too well either. Sophie calls Faith for advice, although Faith seems to have enough problems of her own, with teenager Amy being bullied by mean girls and her husband Tom contemplating a major life change. This series is one of my favorite cozies and just happens to include recipes. - JAC

Heroines of Mercy Street : the real nurses of the Civil War

Toler, Pamela D. Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War (Nonfiction 973.776 T649 h) – This is a companion to the Mercy Street series recently seen on PBS. It tells the true stories of the nurses at Mansion House, the Alexandria, Virginia hotel turned wartime hospital. Women like Dorothea Dix, Mary Phinney and Anne Reading rushed to be of service to the Union during the war. They met challenges that would have discouraged less determined women. They saw casualties on a scale Americans had never seen before and diseases like typhoid and dysentery, which were rampant. The book is based on the diaries, letters and books written by these nursing pioneers – especially that of Mary Phinney von Olnhausen. Among the other nurses mentioned are Louisa May Alcott, Clara Barton, Elizabeth Blackwell and Amy Morris Bradley. - JAC

Vinegar girl : The taming of the shrew retold

Tyler, Anne Vinegar Girl (Fiction Tyler) - In this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, the acerbic Kate Battista lives with her flighty younger sister and eccentric scientist father near Johns Hopkins University.  A failed student, she spends her days as a child-care assistant telling her tiny students the facts of life, and her nights running the household. Kate’s management of the home has allowed Kate’s dad to spend long hours squirreled away in his lab researching autoimmune diseases. Just as the three-year visa of his brilliant research assistant, Pyotr Shcerbakov, is set to expire, they near a major breakthrough.  Can Dad and Pyotr somehow manage to entice Kate to marry the assistant so he can stay? - SCR  

Dinner with Edward : the story of a remarkable friendship

Vincent, Isabel Dinner with Edward (Nonfiction Biography 92 Vincent, Isabel) - Isabel met Edward when they were both at a bad time.  He had recently lost his long-time love and spouse, Paula, and Isabel’s marriage was on the rocks.  From their first meeting, Edward cooked her wonderful Southern meals when she visited.  Each chapter features a menu that Edward cooked at his place while describing what was going on in their lives. This is a lovely tribute to an old-fashioned and proper gentleman who found the courage to go on living after his spouse died. – SCR

Also Recommended
The Cavendon luck

Bradford, Barbara Taylor The Cavendon Luck (Fiction Bradford) – This is the third book in Bradford’s Cavendon Chronicles. It is 1938 in England, and Miles and Cecily Ingham have led the family in bringing the Cavendon estate back from the brink of disaster. Of course, then comes World World II, and the estate will face even bigger challenges. Both the Inghams and the Swanns will have to protect one another and their villagers in the days to come - JAC

The Alpine zen

Daheim, Mary The Alpine Zen (Fiction Daheim) – Not as many people know about this alphabet series of mysteries as the Sue Grafton series. It is more of a cozy series featuring an amateur sleuth rather than a private investigator. The heroine of the series is Emma Lord, the editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper, The Alpine Advocate. The town of Alpine, Washington is in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains – one of the most beautiful areas of the state. Emma and her staff are treading very lightly because the paper’s House and Home editor, Vida Runkel, is in a bad mood to beat all bad moods. Then a young woman comes in claiming that her parents were murdered long ago in the area, and now her life is also in danger. And then, a male body, dead too long to identify, turns up at the town dump. Emma Lord and her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, really have their hands full. Gossip, love affairs, feuding and plenty of dirty secrets make this small-town mystery a delight. By the way, Daheim plans to start over again with A, so this is not the last book in the series. - JAC

Sent to the devil

Lebow, Laura Sent to the Devil (Fiction Lebow) – Court poet Lorenzo Da Ponte is back to solve another mystery. It is 1788 in Vienna and Da Ponte is making some small changes to a libretto for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Da Ponte just wants to work and enjoy life. Unfortunately, Vienna is in turmoil, with the emperor pursuing a war against the Turks. Then Da Ponte receives a series of mysterious coded notes. And worst of all, his old friend Alois, a retired priest, is viciously murdered. When Da Ponte is summoned to the police bureau, he discovers that the murder is part of a series. He agrees to help the police with the investigation before he becomes a victim himself. – JAC

The bridge ladies : a memoir

Lerner, Betsy The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir (Nonfiction Biography 92 Lerner, Betsy) - Betsy is a self-described member of the Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll generation.  Her mother, a traditionalist from the post- WWII generation, is prim and proper.  Betsy has spent the past 40 years thinking she has not up measured up to her mother’s high standards. When Betsy moves back home to Connecticut, she begins to reconnect with her mother through her mom’s weekly bridge group.  As she sits in and gets to know the group members, she begins to appreciate not only her mom’s generation of women, but the game of bridge itself. This book is a reminder that if you have not made these reconnections with your parents, you should start now. – SCR

Something to hide

Moggach, Deborah Something to Hide (Fiction Moggach) - The author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel now writes about three women with three different secrets.  In London, Petra has fallen in love with her oldest friend’s husband, Jeremy.  After Jeremy suddenly dies, she is beckoned to West Africa to help her friend with the memorial and move back to London.  In the meantime, in China, Li Jing wonders just what her husband does for a living, both at home and in West Africa.  Lorrie, a Texan housewife, must time her own deception to coincide with her husband’s deployment overseas. - SCR 

London rain

Upson, Nicola London Rain (Fiction Upson) – The amateur sleuth in this historical cozy mystery is Josephine Tey. Tey was the author of a number of cozies and plays back in the thirties and forties in England. In this fictional mystery, Tey is in London to oversee the BBC radio adaptation of one of her plays. The broadcast is part of the festivities surrounding the coronation of King George VI. Britain’s most venerable newsman, Anthony Beresford, is sleeping with the lead actress in the play. His humiliated wife also works at the BBC. The climax occurs when Beresford is shot to death in his broadcasting booth at the deafening height of the coronation ceremony. Tey’s, friend Chief Inspector Archie Penrose, thinks he has the case solved. But after two more murders, it is up to Tey to solve the case. - JAC

Brown Bag Booklist from May 5
A lucky life interrupted : a memoir of hope

Brokaw, Tom  A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope  (Nonfiction Biography 92 Brokaw, Tom) – Former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw led a “charmed” life – until severe back pain led him to the Mayo Clinic in the summer of 2013. Tests confirmed a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, an incurable, but treatable blood cancer disease. Brokaw takes us on his journey as he begins to recognize his own mortality while navigating a maze of emotions, setbacks, and medical bureaucracy. – EL

At the edge of the orchard

Chevalier, Tracy  At the Edge of the Orchard  (Fiction Chevalier) – With the inspiration of two people from history (John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, and William Lobb), Chevalier weaves a fascinating and redemptive story from the first half of the nineteenth century. James Goodenough, whose family had originally settled in Connecticut from England, brings his family to Ohio to carve out a new life for them in the Black Swamp in 1838.  James loves and cultivates the apples which he obtains from Johnny Appleseed, while his wife Sadie loves the applejack they make. Swamp fever gradually takes the lives of their children and then an unspeakable tragedy further befalls them. The story picks up in 1853 with their youngest child, Robert. He has been aimlessly traveling west until he hits the giant sequoia groves in Calaveras, California. There he meets William Lobb and learns to collect seedlings of the giant trees to export to England. - JAC

The golden son : a novel

Gowda, Shilpi Somaya  The Golden Son  (Fiction Gowda) – Anil Patel’s father holds the prestigious job as arbitrator in his small Indian village.  From the start, it is obvious that Anil is heading for bigger things than just farming.  He becomes the first in his family to attend college, and then medical school.  Patel follows up his medical school education with an internship and residency in Dallas, Texas.  When his father dies, he reluctantly takes over as arbitrator, but comes to realize that he is ill-suited for the role.  Both he and his family must reconcile their expectations with reality. - SCR

True evil

Iles, Greg  True Evil  (Fiction Iles) - FBI Agent Alex Morse is certain her sister has been murdered by her husband, and she wants desperately to protect her 9-year-old nephew, Jamie. Her only hope of proving the murder is to convince Dr. Chris Shepard that he is in danger of being murdered by the same mastermind who killed her sister, and enlist his help in uncovering the evil plot. – EL

Lilac girls : a novel

Kelly, Martha Hall  Lilac Girls (Fiction Kelly) Debut novelist Martha Hall Kelly relates the story of three women around WWII.  Caroline Ferriday is a former actress and socialite who now volunteers at the French Consulate.  She uses her social connections to advance her personal interest in aiding orphans in France.   Kasia is a Polish teenager who gets caught smuggling papers for the resistance and is taken away to a concentration camp.  Herta is a young German doctor who, out of desperation, signs up to work at a women’s re-education camp.   Hall’s novel was inspired by the real Caroline Ferriday, who was instrumental in aiding Polish women known as the Rabbits after the war.   For those readers who liked The Nightingale, by Kristen Hannah. – SCR

A common struggle : a personal journey through the past and future of mental illness and addiction

Kennedy, Patrick  A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction (Nonfiction Biography 92 Kennedy, Patrick J.) – The younger son of Senator Ted Kennedy tells the story of his struggle with bipolar disorder and addiction, and his ongoing fight to bring parity to the treatment of mental health disorders. His legacy as a Kennedy and his relationships with his mother and his father, both also addicts, play pivotal roles in his journey through addiction, and eventually his sobriety. – EL

Where we belong : journeys that show us the way

Kotb, Hoda  Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us the Way  (Nonfiction 170.44 K871w) – This is a slender feel-good book about persons who overcame challenges, persevered, or threw caution to the wind to find their true calling in life. They all realized that they needed to do something different with their lives to get to “where they belong.” – EL

Flight of dreams

Lawhon, Ariel  Flight of Dreams (Fiction Lawhon) - On May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg blew up just as it was about to land in New Jersey.  Lawhon relays a fictionalized account of the 97 people aboard the ship on that final flight. Among the passengers and crew are a stewardess with a dark secret, the navigator who adores her, a discredited German journalist forced to leave her child behind to ensure her return, and an American businessman with mysterious motives.  Suspensefully told, the novel follows the fate of the real passengers.  – SCR

The expatriates : a novel

Lee, Janice Y. K.  The Expatriates (Fiction Lee) – Lee, the best-selling author of The Piano Teacher, tells the story of three women who have left the United States to live in Hong Kong as expatriates.  Mercy is an underachieving Columbia graduate who finds a job for a short time as a newspaper reporter and then must scramble for new employment.  Margaret is leading the good life until her youngest child gets abducted under the watch of now caregiver Mercy.  Hilary, after unsuccessfully trying to conceive a child with husband David, loses him to a midlife crisis.   Lee weaves their lives together in a most satisfying manner. – SCR

Mrs. Roosevelt's confidante : a Maggie Hope mystery

MacNeal, Susan Elia  Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante: A Maggie Hope Mystery (Fiction MacNeal) – Maggie Hope is a fictional spy during England’s World War II. This is her fifth adventure and takes place in Washington, D.C. Special Agent Maggie accompanies Winston Churchill to America to meet with President Roosevelt just after Pearl Harbor. She is acting as a secretary or "typewriter" to the prime minister. When one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into the first lady’s inner circle as she works to solve the mystery and keep Mrs. Roosevelt safe. Maggie makes good use of her skills at code breaking and espionage. These mysteries are well-written and well-researched, bringing social issues of the time seamlessly into the story. - JAC

The mapmaker's children : a novel McCoy, Sarah  The Mapmaker’s Children  (Fiction McCoy) - This novel weaves together two parallel stories. Sarah Brown was the real-life daughter of abolitionist John Brown. After she accidentally stumbles upon her father’s work, she becomes inspired to use her tremendous artistic talents to hide maps in her paintings (similar to the quilts that pointed the way North for escaping slaves). Of course, she faces unbelievable hardship after the execution of her father, but she continues her mapmaking work and creates numerous living room art projects. Her personal life takes an even more shocking turn when she realizes that she can never bear children, and decides not to pursue marriage to fellow abolitionist Freddy Hill. Her story is greatly enhanced by letters to and from her friends. Eden Anderson is a modern-day woman who has just moved to the Hill House in New Charlestown, West Virginia. She has been unable to conceive a child and is truly in the depths of despair. Gradually, with the help of a precocious teenage neighbor, a puppy and a nearby bookstore, she begins making new contacts and forges a new life for herself and her husband. Both stories are beautifully told as the women discover that their legacy does not have to be vested in bearing their own children. - JAC
The violinist of Venice : a story of Vivaldi

Palombo, Alyssa  The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi  (Fiction Palombo) — Several novels have been written recently on the subject of the woman who may have been composer Antonio Vivaldi’s mistress or muse. In Palombo’s debut novel she comes up with a new theory. Adriana d’Amato loves playing the violin, but her strict father has forbidden her to study following the death of her mother. She begins sneaking out of the family palazzo to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. The lessons soon evolve into a passionate and forbidden love affair – after all, Vivaldi is ostensibly a priest. At the same time Adriana is being courted by a charming suitor, whom she might have loved had she not been so enamored with the Red Priest. Vivaldi must choose between his lover and his music. Anna Girò, who has often been portrayed as Vivaldi’s mistress, is shown in this novel to be the love child of Antonio and Adriana. Palombo has done an excellent job of bringing eighteenth-century musical Venice to life. - JAC


Scottoline, Lisa  Corrupted: A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel (Fiction Scottoline) - Bennie Rosato encounters a case from her past when she is asked to defend Jason Lefkavick. Jason was only twelve years old when he was sent to a juvenile facility for fighting a class bully. Bennie was unsuccessful in freeing him then. Now, thirteen years later, he stands accused of murdering the same bully. Bennie feels obligated to defend Jason to correct her “past failure.” - EL

The summer before the war : a novel

Simonson, Helen The Summer Before the War (Fiction Simonson) - Set in England just before the beginning of WWI, Beatrice Nash is a modern young woman who finds herself in need of employment after her father dies.  Village elder Agatha Kent is instrumental in hiring her as a Latin teacher in Rye.   When she arrives, she discovers there is continued opposition to her employment because she is a young woman.   Kent does her best to integrate Beatrice into the community, introducing the young teacher to her nephews, Hugh, a surgeon, and Daniel, a poet, but then WWI comes into their lives.  - SCR

The last painting of Sara De Vos Smith, Dominic  The Last Painting of Sara de Vos  (Fiction Smith) – A rare seventeenth-century painting links three lives, on three continents, over three centuries. In 1631 Amsterdam, Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke. Women do not paint landscapes (they are restricted to indoor subjects). But a winter scene haunts Sara’s imagination and she decides to paint it, despite the expectations of her time. In 1957 New York City, the only surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of wealthy lawyer Marty de Groot, a descendent of the original owner. A struggling art history graduate student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer. In 2000 Sydney, Australia, Ellie Shipley, now a celebrated art historian and curator, is mounting an exhibition of female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. It soon becomes apparent that both the original and her forgery are en route to her museum. - JAC
The sound of gravel : a memoir Wariner, Ruth  The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir (Nonfiction Biography 92 Wariner, Ruth) – Ruth Wariner recounts her life growing up in in a polygamist community.  She was her mother’s fourth child and her father’s thirty-ninth child. Her father was killed by her uncle shortly after her birth and her mother became the second wife of her new stepfather. They lived a “hardscrabble” life (often without electricity, heat or running water), moving back and forth between the community founded by her father in Mexico and the United States, where her American mother could get food stamps and social services for her three intellectually and physically-impaired children. Ruth was forced to grow up quickly to become the protector of her younger siblings. – EL
Also Recommended :
A woman unknown

Brody, Frances  A Woman Unknown: A Kate Shackleton Mystery  (Fiction Brody) – Kate Shackleton is a private investigator who was drawn to her work when trying to discover what happened to her husband, who was last seen towards the end of World War I. This is her fourth adventure. Kate is hired to find out where Deirdre Fitzpatrick goes when supposedly taking care of her sick mother. Everett Runcie is a banker facing ruin and disgrace. His American heiress wife will no longer accept his dalliances and is seeking divorce. Runcie agrees to provide the ‘evidence.’ When a chambermaid enters Runcie’s hotel room, she discovers Runcie alone – and dead. Now Kate must find the truth. - JAC

Dearly departed

Conrad, Hy  Dearly Departed: An Amy’s Travel Mystery  (Fiction Conrad) - This is the second adventure of Fanny and Amy Abel, who own a New York City travel agency. They are contacted by Paisley MacGregor, who makes a dying request to send all of her wealthy employers on a first-class wake to spread her ashes around the world. While Paisley worked as a maid, she did so because she liked to, and she was actually wealthier than any of her clients. The eight people on the tour go to Paris, Budapest, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and a Hawaiian volcano. Of course, murder ensues and it is up to the Abels to solve the crime. - JAC

The look of love : a novel

Jio, Sarah  The Look of Love (Fiction Jio) – Jio’s newest novel has an interesting premise. Jane Williams, a Seattle florist born during a Christmas blizzard, has the ability to literally see true love. Jane has emerged from a lonely, ailing childhood as a hopeless romantic, but has been unable to find her own true love. She receives a mysterious greeting card on her twenty-ninth birthday, which specifies that Jane must identify the six types of love (Eros, Ludus, Storge, Mania, Agape and Pragma) before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday or face grave consequences. - JAC

Second Street Station Brooklyn on fireLevy, Lawrence H.  Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery  and Levy , Lawrence H.  Brooklyn on Fire: A Mary Handley Mystery (Fiction Levy) – Mary Handley is a detective in 1888-1890 Brooklyn. She is very loosely based on a real female detective of that name and time period. The plots are well-done and the characterizations are very engaging. Mary is a strong sleuth and her interactions with the rich and famous of her milieu gives readers a provocative look at the seamier side of Victorian Brooklyn. - JAC

Brown Bag Booklist from February 4
The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

Bivald, Katarina The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Fiction Bivald) – Sara Lindkvist is a young woman who works in a bookstore in Sweden. When the store closes, she decides to travel to America for a two-month vacation. She plans on going to a tiny town in Iowa, Broken Wheel, to visit her elderly pen-pal Amy. Unfortunately, she arrives just after Amy’s funeral. To her surprise, though, the town takes her under their collective wing and insists she stay in Amy’s house. They also feed her and offer to drive her wherever she wants to go. As Sara becomes a little bored with her life, she decides to open a used bookstore using Amy’s vast collection of books. She sets up shop in an abandoned storefront on Main Street and happily spends most of her days reading. The townspeople find this rather amusing and heartwarming. Of course, there are problems, including the fact that Sara’s visa is expiring soon. – JAC

The three-year swim club : the untold story of Maui's Sugar Ditch kids and their quest for Olympic glory

Checkoway, Julie The Three-Year Swim Club (Nonfiction 797.210922 C514t) - In 1937, Soichi Sakamoto, a Japanese-American school teacher in Maui, taught the local plantation children how to swim.  With only a murky irrigation ditch to practice in, he formed what he calls his “three-year swim club.”  In return for their commitment to swim and train, he promised the kids that he would get them to the 1940 Olympic Games.  This story explores how the amateur Sakamoto trained his kids to challenge the very best competitive swimmers in the world just when nations were entering WWII. This true story is highly recommended for fans of Daniel Brown’s The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. - SCR


Cook, Robin Host (Fiction Cook) – Athletic and otherwise healthy, Carl Vandermeer enters the Mason-Dixon Medical Center for routine knee surgery. When the surgery results in his unexpected and unexplained “brain death,” his girlfriend, fourth year medical student Lynn Pierce, vows to find out what happened. With the help of her study partner, Michael Pender, Lynn uncovers a horrifying secret connected to the hospital and the pharmaceutical industry. - EL

We never asked for wings : a novel

Diffenbaugh, Vanessa We Never Asked for Wings (Fiction Diffenbaugh) – Letty Espinosa has worked a series of dead-end jobs around San Francisco. She has two children (Alex who is fifteen and Luna who is just six), but has never done any parenting. Her own parents have always taken care of the kids for her. Now, her parents want to return to Mexico and Letty is suddenly forced to become responsible for her own family. The novel is about hope and parenting and working toward a better life for your children. Letty is seriously flawed, but readers can’t hope but root for them all. – JAC

The little Paris bookshop : a novel

George, Nina The Little Paris Bookshop (Fiction George) - Jean Perdu, literary apothecary extraordinaire, doesn’t follow his own advice for curing his own long-standing melancholy.  Instead, it takes a prolonged trip on the Seine to work through his grief enough to find a new life and love. – SCR

A Place Called Hope : a novel A lesson in Hope : a novel Gulley, Philip A Place Called Hope (Fiction Gulley) and Gulley, Philip A Lesson in Hope (Fiction Gulley) – Gulley is a Quaker pastor and the author of numerous books, including the Harmony series of novels. In A Place Called Hope the pastor from that series, Sam Gardner, realizes that it is time for a change. He ends up in the suburban town of Hope, Indiana. The Friends Meeting there is in desperate need of a pastor. They currently only have twelve members, but they also have a beautiful meetinghouse and a pie committee. Sam likes pie, so why not accept the call? With A Lesson in Hope, Sam and his wife have been in Hope for four months. His wife has a wonderful job as a librarian and Sam is adjusting to the foibles of the meeting’s members. When 98-year-old member Olive passes away, she leaves her entire million dollar estate to the Hope Meeting. It seems like a godsend, but is only the beginning of problems, especially when her estranged niece shows up and threatens a lawsuit. Gulley writes of small towns with humor, simple joy and shrewd insights into human character. – JAC

The things we keep

Hepworth, Sally The Things We Keep (Fiction Hepworth) - Anna and Luke aren’t the typical residential care patients.  Both are-early onset dementia patients who, with the help of chef Eve Bennett and her daughter Clementine, find themselves in love.   Unfortunately, their families and caretakers do all they can to stop the affair dead in its tracks. - SCR

Come rain or come shine

Karon, Jan Come Rain or Come Shine (Fiction Karon) – It has been some time since Jan Karon has released a Mitford novel. The wait is now over and most of our favorite characters return. This story really centers on Dooley Kavanagh, Father Tim’s adopted son. Dooley has graduated from vet school and is about to open his own animal clinic. He is also about to be married to his soulmate Lace Harper. They want to keep the wedding simple and decide to eliminate the cost of catering and do potluck. An old friend offers to bring his country band for free. And the barn works as a perfect place for seating family and friends. Readers will laugh and cry as they share the couple's big day and the unexpected events that make it especially memorable. – JAC

Into thin air : a personal account of the Mount Everest disaster

Krakauer, Jon Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Nonfiction 796.522 K89i) – In May 1996, the author was on assignment for Outside magazine to write about a climbing expedition on Mt. Everest.  Shortly after reaching the summit, several members of Krakauer’s climbing party, including two of his guides, perished in a rogue blizzard. The storm also claimed members of other climbing parties, and eventually left 8 people dead, the most people to have died in a single day on Mount Everest. That record stood until 2014, when an avalanche killed 16 people. Krakauer paints a vivid picture of the extremely harsh conditions that climbers face when climbing Mt. Everest. You can almost feel the cold. Everest, a motion picture based on the book, is scheduled to be released in September 2015. – EL

In order to live : a North Korean girl's journey to freedom

Park, Yeonmi In Order to Live:  A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom (Nonfiction Biography 92 Park, Yeonmi) - The true story of Yeonmi Park, her sister, and mother, who had lived a pretty good life under the Kim Regime until father was arrested for his participation in North Korea’s black markets.  Now facing starvation and poverty, the women find the courage to escape the dictatorship to find a new life over the border. - SCR

But enough about me : a memoir

Reynolds, Burt  But Enough About Me: A Memoir (Nonfiction Biography 92 Reynolds, Burt) – Burt Reynolds tells his story, beginning with his childhood growing up in Florida with his Police Chief father, to his rise to stardom in Hollywood, to the opening of a dinner theater and acting school in Jupiter, Florida. It is a fun read full of anecdotes about his experiences (good and bad) with the famous and infamous. The book is more of a loving remembrance of growing up in the industry he loves and does not fall into the tell-all mode of revealing dirt about others. He simply tells his story as he experienced it and generally takes responsibility for his own failings in bad relationships. - EL

The improbability of love

Rothschild, Hannah The Improbability of Love (Fiction Rothschild) - A famous 18th century painting by real artist Jean-Antoine Watteau, relates how it got lost in a dusty antique shop only to be acquired by a young London chef named Annie.  Now on its way to a prestigious auction house, the painting known, as The Improbability of Love, recounts its creator, past owners, and acquaintances.  This book will appeal to light mystery and historical fiction readers and those who liked The Art Forger. - SCR

Becoming Steve Jobs : the evolution of a reckless upstart into a visionary leader

Schlender, Brent and Tetzeli, Rick Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader (Nonfiction Biography 92 Jobs, Steve) – The authors, both former writers for Fortune magazine, have written a very compelling biography of the evolution of Steve Jobs from a petulant immature young genius into a mature and seasoned business executive (with some human failings). Jobs knew little about computer engineering or business when he started Apple. He did have a strong sense of aesthetics and design, and he was a visionary who had the moxie to ask for what he needed and surround himself with people who (he thought) knew what they were doing. Often things didn’t work out, but Steve rallied on and never gave up on his dreams. - EL

The muralist : a novel

Shapiro, Barbara The Muralist (Fiction Shapiro) – The author of The Art Forger returns with a new novel based in the world of art. The Muralist is a mystery and historical novel featuring dual plot lines. In depression era New York, Alizée Benoit is working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). As war clouds come ever closer to the US, she becomes increasingly anxious to get her Jewish family out of Europe. She’s not getting very far, but as a last resort she hopes that Eleanor Roosevelt may be able to help her. She had met the first lady as she was touring the WPA program and got Mrs. Roosevelt thinking about the new art of the time, which we now know as Abstract Expressionism. Alizée’s friends include real-life artists Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. In the storyline from today we meet Alizée’s great-niece Danielle Abrams who works at Christie’s auction house. She discovers some paintings that may be by her great-aunt who simply vanished in 1940. – JAC

Mrs. Sinclair's suitcase

Walters, Louise Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase (Fiction Walters) – This is a debut novel with storylines intertwined between World War II and the present day. Roberta works at The Old and New Bookshop in England. She has the habit of keeping the odds and ends she finds inside used books – letters, postcards, photos, and the like. Her father comes to the store with a battered old suitcase that once belonged to Roberta’s 109-year-old grandmother Dorothea Pietrykowski, so that Roberta can clean and sell the books. Dorothea was once married to a Polish pilot during World War II. As Roberta sifts through the detritus found in the old suitcase and the books it holds, she discovers the story of Dorothy Sinclair. Dorothy is in her forties, unhappily married and childless. The parallel stories of Roberta and Dorothy are really gripping and absorbing. I especially enjoyed some of the history from World War II and England’s Polish allies. – JAC

Other Good Books:
In this together : my story

Romney, Ann In This Together (Nonfiction Biography 92 Romney, Ann) - Romney recounts her life as a political wife, mother of five boys, and multiple sclerosis ambassador.  In 1998, feelings of extreme fatigue and numbness led her to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was diagnosed with the disease.  Not one to just accept the grim prognosis, she fought back to regain her strength with the help of her loving family. - SCR

My name is Lucy Barton : a novel

Strout, Elizabeth My Name Is Lucy Barton (Fiction Strout)  - Lucy Barton, married mother to two little girls, has been hospitalized for 9 weeks when her girls are young.  Though she wasn’t close to her family after she went to college, she becomes reacquainted with her mother when she comes for a five day visit in the hospital. - SCR

All dogs go to Kevin : everything three dogs taught me (that i didn't learn in veterinary school)

Vogelsang, Jessica All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School) (Nonfiction Biography 92 Vogelsang, Jessica) – You can’t always count on people, but you can always count on your dog. That is just one of the things that veterinarian Jessica Vogelsang has learned. This is her biography and the story of the three dogs in her life that she has loved, and ultimately and inevitably lost. She remembers the fearsome Lhasa, the devil-may care golden named Emmett and the neurotic senior Labrador called Kekoa. They educate her to have empathy for all the oddballs and misfits who come to her clinic (the people that is, not the dogs). She has a very good family friend named Kevin who died tragically young. Kevin had a wonderful joy in life. What you saw was what you got. When she tries to explain to her young children why Emmett was no longer there, she told them that he had gone to heaven. They misunderstood her and assumed Emmett was visiting Kevin. Later, they came to accept that Kevin and the dogs were somewhere together in heaven. – JAC

Brown Bag Booklist from November 5
The second sister

Bostwick, Marie The Second Sister  (Fiction Bostwick) – Bostwick is best known to us as the author of the Cobbled Court books. This is a stand-alone novel about two sisters from the small town of Nilson’s Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. The younger sister, Lucy, is a hard-driving career woman, who is the publicity manager for a recently elected underdog presidential candidate. She has not been home to Door County since the death of her parents. Her older sister, Alice, is a mentally impaired woman who has never left their hometown. Alice used to be the older, more accomplished and outgoing sister, until an accident left her brain-damaged. When Lucy receives word of the sudden, unexpected death of Alice, she belatedly returns home in order to settle the estate. There she finds that Alice has made a stipulation in her will that she must remain in residence for eight weeks. As Lucy is forced to put her career on hold, she belatedly discovers so much about her sister that she never knew. A group of quilters, called Friends of Alice, help Lucy to find what has long been missing in her life. –JAC

The hummingbird's cage

Dietrich, Tamara The Hummingbird’s Cage  (Fiction Dietrich) – This is a debut novel from an award-winning newspaper journalist. Joanna lives in Wheeler, New Mexico with her husband Jim and their daughter Laurel. It begins as a classic and horrendous story of an emotionally and physically abusive husband, who also happens to be a police officer. Joanna is trapped, until she is contacted by Jim’s ex-girlfriend, who helps her to escape. On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble into the small town of Morro. It is a charming village that seems to exist out of time and place. Joanna has found sanctuary, a comfortable new home, blossoming friendships and even a new romance. At this point the novel seems a redemptive story of extreme courage. Then the author introduces a magical element, which may be a bit new-agey for some readers. It may be a bit uneven as a novel, but definitely should be read for the longest mid-section. –JAC

The language of flowers

Diffenbaugh, Vanessa The Language of Flowers  (Fiction Diffenbaugh) – The Language of Flowers is a tremendously satisfying read. It is hard to imagine that it was the debut novel of Diffenbaugh, who has just recently published We Never Asked for Wings. I started reading the book because of the title. I have long been fascinated by the Victorian idea of conveying love through the combination of flowers in a bouquet in which each flower would convey a special meaning. [In fact we will have a special program in our Tell Your Story series on February 20, 2016 featuring The Language of Flowers.] As a bonus, Diffenbaugh ends her novel with an 8-page Dictionary of Flowers.

But, there is so much more to the story. Victoria Jones has spent her entire childhood in the California foster care system. As she turns 18 she is ‘emancipated.’ Turned out on the streets with little education, few skills and virtually no money, life does not look promising at all for the aloof teenager who is her own worst enemy. She sleeps in a public park and begins a secret garden. By chance she is hired as casual labor by a florist. From this serendipitous encounter, Victoria develops her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for their bouquets. The only mother she had in her more than thirty foster care homes who taught her anything was Elizabeth, who introduced her to the language of flowers. Victoria slowly begins to reach out to others in her search for enduring family love and connections. As a foster mother herself, Diffenbach knows about the perils of ‘the system,’ and shows us hope in this uplifting story. –JAC

The wild girl

Forsyth, Kate The Wild Girl  (Fiction Forsyth) – Following her novel Bitter Greens fairy-tale scholar Kate Forsyth returns with the story of Dortchen Wild. Dortchen was the daughter of an apothecary and lived next door to the Grimm family. She fell in love at first sight with Wilhelm Grimm, of fairy-tale fame, when she was twelve years old. It was a romance that seemed to be doomed. The Grimm’s were extremely poor, Herr Wild did not like the families to fraternize, and it was a time of extreme turmoil in Europe. Napoleon captured the small Kingdom of Hesse-Casell where the Wilds and Grimms lived. War continued for years. Many of the men, including Dortchen’s only brother, were conscripted into Napoleon’s army and sent to fight in Russia. In the meantime, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm were collecting folk tales from the area. This was probably in part a subtle way of preserving their German culture, as Napoleon seemed set to take over the world. Many of the tales were related to the brothers by the Wild sisters, their servants, friends and acquaintances. Dortchen herself contributed Hänsel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin and All-Kinds-of-Fur among many of the stories. The story of the abuse Dortchen suffers from her pedophilic father does not make for easy reading, but the enduring love and courage of Wilhelm and Dortchen eventually leads to a happy marriage. –JAC


Galland, Nicole Stepdog  (Fiction Galland) – This is a romantic comedy novel just waiting to be made into a movie. Sara Renault is forced to fire Rory O’Connor from his part-time job at a Boston museum because of budget problems. In response, he kisses her.  So, perhaps this is a working friendship that can go somewhere nice. It turns out Rory’s visa is about to expire, just as he is about to land a role in a Hollywood movie. So Sara, rather impulsively, suggests that he marry her and then he can get his green card. All is going really well – except for Sara’s dog Cody. Where should Cody sleep? Not in the bed says Rory, while Sara says he always has slept there. Eventually they get fairly settled into a blended family, although Rory always refers to Cody as his wife’s dog. Then Rory gets his television role, and they are all about to go to California. On the eve of departure, Sara’s old boyfriend kidnaps Cody, and it is all Rory’s fault. The rest of the book is a madcap cross-country trip with Rory trying to find and keep Cody safe. Surprisingly this is based on the true-life adventures of the author – except for the kidnapping part. –JAC


Grafton, Sue X  (Fiction Grafton) – Kinsey Milhone returns to solve three simultaneous mysteries in Sue Grafton’s latest Alphabet mystery.  The book opens with the story of a betrayed wife, Teddy Xanakis, who accidentally leaves a very valuable painting behind in her haste to depart from the family home. At the same time, Kinsey finds herself looking through coded messages left by a discredited colleague and helping her landlord cope with some very needy neighbors.  Though this is the 24th novel in her series, it isn’t necessary to read Grafton’s prior novels to enjoy this mystery. –SCR

The woman in the photograph

Gynther, Dana The Woman in the Photograph  (Fiction Gynther) – This is a biographical novel about Lee Miller. Known primarily as a model for Vogue, she moves to Paris in 1929 hoping to meet the photographer Man Ray. She seeks out the artist, hoping to become his assistant. Soon she becomes his model, his lover and ultimately his muse. Lee continues to model and begins working on her own projects as a photographer. She even stars in a film, which causes the possessive Man Ray (who was older) to become insanely jealous. Drinking, loving and, carousing are all the order of the day, while hobnobbing with the rich and famous like Picasso and Charlie Chaplin. More and more, Lee Miller falls in love with the art of photography. –JAC

Family trees March, Kerstin Family Trees  (Fiction March) – This romance takes place in Bayfield, Wisconsin on the South shore of Lake Superior. This beautiful, but austere and dangerous setting is every bit as important as the romance. Shelby Myers has lived in the town for most of her life. Her mother, Jackie, abandoned her as a baby and Shelby was brought up by her loving grandparents in the small family apple orchard. After three years away at college, Shelby has vowed never to leave beautiful Lake Superior again. She is quite content helping to run the orchard until Ryan Chambers enters her life. Ryan is from a wealthy family, who will never approve of her. And then her mother reappears and begins to meddle in her life as well. This is a sweet, heartening story filled with lush descriptions of Lake Superior’s magical beauty. –JAC
Miss Emily

O’Connor, Nuala Miss Emily  (Fiction O’Connor) – Novelist O’Connor has written a beautiful biographical novel about the poet Emily Dickinson. The story alternates between poet Emily and a fictional Irish maid-of-all-work Ada Concannon. The two women couldn’t be more different. One is quiet and introverted, the other exuberant and outgoing. One is the mistress, and the other, of course, is the downstairs help. One is a 36-year-old spinster who rarely even leaves her upstairs den, while the other is but eighteen years old and has already travelled on her own from Ireland to Massachusetts. But in spite of all this, the two form a tight bond. When Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened, Emily faces down her own demons to help her friend. –JAC

Undocumented : a Dominican boy's odyssey from a homeless shelter to the Ivy League

Padilla Peralta, Dan-el Undocumented  (Non-Fiction  92 Padilla Peralta) – When Padilla Peralta came to the United States as a young child with his parents, he became an illegal immigrant.  Padilla Peralta’s family fell on hard times after his father was injured on the job and was forced to return to the Dominican Republic.  Mom decided not to go back with Dad because Dan-el showed such a keen sense of curiosity and drive in learning even as a young child.  Along the way, he was mentored by a man who guided him to apply to the Collegiate School in NYC.  And though he went on to earn degrees at Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford, his path to citizenship remains unclear to this day. –SCR

Brush back

Paretsky, Sara Brush Back  (Fiction Paretsky) – Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Sara Paretsky began writing her series of V. I. Warshawski private eye novels in 1982. Being a Chicago native herself, she has based all 18 of the novels starring the intrepid heroine in that city. V. I. would prefer to avoid politics, but in this case she finds herself challenging the political machine. Vic (that is V. I.) is approached by an old high-school boyfriend, Frank Guzzo, to help him prove his mother’s innocence in a long-ago murder. His mother, Stella, was convicted of bludgeoning Frank’s sister to death, and has served 25 years in prison. Stella is a very belligerent and crude woman even at the age of 80 – in fact Vic discovers the old gal still has a mean right hook. Besides that, Stella has always hated the Warshawski family. Things get more personal when Stella accuses V.I.’s beloved star hockey player, cousin Boom-Boom. An added bonus in the story is the sports references, especially the subplot involving the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. –JAC

Does this beach make me look fat?

Scottoline, Lisa and Serritella, Francesca Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?  (Non-Fiction  817.6 S431d) – If you are in the mood for a light read, Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella take turns writing short essays commenting on topics such as identity theft, college reunions, and the hazards of riding a bicycle.  Along the way, they write about how they coped with the death of Scottoline’s mother.  Though much of the book conveys their humorous outlook on life, it is very clear that family is what matters to them the most. –SCR

Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption

Stevenson, Bryan Just Mercy  (Non-Fiction 92 Stevenson, Bryan) – Instead of a lucrative career, Stevenson, a Harvard Law School graduate, chose to start a charitable organization called the Equal Justice Initiative.  Based in Montgomery, Alabama, the firm primarily represents death row inmates who have largely been convicted without hard evidence or merit.  In his career, Stevenson has appeared 5 times before the Supreme Court and has won many awards for his efforts. –SCR

Kitchens of the great Midwest : a novel

Stradal, J. Ryan Kitchens of the Great Midwest  (Fiction Stradal) – Eva, the daughter of a Midwestern chef/lutefisk master named Lars Thorvald, was born with a once-in-a-generation palate.  Though she is deserted by her mother as an infant and orphaned by her father soon after, she is able to make her way into the culinary world by growing chocolate habanero peppers.  As she grows more successful as a chef, her charming story is related through the people she touches through her remarkable skills. –SCR

At the corner of King Street

Taylor, Mary Ellen At the Corner of King Street  (Fiction Taylor) – Taylor has written several books now centered in old town Alexandria, Virginia. In this book Adele (Addie) Morgan has moved away from her dysfunctional family to a nearby vineyard, where she has gone from grape picker to manager of the winery and is in a loving relationship with her boss Scott. Then she is called back to Alexandria where her sister is about to give birth and her aunt is facing bankruptcy. The family curse seems to be bipolar disorder and Addie wants nothing more than to escape from the effects, but she feels bound to help her family. Meanwhile Scott, who knows nothing about Addie’s family situation, is trying to get her to return to the vineyard as his wife. There is also a running plotline from old Alexandria (the years 1745-1751) that helps to put the family more into focus. It is a lovely story and apparently will be followed by several more. The family business, by the way, is a salvage yard, which gives plenty of opportunities to blend the past with the present. –JAC

All the stars in the heavens : a novel

Trigiani, Adriana All the Stars in the Heavens  (Fiction Trigiani) – This is the “story” of Loretta Young’s affair with Clark Gable, as seen through the eyes of her assistant, Alda Ducci.  Out of necessity, Young took extreme care to hide the affair, an unintended pregnancy and the subsequent birth of their daughter, Judy.  And though the rumors swirled for years, Young was largely successful in putting forward her version that Judy was adopted.–SCR


Wilson, Anne A. Hover  (Fiction Wilson) – Sara Denning is one of the first graduating women at the USNA as well as one of the few female Navy helicopter pilots.  Years of trying to fit in as one of the boys makes it difficult to let her femininity come through. –SCR

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