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Library - Brown Bag Booktalk

Brown Bag Booktalk

Looking for something new to read? Why not join Judy, Stephanie, 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, November 6 at 1:15 pm 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, "EL" are Evelyn's picks, and "SL" are Shelly's picks. Click on a book's title or cover image to find it in our library catalog.

For more information, please call 623-930-3431.

Brown bag

Brown Bag Booklist from August 14
A Year by the Sea

Anderson, Joan A Year by the Sea (NonFiction 158.1 A547y) -- Life is a work in progress, as ever-changing as a sandy shoreline along the beach. During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. As her husband received a wonderful job offer out-of-state, shocking both of them, she refuses to follow him and retreats to their family cottage on Cape Cod. This year of self-discovery brought about extraordinary changes in the author’s life. --SRL

The Visitors

Beauman, Sally The Visitors (Fiction Beauman) -- Lucy has just lost her mother to Typhoid Fever in 1922, contracted after drinking unpurified water. Still recuperating from both the loss of her mother and the disease, she is dispatched to Egypt with a nanny to regain her health. In Cairo, she soon becomes enamored in the exciting archeological digs found in the Valley of the Kings led by the renowned Howard Carter. --SCR

Chestnut Street

Binchy, Maeve Chestnut Street (Fiction Binchy)  -- Irish author Binchy passed away a couple of years ago now. She left behind many character sketches presented here as short stories. The interconnecting thread is that the characters all lived on chestnut Street in Dublin. I normally am not a fan of short stories, but I did enjoy these. Some of the characters and stories are more filled out than others, and many of the characters I wish had made it into one of her longer novels. There is no common plotline or even a set time, simply a common place with ordinary people and their everyday problems and joys. --JAC

This House Is Haunted

Boyne, John This House Is Haunted (Fiction Boyne) -- Written in the tradition of the Victorian gothic ghost story,This House takes place in 1867and features young governess Eliza Caine. Her father has recently and suddenly passed away, so she is alone in the world when she accepts the position at remote Gaudlin Hall in Norfolk. She arrives to find two precocious young charges, Isabella (12 years old) and Eustace (who is 8), but no signs of any adult family members. Eliza is further spooked by a feeling of a malign presence, and is even more disturbed by the discovery that the help-wanted ad was placed by the former governess (she is governess number six in the past year). Not only did I enjoy the ghost story, but the language was very evocative of Dickens. Some interesting Victorian facts were cleverly melded into the story. For example the Dandy horse (Eliza’s sole transportation) was an early two-wheeled bicycle without pedals. --JAC

A Long Way Home

Brierley, Saroo A Long Way Home (Biography 92 Brierley, Saroo) -- Saroo was five years old when he lost sight of his brother at a train station in Khandwa, India. After he mistakenly boards a train bound for Calcutta, he is forced to survive on the streets. By chance, he ends up in an orphanage and is later adopted by an Australian family from Tasmania. Never forgetting his biological family, he methodically searches Google Earth to find his way back. . --SCR

Nothing to envy : ordinary lives in North Korea

Demick, Barbara  Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (NonFiction On Order) -- Shortlisted for the National Book award in 2010, journalist Barbara Demick chronicles the lives of 6 North Korean defectors over a fifteen year period of time. As a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times stationed in South Korea, Demick documents the rise of Kim Il-Sung after World War II, the collapse of Kim Jong-il’s economic system and the subsequent famine after outside subsidies stopped in the 1990s. --SCR

All the Light We Cannot See

Doerr, Anthony All the Light We Cannot See (Fiction Doerr) -- The lives of two young teens come together during World War II. Blinded by cataracts as a young girl, Marie-Laure lives with her father who works at the Paris Museum of Natural History. The boy, Werner Pfennig has been rebuilding radios in Germany since childhood and now serves in the German army. It is when Marie and her father escape to the south of France transporting the gem known as the Sea of Flames that their two paths intersect with explosive results. --SCR

Frankie's Letter

Gordon-Smith, Dolores Frankie’s Letter (Fiction Gordon-Smith)  -- Dr. Anthony Brooke is an English spy in Kiel, Germany in 1915. A fellow spy stumbles into his room and dies at Brooke’s feet. This blows Anthony’s cover and he is forced to flee to England. Before dying, his fellow spy gasped out a message. “There’s a spy in England… he must be a gentleman … knew about me … read Frankie’s letter… big ship … Star’s Anger?... going to kill the passengers.” After a wild escape and chase, Anthony successfully returns to England and is then assigned to figure out what the cryptic message meant. The trail then leads to Starhanger, the country estate of a publisher, and Brooke uncovers a network of spies, treachery and terrorism.  This is a fast-paced spy thriller book packed with action, adventure and some unforeseen twists. --JAC

Random Acts of Kindness

Higgins, Lisa Verge Random Acts of Kindness (Fiction Higgins) -- Three women embark on a trip across the country in a rattletrap car with an incontinent lap dog. They learn about themselves and life as they visit old friends and uncover their life stories. --SRL

Goodnight June

Jio, Sarah Goodnight June (Fiction Jio)  -- June is a high-powered banker based in the city of New York. She considers the work fulfilling, but is suffering from high blood pressure and an incipient anxiety disorder. Her great aunt, Ruby Crain passes away and bequeaths her beloved children’s bookstore, Bluebird Books, to June. The store and her great-aunt were a very important to June when she was growing up in Seattle. June heads to Seattle with every intention of selling the bookstore (after all she is an expert at foreclosing on small, failing businesses). But then she finds a letter from Margaret Wise Brown to her Aunt and is led on a scavenger hunt that reveals how the beloved children’s book Goodnight Moon came to be written. In her trademark style, Jio ties past and present together in this imaginary tale of how the classic came to be written. --JAC

Henry's Sisters

Lamb, Cathy Henry’s Sisters (Fiction Lamb) -- The Bommarito sisters are a diverse lot. Isabelle is a famous globe-trotting photographer, her fraternal twin, Cecilia, is a self-destructive, widowed kindergarten teacher, and their sister Janie suffers from OCD but writes best-selling crime novels. The family is rounded out by their depressive mother, River; their grandmother, who believes she is Amelia Earhart; and Henry, who is mentally challenged, but the most wonderful, loving and giving person imaginable. Even though the family has dispersed they are all brought back to Trillium River, Oregon when River has to have open-heart surgery. Someone has to help take care of Henry and the grandmother and the family bakery. --JAC

A Snicker of Magic

Lloyd, Natalie A Snicker of Magic (Youth Fiction Lloyd)  -- Felicity Juniper Pickle is twelve years and has just arrived in Midnight Gulch, Tennessee in time for the start of school in September. She hopes that maybe this time her mother will decide to stay put, because she is tired of moving from place to place with her six years old sister Frannie Jo, their dog Biscuit and their battered old van the Pickled Jalapeño. She wants to make a friend and become part of the community. Felicity is a little different from most little girls because she collects words. They don’t have to be written or spoken – the words might be what people are thinking or things that they want. Midnight Gulch seems to be the answer to her prayers, because she soon makes a friend Jonah Pickett, and there (at least) used to be magic here, and besides there is a great ice cream factory. Maybe Felicity can even make the magic come back. Jonah thinks that is a spindiddly plan. --JAC

The Shape of Mercy

Meissner, Susan The Shape of Mercy (Fiction Meissner) -- Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention, and her family’s expectations, by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job with 83-year old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal of her ancestor, Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials. --SRL

Me Before You

Moyes, Jojo Me Before You (Fiction Moyes) -- The lives of Louisa Clark and Will Traynor intersect when she is hired by his mother to aid with his daily care. Louisa is determined to show Will that he can still live a fulfilling life even as a quadriplegic, but her efforts are resisted by Will. --SCR

The Garden of Happy Endings

O’Neal, Barbara The Garden of Happy Endings (Fiction O’Neal) -- Reverend Elsa Montgomery is shattered by a tragedy in her small community church in Seattle. She is finally persuaded by her church’s board that she needs to take a sabbatical to recover her purpose and faith. She returns to her old hometown of Pueblo, Colorado where she is able to re-establish ties with her sister, Tamsin, and her childhood friend, Father Jake. She begins her healing by working in a soup kitchen and in a new community garden project where she meets Deacon McCoy. Not all goes easily, or smoothly, for Elsa and Tamsin, but eventually the renewing power of sun, earth and rain begins the real healing process. --JAC

The Late Scholar

Paton Walsh, Jill The Late Scholar; the New Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Mystery (Fiction Paton Walsh) -- Dorothy Sayers was, for many readers, the best of the golden age mystery authors. Paton Walsh has continued her series, featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, with great success. In this outing (taking place in 1952) Peter and Harriet are long-married and Peter is now the Duke of Denver. To his surprise he is contacted by St. Severin’s College, Oxford University to solve a dispute. That is not Peter’s own college; it seems that he has inherited the duty to officiate over disputes simply because he is the ‘Visitor,’ an obligation he inherited with his dukedom. At issue is whether or not a very valuable old manuscript should be sold in order to raise funds for the college. Of course a few dead bodies also appear to muddy the waters. Never fear, Peter and Harriet and manservant Bunter (of course), save the day. This is a welcome return to the world of Gaudy Night, one of the best Sayers’ novels. --JAC

The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek

Perrine, Jane Myers The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek (Fiction Perrine) -- Upon his arrival, Butternut Creek Christian Church’s newly-minted minister is met by a welcome committee led by Miss Birdie and her friend Mercedes, a.k.a. “the Widows”. Their first order of business, to educate him on how things should be done, quickly gives way to a campaign to find him a wife. --SRL

The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek

Perrine, Jane Myers The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek (Fiction Perrine) -- Once again, the Widows of Butternut Creek are determined to find a bride for Pastor Adam. This time, their candidate is as gun shy as the pastor. A traumatic experience has left Gussie Milton ‘once bitten, twice shy’. Although she would like a relationship, she is frightened. --SRL

China Dolls

See, Lisa China Dolls (Fiction See) -- In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco’s exclusive “Oriental” nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family with deep roots in San Francisco’s Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another. Then everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. --SRL

The Care and Management of Lies

Winspear, Jacqueline The Care and Management of Lies (Fiction Winspear) -- Winspear is the bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs  novels. Maisie is a former World War I nurse turned investigator. This is a stand-alone novel taking place during the war itself and shows how thoroughly Winspear knows the time period and her native England. Kezia and Thea have been best friends since girlhood. Kezia is about to marry Tom, who is Thea’s brother. Both women are about to embrace new lives, which may destroy their friendship. Thea has passionately embraced women’s suffrage and thinks that Kezia has no idea what it will mean to be the wife of farmer. Thea’s ironic wedding gift to Kezia is a book on household management called The Woman’s Book. Soon after the wedding, war breaks out, Tom enlists and Thea is drawn reluctantly onto the battlefield herself. So Kezia, with virtually no experience but with the help of the book, has to manage the farm on her own. The story is advanced brilliantly through a series of letters. Tom never reveals how atrocious the brutal chaos of war is. Kezia writes of the farm’s successes and minutely describes the meals she prepares for Tom (which are totally imaginary). Tom shares Kezia’s letters with his army unit, which seems to bring them all a measure of comfort. This is a beautiful and poignant picture of love and friendship strained by the pain of separation and war. --JAC

Brown Bag Booklist from May 8
Lunch in Paris : a love story, with recipes

Bard, Elizabeth - Lunch in Paris, a Love Story with Recipes (Biography 92 Bard, Elizabeth) – This is a memoir to enjoy on many levels. It is a love story: Elizabeth Bard, an ex-patriot American living in London, falls in love with Gwendal, a French engineer living in a student apartment in Paris. It is a marvelous cookbook: beginning with relatively simple recipes and learning to shop in Paris markets and cook on a two-burner hotplate in an unheated student apartment. And, it is a story of how we make our own family, and, how even our recipes have the myriad sources of our friends/family. Bard, herself, calls it “a tale of an American who discovers Paris, one meal at a time.” -- JAC

Cavendon Hall

Bradford, Barbara Taylor - Cavendon Hall (Fiction Bradford) – Bradford, born and brought up in England, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire for her literary achievements. She is best known for her epic sagas, especially the Emma Harte stories, which began with A Woman of Substance. Cavendon Hall begins a new saga, starting in 1913 Edwardian England. If you are thinking Downton Abbey, that is indeed the genre. Cavendon is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams, and the Swanns who serve them. The Inghams have four daughters and two sons. Walter Swann is valet to the earl; his wife Alice is a clever seamstress. The focus of the story becomes Lady Daphne, the most beautiful of the Inghams, and Cecily Swann, poised to become one of the most chic couture designers in London. -- JAC

A Call to Action

Carter, Jimmy - A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power (Non Fiction 323.34 C323c) -- This publication is President Carter’s report on the global discrimination of women.  Carter asserts that “the most serious and unaddressed challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts….”  Examining both the Bible and Koran to see if there is any basis for this discrimination, he finds little to document women as lesser human beings in either publication.  From the lack of voting and property rights, to child marriage, dowry deaths, honor killings, and rape, the Carter Center has become involved in educating women to stand up for their rights, with some success.  Carter acknowledges that progress is slow, but rightfully takes pride in the Center’s accomplishments. – SCR

Killing Custer

Coel, Margaret - Killing Custer (Fiction Coel) -- Coel has long been recognized as one of the best mystery writers specializing in stories about Native Americans. Tony Hillerman, himself, called her a master of her craft. The Denver Post said that she “brings Native Americans to the fictional frontier in a way that honors the genre.” While this is the seventeenth novel in her Wind River Mystery series, you can easily read it as a stand-alone story. The two main series characters are Arapaho attorney, Vicky Holden, and Jesuit priest, Father John O’Malley. Why military re-enactors think it is a good idea to stage a re-enactment of the Battle of the Little Bighorn on the Wind River Reservation is unclear. When the impersonator of General George Armstrong Custer is shot during a parade, it seems inevitable that Colin Morningside, a descendant of Crazy Horse, must be to blame. Is he? -- JAC

Life in Motion

Copeland, Misty - Life in Motion: an Unlikely Ballerina (Biography 92 Copeland, Misty) -- In this highly regarded memoir, Misty Copeland documents her meteoric rise to the top of the professional ballet world as the first African-American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre.  Because she came from an unstable and poor family, her biggest aspirations were to join her middle school drill team.  It isn’t long after she joins the team, that her teacher recognizes her unique talent and obtains a scholarship for her to attend a local ballet school.  Dancing at recitals and competitions, her abilities lead her to summer internships at prominent ballet companies.  But it is not all sweetness along the way.  Family difficulties and poverty intrude upon her efforts, but not enough to stop this very talented ballerina.  -- SCR

Lauren Greasewater's War

Hirst, Steve - Lauren Greasewater’s War (Fiction - Free downloadable book) -- Lauren Napier is an urban Native American musician living in New York City. A Havasupai stranger attends one of her performances, and says he knows her. The man comes from her people, and she asks to meet her family. The story traces her quest from the streets of New York to the Canyons of the Southwest, finding her way back to her birthplace to reinvent herself as Lauren Greasewater. Caught between two worlds, she unintentionally turns a cultural misunderstanding into an armed conflict, which captures the nation’s attention. (One Book Arizona)  -- SRL

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Horan, Nancy - Under the Wide and Starry Sky (Fiction Horan) -- Horan’s first book, Loving Frank, was the fictionalized biography of Frank Lloyd Wright. This time she has penned a fictionalized story about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne.  At the age of 35, Fanny leaves her philandering husband in San Francisco, and moves (with her three children in tow) to Belgium to study art. Soon she is staying at a quiet artists’ colony in France where she meets a young Scot lawyer, Robert Louis Stevenson. He longs to devote his life to writing; which he eventually does with such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They eventually fall in love with each other. This is their story which took them around the world. Neither of them was a saint, but the story of their decades long affair is as luminous as the stars. -- JAC

Calling Me Home

Kibler, Julie - Calling Me Home - (Fiction Kibler) -- Miss Isabelle, 90 years old, enlists the aid of her African-American hairdresser, Dorrie, to drive her back home to Cincinnati. Dorrie knows Isabelle treats her like the daughter she never had, but isn't really sure why she wants her to come. Along the way, Isabelle's story of her youth comes out; how her Daddy was the local G.P. in town, how they had Nell as their housekeeper, and how her Daddy mentored Nell's young son, Robert, to become the town's next doctor. One day when Robert sees Isabelle is in trouble with a strange man, he comes to her aid. From that moment on, Isabelle takes a real interest in Robert, as only a naïve 16 year old can. Though she is warned against taking the relationship to the next level, she doesn't stop to think of what her actions will cost him and his family. -- SCR

The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Livesey, Margot - The Flight of Gemma Hardy (Fiction Livesey) – This novel is often called a homage to Jane Eyre by reviewers. Gemma is taken from her native Iceland to live in Scotland when her widowed father drowns at sea. But, at the age of ten her doting uncle and guardian also dies, and Gemma is left to the care of a resentful aunt. She receives a scholarship to Claypoole School, where, it turns out; she actually is treated as an unpaid servant. When the school goes bankrupt, Gemma takes her minimal education and finds employment as an au pair on the Orkney Islands. The remote Blackbird Hall belongs to a London businessman, Mr. Sinclair, and Gemma’s charge is his eight year old niece. Set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and 1960s, this is a saga featuring love, betrayal, redemption, discovery and intrigue.  -- JAC

Blossom Street Brides

Macomber, Debbie - Blossom Street Brides (Fiction Macomber) – I would venture that Macomber is one of everyone’s favorite romance authors. This time she is back on Blossom Street and the community that centers on A Good Yarn store. Lauren Elliott is a jeweler who has waited years for her long-term boyfriend to propose. She makes a bold choice that leads her to a man she never dreamed she would meet. Newly married Bethanne Scranton is madly in love with her husband, Max, but it is difficult for him to work in California, while her job keeps her in Seattle. Lydia Goetz is happy with her husband and their two children, but she worries about her aging mother, the nightmares of her daughter, and the fate of A Good Yarn in difficult economic times. As usual, the solution to all the women’s problems takes place within their intersected lives. – JAC

The Girl in the Blue Beret

Mason, Bobbie Ann - The Girl in the Blue Beret (Fiction Mason) -- This novel was inspired by the World War II experiences of the author’s father-in-law. Widower Marshall Stone was shot down in occupied Europe, now, many decades later, he is about to retire as a commercial airline pilot. Marshall goes back to France to try and find the resistance members who risked their lives to get him over the Pyrenees to Spain so he could get back to his base in England. He wants to thank the courageous men and women and renew their ties, if possible. Most of all he wants to find the teenager who guided him through Paris, The Girl in the Blue Beret. -- JAC

A Fall of Marigolds

Meissner, Susan - A Fall of Marigolds (Fiction Meissner) -- The story opens in September of 2011, with remembering 9/11 and the collapse of the North Tower in September of 2001. Taryn Michaels was on her way there to meet her husband for breakfast and to announce that they were going to be parents. She is late because she stopped to pick up a scarf one of her customers wanted matched for fabric - a marigold scarf. The story then switches to September 1911. This part of the story involves the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in Manhattan.  Nurse Clara Woods had witnessed the awful destruction of lives and relationships in the fire. She moved to Ellis Island to work with immigrants who are isolated because of scarlet fever and other illnesses until they are cured or until they die. One of the immigrants enters with an orange marigold scarf. How does this scarf entwine these two women’s lives?  This is a very interesting story with a lot of history.  – SRL

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Sendker, Jan-Philipp - The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Fiction Sendker) -- Julia Win has just graduated from law school when her father disappears.  The only clue she has is a love letter written by her father to a woman Julia doesn’t know. Once Julia arrives in her father’s homeland of Burma, she is met by an old man, U Ba, who says he has been waiting four years for her to come. U Ba knows all about her: how old she is, who her parents are, and what stories her father told her as a child.  Though she isn’t sure she wants to hear, the old man also tells her the story of a man she is not familiar with, one who was abandoned and blinded as a boy and who loved a disabled girl named Mi Mi. Though she wonders how on earth this unfortunate boy has anything to do with her father’s disappearance, she is drawn into the old man’s tales.  You will also be drawn into this tale and its sweet resolution.  -- SCR

A Well-Tempered Heart

Sendker, Jan-Philipp - A Well-Tempered Heart (Fiction Sendker) -- Ten years after her visit to Burma, Julia finds herself at a crossroads.  Though she is a successful lawyer, she is now estranged from her family and boyfriend of four years.  One day at an important presentation, Julia hears a woman’s voice asking: “Who are you?” “What do these men want with you?”  When she is unable to find a way to eliminate the voice, she seeks the advice of a monk, who advises her to find the voice’s owner back in Burma.  Once again you will become entwined not only with the woman’s story, but how Julia finally finds peace in her life. -- SCR

The Story of Beautiful Girl

Simon, Rachel - The Story of Beautiful Girl (Fiction Simon) -- The story begins with Lynnie and Homan running away from the Pennsylvania State School of the Incurable and Feebleminded in the late 1960s. Lynnie is pregnant and does not want to give birth at the school.  They knock on a stranger’s door, Kate, an ex-school teacher who was never able to have children of her own. It changes all of their lives forever.  The book is presented from the point of view of Lynnie, Homan, Kate and, eventually, the child. This was one of my favorite books.  It is also a story about institutions and how people were treated in them, and some of the situations that led people to put their children in them. It was a very moving story by a great storyteller. – SRL

Other Good Books:
The Daring Ladies of Lowell

Alcott, Kate - The Daring Ladies of Lowell (Fiction Alcott) -- It is 1832 when Alice Barrow decides to follow her dreams of independence by signing on as a mill girl in Lowell, Massachusetts.  When Alice discovers the mill is running with unsafe conditions, including inhalation of cotton fibers and machine accidents, she assumes the role of advocate for mill safety to the mill-owning Fiske family.  Though she is invited to the Fiske’s Beacon Hill home, only Hiram Fiske’s son, Samuel, seems to listen to her concerns.  Things come to a head when one of the mill girls turns up dead, and the coroner rules it a suicide. – SCR

Dead Water

Cleeves, Ann - Dead Water (Fiction Cleeves) – The detective in this mystery series is Inspector Jimmy Perez. Despite his name this is a series that takes place in the Shetland Islands. While the murder is not described in too gory a fashion, Cleeves mysteries are a bit on the dark side, and probably more true to life than a traditional cozy. Perez has been on leave, but decides to help with the investigation when the body of a journalist is found in a traditional Shetland boat. The victim had left the islands years before to pursue his career. It is possible that he was now chasing a story that many islanders don’t want to come to the surface. It is possible to enjoy this book without reading the earlier ones in the series. The series is being filmed for the BBC and will probably appear on American television next year. -- JAC

Shadows of Death

Dams, Jeanne M. - Shadows of Death (Fiction Dams) – Coincidentally this book also takes place on Scottish islands. In this case it is the Orkney.  Dorothy Martin is an American widow who has married an English retired Chief Constable, Alan Nesbit. He suggests a trip to Orkney to see some intriguing Stone Age excavations. Dorothy and Alan note that there is considerable dissension between the archaeologists and the main donor for the dig (an abrasive American). When the donor’s body is found at the dig an investigation ensues. Dorothy and Alan then launch an unofficial and unwelcome investigation of their own. While part of the Dorothy Martin mystery series, this novel can still be read on its own. -- JAC

The Reading Circle

Lee, Ashton - The Reading Circle (Fiction Lee) -- This is a sequel to The Cherry Cola Book Club. Librarian, Maura Beth Mayhew, has one year to prove how important her library is to the town of Cherico, Mississippi. Of course her nemesis, Councilman Durden Sparks, wants to divert the library budget to his own pet project – an industrial park that will bear his name (and fatten his wallet). It seems that even nature is against the Library as a horrific storm batters the library building and other city structures. But the Cherry Cola Book Club is attracting new members and may still be the savior of the library. The title for the club to read this time is Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom, which the men in the group think will be more fun than Eudora Welty’s The Robber Bridegroom. Once again the book club members win the day against Sparks. A few recipes are included. -- JAC

Park Lane

Osborne, Frances - Park Lane (Fiction Osborne) -- This is another book that may appeal to fans of Downton Abbey. The mansion on Park Lane is owned by the family of Bea, a bored, recently jilted girl, still living at home and looking for excitement. Grace is working there as a housemaid, even though she is a trained secretary. It seems that her lower class northern accent prohibits her from London office work. The story covers the years between 1914 and 1923. Both young women are harboring secrets: Bea has joined her aunt as a follower of the radical suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, even though her mother supports the non-violent suffragists. Grace has not told her family she is working as a maid. -- JAC

Brown Bag Booklist from February 13
The first phone call from heaven

Albom, Mitch - The First Phone Call from Heaven (Fiction Albom) -- The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of people who are getting phone calls from heaven -- from people who have passed away -- children, sisters, mothers and a call from an employee who was fired from his job. Are the phone calls for real?  People from all over the world want to visit this small town and hear more about the phone calls that happen every Friday. Mitch Albom also wrote Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, just to mention a couple of his books. -- SRL

Lost Lake

Allen, Sarah AddisonLost Lake (Fiction Allen) -- Lost Lake Camp is in southern Georgia. The camp, with twelve cabins and a house is owned by Eby Pim, who has lived there for most of her life. She is a long-time widow, and now wants to travel the world. She decides that this will be the last summer for the camp, which she is ready to sell to a developer. As the summer progresses, Eby’s great niece Kate Pheris and daughter Devin decide to visit on a whim. A couple of eccentric old ladies, Selma and Bulahdeen, who have been coming for years also decide to come, as does a very quiet gentleman named Jack. And then there are people from the past including Eby’s mute housekeeper Lisette and her young neighbor Wes. This is an atmospheric, enchanting and somewhat mysterious novel. -- JAC

The bride's house

Dallas, Sandra - The Bride’s House (Fiction Dallas) -- This is a novel about the secrets and passions of three generations of women, who have all lived in the same Victorian home called the Bride’s House. The three generations of women in this novel are Nealie, a battered but strong girl who strikes out on her own to build a new life in Colorado during the late 1880’s and finds love with two very different men. Later, comes Pearl, quiet and dutiful who must find her own happiness as she lives a life shaped by her father’s memories. Finally, there is Susan, a child of privilege who may have the chance to find her dreams in Georgetown, Colorado. -- SRL (based on the summary in

The whole enchilada

Davidson, Diane Mott – The Whole Enchilada (Fiction Davidson) -- Goldy Schultz is a fantastic caterer in Golden, Colorado. She is devastated when one of her best friends dies as she is leaving a birthday party which Goldy had catered. She is even more upset when the autopsy reveals that it was not a massive coronary, as was originally believed, but murder. Then it becomes clear that Goldy herself may be the next victim. It is up to Goldy and her sheriff husband Tom to figure out the motive and the culprit. This is the seventeenth novel in this series which continues its great popularity. As always, recipes are included. -- JAC

The all-girl filling station's last reunion : a novel

Flagg, Fannie – The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion (Fiction Flagg) -- Sookie Simmons Poole has just married off her last daughter and wonders what will come next.  Since she lives next-door to her aging, overbearing and formidable mother, Lenore Simmons Krackenberry, who is the epitome of genteel southerness, Sookie is pretty sure she won’t be bored. Then a mysterious letter arrives, and Sookie questions everything she thought she knew about her Alabama family and their roots. Her story soon dovetails with that of a proud Polish family from Wisconsin. The Jurdabralinki’s gas station nearly had to close when all the area men joined up during World War Two. But the family’s four girls stepped up to the challenge. Fritzi, the eldest daughter became the mechanic and the other girls offered full service (on roller skates). Later, Fritzi, who had also been a stunt pilot, joins the WASPS, an elite female branch of the U. S. Air Force. Fannie Flagg is in rare form and this may be her best novel yet. It is warm and funny and has a fascinating historical backstory. This may be the best genealogical novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading. -- JAC

Murder by sunlight : the charity quilt

Graham, Barbara – Murder by Sunlight (Fiction Graham) -- Tony Abernathy is the Sheriff of Park County in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. His wife, Theo, owns a quilt shop, also known as gossip central. The small town of Silersville is about to celebrate the Fourth of July. Tony hopes it will be quiet, but has his doubts with a quilt show being hung in his mother’s folk-art museum, the first annual ramp (an  aromatic onion type bulb) festival and an antique car parade. The book is a good example of a small-town rural police procedural. It is also peopled with some very strange local characters. A number of crimes soon take Tony’s and his small staff’s attention: an intruder who attacks with a hammer and wrench, a body found in a tree, another body found in a greenhouse. For those who like crafty mysteries, Theo’s mystery quilt pattern (included in the book) will add another layer of enjoyment. -- JAC

The girls of Atomic City : the untold story of the women who helped win World War II

Kiernan, Denise - The Girls of Atomic City (Non Fiction 976.873 K475g) -- During World War II, the women left behind joined forces in their desire to help win the war in any way they could.  Though many began to work in their local factories, some relocated to a secretive facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  After surviving lengthily interviews, invasive background checks, and substandard living conditions, they began working in jobs they did not fully understand.  It wasn’t until after the news that the atom bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, that they finally discovered their roles at Oak Ridge. -- SCR

The boy on the wooden box : how the impossible became possible... on Schindler's list

Leyson, Leon - The Boy on the Wooden Box:  How the Impossible Became the Possible. . . on Schindler’s List (Youth Biography 92 Leyson, Leon) -- Set in the century’s darkest times, Leon Leyson recalls his life as a young boy in World War II Krakow.  After the Nazis invaded Poland and life became dangerous for the Jewish population, Oskar Schindler hired Leon’s father.  Though Schindler was not seen as a trustworthy man, employment at Schindler’s enamelware firms saved Leon’s family and many others from certain death.  This memoir is from the youth department, but do not let that stop you from reading this poignant memoir. -- SCR

Garden of stones

Littlefield, Sophie - Garden of Stones (Fiction Littlefield) -- Lucy Takeda is just 14 years old when her father passes away and the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.   Soon, both she and her mother are sent from their comfortable San Francisco home to the Manzanar Interment Camp for Japanese.  When her mother’s exquisite beauty attracts the unwanted attention of camp authorities, tragedy ensues. -- SCR

Dogtripping : 25 rescues, 11 volunteers, and 3 RVs on our canine cross-country adventure

Rosenfelt, David – Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventures (Biography 92 Rosenfelt, David) -- My first question in reading this was why would anyone have 25 dogs? Well the answer is that David and his wife run a dog rescue operation called the Tara Foundation, which has placed several thousand rescue dogs with their forever families. And why would anyone move from California to Maine with such a large canine family? Well they certainly couldn’t leave the dogs behind. In addition to the hilarious tale of the trip, Rosenfelt tells the individual heart-warming stories of many of the dogs. -- JAC

Philomena : a mother, her son, and a fifty-year search

Sixsmith, Martin - Philomena:  A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search (Biography 92 LEE, PHILOMENA) -- A young unwed mother is forced to give up the rights to her son 3 years after giving birth in an Irish convent.  Fifty years later, after Philomena confesses this indiscretion to her daughter, a renewed search leads them to the United States to pick up the trail.  While the movie of the same name focuses on the search itself, the book explores the young boy’s anguish over not knowing the circumstances behind his adoption. -- SCR

A star for Mrs. Blake

Smith, April – A Star for Mrs. Blake (Fiction Smith) -- In 1931 Cora Blake is offered the trip of a lifetime by the United States government. Thirteen years earlier, she lost her only son, Sammy, in World War I. He lied about his age and enlisted at the age of sixteen, and was the only one from their small Maine community to die. In 1929, Congress passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of fallen soldiers to visit their sons’ graves in France. This is the story of Cora and four other ‘Gold Star’ mothers who went on that pilgrimage. Cora is an organizer (actually she was a librarian) who takes it upon herself to bring their small group together. The group includes Katie, an Irish maid who lost two sons; Minnie, a Jewish farmer’s wife; Wilhelmina, who has spent time in a mental asylum; and Bobbie, a wealthy Boston socialite. They also have a military escort and a nurse assigned to the group. This is a touching and well-written story about a little-known footnote in American history. -- JAC

While we were watching Downton Abbey

Wax, Wendy – While We Were Watching Downton Abbey (Fiction Wax) -- This is a wonderful novel about friendships. In this case, the friendships are nurtured while watching the hit drama Downton Abbey. The Alexander is an historic Atlanta apartment building. The apartment concierge, Edward Parker, who is a transplanted English butler, has the idea to show the episodes from seasons one and two of the drama on succeeding Sunday evenings. The idea is a hit and serves as a way for three very different women to interact and become friends. Samantha Davis has been married for 25 years. She married for security, but could it have deepened into real love? Claire Walker has been divorced for a long time, and has just sent her only daughter off to college. A published author of two romance novels, she is taking the plunge into becoming a full-time author. The only problem here is writer’s block. The youngest woman is Brooke MacKenzie. She is raising her two young daughters alone, after a bitter divorce. She spends a lot of time avoiding her ex-husband who has moved into an apartment in the same building. -- JAC

I am Malala : the story of the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban

Yousafzai, Malala - I Am MalalaThe Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (Biography 92 Yousafzal, Malala) -- This is the inspirational story of Malala Yousafzai, a young teen who dared to stand up to the Taliban in favor of equal educational opportunities for girls in Pakistan.  Because Malala’s parents held her in the same regard as her two brothers, she attended the school her father owned.   When Malala began to vocalize her views on the educational rights of women, she was shot in the head.  After her miraculous recovery in England, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. -- SCR

Cozy Corner:

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, check out our new mystery blog called the Cozy Corner. A new title will be posted weekly, along with a description of the story and a list of all the books in a series (if appropriate). You may access the blog through our homepage under Library News and Events, or you may go directly to

Other Good Books:
Murder at Hatfield House : an Elizabethan mystery

Carmack, Amanda – Murder at Hatfield House (Paperback Mystery Carmack) -- This is the first book in a mystery series set in Elizabethan England. In this story, taking place in 1558, Queen Mary is still on the throne and Elizabeth is at the center of many intrigues. Kate Haywood, a simple musician in Elizabeth’s household, sets out to solve the murder of Queen Mary’s envoy. –– JAC

Lending a paw

Cass, Laurie – Lending a Paw (Paperback Mystery Cass) -- Librarian Minnie Hamilton drives a bookmobile in the resort town of Chilson, Michigan. She is assisted by her rescue cat Eddie. Eddie leads Minnie to the discovery of a man’s body. This is the first book in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series. -- JAC

Jeeves and the wedding bells

Faulks, Sebastian – Jeeves and the Wedding Bells; an Homage to P. G. Wodehouse (Fiction Wodehouse) -- Wodehouse documented the lives of Bertie Wooster (a young man about town) and his butler Jeeves (the very model of the modern manservant) from 1915 until 1974. Now, forty years later, the comic duo returns in a hilarious affair of mix-ups and mishaps. -- JAC

Morning glory : a novel

Jio, Sarah – Morning Glory (Fiction Jio) -- Boat Street is on Seattle’s Lake Union. The last slip on the dock (street) holds a houseboat with weathered cedar shingles and trailing morning glory (a white flowering vine whose loveliness is deceiving). The story ties together Penny Wentworth from the 1950s and Ada Santorini in the present day. In typical Jio fashion, Penny’s mysterious past and Ada’s clouded future are destined to converge. -- JAC

The invention of wings

Kidd, Sue Monk -- The Invention of Wings (Fiction Kidd) -- When Sarah Grimke turns 11 years of age, her family gives her ownership of a young slave girl named Handful.  Sarah has rather unconventional ideas for early 19th century Charleston; the first thing she does with the young girl is to try to set her free. Though her parents stop this effort, a clandestine visit to Handful’s family leads to a promise to set Handful free in the future.  -- SCR

The birth house

McKay, Ami – The Birth House (Fiction McKay) -- Dora Rare is the first daughter in five generations of Rares. As an apprentice to the outspoken Acadian midwife Miss Babineau, Dora learns to assist the women of an isolated Nova Scotian village through infertility, difficult labors, breech births, unwanted pregnancies, and unfulfilling sex lives. During the turbulent World War I era, uncertainty and upheaval accompany the arrival of a brash new medical doctor and his promises of progress and fast, painless childbirth. In a clash between tradition and science, Dora finds herself fighting to protect the rights of women as well as the wisdom that has been put into her care. -- JAC

Stella Bain : a novel

Shreve, Anita – Stella Bain (Fiction Shreve) -- It is 1916 when a young woman awakens in a field hospital in Marne, France with amnesia.  Though she recovers from her physical injuries, she remains ignorant of her identity.  After deciding to stay at the hospital using the name of Stella Bain, she helps as a nurse’s aide and ambulance driver.   When her memory finally returns, she finds out that she has two children and a very complicated marriage in America.  -- SCR

Brown Bag Booklist from November 14
The hen of the Baskervilles : a Meg Langslow mystery

Andrews, Donna – The Hen of the Baskervilles (Fiction Andrews) – This is the fifteenth mystery in the Meg Langslow series. When it comes to funny, screwball, tongue-in-cheek mysteries I don’t think anyone writes better than Andrews. In this outing Meg is the organizer of the Caerphilly state fair and is soon involved in a kidnapping (of chickens). The crimes escalate from there but Meg (and her trusty notebook that tells her when to breathe) is on the case. -- JAC

The Paris architect : a novel

Belfoure, Charles – The Paris Architect (Fiction Belfoure) – A small time French architect finds the opportunity to design and build the projects of his dreams, if he will design spaces to hide Jews in World War II. What begins as a commercial decision becomes a moral dilemma when one of his hiding spots turns into a death trap. -- SCR

Benedict Hall

Campbell, Cate – Benedict Hall (Fiction Campbell) – Set in 1920 in Seattle, this is another candidate for those who love Downton Abbey. The extremely wealthy Benedicts have two sons and a daughter. The troubled younger son, Preston, has just returned from World War One and is about to settle down as a journalist (writing a scandalous society column). The daughter, Margot, is a free-spirited physician struggling for success in a gender-biased profession. The downstairs staff consists of a black butler/chauffeur, a not very good cook, and twin Irish maids. A former Montana rancher, Frank Parrish, is introduced to the family by Preston. Frank had a very difficult war, and is trying to find a new profession where the loss of his left arm will not be a hindrance. He finds a job with the fledgling Boeing Company. -- JAC

The spymistress : a novel

Chiaverini, Jennifer – The Spymistress (Fiction Chiaverini) – This novel is based upon the true story of a prominent Virginia family who were involved in aiding Unionists during the Civil War. At first, the Van Lews brought sustenance to captive Union soldiers, and then escalated to smuggling valuable information, soldiers and slaves up to the north. -- SCR


Deraniyagala, Sonali – Wave (Biography 92 Deraniyagala, Sonali) – The London-based Deraniyagala lost her family in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, while on vacation with her family. After she confirmed the worst, she buried herself in a haze of alcohol and medication. Though this is undeniably a sad tale, you get to know her family and understand her loss, then cheer for her eventual release from the most intense guilt and suffering. -- SCR

Five days at Memorial : life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital

Fink, Sheri – Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Non Fiction  362.110976 F499f) – The Pulitzer Prize winning Fink focuses upon the five days after Hurricane Katrina marooned both patients and staff at the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. MMC posted a 27% mortality rate for this time period due to its method of triaging patients for evacuation and their usage of lethal drugs administered to terminal patients. -- SCR

The last original wife

Frank, Dorothea Benton – The Last Original Wife (Fiction Frank) – Leslie is the last original wife among her husband’s group of cronies. They have traded in their first wives for younger, blonder, enhanced models. She is proud of her status and the longevity of her marriage until one day she is out with her husband and his friends, she slips into a manhole – and no one realizes she is gone. She sees how her marriage has changed. After thirty years of marriage she leaves. Leslie is going to reclaim the strong, vibrant woman she was meant to be. -- SRL

Blackberry winter : a novel

Jio, Sarah – Blackberry Winter (Fiction Jio) – This is Jio’s third book (after The Violets of March and The Bungalow). She writes in the ‘women’s fiction’ genre with stories featuring wonderful characters and a strong sense of place. A blackberry winter is a meteorological term describing a very late spring snow-storm. Journalist Claire Aldridge is assigned to cover the Seattle 2010 storm and discovers there was a similar storm in 1933 Seattle. In the earlier storm Vera Ray comes home from work to discover her three-year–old son is missing. He was never found and now Claire is determined to find out what really happened. -- JAC

Weekends with Daisy

Luttrell, Sharron Kahn – Weekends with Daisy (Non Fiction 362.40483 L974w) – Luttrell decided to volunteer as a weekend puppy raiser. The dog-training program features young dogs trained during the week by a select number of convicts. Daisy is a fairly typical Labrador retriever, smart but with a mind of her own. Sharron, of course, falls in love with the dog and is very impressed with the training she is receiving behind bars. Her job is to take Daisy out into many social situations, something that, of course, is impossible in prison.  Ultimately Daisy will be given to someone who needs a therapy dog. -- JAC

The inn at Rose Harbor

Macomber, Debbie – The Inn at Rose Harbor (Fiction Macomber) – Jo Marie Rose arrives in Cedar Dove after the death of her military husband. She buys a bed and breakfast and starts her life anew. The first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. They have never gotten along, but a long-lost acquaintance from his high school days teaches him about forgiveness. The other guest is Abby Kincaid who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother’s wedding. She has painful memories from her past and hasn’t talked to her old friends for twenty years. This is a touching novel of life’s grand possibilities, and the heart’s ability to heal. -- SRL

Rose Harbor in bloom

Macomber, Debbie – Rose Harbor in Bloom (Fiction Macomber) – Rose Marie has designed a rose garden in the memory of her late husband. She enlisted handyman Mark Taylor. Mark is short-tempered and surly. But they do find comfort in each other’s company. One of her new guests is Annie Newton who comes to town to orchestrate her grandparent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary only to find out her grandparents aren’t getting along that great. The next guest is high-powered business woman Mary Smith. She was very successful, but illness made her face her sole regret. She broke up with her true love, George Hudson, and now has returned to Cedar Cove to make amends. Compassion and joy await Jo Marie, Annie and Mary as they make peace with their pasts. -- SRL

The girl you left behind

Moyes, Jojo – The Girl You Left Behind (Fiction Moyes) – Set in World War One, Sophie is living with her family in St. Peronne when the Germans come to occupy Northern France. Newly married, Sophie’s artist-husband has been conscripted into the army. Her only tangible memory of him is a painting done of her when they first met. When Sophie is forced into cooking for the Germans each night, the local commandant begins to admire the painting. Nearly a century later, the painting becomes the center of a dispute when its ownership is challenged by a lawyer who has made his mark by reuniting artwork with original owners. -- SCR

Calling invisible women

Ray, Jeanne – Calling Invisible Women (Fiction Ray) – Like many women in their fifties holding down jobs and looking after families, Clover Hobart has often felt like she is invisible. Then she wakes up one day to find she actually is. However, no one seems to notice. But quite by accident, Clover finds other women in her predicament. She uses her invisibility to get to know her family and friends better. -- SRL

Reunited : an investigative genealogist unlocks some of life's greatest family mysteries

Slaton, Pamela – Reunited: An Investigational Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life’s Greatest Family Mysteries (Non Fiction 362.8298 S631r) – After Pamela Slaton’s investigation into her own birth parents didn’t produce the desired response, she began her career in investigative genealogy with more successful results. Each chapter outlines both a case history and its resolution. -- SCR

Shadows on a Cape Cod wedding

Wait, Lea – Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding: An Antique Print Mystery (Fiction Wait) – This is a very well-written and engaging mystery series. The ‘hook’ for me is the description of a real antique print at the beginning of each chapter. The descriptions are so evocative that I can picture the print in my mind. This time antique print dealer Maggie Summer is on Cape Cod to help with her best friend’s wedding. She is interrupted by a murder and a hurricane, but ultimately solves the crime and the wedding takes place. This book is published by Perseverance Press which is making a very nice name for itself by rescuing authors whose series have been dropped by one of the so-called major publishers. Some of my favorite authors are now being published by Perseverance. -- JAC

The prayer box

Wingate, Lisa – The Prayer Box (Fiction Wingate) – Tandi Rose is a single mom with a troubled past. She is renting a cottage from Iola Poole. When Iola passes away, Tandi is asked to clean up the house. Tandi finds letters and as she immerses herself she is allowed a glimpse into a world where people give without expecting anything I return, and love knowing they are bound to be hurt. -- SRL

The next three books can be read as a series, but each book has a main character and the similar characters just waltz in and out of the books.

Tending roses

Wingate, Lisa – Tending Roses (Fiction Wingate) – Kate Bowman move with her husband and young son to her grandmother’s Missouri farm. The family wants Kate to convince her grandmother to move off the beloved farm into a nursing home. The grandmother leaves her journal out for her granddaughter to find and begins teaching her lessons through her stories. -- SRL

Good Hope Road

Wingate, Lisa – Good Hope Road (Fiction Wingate) – This is a story about a community that is struck by a tornado causing them to not only rebuild their town, but also rebuild themselves. This is a story of new beginnings, repentance, forgiveness and unconditional service. -- SRL

The language of sycamores

Wingate, Lisa – The Language of the Sycamores (Fiction Wingate) – Karen and her younger sister have always been in competition. When Karen is let go from her job and also gets an abnormal test result from her doctor, it is a double blow that sends her to her sister who is now living on Grandma Rose’s farm. And in the quiet of the Missouri Ozarks she begins to discover the joy to make her life complete. -- SRL

Other Good Books:
The light in the ruins

Bohjalian, Chris – The Light in the Ruins (Fiction Bohjalian) – During World War II, curator Vittore Rosati attempts to keep Italian artifacts out of Nazi hands. When the Nazis discover his estate, Villa Chimera, is the site of an important Etruscan burial ground, the entire Rosati family is drawn into the battle to stop the appropriation of Italian art. But what is a valiant effort in their eyes is not seen as that by fellow Tuscans – SCR

Between heaven and Texas

Bostwick, Marie – Between Heaven and Texas (Fiction Bostwick) – Bostwick is the author of the Cobbled Court Quilt series. This book is like a prequel to the series filling out the life story of one of Cobbled Quilts minor characters, Mary Dell Templeton. It takes place in the small Texas town called Too Much. Mary Dell pieces her life together in much the same way she pieces her colorful quilts. This is a vibrant story of overcoming hardship through hard work, humor and warmth. -- JAC

Mix-up in miniature

Grace, Margaret – Mix-up in Miniature (Fiction Grace) – Miniature Mysteries is another series that has been resurrected by Perseverance Press. Camille Minichino is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors, who also uses the names Ada Madison and Margaret Grace. In this series the heroine Geraldine Porter builds miniature dollhouses from found items. She is helped in this endeavor by her adorable, young, precocious grand-daughter Maddie. In this case a very wealthy celebrity has volunteered to donate a fabulous dollhouse for a library fund-raiser. The potential donor is murdered, and it is up to Geraldine and Maddie to solve the case. A few tips on building dollhouses are included throughout the story and as an appendix. -- JAC

The lowland

Lahiri, Jhumpa – Lowland (Fiction Lahari) – Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Lowland relates how the thoughtless actions of a young Indian revolutionary change the paths of his immediate family for many generations. – SCR

A curious man : the strange and brilliant life of Robert Believe it or not Ripley

Thompson, Neal – A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley (Biography 92 Ripley, Robert) – Born in 1890 as LeRoy Robert Ripley, he became known as Robert L. Ripley by the millions of fans who idolized him and his fascination with weird people and events. He sold his first cartoon to Time magazine at age eighteen, but it was his Believe It or Not concept that would make him a successful entertainment figure. – SRL

A summer in the country

Willett, Marcia – A Summer in the Country (Fiction Willett) – British author Willett is being compared to Rosamunde Pilcher. Brigid Foster has inherited Foxhole from her father and has created two guest cottages to supplement her family’s income in Cornwall. One cottage is currently occupied, however, by her irritating mother (meaning no income). The other, fortunately, is taken by one of her favorite regular visitors, Louise Parry. Brigid’s half-sister lives nearby. It turns out all of the women are working through some family issues and the growth of the relationships make for a very heart-warming story. – JAC

Christmas Bonus Books:
Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen

Brightwell, Emily – Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen (Fiction Brightwell) – This is a long-running very light mystery series taking place in Victorian England. Mrs. Jeffries is the housekeeper for Inspector Witherspoon of Scotland. Without her help he would never solve a case. -- JAC

The Christmas visitor : an Amish romance

Byler, Linda – The Christmas Visitor: an Amish Romance (Fiction Byler) – This is an inspirational Amish romance. Ruth Miller is a young widow with six small children. Her community helps to support the family, but now support and love comes from a new and wonderful source. -- JAC

The dogs of Christmas

Cameron, W. Bruce – The Dogs of Christmas (Fiction Cameron) – This is a heart-warming romance with dogs. Josh is a loner, who is thrown into panic when someone drops off a very pregnant dog at his home in Colorado. He’s never had a dog before, and has no idea how to take care of a dog with, ultimately, five puppies. He calls upon the local vet and the animal shelter for help. As Josh goes from just wanting to responsibly get rid of the dogs to loving all of them, he also opens up his heart to romance and a lifelong human/dog relationship. -- JAC

Starry night : a Christmas novel

Macomber, Debbie – Starry Night: a Christmas Novel (Fiction Macomber) – I usually look for Macomber’s Christmas romances featuring the angels Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. I couldn’t get my hands on this year’s installment, so I picked up this book instead. It is an old-fashioned Harlequin-type romance. A Chicago journalist sets out to find and interview a mysterious author who lives in the remote Alaskan wilderness.  Despite their best intentions, and obvious differences a happy Christmas ending ensues. -- JAC                                            

A seaside Christmas

Woods, Sherryl – A Seaside Christmas (Fiction Woods) – I love Woods novels taking place in Chesapeake Shores, Maryland. I thought sure everyone was already happily married, but now it is the turn of Jenny Collins. -- JAC

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