May 2022


Moore-Gilbert, KylieThe uncaged sky
Nazari, AbbasAfter the Tampa
Williamson, DavidHome truths

After the Tampa / Abbas Nazari

When the Taliban were at the height of their power in 2001, Abbas Nazari’s parents were faced with a choice: stay and face persecution in their homeland, or seek security for their young children elsewhere. The family’s desperate search for safety took them on a harrowing journey from the mountains of Afghanistan to a small fishing boat in the Indian Ocean, crammed with more than 400 other asylum seekers. When their boat started to sink, they were mercifully saved by a cargo ship, the Tampa. However, one of the largest maritime rescues in modern history quickly turned into an international stand-off, as Australia closed its doors to these asylum seekers. The Tampa had waded into the middle of Australia’s national election, sparking their hardline policy of offshore detention. While many of those rescued by the Tampa were the first inmates sent to the island of Nauru, Abbas and his family were some of the lucky few to be resettled in New Zealand. Twenty years after the Tampa affair, Abbas tells his amazing story, from living under Taliban rule, to spending a terrifying month at sea, to building a new life at the bottom of the world. A powerful and inspiring story for our times, After the Tampa celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope. Readings, August 2021

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Albom, MitchThe stranger in the lifeboat
Baldacci, DavidDream town
Bennett, JulieThe understudy
Coben, HarlanThe match
Docker, SandieThe Wattle Island Book Club
Givney, RachelSecrets my father kept
Harmel, KristinThe book of lost names
Hinton, HildeA solitary walk on the moon
Jackson, JoshilynMother may I
Liardet, FrancesThink of me
Lukins, RobertLoveland
Parton, DollyRun, Rose, run
Pearse, LesleySuspects
Quinn, KateThe diamond eye
Shteyngart, GaryOur country friends
Stanley, JessicaA great hope
Stuart, DouglasYoung Mungo
Swanson, PeterNine lives
Tyler, AnneFrench braid
Ward, AnnieThe lying club

The stranger in the lifeboat / Mitch Albom

When the 200-million-dollar yacht Galaxy sinks, the distinction between passenger and crew quickly dissipates for the 10 survivors who make it to a lifeboat. Money and power, now simply two words of no help to any of them. After three days with no sign of rescue, supplies dwindling, and sharks circling, the survivors are amazed to pull a man from the sea. A man who has no injuries upon his body, not even a scratch. His condition maybe justification to the claim that he is the Lord and that all they need to do for salvation is to believe in him. The narrative is broken into three forms. In the first, the narrator Benji is writing in a notebook to his love, Annabelle, in the hope that if they don’t survive, the notebook will be found and a record of their struggle will exist. The second takes the format of television news reports on the ship before, during, and after it sinks. These chapters are used to assist the reader by describing the background of the survivors, explain what happens after the sinking, and finally, the third chapter is set in the present, with the lifeboat having been found washed up on the beach. As the story progresses Benji talks of a character named Dobby and the insinuation is that he may have had something to do with the sinking. Lambert, the owner of the yacht, is convinced it was sabotage. Fans of Albom will be happy to know that his latest novel contains that uplifting spirit which always seem to permeate his books. Good Reading Magazine, March 2022


The Wattle Island Book Club / Sandie Docker

The Wattle Island Book Club is another worthy edition to Sandie Docker’s library of published books. Told across two time lines and with two protagonists it sweeps us through the world of post-war Sydney and the small community of Wattle Island, through to modern day Australia. In 1950 teenage Anne leaves her home on Wattle Island for the excitement of big city life. She hopes to leave behind heartache and desperation, but it is not long before the big city throws up its own heartache and surprises. Perhaps what she was searching for can be found back on Wattle Island? Jumping forward three generations it introduces us to Grace the town librarian who has her own heartache and desperation to resolve. Grace learns of the mystery of the Wattle Island Book Club. Trying to deal with her own devastating secret she becomes determined to discover the reasons the book club dissolved after 50 years and to solve the mystery, but can she do it in time? As the two storylines converge and Anne and Grace meet, their lives become intertwined in surprising ways that have lasting impacts. The novel uses the historic book club to explore themes of community, love and connection. We are shown the powerful and profound impact that books and community can have on people. Sandie Docker has once again written a book filled with compassion, adventure and romance. Her storylines are threaded with tenderness and kindness and her characters, while flawed, show the great capacity of humans to love and care for each other. Good Reading Magazine


Run, Rose, run / Dolly Parton

Country music legend Parton’s strong debut, an exhilarating rags-to-riches story coauthored with bestseller Patterson (The President Is Missing with Bill Clinton), revolves around the troubled past of plucky singer/songwriter AnnieLee Keyes. AnnieLee’s plan is to “get the hell out of Texas” and hitchhike to Nashville, Tenn., where she hopes to start her career as a performer. In Nashville, AnnieLee encounters ruthless, predatory agents and managers, but she also meets positive role models, notably Ruthanna Ryder, “one of country music’s grandest queens,” who takes AnnieLee under her wing. “If you want to make it in this town,” Ruthanna tells her, “being talented is just one little tiny part of the battle. Fearlessness is mandatory. And shamelessness sure as hell don’t hurt.” Her other ally is guitarist Ethan Blake, who brings her to Ruthanna’s attention. When AnnieLee’s life is threatened, she needs the help of her new friends to survive. Never mind that the mystery element runs a distant second to the story of AnnieLee making good in Nashville. Parton fans will relish this timeless fairy tale, which displays the singer’s lively way with words and draws liberally from her experience in the music business. Publishers Weekly, March 2022


French braid / Anne Tyler

In her 24th novel, Tyler once again unravels the tangled threads of family life. This familiar subject always seems fresh in her hands because Tyler draws her characters and their interactions in such specific and revealing detail. Robin and Mercy Garrett and their three children seem oddly distanced from each other when we meet them during a 1959 summer vacation. Robin talks a lot about what everything costs, and Mercy is frequently absent painting the local landscape. Fifteen-year-old Lily is also not around much; deprived of her Baltimore boyfriend, she’s taken up with an older boy who bossy, judgmental older sister Alice is pleased to opine is only using her. Seven-year-old David rejects Robin’s attempts to get him in the water in favor of inventing elaborate storylines for the plastic GIs he’s recast as veterinarians. As usual, Tyler deftly sets the scene and broadly outlines characters who will change and deepen over time as the Garretts traverse 60 years; individual chapters offer the perspective of each parent and sibling (plus three members of the third generation). We need to get inside their heads, because the Garretts seldom discuss what’s really on their minds, the primary example being the fact that once David goes to college, Mercy gets a studio and eventually stops living with Robin altogether. All the children know, but since she appears for family gatherings—including a weird but moving surprise 50th anniversary party Robin throws—no one ever mentions it. Tyler gives the final word to David, who, like his mother, has maintained tenuous family ties while deliberately keeping his distance. Families are like the French braids that left their daughter’s hair in waves even after she undid them, he tells his wife: “You’re never really free; the ripples are crimped in forever.” It’s a characteristically homely, resonant metaphor from a writer who understands that the domestic world can contain the universe. More lovely work from Tyler, still vital and creative at 80. Kirkus Review, March 2022

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Andrews, RosieThe leviathan
Cornwell, BernardWar Lord
Cornwell, BernardWar of the wolf
Turnbull, BrynThe last grand duchess

War of the wolf / Bernard Cornwell

This 11th entry in Cornwell’s Saxon Tales series (The Flame Bearer, 2016, etc.) is a rousing, bloodthirsty tale of tumult in early-days Britain. Uhtred, the powerful 10th-century Lord of Bebbanburg, sets out with less than a hundred men to relieve the siege of Ceaster and rescue Prince Æthelstan, King Edward’s son. But someone has tricked Uhtred, who has been lured across Britain “to rescue a man who did not need rescuing.” Someone has drawn him away from defense of his native Northumbria, and he determines to “discover the name of an enemy.” Around the year 920, Britain is still a jumble of small kingdoms. Edward is the self-appointed Anglorum Saxonum Rex, the first king of the Angles and the Saxons. He wants to annex Northumbria, but Uhtred will not swear loyalty to him. For one thing, Uhtred’s son-in-law Sigtryggr is already king there. Meanwhile, Christianity is beginning to spread, but the 60-something pagan Uhtred wants none of that—his gods can walk on water too, if they want to. Although the plot is complicated, it boils down to this: Uhtred wants to kill the Norseman who wants to kill him and conquer Northumbria. The story has marvelous details, such as the fierce warrior Svart who has a beard with bones woven into it. Swords have names like Serpent-Breath, Soul-Stealer, and Wasp-Sting. And be they Saxon, Angle, Dane, or Norse, everyone is enamored of wolves, especially the “wolf-warriors” who use henbane ointment to make them crazy before battle. Uhtred observes that King Edward is caught in “a tangle of love, loyalties and hate, mostly hate….The only thing that was simple was war.” And war there certainly is. Serpent-Breath and his many murderous cousins inflict bloody butchery in spectacular hand-to-hand combat. A Christian man laments that “my god weeps for Englaland…my god wants peace.” Alas, that god gets no satisfaction in this grand adventure. Great entertainment for fans of historical epics. Kirkus Review, October 2018


The Last Grand Duchess / Bryn Turnbull

Turnbull (The Woman Before Wallis) again successfully humanizes a family of powerful historical figures in this look at the end of the Romanov dynasty from the vantage point of Olga Nikolaevna, oldest daughter of last czar Nicholas. The knowledge that almost every reader will have—that Olga, her siblings, and parents will be executed in 1917 after the Russian Revolution—gives the novel a tragic patina from the outset (the ending is previewed by a prologue recounting a prophecy, made at Olga’s birth in 1896, that she would die before the age of 30). Turnbull begins in 1907 with a health scare that demonstrates the limits of royal lineage and power, as Olga’s hemophiliac brother Alexei’s severe illness prompts a fear that he will die young, a tragedy their mother believes was averted by the intercession of mystic Grigori Rasputin. Each chapter brings Olga closer to her doom, as the Romanovs are eventually imprisoned in the ironically named Freedom House. Though the tragic story has been fictionalized effectively in novels such as Carolyn Meyer’s Anastasia and Her Sisters, Turnbull adds to the lore by focusing on a more obscure Romanov, with a gift at making Olga’s situation painfully tangible. This amply justifies taking another look at the lives of the condemned royals. Publishers Weekly, February 2022

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Bothroyd, SallyBrunswick street blues
Campbell, NinaDaughters of Eve
Celestin, RaySunset swing
Chapman, JuliaDate with betrayal
Clifford, AoifeWhen we fall
Evanovich, JanetThe bounty
Evanovich, JanetThe recovery agent
Fowler, ChristopherHot water
Gerritsen, TessChoose me
Goddard, RobertThis is the night they come for you
Jardine, QuintinDeadlock
La Plante, LyndaVanished
Leadbeater, DavidThe Vatican secret
MiscellanousThe perfect crime
Rogers, IsobelContinental rift
Sayers, DorothyFive red herrings
Scott, SallyFromage
St. James, SimoneThe book of cold cases
Sten, CamillaThe lost village
Stevenson, BenjaminEveryone in my family has killed someone
Togawa, MasakoThe master key
Virtue, VickiThe raffles affair
Walker, SueThe reunion

When we fall / Aoife Clifford

Aoife Clifford’s latest crime novel follows the story of a down-on-her-luck barrister, Alex Tillerson, whose marriage is over and who returns to the small coastal town of Merritt to look after her mum. During an innocent walk on the beach Alex makes a chilling discovery of a dead body. She soon finds herself unwittingly embroiled in a murder investigation. When Alex goes to file a report on her discovery, she begins to realise there are many things that don’t add up in the town of Merritt.The police are claiming the death was purely accidental. Is there a link – as some locals claim – to the untimely death of another young woman, Bella Greggs, who was found dead at the bottom of a ravine with salt water in her lungs? Is the local constable tampering with evidence? When a third person is murdered, Alex can no longer walk away. Past events and histories begin to appear sinister as Alex struggles to uncover the truth about the murders and her own family’s history. The beginning of this book sets the premise for a really good crime read and the strength of this book is in its writing. Good Reading Magazine, March 2022



Choose Me / Tess Gerritsen

In their first collaboration, veterans Gerritsen and Braver unfold a painful, and painfully familiar, fable of adultery and its fatal consequences. The tale begins with the death of one of its principals: Commonwealth University senior Taryn Moore, whose ruined body is found on the sidewalk five floors beneath her Boston apartment. Detective Frances Loomis, who catches the case, wonders why Taryn, a beautiful, accomplished student who worked her way up from her mother’s hardscrabble Maine household to be offered admission to Commonwealth, would have ended her life. Apart from some backbiting by jealous students, the only flaw Frankie can find in Taryn’s litany of accomplishments is her recent breakup with Liam Reilly, the hometown boyfriend who’d joined her at Commonwealth. A series of alternating chapters, however, gradually reveal the grand passion in Taryn’s life: her attachment to professor Jack Dorian, whose course in star-crossed lovers she’s internalized to a dangerous degree. Even as she’s pressing worshipful fellow student Cody Atwood to shadow Liam and tell her what he’s been up to (no bombshells there), Taryn’s falling under the spell of her charismatic teacher, who’s feeling neglected because of the long hours his wife spends at Mount Auburn Hospital. The revelation that both his wife and his student are pregnant sends Jack spiraling into despair just as Frankie, back in the present, is absorbing the same news in the context of Taryn’s death. The fate of this modern-day Heloise and Abelard unfolds with minimum surprise but maximum impact. Kirkus Review, July 2021


The lost village / Camilla Sten

Fledgling documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt, the narrator of Sten’s strong debut, grew up listening to her grandmother’s reminiscences about Silvertjärn, a former mining village in a remote region of Sweden. In 1959, Alice’s grandmother had already left Silvertjärn when mysterious circumstances led to the disappearance of nearly everyone in the community, the grandmother’s parents and younger sister included; the only people left were a woman stoned to death in the town square and an abandoned newborn. Determined to make a name for herself, Alice assembles a group of friends to shoot a documentary on location around the same time of year the disappearance took place. Using old family correspondence to guide them, Alice and her crew begin to unravel the mystery. Their suspicions that they aren’t alone grow as they become victims of strange occurrences, equipment is destroyed, and loyalties are tested when their group members fall injured or go missing. Flashbacks heighten the tension. This gripping psychological thriller is sure to please fans of Shirley Jackson and cinema verité–styled horror. 100,000 copy announced first printing. Publishers Weekly, March 2022

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Ashenden, DeanTelling Tennant’s story305.89915 ASHE
Braude, MarkThe invisible emperor944.05092 BRAU
Coper, EdFacts and other lies303.375 COOP
Linnell, GarryThe devil’s work364.152 LINN

The invisible emperor / Mark Braude

A history of Napoleon’s short first exile, rendered in short, punchy chapters. The Treaty of Fontainebleau exiled the emperor to Elba and generously gave him sovereignty over the small island, which was rich in mineral deposits, featuring iron mines and good wine but poor soil. It certainly had no structure anywhere near sufficient to house the emperor. Accompanying him was Neil Campbell, a representative of England’s government who was directed to act as an impartial observer but not an enforcer. Campbell had no power or control over the emperor and spent a good deal of his time away with his mistress. Counting on his promised annual allowance, Napoleon was free to build houses and roads, develop commerce, maintain a navy and army, and even claim the nearby fertile land of Pianosa. He appointed a governor and treasurer and formed a council to establish the appearance of a constitutional monarchy. His mother and sister even joined him in exile. The terms of the treaty would prove to be its undoing, as Napoleon never intended to stay long, and nothing in the treaty proscribed his leaving the island. Louis XVIII, newly restored to the throne, had no intention of paying the annual allowance, and Campbell strongly warned the Allies that Napoleon was short of funds even though he tried to collect back taxes. Braude (Making Monte Carlo: A History of Speculation and Spectacle, 2016) wonders whether he would have stayed if he were sufficiently funded. Perhaps, but he was there only 10 months and left with a flotilla of armed vessels. It’s great fun reading about the Allies’ attempts to predict his destination, and those anecdotes reinforce our knowledge of the emperor’s great talents. His only mistake was leaving while the Allies were still gathered at the Congress of Vienna and able to quickly respond to his escape. Though not earth-shattering in his insights, Braude’s unique focus will allow this book to sit comfortably alongside the countless other Napoleon biographies. A simply written, sturdy addition to the groaning Napoleon shelves. Kirkus Review, October 2018

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Andrada, EuniceTake care
Araluen, EvelynDropbear
Shiosaki, ElfieHomecoming

Dropbear / Evelyn Araluen

This fierce debut from award-winning writer Evelyn Araluen confronts the tropes and iconography of an unreconciled nation with biting satire and lyrical fury. Dropbear interrogates the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigating the responsibilities that gather from sovereign country, the spectres of memory and the debris of settler-coloniality. This innovative mix of poetry and essay offers an eloquent witness to the entangled present, an uncompromising provocation of history, and an embattled but redemptive hope for a decolonial future. Readings, March 2021

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Aaronovitch, BenAmongst our weapons
Blake, OlivieThe atlas six
Muir, TamsynGideon the ninth
Nagamatsu, SequoiaHow high we go in the dark
Swan, RichardThe justice of kings

The atlas six / Olivie Blake

This melodramatic, series-opening magical school tale from Blake (The Answer You Are Looking for Is Yes) eschews action adventure for more cerebral, emotional beats. It begins as six young medeians, the most magically adept members of the populace, are initiated into the Alexandrian Society, the secretive body that alone has access to the reborn Library of Alexandria and all mystical knowledge therein. Each initiate has a skill set: Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona, long-standing rivals from their college days, are both physicists, practitioners of elemental magic; Reina Mori is a naturalist; Parisa Kamali is a powerful telepath while Callum Nova is her equal as an empath; and Tristan Caine has the power to see through illusions. Over the course of one year, they study in the Society’s mansion headquarters, learning more about magic and each other, all while knowing that at the end, they must choose to eliminate one of their number. Little happens for much of the book outside of the shifting social interactions of these privileged and often smug or neurotic characters. It’s not until the final twist that things pick up, a villain is revealed, and the stakes are set for the rest of the series. Die-hard lovers of the dark academia aesthetic will enjoy this, but others likely won’t have the patience. Publishers Weekly, March 2022

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New additions to eBooks at SMSA

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General novelsCross, GeorginaNanny needed
General novelsFrances, MichelleThe boyfriend
General novelsPrice, LauraSingle bald female
General novelsWinman, SarahStill life
MysteryGough, RichardThe cheerleader
MysteryIrvin, KellyTrust me
MysteryPapathanasiou, PeterThe stoning
MysteryProse, NitaThe maid
Science fictionSt. John Mandel, EmilySea of tranquility
TravelGill, RomyOn the Himalayan Trail

Trust me / Kelly Irvin

In this whirlwind romantic thriller from Irvin (Closer Than She Knows), a convicted murderer and his ex-girlfriend revisit the crime that tore them apart. Ten years earlier, Delaney Broward found her brother, Corey, murdered inside his art studio in San Antonio. Now, in 2020, her old love Hunter Nash is released from prison, having served his sentence for killing Corey, who was also his best friend. Delaney has moved forward with her life and runs a framing shop next door to her friend Ellie, who was once Corey’s girlfriend. But all the trauma rushes back when she walks into a scene that mirrors the circumstances of her brother’s murder, with her best friend Ellie now dead. Delaney escapes the attacker, who tells her to “stay out of it or you’re next.” Det. Andy Ramos considers Hunter the leading suspect, but Hunter approaches Delaney to try to convince her of his innocence of both crimes (“God, give me the words. Please soften her heart,” he prays). Ramos warn them away from each other, but Delaney begins to believe Hunter, and they start their own investigation, reexamining the past for clues. Irvin follows the characters through twists and turns, writing through the lens of faith and broken faith, while illuminating a bridge across shattered relationships to second chances. This one’s an emotional roller-coaster. Publishers Weekly, December 2021


The maid / Nita Prose

Molly Gray, the 25-year-old neurodivergent narrator of Prose’s assured debut, has sought solace in her maid’s job at the Regency Grand, a boutique hotel in an unspecified city, since the recent death of the grandmother who raised her. Molly’s uniform makes her feel invisible, which is a relief given her difficulty reading social cues, and she derives great satisfaction from returning things to a “state of perfection.” When frequent guests Charles and Giselle Black check into one of Molly’s assigned rooms, she’s pleased; though tycoon Charles is imperious, Giselle tips well and treats Molly like a friend. To her dismay, upon entering the couple’s suite, Molly discovers that Giselle is out, and Charles is dead. The police find Molly’s stoicism suspicious, and someone seems determined to make her their patsy, but Molly thankfully has more allies than she realizes. Not every twist feels earned, but on balance Prose delivers a gratifying, kindhearted whodunit with a sharply drawn protagonist for whom readers can’t help rooting. Fans of fresh takes on traditional mysteries will be delighted. Publishers Weekly, November 2021


Still life / Sarah Winman

Winman’s lush fourth novel (after Tin Man) begins with a chance meeting in Tuscany in 1944 between a British art historian and an army private. Evelyn Skinner, 64, befriends 24-year-old Ulysses Temper while holed up in a wine cellar as bombs fall. Their paths soon diverge, but Evelyn’s suggestion that Ulysses revisit Florence on his own makes a lasting impact. In 1946 London, where Ulysses is now a civilian in a fractured relationship with Peg—the hometown girl he married before the war—the reader meets Alys, the daughter Peg had with an American soldier she met during her husband’s absence, and the endearing London pub friends who become Ulysses’s family, some of whom eventually join him in Italy in the early 1950s. After the war, Evelyn shuttles between Kent and Bloomsbury, teaching art history and spending time with devoted female lovers. Ulysses and Evelyn finally reconnect in Florence 22 years after their first meeting. Winman covers much ground, including the devastating 1966 flood of the Arno, a cameo appearance by E.M. Forster, and many rich sections about art, relationships and the transcendent beauty of Tuscany, and while it occasionally feels like two novels stitched into one, for the most part it hangs together. Readers will enjoy this paean to the power of love and art. Publishers Weekly, September 2021

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General novelsMcBrayer, LaurenLike a house on fire
MysteryBlaedel, SaraA harmless lie
MysteryBrennan, AllisonThe wrong victim
MysteryBrock, KimberlyThe lost book of Eleanor Dare
MysteryGraham, HeatherCrimson summer
MysteryGreene, MorganRising tide
MysteryShelton, PaigeThe burning pages
MysterySpringer, NancyThe case of the gypsy good-bye
MysteryThompson, VictoriaMurder on Lennox Hill
Non fictionOliver, AmandaOverdue

A harmless lie / Sara Blaedel

Louise is vacationing in Thailand when her father calls from Denmark to say her brother, Mikkel, is close to death after a suicide attempt, which may have been prompted by Mikkel’s wife, Trine, abruptly leaving him days earlier. Back in her hometown of Osten, Louise comes to realize Trine’s departure may not have been voluntary—and the police begin to suspect Mikkel was involved in Trine’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Louise learns that the body of Susan Dahlgaard, a schoolmate of Trine’s who vanished 25 years earlier at age 14, has been found in a remote cave. Journalist Camilla Lind, Louise’s best friend, uncovers multiple tragedies when she looks into Susan’s case. Louise and Camilla come across as a little too strident in a plot that holds few surprises, but Blaedel does a good job depicting abnormal psyches and, through harrowing flashbacks, the cliquish cruelty of adolescent girls. Scandinoir fans will be satisfied. Publishers Weekly, January 2022


The lost book of Eleanor Dare / Kimberly Brock

When 36-year-old Alice’s father dies, she discovers he has left her the family estate, Evertell, which the two had abandoned more than 20 years earlier when Alice’s mother died. Thinking to sell the property, which lies eight miles from Savannah, Alice travels there with her 13-year-old daughter, Penn, and finds the estate maintained by its caretaker, Sonder, whom Alice has known since they were teenagers. To her delight, Alice discovers in Evertell’s family chapel the lost book of Eleanor Dare, one of two survivors of the lost colony of Roanoke. The nearly 400-year-old commonplace book has passed through generations of Eleanor’s female descendants (Evertell heirs, it is said, could always find their way home). But is Evertell to be home to heirs Alice and Penn, and what of the emerging relationship between Alice and Sonder? Though sometimes slow paced and, arguably, too long, this romantic novel is redeemed by its characters and their search for their identity and heritage. Expect the book to attract an eager audience of readers who enjoy women’s fiction. Booklist, April 2022


Like a house on fire / Lauren McBrayer

Going back to work as an architect is supposed to be a way for Merit to reclaim a bit of herself amid motherhood, a stale marriage to her husband, Cory, and an unsuccessful attempt at an art career. The last thing she expected was to have her life completely upended. The instant professional connection she has with her new boss, Jane, soon becomes intensely personal, a twist neither of them was prepared for. Merit must figure out where this new relationship fits into her old life and what she might need to let go of to be truly happy. While the ending glosses over what could have been an emotional resolution, the tension that builds between Merit and Jane, and within Merit herself, is compelling. Their initial confusion about their feelings for each other leads to an exploration of love that not only brings steamy physical satisfaction but also allows Merit to become vulnerable and honest with herself and her partner for perhaps the first time. Recommended for readers who enjoy introspective relationship fiction. Booklist, March 2022


The burning pages / Paige Shelton

At the start of bestseller Shelton’s engrossing seventh Scottish Bookshop mystery (after 2021’s Deadly Editions), solicitor Clarinda Creston invites American Delaney Nichols, who works at the Cracked Spine bookshop, to the annual dinner in honor of Scottish poet Robert Burns held at Edinburgh’s House of Burns. When Delaney asks whether she can bring a friend, Clarinda somewhat grudgingly says she can. Wary that Clarinda has a hidden agenda, Delaney asks her coworker Hamlet, who resembles “a young Shakespeare,” to accompany her to the event, where their presence seems to unsettle some attendees, one of whom leaves in anger. After dinner, a fire erupts at the House of Burns that leads to the discovery of a dead body. When Hamlet falls under suspicion of arson, Delaney determines to find the truth and clear his name. Readers may have trouble following Delaney’s reasoning as she jumps from one extreme conclusion to another, but the alluring Edinburgh setting and the camaraderie Delaney and friends display as they try to solve the crime more than compensate. Cozy fans will be enchanted. Publishers Weekly, February 2022


The case of Gypsy Goodbye / Nancy Springer

Master storyteller Katherine Kellgren does not disappoint; neither does this fifth Enola Holmes mystery. Enola, who is almost 15, sets herself to finding a missing lady, the Duquessa Blanchefleur, who disappeared in London’s Underground. All the while, Enola must avoid her famous brother, Sherlock, and their older brother, Mycroft, if she is to retain her independence. From the booming voice of a scavenger in the Underground to the simpering tones of a lady-in-waiting, Kellgren’s smorgasbord of effusive characterizations are as well done as they are entertaining. She keeps pace with the novel’s quick wit yet precisely delivers the story’s sumptuous vocabulary. Audiofile 2012

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