Fun With Evergreen: Window-Shopping Your Next Read

I don’t know about you, but looking for a new book to read can stir up some pretty conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, the idea of finding a super-terrific, gripping, emotional, can’t-put-down, talk-to-strangers-about-it, miss-your-bus-stop-because-you’re-reading book is the kind of thing for which I go on living.  But when you’re finished with that book, how can you tell which book to read next?

Or perhaps you found a new favorite author, and are eager to put all her books on hold right now…is there a way to know that all of her other books are as gripping and intriguing and well-written as the one in your hands?

Or maybe you and a younger reader in your life are looking for a book to share.  How can you tell if the book is the correct reading-level, or has a story that will keep you both interested?

One solution to this conundrum, clearly, is to seek out the book yourself and give it a browse.  But if that book lives far-away, on the shelves of another NOBLE library, that just isn’t feasible.  So what is a reader to do?

Well, one option is to window shop that book via our online catalog.

The NOBLE catalog is linked to Google Books, which allows readers to see a preview of any book listed in both places.  This means the process is not a fail-safe one, as it relies on the book being both in the NOBLE network and in Google Books, but it is a helpful tool in most situations.

Here’s how it works:

Find a book you are interested in reading on our catalog.  For this example, I have chosen Mick Herron’s Reconstructionseeing how it’s a book I want to read.  Here is the page in our catalog (please click on the image to enlarge it):

If you look on the right-hand side of the page, you will see a link to Google Preview:

Note the stellar hand-drawn arrow, as well!

Clicking on the “Google Preview” will open a new browser window that will allow you read the first few pages of the book in question.  Your page may look slightly different depending on the book you selected, but here is Reconstruction:

From here, you can scroll down the page to read the opening of the book.

While this tip won’t save you from all book-related heartaches and disappointments, it is a nifty way to meet a book before committing to it, and also a fun way to meet new books that you might not have considered reading before.

Check in soon for some more fun tips and tricks to help you find your new favorite reads in Evergreen!

The Romance Garden

A Gentleman Reading In A Garden by Carl Spitzweg

It may not be gardening weather quite yet, dear readers, but it is time for a visit to our romance garden (because every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow).  To celebrate the approach of March, our Library’s romance readers bring you some of their top selections to help you find a new literary love–or to begin exploring the genre for the very first time!  Feel free to drop by the Library to get more suggestions on romance novels–or any other types of novels–soon!

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

The writing duo that is Christina Lauren has certainly cornered the market on angsty/adorable romances, and this stand-alone tale about careers and quarter-life crises is yet another feather in their already-well-decorated hat.

When Carter and Evie meet at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, it’s one of those things that could either go colossally badly…or shockingly well.  Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire. But when their two agencies merge–causing the pair to vie for the same position–all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals–so why can’t they act like it? Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human?

I loved that this book allowed both Carter and Evie to be silly, smart, career-driven, and in love without judgement.  Though it takes a while for them to wake up and realize what they really want and need out of life, their chemistry together is so pitch-perfect that it’s well worth the wait to see them find their happy ending!

The Rogue is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

After one scandal too many, Lord Samuel Travis finds himself in a desperate situation when his marquess brother kicks him out of the house with nothing but the clothes on his back. In order to get back in his brother’s good graces, Sam must reclaim a house that is currently occupied by Miss Juliette Lacey and her scientifically brilliant but mentally scattered elderly uncle. What seems like an easy assignment proves impossible when Sam meets extreme resistance from Julie who wants to protect both her uncle and her family’s home.

With nowhere else to go, Sam takes up residence in the house and, while there, finds himself coming to care both for Julie and her uncle. In the meantime, Sam’s brother Nigel, the marquess, has other ideas about Julie’s future, and she finds herself in a tug of war between the brother who can amply provide for her but only wants her in his bed, and the brother who has no means to provide for himself let alone a wife but offers his heart.

As Julie comes to realize that she wants a more fulfilling life than a loveless marriage to a titled gentleman, Sam determines to make more of himself and seeks opportunities to make himself worthy of the woman he loves. A sweet romance complete with witty dialogue and a charming nutty professor with a romantic heart, “The Rogue is Back in Town” is a perfect Sunday afternoon read.

Looking Forward to March…

It’s not really February’s fault that it became the month where everything is kind of dark and murky and generally not conducive to optimism.  However, dear readers, it’s also the shortest month.  And with the turning of the calendar page, we get that much closer to Spring, and the potential for sunshine, longer days, and new adventures.  So, in the spirit of looking ahead, we wanted to highlight a few of the programs taking place at the Main Library and Branches in March to give you something to look forward to on this last Monday of February.   You can register for these events at our website, or by calling the hosting library directly.  And check out our full calendar to see all the great programs we have in store in the coming months!

And, as always, if there are classes or programs that you would like to see offered at the Library, please let us know!  We are here for you, and are always striving to provide the best classes, programs, and events possible for you!

At the Main Library:

Pleasure Grounds: Public Gardens Close to Home
Monday, March 5: 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Flowers and foliage in the dull days of March! This armchair tour showcases six public gardens within just 40 miles north of Boston—gardens with important history and significant horticultural elements. The audience will ‘meet” the ladies and gentlemen who created these gardens including the Editor of The Atlantic Monthly magazine, a nephew of Isabella Stuart Gardener, and an heiress who gave away her entire fortune to historical and charitable endeavors. Antique photos are mixed with colorful images of perennial borders, rose gardens, allées and drives, woodland paths, tropical annuals, water features, statuary, and more. b North Shore native Gail Anderson is a trained horticulturist and has been researching and photographing these gardens for nearly 10 years. Gardens covered in the lecture include: Ropes Mansion, Salem; The House of the Seven Gables, Salem; Glen Magna Farms, Danvers; Sedgwick Gardens at Long Hill, Beverly; the Crane Estate at Castle Hill, Ipswich; and the Stevens Coolidge Place, North Andover.  To register, please call (978) 531-0100.
This program is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Peabody Institute Libraries.

At the Creativity Lab:

Making Decals With Vinyl Cutting
Wednesday, March 21: 6:30pm – 8:30pm

For ages 13 to adult. A vinyl cutter can be used to make all sorts of professional-quality decals, from small bumper stickers to giant wall decorations. Learn the basic operation of a vinyl cutter here, and leave with a decal of your own!  To register, please call (978) 531-0100.

At the South Branch:

Adult Game Night
Thursday, March 15: 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Adults 18+ are invited to the library for a night of board games and card games! Bring your friends or other family members who are 18 years or older for light snacks, laughs, and fun! Enjoy more classic games like Chess, Scrabble, and Backgammon, or indulge in newer games such as Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme?, and Codenames. All snacks and games will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own along as well! Come for all three hours or any time in between. Space is limited and registration is required; please call (978) 531-3380, ext. 11
Please note: Some of our games contain crude humor, strong language, or suggestive themes.

At the West Branch:

DIY Aromatherapy Crafts and Beauty Recipes
Monday, March 19: 4pm – 5pm
Have you ever wanted to try making your own natural beauty products? Join us once a month through the spring and summer as we try a different recipe each month. We’ll make things like sugar scrubs, facial mists made with tea and essential oils, and aromatherapy eye pillows. All supplies will be provided.
Sign up for one session or multiples.  Please contact Linda if you have any questions or concerns about potential allergens at (978) 535-3354 , ext. 11
We look forward to seeing you at one of our programs soon!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy (nearly) end of February to you all, dear readers!  For those of you wondering just why, precisely, February is such a short month, here is a handy article from Mental Floss that explains not only how February got established, but about the year that was 445 day long (you can read more about that illustrious year here, as well).

And once you’ve grown wiser from these astute sources, why not stop by the Library and savor some of the new materials that have traipsed onto our shelves this week, and are eager to help you look forward to spring!

A Magical World Cambridge historian Derek Wilson takes us on a historic journey through the European Renaissance and Enlightenment to study some of those era’s most profound scientific discoveries and revelations, from the circulatory system to the understanding of gravity.  But, as Wilson notes, the individuals who developed these theories and shed light on the unknown were steeped in, and utilized, a number of traditions that often go undiscussed, from folk traditions and necromancy to alchemy.  Wilson probes the history of the Catholic Church in Europe, but also ventures outside its influence to study other thinkers, such as the twelfth-century Islamic polymath, Averroes and his landmark treatises on astronomy, physics and medicine.  Highly readable and fascinatingly insightful, this is a book for history buffs, science lovers, and devotees of the mystic arts alike.  Library Journal agrees, saying ““Wilson ably posits that most intellectuals sought a middle way between extreme rationalism and radical religious thought, and in their embrace of both religion and science contributed invaluably to a search for understanding that continues to this day. Highly recommended for readers interested in scientific or European history.”

This is What Happened: We’re big, outspoken fans of Mick Herron and his Slough House tales here at the Free For All, and so the arrival of a new stand-alone novel has us all a-twitter with anticipation.  Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in the huge city of London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner, and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice. Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to infiltrate the establishment and thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk.  Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero—if she can think quickly enough to stay alive.  Fans of Herron’s spy fiction are sure to share our delight over this new novel, and new readers who are looking for an expertly-plotted thriller with deftly-drawn characters and a heap of wit and insight (and really, who isn’t?), should certainly start their search here.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, calling this novel “Beautifully written and ingeniously plotted . . . This dark thriller is rife with the deadpan wit and trenchant observation that Herron’s readers relish.”

The Radicals: Ryan McIlvain’s work is very much inspired by “our current moment”, and this new novel explores the tensions and bonds created by end-stage capitalism, as well as the power, charisma and danger of true believers of all stripes in a story that works on the small and the large level with equal power.  When Eli first meets Sam Westergard, he is dazzled by his new friend’s charisma, energy, and determined passion. Both graduate students in New York City, the two young men bond over their idealism, their love of poetry, and their commitment to socialism, both in theory and in practice—this last taking the form of an organized protest against Soline, a giant energy company that has speculated away the jobs and savings of thousands. As an Occupy-like group begins to coalesce around him, Eli realizes that some of his fellow intellectuals are more deeply—and dangerously—devoted to the cause than others.  This book has been getting rave reviews from critics and fellow authors alike, including a starred review from Booklist, who noted “McIlvain’s exploration of the world of protesters will resound with readers interested in the personal side of dissent. McIlvain offers far more than political commentary, though, as he explores friendship, loyalty, and betrayal in a tale driven by tension and suspense.”

The Rending and the NestLiterary fans looking for a new post-apocalyptic novel need look no further than Kaethe Schwehn’s debut novel, that presents a world that is startling new–and eerily familiar to our own.  When 95 percent of the earth’s population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can’t afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.  Four years after the Rending, Mira’s best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object–and other women of Zion follow suit–the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn’t return, Mira must decide how much she’s willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.  Unsettling, redemptive, and weirdly imaginative all at once, Schwehn’s book has been getting lauded as a piece of literary fiction as well as science fiction, proving once again that genre fiction is alive, well, and changing our literary landscape for the better.  As Publisher’s Weekly noted in its review, “Schwehn’s bizarre novel blends seamless storytelling with the raw emotion of a world suddenly turned on its head . . . nerve-wracking in the most satisfying way, and the characters are vivid enough to elevate this story above the well-traveled terrain of postapocalyptic fiction.”

Black InkLiterary Legends on the Peril, Power, and Pleasure of Reading and Writing: Throughout American history black people are the only group of people to have been forbidden by law to learn to read. This unique collection seeks to shed light on that injustice and subjugation, as well as the hard-won literary progress made, putting some of America’s most cherished voices in a conversation in one magnificent volume that presents reading as an act of resistance.Organized into three sections, the Peril, the Power, and Pleasure, and with an array of contributors both classic and contemporary, from Frederick Douglass to Zora Neale Hurston, and from Marlon James to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Black Ink presents the brilliant diversity of black thought in America while solidifying the importance of these writers within the greater context of the American literary tradition. At times haunting and other times profoundly humorous, this unprecedented anthology guides you through the remarkable experiences of some of America’s greatest writers and their lifelong pursuits of literacy and literature.   Library Journal gave this anthology a starred review, celebrating how “the works range from memoirs on the power of reading during slavery and emancipation to narratives of how certain books and authors shaped these writers’ lives and straightforward advice on composition; all address the centrality of literacy to black liberation, both personally and politically…taken as a whole, this survey of what it means to be a black reader and writer is an important and long overdue project. ”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Resolve to Read: Romance Novels By Or About a Person of Color

As we mentioned here previously, we here at the Library are Resolving to Read (more…different….) in 2018, and tackling both Book Riot’s and Scholastic’s 2018 Reading Challenges.  In the hopes of encouraging you to broader your literary horizons along with us, here are some suggestions for books that fall within the categories of the various challenges.

Today’s Challenge: Book Riot 2018 Read Harder Challenge
Category: Romance Novels By Or About a Person of Color

We’ve talked a lot in the past about how we love romance novels here at the Free-For-All, and also about how we’re really ready to see more diversity in the genre at large.   So this week’s challenge is one very near and dear to our hearts.  There have been a number of sensation romances published in the past few years that feature People of Color–but that shouldn’t distract us from the classic romance novels that have stood the test of time and readers’ devotion.  What makes these books so great is that they are not only willing to confront issues of racial identity, but also to question issues of body image, sexual identity, class, and gender norms, making these romances as ground-breaking and thought-provoking as they are heart-racing.

So let’s take a look at some of the terrific titles that you can select to fulfill your resolution–and perhaps even discover a few new authors whose work you can savor for months and years to come!

An Extraordinary UnionNo list of romances featuring People of Color would be in any way complete or comprehensive without Alyssa Cole’s sensational novel of Civil War espionage and passion–and the first of what is sure to be an unmissable series.  Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South–to spy for the Union Army. Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet–risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia. Two undercover agents who share a common cause–and an undeniable attraction–Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor.  This is a book that confronts the horrors of slavery in America, but still holds fast to the belief that love will not only conquer all, but can redeem us, as well.

BreathlessBeverly Jenkins is among the royalty of the romance genre, and all of her books, frankly, are wonderful.  She creates wonderful, vivid, and beautifully empathetic characters, and places them in (generally speaking) historically accurate situations that allow her to reflect on issues of identity, power, and freedom in really creative ways.  In this book, Portia Carmichael is the manager of one of the finest hotels in Arizona Territory.  She has respect and stability—qualities sorely missing from her harsh childhood. She refuses to jeopardize all that by keeping company with the wrong man–but the arrival of an old family friend may have her thinking she’s found someone right.  Kent Randolph has learned his share of hard lessons. After drifting through the West, he’s learned the value of a place to settle down, and in Portia’s arms he’s found that and more. But convincing her to trust him with her heart, not just her passion, will be the greatest challenge he’s known—and one he intends to win…You quite seriously cannot go wrong with Beverly Jenkins work, so make sure to check out her many others books as you make your way through this resolution!

A Bollywood AffairSonali Dev’s romances have it all–interesting characters, real issues, beautiful settings–but they also deal with issues facing women in India, from conforming to stereotypes and ‘proper behavior’ to the difficulty of balancing tradition with progress.  But there is also the deep bonds with family, the sensational food, and the meaningful tradition, all of which combine to make Dev’s books so enchanting.  In this story, Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years–not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. She was even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be–if her husband would just come and claim her. Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life–cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.  This book is Dev’s first, but each of the four she has published to date are winners, so keep your eye out for this author!

Such a Pretty Face: The blurb for Gabrielle Goldsby’s lesbian romance may sound like it’s a tale of revenge-bods and vengeance, but, in truth, it really couldn’t be any further away.  It’s a story about learning to love yourself, and to find people who can see the best in you no matter what–and that is a message we all need to hear from time to time.  Mia Sanchez is a Mexican American financial adviser who has recently bought a new house with her partner of four years. She is stunned when her Brenda tells her she has accepted a 5-month job in Fiji, and that she’ll be using the time to  “think about their future together.” Mia hadn’t thought words could be more painful until Brenda followed up hers with, “You’ve really let yourself go over the last few years.”   Hurt and along, Mia finds a little comfort is staring at Ryan, the stunning blonde construction worker at Mia’s work.  Ryan has her own issues with physical beauty, in the form of a scar on her face, but neither the scar nor Mia’s weight seem to be a problem when they finally start talking.  This is a funny, insightful, and wonderfully honest book about the power of real love to see past the superficial, and to transform that holds up even on the second or third reading!


We’ll be back next week with another Resolve to Read post, but until then, feel free to stop by the Library and let us help you discover your new favorite book of 2018!

From the Teen Room!

Black History Month Reader’s Advisory: Teen Edition!

  • City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson: After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Anderson writes a thrilling and raw murder mystery!
  • Solo by Kwane Alexander: Not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing his girlfriend forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret.
  • Cy In Chains by David L. Dudley: Cy is sure that a chance at freedom is worth any risk, any sacrifice. This powerful, moving story opens a window on a painful chapter in the history of race relations.
  • X by Ilyasah Shabazz: X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
  • Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell: A story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love.
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slate: Two teens lives intertwine when a reckless act ends up leaving Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment.
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers – Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout.

Five Book Friday!

Well, Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, dear readers, but for those of you still in a mood to celebrate, fear not!  February still offers plenty of other days to celebrate.  Check out some of these terrific options:

February 17: National Random Acts of Kindness 

February 21: National Sticky Bun Day

February 23: National Toast Day (the food, not the action, so bust out those toasters!)

February 26: National Tell a Fairy Tale Day

February 28: National Chocolate Souffle Day

Best of all, there is never not a good day to celebrate Libraries, so come on it, and check out some of the new titles that have wiggled onto our shelves this week!

How to Stop TimeA you a reader who loved the idea of Fitzgerald’s tale “The Secret Life of Benjamin Button,” but wished it had a less gut-wrenching ending?  Then Matt Haig’s newest tale is for you! Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life. So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present. This is a moving, heart-warming romp love story across the ages that has had critics and reviewers raving.  The reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly noted “I am in concert with Haig’s fans as I read the book, turning pages for the story but also stopping to underline passages. I want to remember the lines. I want to read out loud to someone. Nothing like a love that lasts 400 years.”

Feel Free: Zadie Smith has become a treasured voice in fiction, and her gift for storytelling and insight into human nature makes this collection of essays a joy for her fans, and a delightful introduction to new readers.  Arranged into five sections–In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free–this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network–and Facebook itself–really about? Why do we love libraries? (YAY LIBRARY LOVE!!) What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” this stellar collection offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life.  Kirkus gave the book a starred review, observing “If only all such thoughts were so cogent and unfailingly humane. The author is honest, often impassioned, always sober…Smith’s observations are timeless.”

GnomonNick Harkaway is an author who revels in the potential of genre fiction, and always ends up making those genres uniquely his own.  On the surface, this book is a dystopian thriller, but beneath the label, this book is a wonderfully though-provoking commentary on our own time and consciousness, as well.  In the world of the story, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens’ thoughts and memories–all in the name of providing the safest society in history.  When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn’t make mistakes, but something isn’t right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter’s death. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector and a true believer in the System, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn’t Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter’s psyche.  Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding.  The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.  This is a complex book that will hold appeal to tech fans as well as philosophers.  The British Newspaper The Spectator reveled in its eccentric genius, saying, “This huge sci-fi detective novel of ideas is so eccentric, so audaciously plotted and so completely labyrinthine and bizarre that I had to put it aside more than once to emit Keanu-like ‘Whoahs’ of appreciation. . . It is huge fun. And it will melt your brain. . . Whoah, indeed. I wanted to give it a round of applause.”

A Dangerous Crossing: Fans of Ausma Zehanat Khan, whose investigative duo, Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak first appeared in the wrenching mystery The Unquiet Dead, will be thrilled to hear they are reappearing in this story that blends Khan’s careful plotting and character insight into another very human and immediate tragedy.  Esa’s childhood friend, Nathan Clare, calls him in distress: his sister, Audrey, has vanished from a Greek island where the siblings run an NGO. Audrey had been working to fast-track refugees to Canada, but now, she is implicated in the double-murder of a French Interpol agent and a young man who had fled the devastation in Syria.  Esa and Rachel arrive in Greece to a shocking scene, witnessing for themselves the massive fallout of the Syrian war in the wretched refugee camps. Tracing Audrey’s last movements, they meet some of the volunteers and refugees―one of whom, Ali, is involved in a search of his own, for a girl whose disappearance may be connected to their investigation.  Working against time, with Interpol at their heels, Esa and Rachel follow a trail that takes them from the beaches of Greece, to the Turkish–Syrian border, and across Europe, reaching even the corridors of power in the Netherlands. Had Audrey been on the edge of a dangerous discovery, hidden at the heart of this darkest of crises―one which ultimately put a target on her own back?  Khan is a writing who knows very well of what she speaks.  As Library Journal pointed out in their review, “Khan’s doctorate and research in international human relations law give credence to her portrayal of a timely situation . . . This is a series well worth investigating.”

A Wedding at Two Love Lane: Fans of Kieran Kramer’s historical romances will find that her delightful writing style and super character development translate beautifully into the contemporary, in this tale of matchmaking and unexpected passion.  Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons―including a past engagement she broke off―practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees―and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love―especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?  Booklist loved this tale, noting that it is  “Brimming with sassy southern charm and an abundance of deliciously dry wit, this debut entry in Kramer’s Two Love Lane series is festive treat.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!