Unexpected Embroidery Content

There are times as a reader when you pick up a book and you think you know exactly what you’re getting: this is an historical romance; this is a novel about a family. And you’re right, but you also discover that it is deeply about something else. That was my experience with the two novels below, novels which contained a surprising-to-me amount of high quality embroidery content.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (historical romance)
In the early 1800s Lucy, a scientist and an astronomer, has spent her youth helping her father with his work and publishing work under his name. After his death, she travels to London to apply to the Polite Science Society, a premier scientific organization of the day, and to try her hand at translating a French astronomy text. Turned away by the Society because she’s a woman, Lucy finds refuge with Catherine, a society widow who spent years supporting her explorer husband and is now interested in being Lucy’s patron. There is a lot here about the science of the era and the way it existed as a kind of gentleman’s pursuit; the roles available to women; and, for sure, the love that grows between Lucy and Catherine (this is a romance novel, so expect some steamy sex scenes). But I devoured it because of the detail lavished on Catherine’s hobby: embroidery. She embroiders maps, and botanical motifs, and the night sky on a finely woven scarf! The description of Catherine’s work made me hungry to see the way embroiderers blend colors, how elements of the natural world can be depicted, how craft becomes art. Continue reading “Unexpected Embroidery Content”

New Fiction Roundup, January 2020

Whether reading is part of your New Year’s resolutions, or already a tried-and-true habit, here are some new novels coming out in January 2020 to consider.

1/1: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg – Recently promoted as the youngest female homicide detective in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Eve finds herself faced with a crime scene of horrific carnage, but curiously absent of bodies, with just her instinct to go on and a lot of people looking for her to fail.

1/7: The Heap by Sean Adams – In this near-future dystopia, a 500-story building has collapsed, becoming The Heap. Except there’s a survivor, Bernard, somehow broadcasting a radio show from inside the wreckage. Can his brother find him, or will corporate interest prevail?

1/7: Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey – This novel about sex, violence, and self-loathing consists of conversations between women over 20 years in the life of an unnamed narrator.

1/14: Cleanness by Garth Greenwell – An American teacher, living in Bulgaria, grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his time abroad and reflects on a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love.

1/14: Followers by Megan Angelo – Budding novelist Orla and aspiring A-lister Floss come up with a plan to launch themselves using social media; 35 years later, government-appointed celebrities live every moment on camera, and one of them discovers a buried connection to Orla and Floss. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup, January 2020”

Bus Reads for December

Commuting to Seattle by bus five days a week gives me a lot of reading time. Here’s what I read on the bus in December:

37796866. sy475 Vox by Christina Dalcher. A read-alike for A Handmaids Tale, women of America can no longer hold jobs and are limited to 100 words a day. They are forced to wear a bracelet that will give an electric shock if they break their silence after their word limit. Dr. Jean McClellan was once a cognitive linguist – she watches her daughter endure these limits. An opportunity comes that could make a change not just for her and her family, but all women.29936927

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. A story of identity and home – the author tells the story of her family from life in war torn Vietnam to their escape to America. It’s a reminder for a lot of us to not disregard the immigrant story and how our family makes us who we are. Continue reading “Bus Reads for December”

Holiday Shopping Guide from Reader Services

Happy Holidays! Here are some of our 2019 favorites for the readers on your shopping list this year:

Edge of Your SeatAmerican Spy
The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Freefall by Jessica Barry
No Exit by Taylor Adams

Dysfunctional Families
The Cassandra by Sharma Shields
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen N. Arnett
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Unreliable Narrator The Need
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
Five Windows by Jon Roemer
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
The Need by Helen Phillips Continue reading “Holiday Shopping Guide from Reader Services”

New Fiction Roundup – December 2019

Is the end of the year going by at light-speed for anyone else? It’s passing so quickly for me that I’m a week late in suggesting new fiction to check out this December.

12/3: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer – In a City with no name, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake is the fate of the future and the fate of Earth. By the author of Annihilation.

12/3: The German House by Annette Hess – Set against the 1963 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials, this coming-of-age story follows a young female translator, caught between societal and familial expectations and her unique ability to speak truth to power, as she fights to expose the dark truths of her nation’s past.

12/3: Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths – Detective Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto investigate a string of presumed kidnappings in the swinging 1960s in this fifth book in the Magic Men Mystery series.

12/3: The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith – Returning to his series set in the boarding house at 44 Scotland Street, summer finds the residents engaging in flights of fancy and pleasant diversions.

12/3: The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson – The haunting, vivid story of a nun whose past returns to her in unexpected ways as she investigates a mysterious death and a series of harrowing abuse claims.

12/3: This Is Happiness by Niall Williams – In this intricately observed portrait of a community, the residents of the remote Irish town Faha celebrate first love, the return of a long-lost love, the arrival of electricity, and the end of the rainy season. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup – December 2019”