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THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME by Alexandra Benedict

And so it is December, when the group picks a lovely holiday murder mystery. Yay! We have read such a variety over the years, from the very worst, to the not so bad. What will this year bring? We can only read on!

Because this is the holiday read, we will be meeting at 6 p.m., at a setting to be determined for our annual holiday party. Stay tuned for the details.

Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas. But how many will die before Twelfth Night?

The annual Christmas Game is afoot at Endgame House, the Armitages’ grand family home. This year’s prize is to die for—deeds to the house itself—but Lily Armitage has no intention of returning. She hasn’t been back to Endgame since her mother died, twenty-one years ago, and she has no intention of claiming the house that haunts her dreams.

Until, that is, she receives a letter from her aunt promising that the game’s riddles will give her the keys not only to Endgame, but to its darkest secrets, including the identity of her mother’s murderer.

Now, Lily must compete with her estranged cousins for the twelve days of Christmas. The snow is thick, the phone lines are down, and no one is getting in or out. Lily will have to keep her wits about her, because not everyone is playing fair, and there’s no telling how many will die before the winner is declared.

Including additional scavenger hunts for the reader, this clever murder mystery is the perfect gift for fans of classic mysteries, festive Christmas books, and armchair detective work.

Event Date & Time
December 8, 2022 at 6:00 pm
Event Venue
TBD
Condition
New

IT ALL ENDS WITH US by Colleen Hoover

This is our holiday party and to be honest the book gets short shrift at this meeting. We usually try to pick something fun or something not quite so deep, so… we decided to pick bestseller phenom Colleen Hoover! We will get to the bottom of her mad success, plus have a lot of fun!

Also, on this night, we will be doing our famous Yankee Swap. Bring a favorite book that you have read recently – or anytime. Wrap it up and be ready to share. This book can be new, used, or even an audio – as long as you loved it. We’ll also vote on our favorite book group book of the last year. You are welcome to bring a snack or yummy dish, or a beverage (adult or otherwise), and we will provide pizza. It’s a fun night – we hope you can come!!

About the book:  In this “brave and heartbreaking novel that digs its claws into you and doesn’t let go, long after you’ve finished it” (Anna Todd, NYT bestselling author) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of All Your Perfects, a workaholic with a too-good-to-be-true romance can’t stop thinking about her first love. Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town where she grew up–she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. And when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life seems too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan–her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened. An honest, evocative, and tender novel, It Ends with Us is “a glorious and touching read, a forever keeper. The kind of book that gets handed down”

NIGHT OF THE LIVING REZ by Morgan Talty

If it’s October, then you know it is time for One Book One Valley! This year, the book is NIGHT OF THE LIVING REZ, a debut of collected stories by Morgan Talty. Morgan will be appearing at the Majestic Theater in conversation with Laura Knoy, former host of NHPR’s The Exchange, and now in demand host. Morgan has been racking up the accolades and the awards and we are so excited for this big night. This event is free and open to the public and there is a streaming option available, and here is the event link with the details.

About the book:

Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy.

In twelve striking, luminescent stories, author Morgan Talty–with searing humor, abiding compassion, and deep insight–breathes life into tales of family and a community as they struggle with a painful past and an uncertain future. A boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family’s unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs.

A collection that examines the consequences and merits of inheritance, Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of an Indigenous community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction.

Books & Champagne with Wendy Sand Eckel at the Cranmore Inn

It has been a long wait, but we are very excited to be hosting Wendy Sand Eckel back at the Cranmore Inn to celebrate the release of the third book in her Rosalie Hart series – Mystery at Windswept Farm.

Because this is a true celebration, there will be champagne and snacks, good cheer and laughs. This will be a ticketed event and space is limited. Proceeds will go to the North Conway Library.

Now – about Mystery at Windswept Farm! In this third book in the Rosalie Hart Mystery Series, Rosalie’s hard-earned organic farm certification is threatened by a toxic neighbor who is about to crop dust his winter wheat. When their impulsive farm hand decides to confront him, she finds his lifeless body inside the door of his home on Windswept Farm.

In the midst of the mayhem, Rosalie’s beloved Day Lily Café hosts a 5-day cooking school. Marco Giovanelli, a celebrated Italian chef, arrives in Cardigan and a sumptuous situation ensues. When one of the students falls ill with the same poison that killed the farmer, Rosalie and her best friend and head waiter, Glenn, take matters, and homemade pasta dough, into their own hands.

With Mystery at Windswept Farm, Eckel once again brings the fictional town of Cardigan to life and delights with suspense, humor, and mouth-watering menus.

Tickets for the event are $20 and are available at the bookstore. You can come in or call to get your tickets. (There are not really any tickets – just your name on a list!) This is going to be a nice, enjoyable afternoon and we hope you can all join us and celebrate Wendy’s success!

Thursday, September 8, 4-6 p.m., at the Cranmore Inn

This event is sponsored by Stacy Sand Real Estate. 

MURDER AT WINDSWEPT FARM by Wendy Sand Eckel

Yay! We are finally going to get to read Book 3 of Wendy’s series. It has been a long wait, but well worth it. Now we get to see what Rosalie Hart has been up to!

In the much-anticipated third book in the Rosalie Hart Mystery Series, Rosalie’s hard-earned organic farm certification is threatened by a toxic neighbor who is about to crop dust his winter wheat. When their impulsive farm hand decides to confront him, she finds his lifeless body inside the door of his home on Windswept Farm.

In the midst of the mayhem, Rosalie’s beloved Day Lily Café hosts a 5-day cooking school. Marco Giovanelli, a celebrated Italian chef, arrives in Cardigan and a sumptuous situation ensues. When one of the students falls ill with the same poison that killed the farmer, Rosalie and her best friend and head waiter, Glenn, take matters, and homemade pasta dough, into their own hands.

With Mystery at Windswept Farm, Eckel once again brings the fictional town of Cardigan to life and delights with suspense, humor, and mouth-watering menus.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING REZ by Morgan Talty

This is our One Book One Valley pick and this discussion is open to both book groups, as well as anyone who wants to join. The big finale for the program will be on October 27 at the Majestic in Conway Village.

Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy.

In twelve striking, luminescent stories, author Morgan Talty–with searing humor, abiding compassion, and deep insight–breathes life into tales of family and a community as they struggle with a painful past and an uncertain future. A boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family’s unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs.

A collection that examines the consequences and merits of inheritance, Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of an Indigenous community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction.

THE UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS by M.E. Hilliard

The group – a bunch of avid readers of mysteries – is going to read a mystery of a librarian and an avid reader of mysteries!  It was so full circle that we had to pick it!
Greer Hogan is a librarian and an avid reader of murder mysteries. She also has a habit of stumbling upon murdered bodies. The first was her husband’s, and the tragic loss led Greer to leave New York behind for a new start in the Village of Raven Hill. But her new home becomes less idyllic when she discovers her best friend sprawled dead on the floor of the library.

Was her friend’s demise related to two other deaths that the police deemed accidental? Do the residents of this insular village hold dark secrets about another murder, decades ago? Does a serial killer haunt Raven Hill?

As the body count rises, Greer’s anxious musings take a darker turn when she uncovers unexpected and distressing information about her own husband’s death, and the man who went to prison for his murder. She is racked with guilt at the possibility that her testimony may have helped to convict an innocent man.

Though Greer admires the masters of deduction she reads about in books, she never expected to have to solve a mystery herself. Fortunately, she possesses a quick wit and a librarian’s natural resourcefulness. But will that be enough to protect her from a brilliant, diabolical murderer?

And even if Greer manages to catch the Raven Hill killer, will living with her conscience prove a fate worse than death?

THE BOOK WOMAN’S DAUGHTER by Kim Michele Richardson

We read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and loved it and now we get to read the next book. Word is that it is even better!!

Bestselling historical fiction author Kim Michele Richardson is back with the perfect book club read following Honey Lovett, the daughter of the beloved Troublesome book woman, who must fight for her own independence with the help of the women who guide her and the books that set her free.

In the ruggedness of the beautiful Kentucky mountains, Honey Lovett has always known that the old ways can make a hard life harder. As the daughter of the famed blue-skinned, Troublesome Creek packhorse librarian, Honey and her family have been hiding from the law all her life. But when her mother and father are imprisoned, Honey realizes she must fight to stay free, or risk being sent away for good.

Picking up her mother’s old packhorse library route, Honey begins to deliver books to the remote hollers of Appalachia. Honey is looking to prove that she doesn’t need anyone telling her how to survive. But the route can be treacherous, and some folks aren’t as keen to let a woman pave her own way.

If Honey wants to bring the freedom books provide to the families who need it most, she’s going to have to fight for her place, and along the way, learn that the extraordinary women who run the hills and hollers can make all the difference in the world.

 

AMONG THE SHADOWS by Bruce Robert Coffin

After seeing Bruce at the Cold River Radio Show, we decided to jump into his Detective Byron series starting with the first book!

Fall in Portland, Maine, usually arrives as a welcome respite from summer’s sweltering temperatures and, with the tourists gone, a return to normal life–usually. But when a retired cop is murdered, things heat up quickly, setting the city on edge.

Detective Sergeant John Byron, a second-generation cop, is tasked with investigating the case–at the very moment his life is unraveling. On the outs with his department’s upper echelon, separated from his wife, and feeling the strong pull of the bottle, Byron remains all business as he tries to solve the murder of one of their own. And when another ex-Portland PD officer dies under suspicious circumstances, he quickly realizes there’s much more to these cases than meets the eye. The closer Byron gets to the truth, the greater the danger for him and his fellow detectives.

 

DAMNATION SPRING by Ash Davidson

This book was a Barb favorite from last year and now it is out in paperback so we HAD to pick it!

Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It’s 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn’t what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now that way of life is threatened.

Colleen is an amateur midwife. Rich is a tree-topper. It’s a dangerous job that requires him to scale trees hundreds of feet tall–a job that both his father and grandfather died doing. Colleen and Rich want a better life for their son–and they take steps to assure their future. Rich secretly spends their savings on a swath of ancient redwoods. But when Colleen, grieving the loss of a recent pregnancy and desperate to have a second child, challenges the logging company’s use of the herbicides she believes are responsible for the many miscarriages in the community, Colleen and Rich find themselves on opposite sides of a budding conflict. As tensions in the town rise, they threaten the very thing the Gundersens are trying to protect: their family.

Told in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, Damnation Spring is an intimate, compassionate portrait of a family whose bonds are tested and a community clinging to a vanishing way of life. An extraordinary story of the transcendent, enduring power of love–between husband and wife, mother and child, and longtime neighbors. An essential novel for our times.

THE COLD MILLIONS by Jess Walter

Unions are in the news – everywhere from Starbucks to Jorts the Cat – so we thought this book would be very timely. I can’t wait for the discussion!

An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early twentieth-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams.

The Dolans live by their wits, jumping freight trains and lining up for day work at crooked job agencies. While sixteen-year-old Rye yearns for a steady job and a home, his older brother, Gig, dreams of a better world, fighting alongside other union men for fair pay and decent treatment. Enter Ursula the Great, a vaudeville singer who performs with a live cougar and introduces the brothers to a far more dangerous creature: a mining magnate determined to keep his wealth and his hold on Ursula.

Dubious of Gig’s idealism, Rye finds himself drawn to a fearless nineteen-year-old activist and feminist named Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. But a storm is coming, threatening to overwhelm them all, and Rye will be forced to decide where he stands. Is it enough to win the occasional battle, even if you cannot win the war?

Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, The Cold Millions is a tour de force.

MURDER IN OLD BOMBAY by Nev March

And we are off to India! This book was nominated for an Edgar Award for a Best First Novel – and we love starting at the beginning of a series, so we are very excited.

In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering from a skirmish on the wild northern frontier, with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, and browse the daily papers. The case that catches Captain Jim’s attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims — his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide — Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon.

But in a land of divided loyalties, asking questions is dangerous. Captain Jim’s investigation disturbs the shadows that seem to follow the Framji family and triggers an ominous chain of events. And when lively Lady Diana Framji joins the hunt for her sisters’ attackers, Captain Jim’s heart isn’t safe, either.

Based on a true story, and set against the vibrant backdrop of colonial India, Nev March’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning lyrical debut, Murder in Old Bombay, brings this tumultuous historical age to life.

THE WINDSOR KNOT by SJ Bennett

In honor of the Queen’s Jubilee, we thought the best way to celebrate would be to read a mystery featuring her as the prime sleuth and The Windsor Knot was the perfect candidate!

It is the early spring of 2016 and Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle in advance of her 90th birthday celebrations. But the preparations are interrupted by the shocking and untimely death of a guest in one of the Castle bedrooms. The scene leads some to think the young Russian pianist strangled himself, yet a badly tied knot leads MI5 to suspect foul play. When they begin to question the Household’s most loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they’re looking in the wrong place.

For the Queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years as “Lilibet.” Away from the public eye and unbeknownst to her closest friends and advisers, she has the most brilliant skill for solving crimes. With help from her Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a British Nigerian officer recently appointed to the Royal Horse Artillery, the Queen discreetly begins making inquiries. As she carries out her royal duties with her usual aplomb, no one in the Royal Household, the government, or the public knows that the resolute Elizabeth won’t hesitate to use her keen eye, quick mind, and steady nerve to bring a murderer to justice.

SJ Bennett captures Queen Elizabeth’s voice with skill, nuance, wit, and genuine charm in this imaginative and engaging mystery that portrays Her Majesty as she’s rarely seen: kind yet worldly, decisive, shrewd, and, most important, a superb judge of character.

THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by Christi Lefteri

Nuri is a beekeeper and Afra, his wife, is an artist. Mornings, Nuri rises early to hear the call to prayer before driving to his hives in the countryside. On weekends, Afra sells her colorful landscape paintings at the open-air market. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the hills of the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they love is destroyed by war, Nuri knows they have no choice except to leave their home. But escaping Syria will be no easy task: Afra has lost her sight, leaving Nuri to navigate her grief as well as a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece toward an uncertain future in Britain.

Nuri is sustained only by the knowledge that waiting for them is his cousin Mustafa, who has started an apiary in Yorkshire and is teaching fellow refugees beekeeping. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss but dangers that would overwhelm even the bravest souls. Above all, they must make the difficult journey back to each other, a path once so familiar yet rendered foreign by the heartache of displacement.

Moving, intimate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book for our times: a novel that at once reminds us that the most peaceful and ordinary lives can be utterly upended in unimaginable ways and brings a journey in faraway lands close to home, never to be forgotten.

MARY JANE by Jessica Anya Blau

Yay! We are reading one of my favorites from last year, just fresh into paperback. I hope you all like it!!

Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this delightful novel about a fourteen-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for—who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.

In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to the Broadway Showtunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she’s glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.

The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.

RANDOM ROAD by Thomas Kies

Some vices are deadlier than others…

Veteran reporter Geneva Chase is at the end of her professional rope. Battling alcoholism and bad choices, she’s lost every major news job she’s had; working at her hometown newspaper is her last chance to redeem herself—and now the paper’s future is in doubt.

And then she lands the story of a lifetime: Six nude bodies are found hacked to pieces in a Queen Anne mansion on the coast of Long Island Sound. The sensational headline is picked up by the metro papers, and Geneva is back in the game, using her reporter’s nose to sniff out the secrets of Sheffield’s rich and entitled citizens. As her investigation leads her deeper into dangerous waters, her toxic affair with a married man and her inability to get sober threaten to undo everything she has worked so hard to achieve—and not everyone is thrilled to have a reporter digging up secrets that might be better left buried.