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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.

MARK JENKINS to discuss THE HARD WAY

Meet the National Geographic author at explorer Mark Jenkins at an afternoon book signing. He will be talking about his book THE HARD WAY: Stories of Danger, Survival, and the Soul of Adventure, as well as his writing and adventuring life in general. This is event is free and open to the public.

Jenkins has journeyed around the world, crossing wild country, probing the hinterlands, and getting arrested over a dozen times. He has made a life out of doing things the hard way. The result is a book that dives headfirst into adventure and experience. Jenkins transports the reader with as he climbs the ice-encrusted Italian Ridge of the Matterhorn, sea kayaks from battlefield to battlefield along the Turkish coast of Gallipoli, sneaks across Tibet to reach Buddhism’s holiest lake, descends unexplored canyons in Australia, and traverses the war-torn Simen Mountains of northern Ethiopia.

In a world increasingly vicarious and secondhand, we all long to make decisions that matter, decisions of consequence. This is precisely what outdoor life still requires. THE HARD WAY is a book about doing, not watching – about leaping before you look.

Jenkins lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with his family. His is an adventure columnist for OUTSIDE magazine and travels to difficult and dangerous places on the planet every month.

Jenkins will also be speaking later in the evening at the Kennett High School Auditorium as part of the BEYOND THE VALLEY ADVENTUREFEST sponsored by Tin Mountain. His keynote presentation for that ticketed event will be: Vietnam Underground: The Viet Cong, Spelunkers & the Biggest Cave on Earth.

More event information about tickets and timing for that event can be found here.

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 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.

 

MAJOR GENERAL MARI EDER to discuss THE GIRLS WHO STEPPED OUT OF LINE

Eder will only be at the store for a short time, but will be able to sign books and tell a few stories. Come meet her and hear about these wonderful women whose stories should not be forgotten!

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line are the heroes of the Greatest Generation that you hardly ever hear about. These women who did extraordinary things didn’t expect thanks and shied away from medals and recognition. Despite their amazing accomplishments, they’ve gone mostly unheralded and unrewarded. No longer. These are the women of World War II who served, fought, struggled, and made things happen—in and out of uniform.

Young Hilda Eisen was captured twice by the Nazis and twice escaped, going on to fight with the Resistance in Poland. Determined to survive, she and her husband later emigrated to the U.S. where they became entrepreneurs and successful business leaders. Ola Mildred Rexroat was the only Native American woman pilot to serve with the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in World War II.  She persisted against all odds—to earn her silver wings and fly, helping train other pilots and gunners. Ida and Louise Cook were British sisters and opera buffs who smuggled Jews out of Germany, often wearing their jewelry and furs, to help with their finances. They served as sponsors for refugees and established temporary housing for immigrant families in London. Alice Marble was a grand-slam winning tennis star who found her own path to serve during the war—she was an editor with Wonder Woman comics, played tennis exhibitions for the troops, and undertook a dangerous undercover mission to expose Nazi theft. After the war she was instrumental in desegregating women’s professional tennis. Others also stepped out of line—as cartographers, spies, combat nurses, and troop commanders.

Retired U.S. Army Major General Mari K. Eder wrote this book because she knew their stories needed to be told—and the sooner the better. For theirs is a legacy destined to embolden generations of women to come.

CASEY SHERMAN to discuss his book HELLTOWN

Before Charles Manson, there was Tony Costa—the serial killer of Cape Cod

1969: The hippie scene is vibrant in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Long-haired teenagers roam the streets, strumming guitars and preaching about peace and love… and Tony Costa is at the center of it all. To a certain group of smitten young women, he is known as Sire—the leader of their counter-culture movement, the charming man who speaks eloquently and hands out hallucinogenic drugs like candy. But beneath his benign persona lies a twisted and uncontrollable rage that threatens to break loose at any moment. Tony Costa is the most dangerous man on Cape Cod, and no one who crosses his path is safe.

When young women begin to disappear, Costa’s natural charisma and good looks initially protect him from suspicion. But as the bodies are discovered, the police close in on him as the key suspect. Meanwhile, local writers Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer are locked in a desperate race to secure their legacies as great literary icons—and they both set their sights on Tony Costa and the drug-soaked hippie culture that he embodies as their next promising subject, launching independent investigations that stoke the competitive fires between two of the greatest American writers.

Immersive, unflinching, and shocking, Helltown is a landmark true crime narrative that transports us back to the turbulent late 1960s, reveals the secrets of a notorious serial killer, and unspools the threads connecting Costa, Vonnegut, and Mailer in the seaside city that played host to horrors unlike any ever seen before. New York Times bestselling author Casey Sherman has crafted a stunner.

Sherman will talk about his book, as well as the present day reverberations being felt and the TV series that is currently in development with Robert Downey Jr.

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.

 

COLD RIVER RADIO SHOW with author Bruce Robert Coffin

White Birch Books is once again happy to be a part of the upcoming Cold River Radio Show which will feature Maine author Bruce Robert Coffin, along with great live music hosted by Jonathan Sarty. New for this show with be very special guest host Laura Knoy, formerly of NHPR’s The Exchange. She’ll be taking over the book interviewing duties of the show – very exciting! If you have ever been to one of these shows, you know how much fun they are with the energy and excitement of seeing live music. There’s always the going for an old favorite but coming away having found a new gem. Add in the authors and the humor and the local spotlight and this becomes a true night to remember!

A little more about Bruce Robert Coffin – he is the award-winning author of the bestselling Detective Byron mystery series. A former detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine’s largest city. Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Bruce spent four years investigating counter-terrorism cases for the FBI, earning the Director’s Award, the highest award a non-agent can receive. He currently has four books in his series, which will all be available for sale at the show!

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased in advance at White Birch Books!

 

A little more about the show…

This Cold River Radio Show Headlines “True Grit and Rock and Roll Band,” The Silks from Providence, Rhode Island, Comedian Jim Collition, Award-winning Author Bruce Robert Coffin, and Local Spotlight Singer/Songwriter, and Future Berklee College of Music Student, Willow Carter. We also welcome very special guest Host Laura Knoy of NHPR’s The Exchange.

For over a decade now the Cold River Radio Show has introduced listeners to New England’s most talented artists and interesting characters. From the Green Mountains of Vermont to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, from the Lakes Region and the Great North Woods to the rugged seacoast, the Cold River Radio Show promotes the rich arts and culture of New England and has become the most popular show of its kind in its special corner of the country. Please join us for this exciting event, the Cold River Radio Show, hosted by Jonathan Sarty and the Cold River Radio Band, and recorded live before a studio audience.

Host Jonathan Sarty and His Fabulous Cold River Radio Band: David Mattacks on Drums (Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention), Todd Baker on Double Bass, Mike Sakash on Soprano Sax, and Joseph (Sonny) Barbato on Piano.

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.