Women in Sunlight, by Frances Mayes (2018)

Women in Sunlight, by Frances MayesFrances Mayes is the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, a nonfiction memoir of her move to an Italian villa brought to the big screen featuring Diane Lane and the inimitable Canadian Sandra Oh. It was a huge seller, capitalizing on the North American longing for days of wine, good food and roses, sunlight and Italian lovers. I bet the pull of Italia, la dolce vita, is stronger today than ever. This is a fictional take on the story, featuring three American women, from “the South,” who decide to leap before looking (check out the cover again) and surprise everyone they know by renting an Italian villa, sight unseen, for a year. The three met at an open house for a retirement village, a move none of them wants to make despite its being the most rational step at their age. Read More »


50 Hikes with Kids – Oregon & Washington, by Wendy Gorton (2018)

50 Hikes with Kids - Oregon & Washington, by Wendy GortonHiking with kids is one of those activities that sounds easy but is fraught with potential pitfalls. They get tired, bored, cranky, hungry and pouty, unless you plan the excursion with care. Wendy Gorton is committed to helping families get outside, and to that end has compiled a list of 50 hikes in the Pacific Northwest that are sure to get youngsters interested in spending time outdoors. The hikes are all easy to moderate, with no elevation gain over 275 m (900 ft) and none more than 7 kms (4 miles) in length. The book features 32 hikes in Oregon and 18 in Washington. The vast majority are, reasonably, within short drives of the main cities in both states – Seattle, Portland, and Bend, with a few selections on the eastern edges of the states. Read More »

The Bookshop on the Corner, by Jenny Colgan (2017)

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny ColganNina Redmond is a 29-year-old librarian in Birmingham – she has watched life pass by over the top edge of whatever book she is reading. And she is always reading. Her raison d’être is to find the right book for each person at the very moment they need it, and she’s super good at this. So when her library closes and she loses her job, she is devastated. Only two staff members will be re-hired as “knowledge facilitators” at the multimedia hub the city is opening in town, and though she interviews for it, she’s clearly not going to get the job. Librarians, she realizes, are going the way of typewriter repairers. “She felt, at twenty-nine, oddly surplus to life’s requirements.” But at a workshop offered by the library for the reeling staff, Nina finds the courage to voice her dream of opening a bookshop. Given her limited resources, she decides to buy a used van and make it mobile. Read More »

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind, by Darlene Foster (2017)

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind, by Darlene FosterTwelve-year-old Amanda and her new friend Cleo are headed to New Mexico with several Grade 6 classmates from Calgary. An artistic bunch, they will be exploring the history and culture of the area, taking time to document the trip through drawings, photographs, and words. Amanda doesn’t believe in ghosts, and neither does her photographer buddy Caleb. But when strange occurrences start happening to Cleo, and then to others in the group, Amanda finds herself wondering if ghosts really do exist. I commend Foster for the meticulous research; readers will learn a great deal about the history and culture of the Ancient Puebloans, early settlers, and modern American natives in the area. Read More »

Aerial Geology, by Mary Caperton Morton (2017)

Aerial Geology by Mary Caperton MortonI think it was the great Allan Fotheringham who wrote the Rockies are always a spectacular sight, no matter how many times one sees them. Ain’t it the truth, Dr. Foth. Geologist and science writer Mary Caperton Morton takes us on an aerial tour of our continent, serving as a guide to the spectacular formations that, Rockies aside, likely mystify us as we look out the window on our cross-country flights. What is that canyon/lake/river? Morton expertly guides us through what she calls 100 geological wonders, using photos and satellite images to show us, as the subtitle promises, “A High-Altitude Tour of North America’s Spectacular Volcanoes, Canyons, Glaciers, Lakes, Craters, and Peaks.” Read More »

Base Camp Las Vegas, 2nd ed., by Deborah Wall (2017)

Base Camp Las Vegas by Deborah WallI cheerfully admit that I really like going to Las Vegas. I love exploring the streets to check out the architecture and decor, from the miniature Brooklyn Bridge at New York New York to the stunning Dale Chihuly glass sculptures and the water fountain performance at the Bellagio. But after a day or so of dodging fellow tourists while exploring the Strip and the even-better Freemont Street, I am ready for some day hiking in Valley of Fire or Red Rock Canyon. This is just the book to make sure you have a great time exploring local wild spaces while enjoying evenings in the City that Never Sleeps. This is a revised edition of the 2010 publication, adding 40 more hikes all within a reasonable drive of Vegas. Read More »

The Lauras, by Sara Taylor (2017)

Contemporary Fiction
The Lauras by Sara TaylorAlex’s mother hits the road in the middle of the night after a final fight with her husband. It’s not the first time she has taken off, but this time it’s with pubescent Alex, who struggles with Ma’s decision to leave without telling Dad where they are going. It is the start of a years-long journey crisscrossing the United States as Ma reconnects with significant people and places from her past, settling debts and scores and fulfilling long-ago promises. The title refers to the Lauras Ma has known throughout her life, giving Taylor a useful device for slowly revealing key events in Ma’s own story. The book is narrated in the first person by Alex, some 30 years hence, though it is set in this century. Read More »