Book Chats: The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

As it starts to warm up and the sunlight lingers later each day, my genre reading shifts. No more dense fantasy novels; instead, I want books that have summery vibes. Seaside settings and joyful moments. The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club by Helen Simonson is one such book. Lori read it months ago and has been mentioning it consistently since then—and while I don't often pick up historical fiction unprompted, I do enjoy it—so we decided to have a virtual chat about it to compare notes.

Constance Haverhill finds herself out of a job now that the Great War is over and the position she fell into as an estate bookkeeper for an old family friend is being returned to a man. She gets her severance in the form of a summer spent as companion to the recovering Mrs. Fog at a seaside village. Unsure how to occupy herself, she stumbles into a friendship with the lively Poppy Wirall and her gang of motorcycle girls who worked as delivery riders during the war. In their attempts to keep riding and stay employed, hijinks ensue, races are won, and a plane destined for parts is salvaged. But the shadow of the Great War looms over them all as some try to forget and everyone attempts to move on. In this time of change and recovery, Constance has to decide what she wants to make of her life now that women are expected to go back to the way things were before.

My Mother, the Reader

I told my mom I was going to be writing about how much she fostered my own love of reading. She said, “You know, it all started in the library, when I had one of my first jobs as a page.” Back in the sixties, my mom was a teenager in the little desert town of Lancaster, California. I pictured my mom in her A-line dresses, pushing a library cart around to re-shelve books in the evenings. She said she got very distracted reading the titles of the books as she was alphabetizing them. Sounds like someone else I know, who also gets distracted reading the backs of interesting books that customers bring up to the register.

With Twice the Love, Dessie Mei: A Conversation with Justina Chen

Island Books is delighted to host our longtime friend and author, Justina Chen, for the release of her brand-new middle grade novel, With Twice the Love, Dessie Mei, on Tuesday, May 7th at 6:30pm. Not only is this inspirational and heartfelt book set in Seattle, but it's also filled with characters that bring home the issues of our times.

I loved this book from start to finish. Dessie Mei has always known she's adopted from China. When her family has to move to Seattle to help a grandparent with memory issues transition into assisted living, she is uprooted in the middle of the school year to a new school. Hopeful that making a new friend in 6th grade won't be too hard, imagine Dessie Mei's surprise when she walks into her first classroom and finds a girl who looks EXACTLY like her. Donna is also adopted, and the two form an immediate bond. They look so much alike that they can't help but wonder... are they twins?

With that intriguing start I was completely hooked, and I’m so glad Justina Chen was able to take the time to sit down with me and talk about her wonderful new book!


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