Book Buzz Episode 35 – This Tender Land & Bookshops and Bonedust

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Air date: Feb. 4, 2024

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This Tender Land

Bookshops & Bonedust

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz. 

Today's reading recommendations include historical fiction and a cozy fantasy. 

First, let’s hear about four children on a challenging journey, from Bekah, library associate at the Camano Island Library, Go ahead, Bekah. 


“This Tender Land” by William Kent Kreuger is historical fiction at its finest. The story opens in the summer of 1932 at a Native American boarding school. The students at the school live under constant cruelty and abuse. One night, tragedy strikes and brothers Odie and Albert escape along with two other children.  

Although the children are relieved to be free of the abuse they suffered at the boarding school, freedom brings its own set of troubles and worries. The country is in the depths of the great depression and the desperation and hunger that most everyone is feeling in the story is front and center. In spite of this, there is still kindness to be found and I really enjoyed the variety of colorful characters that our band of four meet along the way.  

At its core, this book is a rollicking adventure story, but it has a lot of heart too. I love how the children manage to cobble together their own little family, working together to build a better life. The episodic style of this novel reminds me of what might happen if Homer’s “The Odyssey” met Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” If you are a fan of Charles Frazier or Ivan Doig, you’re sure to enjoy “This Tender Land.” 


Thanks, Bekah! It may feel difficult to relate to the hardships of the Great Depression, but this book gives a realistic perspective. 

Next, we’re going to hear from Emma, library associate at the Mariner Library, for a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Take it away, Emma.  


In "Bookshops and Bonedust" by Travis Baldree, readers meet Viv the warrior orc at the beginning of her adventuring career when she has more strength than strategy. Viv gets hurt while hunting a dangerous necromancer and is left by her mercenary friends in the sleepy seaside town of Murk.   

But being left behind doesn’t mean there’s no adventures to be had. As Viv spends her recovery days helping restore the local bookstore and fumbling a romance with a dwarven baker, danger creeps into Murk in the form of a mysterious stranger. When that stranger turns up dead, Viv and her new friends discover that he had stolen items from Varine the Pale--the very necromancer Viv had been hunting.

To their horror, they realize that Varine has discovered the location of her missing items and is headed towards Murk to retrieve them. With Viv still wounded, she and her friends must come up with a way to overcome Varine’s undead forces with a clever strategy, rather than brute strength.   

Travis Baldree continues his legacy of writing hilarious and heartwarming low-stakes fantasy with characters pulled from the world of Dungeons and Dragons. While “Bookshops and Bonedust” is a prequel to “Legends and Lattes,” it works well as a standalone novel. 


Thanks, Emma! I can’t wait to hear if there will be a third installment to this series. 

Our recommendations this week are: “This Tender Land” by William Kent Kreuger and “Bookshops and Bonedust” by Travis Baldree. 

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations—interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.   

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.  

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER. 

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