Out West Books staff picks

Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from Out West Books in Grand Junction recommends a sci-fi rom-com, an Indiana Jones-type adventure and a ghostly whodunit.

The Road to Roswell

By Connie Willis
Del Rey
June 2023


From the publisher: When level-headed Francie arrives in Roswell, New Mexico, for her college roommate’s UFO-themed wedding — complete with a true-believer bridegroom — she can’t help but roll her eyes at all the wide-eyed talk of aliens, which obviously don’t exist. Imagine her surprise, then, when she is abducted by one.

Part alien-abduction adventure, part road trip, part romantic comedy, “The Road to Roswell” is packed full of Men in Black, Elvis impersonators, tourist traps, rattlesnakes, chemtrails, and Close Encounters of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth kind. Can Francie, stuck in a lime green bridesmaid’s dress, save the world and still make it back for the wedding?

From Didi Herald, Bookseller: As a long time fan of Colorado author Connie Willis, I grabbed this up as soon as it was available. It had all the elements I love about her books — clever wit, totally unexpected scenarios, relatable characters, laugh out loud moments, and strangely enough, well researched historical detail. If you ever watched Western movies, you will appreciate how much research she had to have done. I loved it so much that after I was done I listened to the audiobook version on a recent road trip so my husband could experience it, too. It is a perfect combination of science fiction, humor, and madcap road trip.

The Antiquity Affair

By Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne
Harper Muse
June 2023


From the publisher: 1907: The dawn of Egyptology is a time of imperialism and plunder, opulence and unrest, and Dr. Warren Ford, esteemed archaeologist, is the man of the hour. His daughters — intellectual Lila, on the eve of her debut as a Manhattan socialite, and nonconformist Tess, who dreams of following in his footsteps — have always lived in his shadow, and their lives couldn’t feel more different. But when a secretive organization seeks to find a lost relic legendary for its dangerous power, it isn’t Dr. Ford they turn to  —it’s his two remarkable daughters.

Rumored to reside in the mysterious Tomb of the Five Ladies, the Serpent’s Crown will only be found by solving a seemingly impossible riddle that will open the tomb — and the organization believes that one of the Ford daughters holds the key to deciphering the code. 

From Didi Herald, Bookseller:  There are moments in your life that stand out when you experience a feeling you want to experience again. One of those moments for me was when I watched the first Indiana Jones movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I loved the thrilling adventure, the suspense, the puzzles, the legends, and the wry humor. I’ve literally spent decades looking for books that would give me that same feeling and “The Antiquity Affair” is the first book that gave me the exhilaration I was looking for. The capable, intelligent sister protagonists were relatable. The historical details felt right and happily it did touch on how the exploitation and outright theft of ancient artifacts may not have been honorable or right. The pacing of the story kept me racing through the pages as Lila and Tess raced across the desert.

Grave Expectations

By Alice Bell
September 2023


From the publisher: Almost-authentic medium Claire and her best friend, Sophie, agree to take on a seemingly simple job at a crumbling old manor in the English countryside: performing a seance for the family matriarch’s 80th birthday. The pair have been friends since before Sophie went missing when they were 17. Everyone else is convinced Sophie simply ran away, but Claire knows the truth. Claire knows Sophie was murdered because Sophie has been haunting her ever since.

Despite this traumatic past, Claire and Sophie are still unprepared for what they encounter when they arrive at the manor: a ghost, tragic and unrecognizable, and clearly the spirit of someone killed in a rage at the previous year’s party. Given her obsession with crime shows — not to mention Sophie’s ability to walk through walls — Claire decides they’re the best people to solve the case. And with the help of the only obviously not-guilty members of their host family — sexy ex-policeman Sebastian and far-too-cool non-binary teen Alex — they launch an investigation into which of last year’s guests never escaped the manor’s grounds.

From Didi Herald, Bookseller: Laugh-out-loud situations, charming characters (both living and dead), and good sleuthing make this a terrific read. It is a wonderful escape from everyday monotony and is thoroughly entertaining. Claire seems so ordinary that her talent is always ignored or underrated. Sophie is so 17 (and nobody should have to be 17 for years and years), creating conflicts between best friends who are no longer close in age, which adds complexity. Hopefully this is only the first of many mysteries for this delightful duo and friends.


Out West Books

533 Main St., Grand Junction


As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. Read more.

Out West Books was established in 2014 to provide residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and Eastern Utah with a full service Independent Bookstore. The owner has previously been in the bookselling business for 20 years in Eastern...