National Pinot Noir Day

Today may be National Pinot Noir Day but there are plenty of other wine-related topics to celebrate. If you drink wine, you know that a glass can elevate a dining experience. But between all the varietals and rules, it can be hard to know what exactly you’re drinking and which to drink with which food. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to teach us!  

First off, there is no need to become an expert because as Victoria James’ autobiography Wine Girl explains, the journey to becoming a sommelier (not to mention America’s youngest sommelier!) is quite the intense journey. If that doesn’t scare you off, peruse Rosie Schaap’s book Becoming a Sommelier and really take your wine knowledge to the next level. But if you’d rather take a step back, there’s Aldo Sohm’s book Wine Simple. Sohm takes his expertise and makes it manageable for those of us that just want to know which wine goes best with pizza.

And maybe you don’t want to take it that far and just want to know what wines come from where, learn something, and impress your dinner guests. Around the World in Eighty Wines by Mike Veseth is an excellent resource, broken into continents, countries, and cities, delving into the history and making of their wines. Wine Isn’t Rocket Science by Ophélie Neiman breaks down how to buy and pair every type of wine, so you’re never left wondering if you should have a white or red with dinner.  

And if you’d rather just read wine-themed books, have we got options for you!

Wine Tastings are Murder by Libby Klein
The Winemakers by Jan Moran
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury


New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here are some of the new books coming to our shelves this week for you to add to your book list!

Diana, William & Harry by James Patterson & Chris Mooney – The world’s best-selling author examines the heartbreaking story of Princess Diana, taken from her sons William and Harry at a painfully young age, and how they carried on her name and spirit into adulthood.

Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes – After taking a class, “Culture and Civilization,” with the commanding, exacting Professor Elizabeth Finch, Neil develops an obsessive, intellectual crush on her in a novel of platonic, unrequited love by the Booker award-winning author of The Sense of an Ending.

Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis by Beth Macy – In this complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race and class, the New York Times best-selling author of Dopesick takes us to the forefront of the opioid crisis where we meet the everyday heroes fighting to stem the tide of drug overdose.

The Challenge by Danielle Steel – When their children go missing, a group of parents, desperate to hear word that they’ve been found, a media frenzy ensures, heightening tensions and testing some already fragile relationships, forcing them all to reconsider what they once held dear.

The Blame Game by Sandie Jones – A psychologist specializing in domestic abuse, Naomi, after her client’s file goes missing, wonders if her own dark past is coming back to haunt her— and if her clients aren’t the only ones in danger.

The Housekeeper by Joy Fielding – Hiring a housekeeper named Elyse to help care for her father and his wife Audrey, who has Parkinson’s, successful real estate agent Jodi Bishop soon discovers that the attractive 60-something widow is attempting to take over their lives when Audrey’s condition rapidly worsens.

Overkill by Sandra Brown – When Eban, the scion of a wealthy North Carolina family who brutally attacked Rebecca Pratt, leaving her on life support, gets an early release from prison, brilliant state prosecutor Kate Lennon asks former Super Bowl MVP quarterback—and Rebecca’s ex-husband—to make an impossible decision for justice.


Step Into a Satisfying Read

In Her Boots
by K. J. Dell’Antonia

Rhett Smith was raised by her late father and grandmother on their family farm, Pioneer Hill, in New Hampshire and has been estranged from her university dean/mother Margaret ever since she left them for academia. Instead of college, much to her mother’s disapproval, Rhett chooses to travel the world, seeking adventure and a nomadic lifestyle that doesn’t tie her down. Despite thinking she’ll never live up to her mother’s standards, on Instagram, under the name “Modern Pioneer Girl,” Rhett has garnered quite a following. As her alter-ego, or MPG, Rhett translates her diverse skill-set into a fearless, can-do attitude that inspires other young women to question their own life choices, learn how to fix their own flat tires, attempt to drive a pedicab in Thailand, or be unafraid to work odd jobs to get by. In fact, Rhett has written a successful, best-selling book about it all under a pseudonym – a book that is outselling her own mother’s book of parental advice.

When Rhett’s beloved grandmother dies, a now 40-year-old Rhett decides it is time to stop her wanderings and return to the farm and run it full-time. She is shocked to discover that she has inherited it jointly with Margaret who wants to sell it to her university. As if that weren’t bad enough, when Rhett is asked to be on the Today Show to promote her book, she chickens out and forces her best friend Jasmine to go in her place. Now the world believes that Jasmine is the Modern Pioneer Girl, and Rhett looks like an unemployed failure to her mom, once again. How will plain old Rhett ever convince her mother not to sell her half of the farm?

Pick up In Her Boots by K. J. Dell’Antonia if you are looking for a novel that is full of heart and humor. This book is perfect for fans of women’s fiction and books about friendship, family, second chances and a little bit of romance. I read this delightful novel in a single sitting.


New Historical Fiction

During WWI General Pershing needed reliable efficient telephone operators in France. The men assigned to that task were too slow for communication needs at the front. Pershing decided to allow women to join the US armed forces for the first time. These women became part of the Army Signal Corps. In 1917, Grace Banker from New Jersey, Marie Moissec (a French vocalist) from France, and Belgian-born Valerie DeSmedt from Los Angeles became members of the Signal Corps. Those who joined the Signal Corps had to be fluent in French and English. (The nickname for these women were “hello girls” and they far outpaced their male military counterparts.) The women underwent rigorous training and were often stationed close to the front. In addition to the dangers of war, they also battled the Spanish flu pandemic.

After the war these women were not official recognized as military veterans until more than 60 years after their service. They were denied the benefits male veterans received until that time.

Grace Banker

The character of Grace Banker is based on Grace D. Banker who was an AT&T switchboard instructor before being recruited. She served as Chief Operator of telephone for the AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) and led thirty-three women telephone operators. She earned a Distinguished Service Medal for her work during WWI.

The author does a wonderful job of bringing a rarely emphasized part of American history to life. I learned a lot. ~Emma

Remembering Robin Williams

Today marks eight years since the passing of Robin Williams. An actor, comedian, legend, hero to many, we’ve all experienced Robin Williams in some way through his work. He was first introduced to me as Genie from Aladdin (1992), though I picture him as the English professor from Dead Poet’s Society (1989) more often now. Whether you laughed along to Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) or enjoyed a more dramatic performance in Good Will Hunting (1997), he certainly has left his mark in Hollywood.  

Plenty of biographies have been written about Robin Williams. Here are few books with different perspectives: 

Robin by Dave Itzkoff 

If you’re looking for a definitive biography, this will be the one. 

Robin Williams, American Master: The Movies and Art of a Lost Genius by Stephen J. Spignesi

More interested in facts and trivia about Robin Williams’ films and life? Then you’ll enjoy Spignesi’s biography. 

Robin Williams: A Singular Portrait, 1986-2002 by Arthur Grace

Arthur Grace has created a biography told in a series of photographs, taken over decades. 

And of course, here are a few of his films to remember him by: 

Popeye (1980) 

Hook (1991) 

Jumanji (1995) 

Happy Feet (2006)

Happy Feet Two (2011)

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here some of the new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week!

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell – In this sequel to the best-selling The Family Upstairs, two women are faced with complicated mysteries that are linked to a cold case that left three people dead in a Chelsea mansion 30 years ago.

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin – Liv Reese, waking up holding a bloodstained knife and her hands covered in scribbled messages, remembers nothing from the past two years and goes on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing, followed by someone who will do anything to stop her from remembering—permanently.

Bark to the Future by Spencer Quinn – When dog Chet and his human, Bernie Little, run into a homeless panhandler who turns out to be an old classmate, they investigate his past in the thirteenth novel of the series following It’s a Wonderful Woof.

Sister Friends Forever by Kimberla Roby – This powerful story of friendship follows four best friends who, leading very different lives, come together each month to discuss their hopes and dreams.

A Dark and Stormy Tea by Laura Childs – After witnessing the murder of her friend Lois’ daughter, tea shop owner and amateur sleuth Theodosia Browning investigates and is surprised when so many suspects turn up in the latest addition to the long-running series, following Twisted Tea Christmas.

Heat 2 by Michael Mann & Meg Gardiner – Follows the formative years of homicide detective Vincent Hanna and an elite group of criminals and crime syndicates, in the new novel by the four-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker and writer-director of HeatCollateral and Miami Vice.

I Remember You by Brian Freeman – After dying at a rooftop party in Las Vegas on the Fourth of July, Hallie Evers wakes up in the hospital, disoriented, but alive, with memories that are not fully her own and embarks on a cross-country search for answers.


A Suspenseful Summer Read

The It Girl
by Ruth Ware

When Hannah Jones heads to Oxford to study literature, she expects her world to change. What she doesn’t expect is to be paired with a roommate like April Coutts-Cliveden. April has it all -she’s rich, beautiful, has an adoring fan club of young men and seemingly never has to study.

When April is found murdered in their common room, Hannah names Oxford employee John Neville as the man she saw leaving the crime scene. Neville is convicted for April’s murder, and traumatized and hounded by journalists, Hannah never returns to school.   

Ten years later, Hannah is now pregnant and married to one of April’s exes and living in Edinburgh. When she receives news that John Neville has died in jail, instead of feeling relief, she begins questioning whether or not she was responsible for convicting an innocent man. If Neville didn’t kill April, who did?

This fast-paced novel is the perfect academic mystery to sink your teeth into. It’s suspenseful, dark, clever and has excellent character development and an ending that this reader didn’t see coming. If you are looking for a perfect psychological thriller this summer, pick up The It Girl by Ruth Ware.  


New Historical Fiction

It was 1942 in Bergen when Rumi Orlstad’s future husband Magnus drowned at sea. He was part of the Norwegian resistance movement along with Rumi. Resistance duties included smuggling British agents, supplies, and fugitives across the North Sea into Scotland (nicknamed the Shetland Bus, a permanent link between Mainland Shetland in Scotland and Norway). Rumi’s fisherman father Peder, her almost-brother Rubio, along with her best friend and neighbor Marjit assist in their own ways with the goal of ridding Norway of the Germans.

Rumi helps rescue two SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents, and Jens Parks was one of them. He and Rumi eventually work together to free Anya, who was date raped by a German officer. She lived at one of the Lebensborn maternity homes. Hitler wanted to enhance Aryan genes and Norwegians matched his ideals. Many Norwegian women had consensual sex with Nazis or were raped. Some of those women were housed in a Lebensborn location until they gave birth. Those babies were given to childless German families to raise as their own.

I was unaware of much of the above information regarding the occupation of Norway. I was also unaware of Lebensborn which was begun by Heinrich Himmler. (There were multiple Lebornsborn locations in Germany, Norway, and occupied northern Europe, including Poland.)

An interesting story for historical fiction readers! (The Nazi German occupation of Norway began on April 9, 1940 and continued until May 9, 1945.) .


National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

What a specific thing to acknowledge!

On National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, let’s think fondly upon the most classic of cookies. Whether the preference is for a soft, gooey bite or more of a crunch, made with classic chocolate chips or chunks, everyone loves a chocolate chip cookie (okay fine, ALMOST everyone). To celebrate this marvelous morsel, here’s a collection of chocolate chip cookie related materials to make the perfect cookie and then read the perfect cookie book. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke 

Feel-good, cozy mystery  

Death By Chocolate Chip Cupcake by Sarah Graves 

Light-hearted investigative mystery 

The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book by Carolyn Wyman 

Learn how to bake the best chocolate chip cookies 

125 Best Chocolate Chip Recipes by Julie Hasson 

When you don’t want cookies but have all those leftover chocolate chips from your cookie exploration 

Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Mystery

A fun cookie film to watch while you eat your way through those new recipes (based on the Joanne Fluke mystery!) 

Enjoy your delicious treats on this most important of days!