The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Growing up I was a major Nancy Drew fan. I read all the books, played all the video games, and generally tried to become an amateur sleuth. Now that I’m an adult, I still love tales of mystery and hijinks. So when The Inheritance Games began making the rounds on Bookstagram, I snapped it right up.

Avery Grambs is a 17 year old who is just hoping to finish high school. When she’s called to the principal’s office one day, she’s met by a man in a sharp silver suit who is the bearer of puzzling news. Billionaire Tobias Hawthorne has died and Avery has been named in the will. The only catch? Avery has never heard of Tobias Hawthorne.

So begins Avery’s entry into the world of the rich and famous. Hawthorne House is filled with secret passageways, one of a kind antiques, and enigmatic occupants. The four Hawthorne grandsons Nash, Grayson, Jameson, and Xander are just as curious to find out why Avery has been named in their grandfather’s will. They’re even more curious when it’s announced that Avery is primary beneficiary. As Avery tries to get used to life as a billionaire, she finds clues that old Tobias Hawthorne has one last game to play- and she’s at the center of it.

This book is great for fans of Knives Out, Clue, or The Westing Game.

Make sure to pick up the next books in the trilogy as well, you’ll want to know what happens next!

Book 2: The Hawthorne Legacy

Book 3: The Final Gambit

-Melinda

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

There are many exciting new book releases coming and you don’t want to miss it…

The Choice

When the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in a dream, practicing black magick and sacrificing the innocent, Breen, united with Keegan and all of Talamh, must save those in need of rescue and, with every weapon she has, confront the darkness once and for all.

The Whittiers

When a devastating tragedy takes their parents from them, the eldest four adult Whittier children must put aside their personal issues and grief to keep the family together and support each other and their two youngest siblings.

Hunting Time

A wealthy entrepreneur hires Colter Shaw to track down and protect his employee, Allison Parker, a brilliant engineer, who is on the run from her ex-husband with her teenage daughter, in the fourth novel of the series following Hunting Time.

A Christmas Memory

Reeling from the loss of his brother in Vietnam, Richard moves with his family from California to his grandmother’s abandoned house in Utah where he finds the holiday spirit with the help of an elderly neighbor and his dog.

NYPD RED 7

When a network of professional assassins, trained by the U.S. military, terrorize New York City, NYPD Red detectives Kylie MacDonald and Zach Jordan must hunt down these elusive mercenaries—the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced, which forever changes their lives.

The Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Book

Hand-picking the keenest insights and funniest exchanges from 84 episodes of the groundbreaking streaming series, this gorgeously designed and carefully curated book collects casual yet intimate conversations with the funniest people alive, becoming the most important historical archive about the art of comedy ever amassed.

Defending Alice: A Novel of Love and Race in the Roaring Twenties

Roaring Twenties New York society is set ablaze when a working-class black woman marries the son of a wealthy, prominent family and makes international headlines after he sues for annulment accusing her of hiding her “Negro blood.”

All the Blood We Share: A Novel of the Bloody Benders of Kansas

The family of a gifted medium who can receive messages from Beyond are welcomed by the town of Cherrvale, but no one knows about their other business, in a novel based on the true story of old West serial killers.

~Semanur

A Read You’ll Race Through

Geraldine Brook’s new novel Horse weaves together real and imagined history to tell the story of Lexington, one of the most famous racehorses of the 19th-Century.

In Georgetown in 2019, Theo, an art history grad student, discovers an abandoned painting of a racehorse in his neighbor’s trash. Intrigued, he visits the nearby Smithsonian to research pre-Civil War horse paintings. There, he crosses paths with Jess, an Australian osteopath who oversees the animal bones in the Smithsonian’s collections, including, coincidentally, those of Lexington’s. The two work together to uncover the stories behind Theo’s found painting.

Moving back and forth in time and told through the eyes of multiple characters, this novel is about more than the mystery of a painting of a famous horse. It also tells the imagined story of Lexington’s Black groom, an enslaved man named Jarrett, whose dedication to Lexington costs him everything.

By the end of this riveting read about art, race, slavery, and antebellum South, readers are left wondering how little life has changed through the decades. A great choice for book clubs, Horse is a fascinating blend of historical and literary fiction that is well-researched, imaginative, and unforgettable.

-Carol

The Seven Husbands…

79-year-old former Hollywood actor Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell her story. She handpicks an inexperienced magazine journalist, Monique Grant, to write her biography. Monique is confused but delighted to be hired to write the legendary film actor’s life story. One requirement Evelyn insists upon is that the book must be published after her death. Evelyn also promises that all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Monique.

Evelyn has much to share. She was born to Cuban immigrants in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. She knew she needed more than that life. So, in the 1950’s Evelyn changed her appearance, got married, and headed to Hollywood. The book follows her life for the next 30+ years. Beautiful Evelyn became an adored Oscar winning movie icon who just happened to get married seven times.

This is an incredible story of old Hollywood glamour. Finally at the end of the book, Monique discovers why she was chosen to write Evelyn’s story.

~Emma

Live from New York, it’s Saturday night! 

Okay, maybe we’re in Cleveland. And maybe it’s Thursday. But it is Lorne Michaels’ birthday, the creator of the beloved series Saturday Night Live. Through showrunner changes, controversial sketches, and the COVID-19 pandemic, SNL has remained a mainstay in many households. For some, it’s how they learn about a hot new band; for others, it’s how they learn about the latest political scandal. And while the number of laughs per season may ebb and flow, comedy remains a focal point of the show.  

Many adored comedians have done their turn on the SNL stage. Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph, John Belushi, Leslie Jones—the list goes on and on. Even though our favorite stars come and go, they’ve kept the content coming. 

Whether you’re waxing nostalgic for the old days or just want to revisit some of the funny people you’ve only seen on SNL, here are some materials to check out that will hopefully satisfy your sense of humor. 

Tina Fey 

Tina Fey starred on, wrote for, and hosted SNL for numerous years. After her nine years on SNL, she went on to create hit shows like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She’s received Emmy’s, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Writers Guild Awards, and was even nominated for a Grammy and Tony. Her memoir, Bossypants, was a huge hit, staying true to her comedy bona fides. 

Eddie Murphy 

Credited with saving SNL from cancellation, Eddie Murphy’s genius is practically unmatched. He has had quite the career, from voice acting to singing to stand-up to dramas and back to comedy. He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, an NAACP Image Award for Trading Places, and People’s Choice Awards for Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Shrek.  

Will Ferrell 

Will Ferrell made a name for himself on SNL, starting in 1995 on season 21. Since leaving SNL after seven years, he’s acted in many comedic movies, many written and directed by former SNL writer Adam McKay. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy are all classic comedies you’d expect from the inimitable Will Ferrell.  

Gilda Radner 

One of the first cast members, Gilda Radner was an accomplished impressionist. After five years on SNL, she left for other pursuits. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away at the age of 42 in 1989 after an extremely tough battle. She wrote a memoir, It’s Always Something, in 1989, a few months before her death, detailing her struggles and successes. Alan Zweibel, a former writer for SNL, wrote a biography for Gilda, sharing stories of their friendship that began on the SNL set and endured until her death. 

Chevy Chase 

One of the original cast members, Chevy Chase was also the first cast member to be banned from SNL (though he has appeared in sketches since, so perhaps the ban is not so strict). His comedic chops have been proven time and time again, from the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to the more recent television show Community

Kenan Thompson 

Kenan Thompson started on SNL in 2003 and has become the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history. Other than SNL, he is probably most known for his time on the Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel. The pair also starred in the delightful movie Good Burger together in 1997. While not for all senses of humor, it certainly appeals to anyone craving some ridiculous 90s comedy. 

-Linnea

Book Club Picks

Are you in a book club? Then you’re one of the 5 million Americans that enjoy getting together with friends and talking books. That’s a lot of readers! Whether you read memoirs, bestsellers or saucy romances, picking a book for your group can be a challenge. Some groups vote on titles while others rotate monthly selectors. If your group is stuck in a reading rut here are recent books making the book club rounds. Or, if you’d rather revisit a perennial book club favorite, I’ve included a few recommendations of tried and true titles.

Recent Titles

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever. Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal—an experience that shocks him to his core. 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

With humor and heart, Michelle Zauner tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

Tried and True Titles

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she’s forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. With nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.

Looking for further inspiration? Check out previous selections from celebrity book clubs, including the Good Morning America Book Club, Reese’s Book Club, Oprah’s Book Club, Today Show’s Read With Jenna, Book of the Month, or Belletrist BookClub.

Did you know that Rocky River Public Library has book club kits? Take the guess work out of your next title and borrow a book club kit. Each kit contains eight copies of your selected title as well as discussion questions. Call or stop by the library for more information.

-Melinda

Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman!

Prolific storyteller Neil Gaiman was born on this day 61 years ago. From short stories to graphic novels to nonfiction to screenplays, Gaiman has left no storytelling stone unturned. While a large swatch of his fan base are avid sci-fi and fantasy readers, Gaiman still has mass appeal. Children’s books, such as Coraline, have garnered an adult fan base. Films and television shows have been created based on his books and Gaiman has even written episodes for beloved series like Doctor Who. 

Gaiman has written screeplays, produced films, and directed some too. He has an immense body of work with no signs of slowing down. The Sandman television series (based on Gaiman’s own DC Comics of the same name), a comic adaptation by Colleen Doran (from Gaiman’s Chivalry), and Miracleman comics were all released this year.  

No need to be overwhelmed, though! Here’s a list of offerings in every area Gaiman has his hands.  

Stories 

Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions 

Short stories and poems make up this fantastical collection from 1998. Most of the works had been published in magazines, anthologies, or other places prior to being assembled in Smoke and Mirrors. 

Coraline 

It may be considered a children’s book, but this creepy tale can be read at any age. Young Coraline and her parents move to a big, old house converted into apartments. Accompanied by an odd cast of characters, Coraline soon finds another world that is parallel to her own. While it seems perfect, it quickly becomes a nightmare Coraline must escape. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane 

Gaiman, a master of dark fantasy and magical realism, has also proven his mastery of human connection. The narrator, returning to his town to attend a funeral, reminisces on a tragedy that he witnessed as a child. Sometimes recommended as a children’s book, this fares better for an adult reflecting on their childhood. 

Nonfiction 

Adventures in the Dream Trade 

This is a collection of Gaiman’s essays and introductions and includes the original weblog of American Gods, before it was written into a novel. 

Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion 

Not just a companion guide into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a wonderfully absurd science fiction series), this nonfiction work is also a biography of the author Douglas Adams. 

Comics 

The DC Universe by Neil Gaiman 

This comic collection contains Batman, Superman, and Metamorpho. Published in 2016, the comics span from 1989-2013. 

Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days 

This is a collection from DC that includes several hard-to-find works from Gaiman’s earlier days. It includes comics centered around the Sandman, John Constantine, and the Floronic Man. 

Films and Television 

American Gods 

In addition to providing the source material, Gaiman was a writer and executive producer for this television series adaptation. 

As New Gods gain prominence, the Old Gods worry they are becoming irrelevant. Shadow Moon, recently released from prison, becomes embroiled in this world of magic and the mission of uniting the Old Gods to rebuild their status. 

Princess Mononoke 

Originally released in Japan, this is a classic film from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Gaiman wrote the script when it was dubbed for English in 1999. 

-Linnea 

Royal Reads for Fans of “The Empress”

If you’re a fan of The Empress on Netflix, chances are you’re also a fan of historical fiction. The splendor and drama of royal living is present in both the show and the following books. While all three of these women come from different time periods, they share one thing in common: the name Elizabeth. Continue exploring the world of Sisi, or travel to the courts of Russia or England with one of these royal reads.

Elisabeth “Sisi,” Empress of Austria

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young Emperor Franz Joseph. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead. Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.

Elizabeth, Empress of Russia

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

When they took everything from her, they didn’t count on her fighting to get it back. Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and Catherine I, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the world’s loveliest Princess and the envy of the Russian empire. Insulated by luxury and as a woman free from the burden of statecraft, Elizabeth is seemingly born to pursue her passions. However, when her mother dies; Russia is torn, masks fall, and friends become foes. Elizabeth’s idyllic world is upended. By her twenties she is penniless and powerless, living under constant threat. As times change like quicksand, Elizabeth must decide whether she is willing to take up her role as Russia’s ruler, and what she’s willing to do for her country.

Queen Elizabeth II

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

When Heather Mackenzie discovers that the embroidered flowers among her grandmother’s possessions are the same pattern from Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding gown, she sets out to discover why they were in her possession. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before?

-Melinda

Want to Watch Something?

I’m the first to admit when I’m in a reading slump. Like right now. Good thing there are so many leaves in my yard to rake. And, good thing that I have been keeping myself busy by binging a couple of awesome TV series that are based on books.

Based on musician sisters Tegan and Sara Quin’s best-selling memoir of the same name, High School tells the coming-of-age story of identical twins who are struggling to find themselves amidst the backdrop of ‘90s grunge culture. This honest, sometimes raw and moving show is about queer adolescence and explores themes of family, love and friendship. It has a killer soundtrack that sparks all the nostalgic feels. Fans of My So-Called Life, the band Tegan and Sara, or anyone looking for a story about discovering one’s self should check out High School, which is free to stream on Freevee. Oh, and if you want to read the memoir or listen to Tegan and Sara’s music, we’ve got those at the library for you to check out, too.

In other TV news, Masterpiece Mystery! has adapted Anthony Horowitz’s 2017 mystery novel Magpie Murders into a satisfying series that will soon be available on DVD from the library. The plot revolves around Susan Ryeland, a British book editor who is has been handed best-selling author Alan Conway’s latest novel. The day Susan finishes reading the manuscript and realizes that it is missing its last chapter – the part where readers learn “whodunit,” is the same day she learns that Conway has been found dead. When Susan goes in search of the book’s final pages, she unknowingly involves herself in a murder investigation. Both the book and TV show feature a story within the story and the action moves seamlessly between the historical novel and present day, despite multiple characters playing dual roles. If you enjoy British mysteries (à la Agatha Christie), a clever twisty plot, engaging characters and a satisfying conclusion, I recommend reading the book first. Then, tune into PBS Sunday evenings or place a hold on the DVD to catch Magpie Murders on the small screen. And, as a second season is in the works, prepare to become obsessed.

-Carol

The Great Space Race

On this day in 1957, the Soviet Union launched its second artificial satellite, Sputnik 2, about one month after the launch of Sputnik. Included on this journey was the first animal launched to orbit the Earth, a dog named Laika. Afraid they had fallen behind as the Cold War raged on, the United States picked up its space and weapons programs. In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created. The United States and the Soviet Union continued to send spacecrafts into space, to orbit the Earth, and eventually sending humans as well. The Soviet Union was first, with Yuri Gagarin in 1961. And then in 1969, the United States successfully landed on the moon, thus “winning” the space race.  

Want to delve deeper into this intense period of time? Here’s a list to get you started! 

Laika by Nick Abadzis 

This graphic novel melds fact and fiction about the first animal to go into space, aboard Sputnik 2. Told from multiple viewpoints, this is a tender interpretation of Laika’s journey. 

Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam 

Inspired by the launch of Sputnik, Homer Hickam and his high school friends set off to create their own rockets in their small town of Coalwood, West Virginia. This is a classic coming-of-age memoir, filled with rich storytelling and universal themes of class, family, and friendship. And if you’d rather watch than read, the film October Sky with Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern is a wonderful adaptation. 

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley 

For a more in-depth look at the moon landing of 1969, Douglas Brinkley’s got you covered. Full of primary sources, this book showcases all the minds that contributed to make landing on the moon a reality.  

In the Shadow of the Moon: America, Russia, and the Hidden History of the Space Race by Amy E. Cherrix 

On opposite sides of the world, two engineers are working to make space exploration possible. Amy E. Cherrix provides two biographies of the men that changed what we thought was feasible. Wernher von Braun, a Nazi officer living in the United States, and Sergei Korolev, a former prisoner turned Soviet rocket designer, both worked in their respective countries to achieve greatness. 

Sputnik Mania 

This documentary from the History Channel examines multiple facets of the space race, from the Sputnik launches to international relations to broader aspects of the space race and Cold War. 

Space Exploration: A History in 100 Objects by Sten F. Odenwald 

For a more general introduction and understanding of the history of space exploration, Sten Odenwald has compiled an excellent collection of objects. From the O-ring that doomed the Challenger in 1986 to Galileo’s telescope, this is a wonderful resource to track the advancement in space exploration and technology.  

-Linnea