Fall into an Otherworldly Read

Sixteen years after the publication of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, her 2004 award-winning, magical and mysterious alternative history debut novel, Susanna Clarke is back with another dazzling tale.

Piranesi, Clarke’s second novel, is a slim tome compared to her first, but similarly, it is another literary page-turner set an alternate reality. This time, her protagonist is not an 19th-century magician, but just a man, with a strange name, who lives in a strange place that seems unlike any reality humans have encountered before. This man, Piranesi, lives in a grand labyrinth he calls the “House,” which is filled with statues he speaks to. Though he can remember living nowhere else, Piranesi obsessively keeps track of the House, including its many halls and rooms, the human remains that he finds within them, and the tidewaters that flood the House and threaten to drown him.

Piranesi’s only human interactions are with a man he refers to as “The Other.” The Other is often away, but when he regularly meets with Piranesi, he asks for assistance in his constant search for “A Great and Secret Knowledge” that he believes is hidden within the House.

As Piranesi records his daily life and activities in his detailed journal entries, he begins to notice inconsistencies in The Other’s behavior, as well as inconsistencies in his own journals, prompting Piranesi to question what he really knows about his world and the possible existence of living other people.

If you love to solve puzzles, love literary fiction, or if you are just looking for something off the beaten path, pick up Piranesi, suspend your disbelief for a short while, and be prepared to be a-mazed!

Fall into a Good Book

The Right Sort of Man
by Allison Montclair

The first entry in the “Sparks & Bainbridge” mystery series takes place in 1946 London. Two very different women from very different circumstances decide to embark on a new business enterprise they’ve named the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Their goal is to help men and women find each other. Iris Sparks had job with British Intelligence and is unable to share much. War widow Gwen Bainbridge is at the mercy of her wealthy dead husband’s family who have legal custody of her young son. Their first client, Tillie La Salle, is murdered. The police assume the murderer is Dickie Trower, Tillie’s initial match from the Right Sort Marriage Bureau, and no further investigation is necessary. Iris and Gwen disagree. The two begin their own investigation to find the real killer and in that process to save the reputation of their business.

This is a clever story that fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Maisie Dobbs will enjoy.


Fall into a Great Series

I have mixed emotions after finishing Richard Osman’s second book in his “Thursday Murder Club” series. Yes, I loved every minute I spent turning the pages in The Man Who Died Twice, but now I am dismayed and left waiting for the next installment. It was that good!

Set in a quaint English town, this sequel to The Thursday Murder Club follows the adventures of octogenarians Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim, and it picks up where that book left off. The foursome, who lost some people dear to them and made some new friends (in the form of two local detectives), have grown even closer and still live in the same retirement community. Most importantly, however, they are all still obsessed with solving crimes and meet weekly to try and solve them.

In The Man Who Died Twice, readers learn all about Elizabeth’s past life as a spy with MI5 and all about her ex-husband Douglas. Elizabeth thought Douglas was gone forever, but now he has re-materialized. Douglas has stolen some diamonds from a dangerous bad guy, he asks the smartest woman he knows, Elizabeth, to help keep him alive.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim has been badly beaten in a mugging and now just wants to hide in his apartment from the world. The Thursday Murder Club set out to find whoever hurt their friend and when they do, be certain that the mugger will never underestimate a senior citizen again.

But will Ibrahim’s crisis distract Elizabeth from keeping both of her eyes on Douglas? She’ll have to ask her friends for help. As ever, they are up for the task.

You’ll want to read The Man Who Died Twice to the very end to find out if the club saves their man. Be prepared for laughs, red herrings, murders, and more in this truly entertaining read that is even better than its predecessor. Come for the crime solving and stay for the highly entertaining hi-jinx of a lovable slew of characters. And then just try to wait patiently for the series’ third book.


Fall into a Good Book

The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood

In 1917 Julia Stimson, a gifted nurse, teacher, and administrator from St. Louis is offered the opportunity to recruit and train 64 nurses to serve near the front lines in France during WWI.  She is up to the challenge. On arrival, the nurses encountered primitive conditions and an ineffective system for dealing with life-threatening battle wounds. Julia worked hard to convince doctors that her nurses were capable of so much more that would greatly benefit the wounded soldiers. Slowly the doctors accepted the additional help leaving the severely wounded for them deal with.

The novel draws on the life of Julia Stimson (1881-1948). Julia wanted to become a doctor but was discouraged from entering the male-dominated world of medicine by her family. Among her various positions of leadership, Colonel Julia Catherine Stimson was head of Nursing Service of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.

The novel is a story of courage, sacrifice, friendship, bravery, compassion and a little romance.


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!

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl – The legendary American musician, singer, songwriter and documentary filmmaker offers a collection of stories, written by his own hand, that focus on the memories of his life, from his childhood to today.

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen – As Christmas 1971 approaches, the Hildebrand family of New Prospect, Illinois deals increasing points of crisis including a stale marriage, the draft and their son’s sexual orientation in the first novel in a new trilogy from the author of Purity.

Fight Night by Miriam Toews – From the best-selling author of Women Talking and All My Puny Sorrows comes a novel about three generations of women.

The Survivors by Alex Schulman – To finally face what really happened that summer day long ago, three estranged brothers return to the lakeside cottage where an unspeakable accident forever altered their family and find a dangerous new current vibrating between them, testing their loyalty.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza – The lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one white, is severely tested when one woman’s husband, a police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager, while the other woman, a reporter, covers this career-making story.

A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020 by David Sedaris – In this follow-up to his previous volume of diaries, Theft by Finding, the award-winning humorist chronicles the years 2003-2020, charting the years of his rise to fame with his trademark misanthropic charm and wry wit.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – In June of 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson, released after serving 15 months for involuntary manslaughter, discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car and have hatched a different plan for Emmett’s future.

Three Sisters by Heather Morris – After surviving years of imprisonment in Auschwitz, three Slovakian sisters travel to Israel where the battle for freedom takes on new forms as they face the ghosts of their past and secrets they have kept from each other to find true peace and happiness.

2 Sisters Detective Agency by James Patterson & Candice Fox – After discovering that her estranged father became a private eye, attorney Rhonda Bird teams up with her half sister to run the agency, in the new novel from the world’s best-selling author of the Alex Cross novels.

Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs – While catering a Victorian Christmas party for Drucilla Heyward, one of the wealthiest women in town who is about to make a huge announcement, tea maven Theodosia Browning finds herself steeped in murder when she stumbles upon Drucilla’s dead body.

The Butler by Danielle Steel – Taking a job working for Olivia, a woman who is trying to get her life together, butler Joachim, as his life falls apart, unexpectedly reaches a place with Olivia where the past doesn’t matter and only what they are living now is true.

The Jealousy Man and Other Stories by Jo Nesbo – The New York Times best-selling master of suspense presents this unique and unnerving collection of stories rife with insatiable greed, devious lovers and heartrending fate.

Foul Play by Stuart Woods – Stone Barrington uncovers a complicated scheme when he learns that a new client is in danger and putting his business and the safety of New York in jeopardy, in the latest novel of the series following Class Act.

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger – Believing she had found true love on a dating app, a young woman is shocked when her lover intentionally disappears and she discovers many other girls who also thought they were in love with the same man.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A sample of titles available from the library –

The Breast Cancer Book : A Trusted Guide for You and Your Loved Ones

by Kenneth D. Miller

The breast cancer cookbook : over 100 easy recipes to nourish and boost health during and after treatment

by M.R.S. Keshtgar

Breast cancer smoothies : 100 delicious, research-based recipes for prevention and recovery

by Daniella Chace

The breast test book : a woman’s guide to mammography and beyond

by Connie Jones

The cancer journals

by Audre Lorde

Pretty sick : the beauty guide for women with cancer

by Caitlin M. Kiernan

Radical : The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America

by Kate Pickert

The silver lining : a supportive and insightful guide to breast cancer

by Hollye Jackobs


Fall into a Good Book

Sometimes I read a book and immediately want to re-read it. This is the case with Agatha of Little Neon, a debut novel by Claire Luchette.

Agatha is a nun, who, along with her three fellow sisters in a diocese in Buffalo, New York, has been diligently serving the lord. Agatha has felt safe, anonymous and lucky to have become part of a close-knit group of women. For years, Frances, Mary Lucille, and Therese have been her constant companions and they have fulfilled Agatha’s need for connection. When their diocese goes bankrupt, the four sisters are sent to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to oversee and become caretakers for a half-way house where they encounter addiction and real-world problems that are often out of their control.

It is there that Agatha, who is reeling from the loss of their convent and from being separated from Mother Roberta, their beloved Mother Superior, is forced further from her comfort zones into learning and teaching geometry at a local girl’s school because of shortages. There, too, is where Agatha begins to become disenfranchised with the Catholic Church and to question her limited role in it.

Not only are Agatha’s story and journey compelling, the language alone in this novel kept me turning the pages with its short, vignette-like chapters, filled with Agatha’s poignant and thoughtful ruminations. Agatha of Little Neon is a charming and smart, quiet novel of self discovery. Read it, and then maybe read it again.


Banned Books Week

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

Written in 2005, this is the story of Jeannette Walls, her 3 siblings, and their parents. Dad (Rex) was often drunk with the dream of building a glass castle, a home for his family, after he strikes it rich finding gold. Mom (Rose Mary) was an artist who loved spending time with painting much more than taking care of her family. The family never had a decent home and there was never enough food. They moved often, Dad called it the skedaddle, especially when bill collectors came looking for them. Birthdays and Christmas were seldom celebrated except for an occasional “gift” mom found on the street, in the trash, or at a thrift store. The children went to school hungry and seldom had anything for lunch except leftovers found in the trash. One by one the children left Virginia for New York City where three of the four become successful adults despite their childhood.

According to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom, The Glass Castle was on list of the top 10 most challenged books for 2012 because of offensive language and sexually explicit content.


Banned Books Week 2021: Shannon’s Favorites

The logo for banned books week: a yellow banner with black text that reads "Banned Books Week" over an icon of a red book.

It’s Banned Books Week again, and now more than ever, it is important to talk to about censorship and the right to read. We as librarians stand against censorship and banning books, and in fact, some of my favorite books are on the list of the most frequently challenged books.

In honor of this important week, here are some of my favorite books from the list:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas book cover + links to RRPL catalog

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A powerful, moving story ripped straight from the headlines, of a Black girl who was the only witness to her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer; this book is number 30 of the 100 most challenged books of the decade.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi book cover that links to RRPL catalog.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

An excellent graphic memoir that details the author’s childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution; I read this in college and it changed my perspective on regular people living in the Middle East. Number 40.

The Giver by Lois Lowry book cover that links to RRPL's catalog.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this dystopian classic in grade school, and it has remained one of my favorite books. It truly helped me see the world differently. This one is number 61.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan book cover that links to RRPL's catalog.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

A beloved series of science fiction space opera graphic novels, Saga is often challenged in libraries due to violence and sexual content. This series come in at number 76 on the list of most challenged books of the decade.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
book cover that links to RRPL's catalog.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Number two on the list of most challenged books of 2020, this important book teaches racism to children of a new generation.

These are my favorite banned books, but plenty of books are challenged in libraries every day. To participate in Banned Books Week yourself, check out the Banned Books Week website for challenges, activities, interviews with authors, and more.

Image with two hands holding a book that reads: Censorship divides us. The picture is a link to the Banned Books Week website.