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The Woman before Wallis:
A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and
Royal Scandals

by Bryn Turnbull

This debut novel is based on the life of Thelma Morgan Viscountess Furness who was a mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) before Wallis Simpson. In fact, Thelma introduced the pair. Thelma’s twin sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, became entangled in a notorious court battle for custody of her daughter, Little Gloria, after her husband died. Little Gloria was the heir to an impressive Vanderbilt fortune, and Gloria was allowed only to spend interest from the fortune to take care of Little Gloria. The Vanderbilts wanted Little Gloria in the United States and her mother wanted them to live in Europe. Thelma was a character witness for her sister at the trial. Everyone wanted to keep Edward away from any publicity which could detract from the royal family and Edward’s future role as king of England. Eventually Edward and Thelma drifted apart.

For enthusiasts of anything royal and fans of the Netflix series “The Crown”. Thelma was a real-life socialite who became part of British upper-crust society with her marriage and later association with Edward.

~Emma

What I’m Reading Now- Comics

Hello readers! I haven’t been particularly inspired to write as of late, but after a wee holiday break over Thanksgiving and some relaxation time, I have returned to the keyboard. I’m ready to share some of what I’ve been reading these past few weeks, get you some great bookish gift recommendations (coming at you later this month!) and I’m also very ready to see this year out the door. Bye, 2020. It’s been real.

Today I’m listing some great comics I’ve been enjoying recently. I’m a huge Hoopla fan and per usual, all of the titles shared below are available on Hoopla with your library card!

Basketful of Heads Vol. 1 by Joe Hill

Is this actually a story involving a basketful of heads? Why yes, it is. Talking heads to be exact – not to be confused with the band. It is also the story of June Branch, a young woman who after narrowly escaping an attack with her life, finds herself in possession of a supernaturally powered Viking axe that seemingly allows decapitated heads to continue living after their bodily departure. As she tries to save her kidnapped boyfriend she discovers that all is not as it seems in this small town. It’s all the fun and weirdness I love from Joe Hill with a dash of crime, mystery, and some solid humor sprinkled in.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott

This graphic memoir from actor and activist George Takei is truly amazing. I recently read it for the second time to discuss in RRPL’s teen graphic novel book club, Comix Club, and was once again struck by this moving and eye opening story. Readers learn all about Takei’s traumatic experiences as a young child forced to live in the Japanese-American internment camps with his siblings and parents in the 40s. An important and often glossed over aspect of American history, this personal account of the terrible treatment many American citizens endured is a book that everyone should read.

The Red Mother Vol. 1 by Jeremy Haun

After suffering a mysterious and brutal attack while out with her boyfriend one evening, Daisy is not only left without her boyfriend but she also wakes in the hospital missing an eye. After receiving a prosthetic eye, she begins to have strange visions and see a dark and ominous creature staring at her amongst crowds- that nobody else seems to see except her. This first volume doesn’t reveal much and leaves readers with quite a cliffhanger, so I look forward to what is revealed in the next collected volume.

Dune: The Graphic Novel: Book 1 by Frank Herbert. Adapted by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson

I enjoy science fiction from time to time, but have yet to read any of the sci-fi classic Dune. It always seemed somewhat intimidating and I must admit some classic science fiction titles tend to strike me as a bit too male-centric for my tastes. This graphic novel adaptation is a great way to dip your toes into the series if you are like me and don’t want to commit to the traditional novels! With the new Dune film slated to be released soon there will surely be a new influx of interest in this series so now is a great time to dive in.

What have you been reading? Any new graphic novels that you have loved? Stay safe and happy reading!

RRPL Gift Guide

Growing up I had one aunt, my Aunt Mary, who always gave books as gifts. Being a life long book lover, I was always happy to get something new from her. I am now the book giving aunt and I love it. And Aunt Mary? She’s still good for the occasional book gift. In fact, she recently sent me this one, just because. Book loving aunts are the best!

A couple of wish list books for me include A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Wild at Home: How to Style and Care for Beautiful Plants by Hilton Carter, and The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

For the teens and tweens in my life, I’m considering Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, and Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell.

The younger ones might receive Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall, Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, and Dino by Diego Vaisberg.

What books are on your holiday wish list? Don’t forget to support your local bookstores when you shop-check out bookshop.org.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays. Stay home and read this year!

~Megan

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

We have some new releases picked out for you to dive in for the following week. There is more romance, humor, thrillers and suspense for you to enjoy!

Fool Me Twice by Jeff Lindsay – A sequel to Just Watch Me finds thief and disguise artist Riley Wolfe continuing his Robin Hood-inspired crusade against the wealthy elite by orchestrating the theft of a highly prized Faberge egg. By the best-selling author of the Dexter series.

The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister – Secretly hired by an eccentric Lady Franklin to lead a team of women explorers into the Arctic to recover Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition, Virginia Reeve survives a harrowing quest only to find herself on trial for murder.

Eddie’s Boy by Thomas Perry – Surviving an attempt on his life, retired mob hit man Michael Shaeffer reflects on his apprenticeship under an elite killer while pursuing his would-be assassins from Australia to the United States to identify who is trying to eliminate him.

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce – From the acclaimed author of Blood Orange, a dark new psychological thriller about the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect family—and the perfect murder. 

Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick
by Jen Sincero – The motivational coach and best-selling author of You Are a Badass shares illustrative case studies to outline a step-by-step, 21-day guide for overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors while cultivating habits that support healthy priorities and personal goals.

Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley – Coexisting in the lush hidden spaces of Paris until cold weather arrives, an escaped racehorse and her companion, a German shorthaired pointer, forge a bond with a boy living in seclusion with his nonagenarian grandmother in an ivy-covered house.

Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good by Tina Turner – The iconic performing artist provides spiritual tools and advice for self-empowerment and fulfillment while examining the role of her enduring Buddhist faith in helping her overcome poverty, loss and other personal and professional obstacles.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo – A history of American white male identity by the best-selling author of So You Want to Talk About Race imagines a merit-based, non-discriminating model while exposing the actual costs of successes defined by racial and sexual dominance.

The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller – Reluctantly visiting his upstate New York hometown when his father falls ill, a restless gay photographer reconnects with two high-school friends who become his allies in a plan to expose the corrupt motives of invasive corporate gentrifies.

My Name Is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Realizing that a neighbor is trapped in an abusive marriage, a smitten 18-year-old youth, haunted by his brother’s accidental death, offers the woman shelter and a means to escape. By the award-winning author of Pay It Forward. 

~Semanur~

Reconnect@RRPL

Goodbye November 2020.

Perhaps I used up all of my “thankful for”s last week but I’ll confess that not only am I am not sorry to see this month go, I’m actually eager to turn the calendar’s page. Are you feeling drained by this year, too? Why don’t we right now decide to take it easy on ourselves on this grey and rainy Monday and last day of November evening blog post (or whenever you are reading this) and seek out a way to shut down for a spell and to relax?

My way tonight will be popping in The Return of the King, the third and final film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. We (re)watched the first two films over Thanksgiving weekend, and despite the fact that we were not able to gather with loved-ones, we were still reminded how nice it is to spend some of our other “old friends.” Gandalf, Frodo, Sam and the rest of the Middle Earth gang helped fill an obvious void, and time spent with them was a bit of a respite from scrolling through news and dodging the already prevalent holiday shopping ads. It helped, too, that we chose a favorite where we know the good guys win in the end.

Do you need a brain-break too? Why not pick up your favorite ‘oldie but goodie,’ or put your favorite titles on hold and see if your DVD player still works? ~Carol

RRPL Gift Guide Kickoff

It’s the last day of November and the Black Friday sales are behind us, but there is still plenty of time to shop for holiday gifts. At Rocky River Public Library, we’re in the business of recommending books and movies, music and audiobooks, so we thought we’d spend the next couple of weeks sharing with you some titles we’d like to give, or get, for the 2020 Holiday season.

Below I’ll mainly talk about 2020 books and link them to our catalog so you can read a longer description. If you’re interested in buying the book, go to bookshop.org and they’ll find you a local, independent bookstore to order from. We want to support our independent bookstores!

First, for anyone on your list who likes to DIY or who has spent their pandemic time learning new skills, check out Storey’s Curious Compendium of Practical and Obscure Skills: 214 Things You can Actually Learn How to Do, an oversized book with images and step-by-step instructions. Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria Del Mar Sacasa would make any cocktail afficionando light up. Me, I hope to get Jacques Pepin’s new cookbook Quick & Simple, which is how I like to cook right now.

For lovers of historical fiction, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is a fascinating look at the family of William Shakespeare, particularly his wife, Agnes, an expert in nature and cures. It’s perfect for a winter lie-in (the audiobook is also very well done). I’m going to give my daughter an oldie, but one of my favorites, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, the story of a former slave who becomes a slaveholder; it’s become a classic.

For scifi/fantasy fans, I’ve recently read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab and this story of a woman who makes a deal with the Devil will mesmerize you. Again, the audiobook is stellar, so hop to it! Becky Chambers, author of the Wayfarer Series, has a new addition to the series coming out next year, so now’s the time to buy your space-loving, fantasy adoring giftee the 3 previous volumes – it’s fun, character-rich, and so so good!

If your recepient is interested in the state of the world, politics or, searing experiences, please give them Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar. I also really love the writing of Paul Yoon, who’s Run Me to Earth follows a group of 3 friends in Laos during and after the Vietnam War. If non-fiction is their bag, try Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, described as, an “Instant American Classic”.

I love a good crime novel or thriller. The Searcher by Tana French brings a Chicago police detective to Ireland, where all is not fairies and rainbows. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman is altogether different, a funny murder mystery starring retirees. Both would make great gifts for your mystery loving pals.

I’ll finish up with some more books that I’d like for Christmas, as well as a few I’m going to buy for family and friends.

I love the great outdoors and would be so happy to get a copy of Robert McFarlane’s Lost Spells, with poetry and art to inspire. Other nature books that I’d like to receive are World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald (she of H is for Hawk).

I gave my daughter Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe last year, and she then took a deep dive into “The Troubles” and Irish politics. I thought I’d add Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen to her gifts this year; it’s lighter, , about an autistic young woman who lives in a town in Northern Ireland still affected by “The Troubles” For my son, who has been reading Anna Karenina, but also loves Murakami and history, I will buy the 2020 National Book Award Winner for Translated Fiction, Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Marie. Or maybe the non-fiction award winner, The Dead are Arising, a Life of Malcom X. Wait, I think he’d really like Vassily Grossman’s, republished classic, Life and Fate. Oh what to buy?!?

And to close, you couldn’t do better than to give The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories: From Hans Christian Anderson to Angela Carter, “…a collection of the most magical, moving, chilling and surprising Christmas stories from around the world, taking us from frozen Nordic woods to glittering Paris, a New York speakeasy to an English country house, bustling Lagos to midnight mass in Rio, and even outer space.”

Have a beautiful, peaceful, and loving holiday season.

~ Dori

Readalikes for Tana French’s The Searcher

The Searcher by Tana French catalog link

Another bestseller from the queen of psychological suspense, Tana French, which means another long wait on the holds list for her newest book The Searcher. And this one sounds like another knockout! Looking to start a new life in a small Irish village, former Chicago police officer Cal Hooper comes out of retirement to help find a missing kid and uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat. Find The Searcher on Overdrive here.

Look below to find some similar books that will scratch that suspense itch for you while you wait. Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris catalog link

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

The friends of a seemingly perfect socialite couple begin to see cracks in the facade when they realize that the husband and wife are never apart and that there are bars on one of their upstairs windows.

Behind Closed Doors Overdrive link


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena catalog link

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

When a terrible crime committed on the night of a dinner party casts suspicion on a young couple who seemed to have it all, Detective Rasbach discovers that the panicked duo had been hiding dangerous secrets from each other for years.

The Couple Next Door Overdrive link


 You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks catalog link

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks

A lonely misfit with a dead-end job quietly envies a circle of popular sisters who hide dangerous vengeful truths beneath a veneer of friendship, glamour and accomplishments.

You Are Not Alone Overdrive link



Case Histories by Kate Atkinson catalog link

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Private detective Jackson Brodie finds his own need for resolution sparked by three investigations including those of two sisters who discover a shocking clue to the disappearance of their third sister thirty years earlier, a lawyer whose life is turned upside-down when his daughter joins the firm, and a woman whose past mistakes and demanding family life culminate in a violent escape.

Case Histories Overdrive link

The Suspect by Fiona Barton catalog link

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Pursuing the story of two British teens who disappeared during a Bangkok hostel fire, journalist Kate Waters struggles to remain objective when her estranged son is declared a main suspect.

The Suspect Overdrive link



All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Have you tried any of these authors? Do you have someone else you’d suggest as a readalike for Tana French? Let us know!

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By Amy Poeppel

Best friends cellist Bridget and pianist Will founded the successful Forsythe Trio while attending Julliard 30+ years ago. They are searching for a new violinist again to complete the trio beginning in the fall. For the summer Bridget moves back to her rundown Connecticut country home. She is expecting her author boyfriend to join her for a relaxing summer, but her 20-something twins move home instead. In addition Bridget’s 90-year-old world renowned conductor father announces he is getting married. Due to a fire at her father’s home, Bridget’s dilapidated barn becomes the venue for the wedding, and major repairs commence.

This a heartwarming story filled with secrets revealed, music, friendship, romance, family and chaos. Some issues are resolved, but some aren’t. Here’s hoping for a sequel!

~Emma