by Fredrik Backman

An unemployed bank robber, in the middle of a nasty divorce, desperately needs money to pay rent in order to have access to her children and avoid eviction. She tries to rob a “new-fangled cashless” bank. Escaping from the bank, the would-be robber runs into an apartment open house full of potential buyers and takes them hostage. The local police are a father and son team on duty together this day before New Year’s Eve. The reader slowly learns the personal stories behind the various “hostages” and the two policemen. The robber gradually earns support from those she has taken hostage. They don’t want her hurt and help plan a way out. Also they are not totally forthcoming with the truth when questioned by the police.

A combination of comedy, drama and mystery makes for an unusual read by the author of A Man Called Ove.



The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

It’s 1918. The story takes places over three days in a maternity/fever room in Dublin at the height of the Spanish Flu Pandemic. Expectant mothers who have contracted the flu are placed in this supply closet, a makeshift ward with room for just 3. Midwife Julia Powers is left in charge. Fortunately Julia has the assistance of volunteer Bridie Sweeney, who has no formal training but is a quick learner willing to help. Julia and Bridie do their best helping the women who are facing the challenge of childbirth while suffering with the deadly flu.

A controversial historical figure, Dr. Kathleen Lynn makes appearances in the ward. She was an Irish Sinn Fein politician, activist and medical doctor. Dr. Lynn joined the Irish Citizen Army and was the chief medical officer during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The book is graphic and is not a happy ever after story. Written before the COVID-19 pandemic, many parallels exist between 1918 and now.




The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

by Heather B. Moore

The Occidental Mission Home in San Francisco was a refuge for Chinese women who escaped a life of slavery and sex trafficking. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many young Chinese women were given false identification papers and a new life story to match in order to come into the U.S. illegally. They were tricked with the promise of an arranged marriage to a wealthy man but instead were often sold to the highest bidder and forced into prostitution.

Donaldina (Dolly) Cameron intended to spend one year at the Occidental Mission Home teaching sewing. She quickly became a favorite of the young women and soon participated in dangerous rescues due to the criminal Tong (the Chinese secret society). Eventually Dolly became the director of the home and stayed for almost 40 years.

A nonfiction book to consider reading is The White Devil’s Daughters: The Woman who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown by Julia Flynn Siler.




5Days4Democracy: Why Vote?

In preparation for this blog posting I ran across the following and am including a sampling of opinions.

100 Influential Women on Why They’re Voting in the 2020 Election election/ 

 Stacey Abrams, 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate; Founder of Fair Fight Action

“I am voting because voting is power.” 

Madeline Albright, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN; former U.S. Secretary of State

“It is the privilege and responsibility of every U.S. citizen to vote this November.” 

Nikki Haley, Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN

“Voting allows us to make America more free, more just, and more equal for all.”

 Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator (D-MN); 2020 presidential candidate

 “Vote because it’s your right—and your responsibility.”

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. National Security Advisor; former U.S. Secretary of State

“Voting is the most important way to make our voice heard in pushing for change toward a better America in which all can prosper.” 

Continuing my research, I found an excellent article available through the EBSCOhost database patrons have access to at the Rocky River Public Library’s website under “Research Resources”. In the article Shonda Rhimes interviews Michelle Obama about voting and its importance.

Rhimes, S. (2020). Why You Need to Vote. Harper’s Bazaar, 3684, 72.

“…At the end of the day, someone is going to be making the decisions about how much money your schools get and how tax money is distributed. Voting gives you a say in those matters. It can also be your way of saying that you care about your community and the people in it, that you are going to keep showing up and making your voice heard, even when the candidates don’t set your heart on fire. Because if you wait for that to happen, you might be waiting a long time. And meanwhile, the world moves on without you. But when we all vote, in all elections, we get the kind of responsive leadership that speaks for our families and our communities…” 

Michelle Obama states that “when you don’t vote, you are giving away your power to someone else—someone who doesn’t see the world the same as you. You’re letting them make some really key decisions about the way you live.”

Check out the City Club Forum at

Friday, October 02, 2020, 12:30 p.m. (Virtual Forum)

Reconnect @RRPL

by Tracey Enerson Wood

I love this story of a strong independent real-life woman, namely Emily Warren Roebling. Emily was the person responsible for completing the Brooklyn Bridge. Emily’s father-in-law, John A. Roebling, was the original engineer but died of tetanus before the project began. Emily’s husband, Washington A. Roebling took over the project. Unfortunately, he became deathly ill with decompression sickness (caisson disease) and was confined to bed for several months never quite recovering. In the novel showman P.T. Barnum befriends Emily helping her overcome her fear of public speaking since Emily was required to make fundraising speeches. (The story spans 1864-1884 and women just did not do that, at least not very often.)

If you are interested in wonderful nonfiction book on the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, I suggest reading The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough.


Reconnect @RRPL

by Jennifer Steil

The novel begins in Vienna in 1938. Both parents are professional musicians. 10-year-old Orlanthe (Orly) Zingel’s mother sings opera, and her father plays viola with the Vienna Philharmonic. When the opportunities for Orly’s parents disappear, the family makes the decision to leave Nazi-occupied Austria and escape anywhere Jews are still welcome. Eventually the three obtain visas and are allowed to emigrate to La Paz, Bolivia. (Orly’s older brother stays behind to work with the French Resistance.) Everything is new and different including the language. Orly is the first to find a friend and tackle Spanish. Slowly Orly’s parents find ways to connect with their new environment.

This is not a happy-ever-after story, but it’s an important history lesson in its depiction of refugees being transported to a brand new life in a brand new place. The story reveals a little known or perhaps forgotten part of Holocaust history. Bolivia accepted over 20,000 Jewish refugees during WWII. After the war, some Nazis escaping Germany also emigrated to Bolivia.


Reconnect @ RRPL

by Fiona Davis

In 1913, Jack and Laura Lyons and their children Pearl and Harry live at the New York Public Library. Jack is the library’s superintendent, and the library provided an apartment in the building for the family. Laura is studying journalism at Columbia while raising her family. (Eventually Laura becomes a leading feminist essayist of her time.) Sadly, a rare first edition book has been stolen from the library. In the early 20th century the main branch was for research only. No items were allowed for check out. The disappearance of a rare title was a disastrous event, and Jack is considered the prime suspect in the theft.

80 years later, Pearl’s granddaughter, Sadie, works as curator of the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. Again, rare books are disappearing and Sadie is a suspect in the thefts. Thanks to Grandma Pearl eighty years after the initial theft, that old mystery is solved along with the current one. Neither Jack, decades earlier, or Sadie are guilty.

It’s interesting to note that when the main library and its branches were built over a century ago, the buildings were heated by coal. Each had a custodian who lived on the premises in an apartment often with his family to keep the fires burning. In the novel Jack Lyons was the superintendent, not a custodian.

A strong historical novel for book lovers!


Reconnect @ RRPL


The Operator: A Novel

by Gretchen Berg

The early 1950’s in Wooster, Ohio is the setting for this debut novel. Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator who has a penchant for eavesdropping on telephone conversations. The operators are not supposed to listen in on  conversations, but they all do. When a rumor about Vivian’s husband is discussed over the phone lines, it’s not fun anymore. Vivian needs to find out who is spreading the rumor and if there is any truth to it. Vivian does not confront her husband initially but attempts to discover the truth on her own. Has she been living a lie?

My grandmother and great aunt were both switchboard operators in McHenry County, North Dakota during the early 1920’s. I wonder if they passed their workdays eavesdropping too. I never thought to ask.

A fun quick cozy read that I highly recommend.


Imagine your Story – Books



Mrs. Morhard and the Boys: One mother’s vision. The first boys’ baseball league. A nation inspired. 

by Ruth Hanford Morhard

The Rocky River Public Library is pleased to invite you to an author talk via Zoom on Tuesday, September 22nd from 7:00-8:00. Ruth Hanford Morhard is the daughter-in-law of Josephine Morhard, the star of the story.

In the book the reader learns about Josephine’s life before she settles in Cleveland a single mother with two children, owning a butcher shop, and surviving the impact of the Great Depression,

Josephine, who was one of 17 children, had a hard life. Her father depended on her for much of the farm work in addition to helping with her siblings. At 12 she left home figuring she could support herself by living with another family taking care of children and doing housework.

Eventually Josephine married twice. Both husbands were alcoholics and abusive. After divorcing her second husband, Josephine was particularly worried about her son, Junior (Albert). He needed positive male role models and something to occupy his time.

You will know and understand the “rest of the story”, as radio personality Paul Harvey would say, by joining the presentation on September 22nd. Hope to see you there!




Imagine Your Story – Books



The Last Mrs. Summers

by Rhys Bowen

Newlyweds Georgiana and Darcy have just returned home from their honeymoon when Darcy leaves on a top-secret work assignment. Belinda, Georgiana’s best friend, has just inherited a cottage in Cornwell so they decide to make the trip to inspect the property. While in Cornwell the women run into Rose, a childhood playmate of Belinda’s, who invites the women to stay at her estate. Tragically Tony, Rose’s husband, is murdered and Belinda is found holding the knife. Belinda is arrested and charged with the murder. Georgiana must help untangle the mystery even when local officials encourage her not to.

Even though fun characters Queenie, Georgiana’s maid, and Granddad are missing from the story, the fourteenth entry in the Royal Spyness Mystery series is a delight for fans of Rhys Bowen.