RRPL Summer Reads- The Chosen and The Beautiful

It’s finally June which means that summer is officially right around the corner! We will be counting down the days until the first day of summer, Sunday, June 20th, by sharing the books we are most excited to read in the months ahead. Each week you’ll get a look at titles that Rocky River Public Library staff can’t wait to dive into!

My first summer read pick is The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo.

This book, just published yesterday (!) is a Best of Summer Pick for Time Magazine and a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 Pick for Oprah Magazine, so I’m definitely not the only person who has been looking forward to this title to hit bookshelves.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents the American classic story of The Great Gatsby through a queer, magical, immigrant lens. Reimagining Fitzgerald’s character Jordan Baker as a young, queer woman who was born in Vietnam and raised in white, American high society, Vo invites readers along for a fresh, imaginative look at this Gatsby woman. Jordan has money, education, invitations to the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age, but is treated like an exotic attraction by her peers.

Vo, a Milwaukee-based author, whose previous works include the novellas Then the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, said in a recent interview that her early influences include Neil Gaiman, British fantasy writer Angela Carter, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” author Patricia Highsmith, and the popular podcast series “Welcome to Night Vale.”

As many students have had to throughout the years, I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school freshman English class, and wasn’t particularly impressed. I’ve re-read it since then and am a fan of Fitzgerald’s works now, but am very excited to read a modern, diverse voice such as Vo’s take on this well-known narrative. I also love magical realism and this new novel sounds like an amazing mash-up of some of my favorite literary elements!

What are some titles you are excited to read this summer? We’d love for you to share your titles with us this month in the comments! Happy reading!

Discover@RRPL

The Kew Gardens Girls

by Posy Lovell

During WWI, women were hired to replace men who were serving in the military to work at Kew, the Royal Botanical Gardens in London. Not everyone was pleased with this decision including the Gardens’ foreman Mac. The women’s lesser wages for the same work as men reflected this attitude. Ivy Adams, an illiterate teenager from Hackney, and Louisa Taylor, escaping her abusive husband in Kent, were both hired. Bernie Yorke, a former school teacher and a Quaker was also hired. It is soon discovered that Bernie refuses to enlist and he becomes a target of the “white feather campaign”. Men out of uniform were given white feathers, often by Suffragettes hoping to shame them into enlisting. Because Bernie was a conscientious objector, he lost his job at Kew. Soon Lady Winifred (Win) Ramsay begins as a volunteer worker at Kew Gardens just to keep busy while her husband is in the Navy. The three women become fast friends as they fight for equal pay for women at Kew and as they support pregnant Ivy as she waits for Jim to return home from the war.

This debut novel is a mixture of friendship, romance, sadness and fight. It’s a treat for fans of historical fiction. For those interested in Kew Gardens, please enjoy a brief tour/history at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khOfA1JhLyg.

~Emma

Gretchen Berg COMING SOON – April 6th

You are cordially invited to author Gretchen Berg’s presentation of  The Operator.

Join us on Tuesday, April 6th from 7:00 – 8:00 pm.

Please register for the Zoom event at – 

https://rrpl.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=26453&backTo=Calendar&startDate=2021/04/01

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?

~Emma

New Books Tuesday @RRPL

Semanur’s off this week, so I get the fun task of letting you know what books are coming out today!

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn: Joining the elite Bletchley Park codebreaking team during World War II, three women from very different walks of life uncover a spy’s dangerous agenda against a backdrop of the royal wedding of Elizabeth and Philip.

Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson: A portrait of the Nobel Prize-winning scientist explores the impact of James Watson’s The Double Helix on her career and how her team’s invention of CRISPR technology enabled revolutionary DNA-editing approaches to fighting disease.

Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison: Disregarding messages from an anonymous texter who claims her fiancé is not the man he pretends to be, Claire travels to Italy for her destination wedding before harrowing discoveries and accidents expose ominous family secrets. 

2034: A Novel of the Next World War by Eliot Ackerman & James Stavridis: Two former military officers and award-winning authors present a near-future geopolitical thriller that depicts a naval clash between America and Asia in the South China Sea of 2034. Co-written by the National Book Award-nominated author of Waiting for Eden

The Dark Heart of Florence, No. 15 (Lady Emily) by Tasha Alexander: While Colin teams up with a fellow agent to investigate a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence, Lady Emily secretly launches an inquiry into the falling death of a man in Tuscany.

How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self by Nicole LePera: The expert behind the popular @the.holistic.psychology Instagram account outlines alternative-therapy approaches to improving mental, physical and spiritual health by tapping the power of the self to overcome trauma and create a more authentic and fulfilling life. 

Everything After by Jill Santopolo: Helping troubled students navigate personal losses, a university psychologist is forced to reckon with her own painful past when a tragic event compels her to reevaluate her goals, passions and sense of identity.

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive by Carl Zimmer: The New York Times “Matter” columnist investigates the science community’s conflicting views on what it actually means to be alive as demonstrated by laboratory attempts to recreate life and the examples of particularly remarkable life forms. 

The Little French Bridal Shop by Jennifer Dupee: Renovating an inherited colonial property in her Massachusetts hometown to manage painful losses, Larissa buys a wedding gown as a private joke only to have word of her impending nuptials spread throughout the community. A first novel. 

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green: Documents the decades-long effort to capture the “Last Call Killer” of 1980s and 1990s New York City, discussing how he took advantage of period discrimination to prey upon gay victims against a backdrop of the AIDS epidemic.

The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan: The scattered members of a Middle-Eastern clan unite at an ancestral home in Beirut to change a new patriarch’s decision to sell the property, igniting revelations about their family’s past in Lebanon, Syria and the United States. 

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn: Receiving ominous threats during a 10-year college reunion, Ambrosia and her best friend discover that they are being targeted by an unknown adversary who would exact revenge for a dangerous secret from their past. 

My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinovic: An intimate work of autobiographical fiction by the author of Sarajevo Blues traces the experiences of a writer who in the wake of a life-risking heart attack reevaluates his past as a member of a Bosnian war refugee family. 

Two Meals a Day: The Simple, Sustainable Strategy to Lose Fat, Reverse Aging, and Break Free from Diet Frustration Forever by Mark Sisson: The New York Times best-selling author of The Primal Blueprint uses his health and fitness expertise to bring you the facts about the latest diet trend: intermittent fasting.

The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town by Brian Alexander: The award-winning author of Glass House presents an intimate portrait of a small American hospital to identify the economic and systemic causes of today’s lower life-expectancy rates and poorer health quality. 

My Old Home: A Novel of Exile by Orville Schell: A former Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism dean and Emmy Award-winning PBS producer presents the story of a rare Chinese student at 1950 San Francisco’s Conservatory of Music who upon returning home is confronted by an erratic new government.

Sarahland by Sam Cohen: A debut story collection imagines new origins and futures for its cast of unforgettable protagonists—almost all of whom are named Sarah. 

~ Dori

Mary’s Top 10 of 2020

While I fell short of my personal reading challenge this year, I can say my top ten books of this year I thoroughly enjoyed. The Ferrante quartet I simply fell in love with, the historical fiction choices captured the details of the time period with eloquence, the thrillers kept me engaged and the nonfiction moved me beyond words. I took my time with each book and found moments of pause and new meaning in a world that can be overwhelming, and admiration and gratitude for sharing their story, albeit fiction or truth. Happy holidays and my best for a peaceful and bright 2021.

Review: 'The Story of the Lost Child' by Elena Ferrante - Chicago Tribune

Books to give for Christmas (of course, we also recommend checking them out from the library ;-)

This year, Christmas feels a little strange and isolated. But it also feel a little cozy. The first snowfall was absolutely beautiful and really got me into the Christmas spirit. As I try to avoid malls and busy stores, I have of course turned to online shopping like many of us. But somehow that just seems impersonal this year. After weeks of quarantining, ordering carry out, groceries from Instacart, and pretty much everything else in the world from Amazon, I’m ready to get back to basics for this year’s holiday. My daughter and I tried our hand at making candles (we definitely need to read up on this a little bit, as I watch one of ours smoke itself out), we have plans for many more cookie varieties than ever, and are drawn towards handmade gifts from Etsy and local stores.

In keeping with this, I am buying books as gifts for the first time in years! My teen/young adult kids don’t read as vociferously as they used to, and most of my family reads on a Kindle. But this year, it just feels right to go back to basics, hold a real book in my hands while I sip coffee by my Christmas tree and lights. My kids have watched pretty much everything Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have to offer, so I think I’m going to try and entice them to take an electronic break, relax on the couch with me to read a good book by the tree.

Here are a few titles coming out in December. Some of them haven’t been published yet, but what is more fun then preordering a book and knowing you will be one of the first to read it? Remember that our local retailers need you this year more than ever. So head to bookshop.org to get some of these new titles that promise to be keepers! They also offer gift cards if you just can’t choose ;-).

Simply thrilling

There’s no such thing as a perfect family. And it’s usually not wise to point that out.

Thriller, romance and fantasy, all rolled into one.

A debut thriller that asks one simple question, shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

On the lighter side

Quinn and Minnie share their day of birth, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

A dare and a crash course in flirting turn a frumpy college professor’s life upside down.

An anxiety-ridden introvert finds herself in the spotlight and decides to fake it til she makes it.

Different times and places

Stunning debut explores Afghanistan on the eve of a violent revolution.

A story of survival, loss and love, and the sisters who changed fashion forever.

A poor girl with dreams grows up in the shadow of Biltmore House, the palatial Vanderbilt mansion.

Let’s Make Something Good!

Here we go, headed into the making-est time of the year! And even though the 2020 Holiday Season may not offer the exact same opportunities for celebration as previous years, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick and choose some favorite parts! Maybe you just want to experiment with new foods or you want to get back into crafting, this feels like a good time to change things up.

If you’re ready to start planning, why not take a look at the books available in Fall Harvest, Fall Flavors, Crafting for the Holiday Season, or Why Buy it When You Can Make it? And while you’re making new stuff, if you want a book to listen to, I just finished Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood -here’s hoping it the first in (long running) series!

-Stacey

Reconnect @ RRPL

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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.

~Emma