What We’re Reading Now…..

Cover image for The echo wife

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Evelyn is the leading scientist on genetic cloning. When she discovers a clone of herself at her ex-husband’s house, she realizes that he has stolen her research to make the perfect wife. Somehow, the husband ends up dead on the kitchen floor, and Evelyn and her clone have to cover up the murder in this science fiction-flavored domestic thriller. Shannon

Cover image for Reprieve : a novel

Reprieve by James Han Mattson

I just picked up this new novel that snagged a starred review in Booklist and am really excited to dig in. Described as a literary horror tragedy, this thought-provoking book looks at marginalization and systemic oppression through a classic haunted house story, with some contemporary twists. The haunted house in this tale is actually a full-contact escape room attraction, and a team of contestants must stay in the house to win thousands of dollars. That can’t end well, right? After each interlude of court documents or descriptions of that evening, the story moves to longer, more character-driven chapters, where readers get to know the key people in the large cast, including Kendra, a Black teenager new to Nebraska and Jaidee, a gay Thai college student. Nicole

Cover image for Anatomy : a love story

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz 

I’m currently reading a YA book with a lot of crossover appeal.  Noble Blood fans rejoice! Dana Schwartz, host of the chart-topping podcast about history’s most infamous and ill-fated royals, has written a gothic mystery filled with grave robbers, dark magic, and 19th century science. Hazel Sinnett wants to be surgeon more than a wife, dressing in men’s clothes to attend courses at the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society. When she’s discovered, she makes a deal: Pass the medical exam independently, and the University will permit her to officially enroll. The only problem? Hazel needs bodies to study. While she’s made the acquaintance of resurrection man Jack, Jack is trying to solve the mystery behind his missing friends and several graveyard secrets. Oh, and stay alive during a plague. Anatomy: A Love Story is the latest pick for Reese Witherspoon’s YA Book Club. Two additional titles that I love: The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. (So exceptionally good, and a debut, and impossible for me to write an adequate blog review so I’m glad it can be shown off in some way), Real Life by Brandon Taylor. Thanks! Kari

Cover image for The magnolia palace : a novel

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The story centers around the Henry Clay Frick family in 1919 and later his mansion/collections/museum which were given to the city of New York. Two models decades apart are drawn to the Frick family. I’m not sure how the novel will end but am enjoying the plot. This is a book for fans of historical fiction, art history and landmarks of New York. Emma

Cover image for A head full of ghosts

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay’s story of a televised exorcism and its aftermath does one of the things that I love about the horror genre; instill the reader with a sense of doubt. A Head Full of Ghosts gives multiple (and temporally varied) perspectives on a family’s experience having their lives turned into a paranormal investigation show when it is suspected that their eldest daughter is possessed. Tremblay gives the reader no certainty on what’s “really” going on and holds a tread of tension that I am unsure is ever broken. Greg

Cover image for The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

This was a delightful novel about two brothers, Charley Sutherland, a college English professor who has a concealed magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world, and his somewhat estranged brother Rob, who is left to reluctantly help clean up Charley’s messes. The real trouble begins when they discover there is another person with this summoning ability, and they are NOT using it for good. As the fictional world begins to threaten the real world, the brothers must unite to try and put things in order. I thought the ending was a little unrealistic at first, but then remembered that the whole book is about fictional literary characters living in the modern world, so I guess anything goes! Sara

Cover image for The witch's heart

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Gornichec takes a largely overlooked member of Norse mythology, Angrboda, and tells her story, including her relationship with Loki. A relationship that directly results in the events that would induce Ragnarok and the end of the world. The Witch’s Heart takes a well-known pantheon and builds upon it an entirely new story that provides depth to characters both unknown and prominent in popular culture. Trent

Cover image for These bones

These Bones by Kayla Chanault

A multi-generational story about the Lyons family and their neighborhood, the Briar Patch. A short novel written with the most beautiful and haunting prose; it explores poverty, racism, ghosts, and otherworldly beings. Horror comes in many forms. Christine

5 New Books to Read in 2022

New year, new books! There are so many great books being published this year and below you’ll find five books that I’m particularly excited for! I can’t wait to read these titles and I hope you’ll get inspired by my picks as well.

In addition to stocking up on new releases in the coming months, this year I’m planning on revisiting some favorite classics as well. I’ll be spending some time with H.P. Lovecraft and Emily Bronte again, while making time to dive into some non-fiction titles and biographies (which is a bit out of my typical reading comfort zone).

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space. Expected publication: April 2022

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico. Expected publication: July 2022

Book of Night by Holly Black

#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black makes her stunning adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies in the vein of Ninth House and The Night Circus. Expected publication: May 2022

Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them. Expected publication: January 2022

Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy. Expected publication: July 2022

What books are you looking forward to checking out this year?

Review: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Find it here.
Ellice Littlejohn escaped her poor, small-town Georgia life at 14 and has rarely looked back since building a successful life and law career for herself in Atlanta. She does the best she can to help her younger brother, Sam, but his past run-ins with the law and her fancy corporate lawyer gig means that Ellice keeps the two parts of her life separate. She was successful at that until the morning she arrives at work to find her boss and lover, Michael, dead in his office. In a whirlwind of events in the aftermath of Michael’s murder Ellice finds herself in the center of a conspiracy that she never saw coming. 

This debut novel has it all-secrets, lies, murder, and suspense. Mixed in with all the action and drama are themes of racism, white supremacy, and family secrets. 

Readalikes:

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.

-Carol

Review of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan book cover and catalog link

In an exciting and fresh new historical fantasy debut, after an orphaned young girl is told that she is destined for nothingness by a fortune teller, she instead takes the fate of greatness that was meant for her deceased twin brother. Pretending to be a boy, the peasant girl Zhu becomes a monk, a soldier, and eventually a general in her quest to seize greatness and wrest control of ancient China from the Mongol Empire. 

Besides being a gripping feminist reimagining of Chinese history, the novel employs a refreshingly original magic system that is tied in with Chinese beliefs and historical facts. In an fascinating twist, the concept of the ‘mandate of heaven’ that defined who had the right to rule in historical ancient China becomes an actual flame that the chosen few can summon. The characters are complex and layered, especially Zhu, with robust queer representation and exploration of gender beyond the binary. Parker-Chan deftly explores what someone will do to survive, whether that is to compromise their values or even kill in cold blood, which is also tied in with the lure of power and womanhood in ancient China. The concept of immutable fate is central to the story – and in less-skilled hands could be boring – but Parker-Chan plays with the uncertainty of how Zhu’s fate will be achieved, and for how long she will keep the greatness she is promised. This is a top-notch historical fantasy novel (and the first installment of a duology) with a complicated, ruthless female lead – for anyone who enjoyed And I Darken by Kiersten White. 

Published on July 22, 2021.

ARC (advance reader copy) courtesy of NetGalley.

If You Plant It, They Will Come

Our 2021 One Book, One City reads are all about Monarch butterflies, tracing their travels, and learning about the importance of their journey. Monarchs are amazingly beautiful, but are just one of many pollinators that are threatened by decreasing habitat and climate change. If you remember one thing, remember that pollinators support our food crops – and finding ways to decrease habitat destruction or build new habitat will provide sustenance to future generations.

Native plants and their varying cultivars have evolved together with pollinators, and so have ideal flower sizes and shapes to support the many pollinators we need. And because they’re from Ohio, they’re easy to grow – no picky plants in the bunch! Here at Rocky River Public Library, with the help of the Beach Cliff Garden Club and library volunteers, we put in a pollinator garden that is officially certified by Monarch Watch. We’ve called our garden “Monarch Trails & Tales” and it includes milkweed for Monarchs, their only food, as well as numerous native perennials. Take a look at it the next time to visit and see what kinds of pollinators you spot – there’s butterflies and bees of course, but also small flies that are essential to pollination!

Lots of local nurseries sell native plants, and the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District sell native plants in groups of 50 for a reasonable cost. If we all sacrifice a little lawn or even plant containers of native plants, we can grow and nurture our pollinator population, creating pollinator pathways and beautiful gardens at the same time.

As Douglas Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware and author of numerous books about the intersection of plants, animals and humans, writes “…we humans have disrupted natural habitats in so many ways and in so many places that the future of our nation’s biodiversity is dim unless we start to share the places in which we live –our cities and, to an even greater extent, our suburbs — with the plants and animals that evolved there”

~ Dori

RRPL Summer Reads

My summer reading list is off to a great start!

Currently I’m reading The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade. This is a debut novel about a New Mexican family.   The story begins with Angel, a 33-year-old man, living in Las Penas, New Mexico with his mother.  It is Holy Week and Angel has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday Procession.  At the same time, Angel’s 15-year-old daughter shows up pregnant on his doorstep, and so begins the family’s year long journey of love and sacrifice.

The Five Wounds: A Novel by [Kirstin Valdez Quade]

I also hope to read –

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

This novel is a Read With Jenna Book Club Pick as featured on The Today Show. Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of summer, but over the course of twenty four hours, their lives will change forever.

The The Sunset Route: Freight Trains, Forgiveness and Freedom on the Rails in the American West by Carrot Quinn.

The unforgettable story of one woman who leaves behind her hardscrabble childhood in Alaska to travel the country via freight train—a beautiful memoir about forgiveness, self-discovery, and the redemptive power of nature.

The Sunset Route: Freight Trains, Forgiveness, and Freedom on the Rails in the American West by [Carrot Quinn]

Mary

RRPL Summer Reads: Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Fairy Tales

As I am the resident science fiction and fantasy nerd librarian, you probably figured that of course my TBR list for this summer would be heavy with the weirdest and most interesting books. And you’d be right! Below are the five books I am most excited to read this summer, in no particular order.

Click on any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can put them on hold with your library card number and PIN.

Wendy, Darling by A. C. Wise book cover and catalog link

Wendy, Darling by A. C. Wise 

I love any retelling of classic fairy tale, but a feminist retelling? Gotta have it. In Wise’s version, Wendy has grown up and has had children of her own. When Peter Pan kidnaps her daughter, Wendy must follow him to Neverland to save her daughter from the clutches of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Published June 1, 2021.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo book cover and catalog link

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo 

Like fellow librarian Nicole, I also want to read this fantasy reimagining of The Great Gatsby! There’s magic, mystery, and Jordan, a side character in the original novel, reimagined as a queer Vietnamese girl. Sign me up!

Published June 1, 2021. 

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan book cover and catalog link

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan 

When a book is described as Mulan meets Song of Achilles, how could this not be on my TBR list? In this fantastical retelling of Chinese history, a queer female monk will rise to greatness against the Mongol army.

Published July 20, 2021. 

A Master of Djinn by P. DJÈLÍ Clark book cover and catalog link

A Master of Djinn by P. DJÈLÍ Clark 

Another historical reimagining, this debut novel stars a female detective tasked with solving a mass murder set in an alternate history 1912 Cairo where both humans and supernatural creatures dwell.

Published May 11, 2021.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri book cover and catalog link

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Last but not least, this novel features a princess and a priestess working together to save their homeland from the princess’ traitor brother.

Published June 8, 2021.

Fellow science fiction and fantasy readers: did I miss any books that you’re excited to read this summer? Let me know!