Check out our new Virtual Book Club!

It’s Sunday. What day of quarantine is it? Who knows – we’ve all been stuck inside for what seems like forever.

We librarians know that you miss all of our face-to-face library programs, but especially our beloved book clubs. So, good news, everyone: we are hosting a virtual book club! And the first book is… drumroll please… Little Fires Everywhere! (Click that title for a direct link to the book in our Overdrive e-book catalog).

Set in our very own Shaker Heights, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a gripping drama of the complicated relationships between Mia Warren, a wandering artist, her daughter Pearl, and the rich family of socialites that are their landlords. The streaming service Hulu also just released their adaptation of the book, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

We’ll be talking about this book through the month of April and will post a few questions to discuss each week on Sunday. If the quarantine continues, we’ll announce a new book at the beginning of May, and so on.

We invite you, our lovely patrons, to make your voices heard in the comments below. Tell us if you think Mia is a scam artist, or if Elena is a crazy stalker! We want to hear it all, but please keep your comments courteous.

Our first questions are: 

  • How would you describe Mrs. Richardson and Mia, the two mothers in this novel? In what ways are they different? Why might the former always be referred to as “Mrs.” rather than Elena, while Mia is always referred to by her first name? Clearly it is done purposely by the author: how does it shape the way we feel about the two women? 
  • Talk about the four Richardson children, Lexi, Trip, Moody, and Izzy. Are any of the four more sympathetic than others? What is their relationship to one another? How does their affluence shape their outlooks on life?

Questions from litlovers.com.

Check back next Sunday for more discussion questions!

Your Library Staff at Home – Book Recommendation

My favorite genre is historical fiction but occasionally I will step out of my reading comfort zone. A regular library patron suggested I try something different; he recommended Deep State: A Thriller by Chris Hauty. This is Hauty’s first novel.

In this novel, we are dealt situations of political intrigue. First, the White House Chief of Staff is found dead supposedly from a heart attack; his intern, Hayley Chill, who found the body, is suspicious of the cause of death. Soon after, a series of other deaths connected to the White House follow. Who can she trust?

There are lots of twists and turns and I did not see the end coming. Hauty is an accomplished screenwriter, so the book feels like a novel version of an exciting Hollywood thriller. Historical fiction is still my favorite genre, but this was an enjoyable dalliance in something else.

~Emma

Your Library Staff at Home- Reader’s Advisory

March has proven to be quite a surreal month, and I hope all of our Read it Or Weep readers are staying safe and healthy amid the current global COVID-19 crisis. Rocky River Public Library might be closed until further notice, but rest assured that you can still access an amazing array of great titles from home through our digital library. One positive outcome of social distancing and staying home is that you can really dive into that pile of to-read books that has been beckoning you for weeks! Perhaps there is a classic you’ve wanted to read for years or a favorite you’ve been wanting to re-read- now is the time! (Am I the only one who always has at least 6 books waiting to be read?!)

So what have I been reading while camped out at home? Scroll on!

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Yes, this is a zombie story, but it isn’t your typical flesh-eating undead story thanks to amazing literary writing from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Whitehead. I had been re-reading through this book as it was (somewhat ironically) the title I had chosen for my next Novel Scares Book Club meeting in April (which has since been cancelled due to COVID-19). If you are looking to lean in to current events with your fiction reading, I highly recommend Zone One. After a pandemic has ravaged Earth, the living must attempt to rebuild among the living dead. Focusing on life in New York City and the characters who are struggling with Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, this horror novel is a great read.

The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

This is Davidson’s second book, but the first I’ve read by him, and I have been absolutely amazed with his writing. This haunting and beautiful Southern Gothic novel takes readers to a town deep in the bayous of Southwestern Arkansas where we meet many complicated characters, including the main protagonist plucky Miranda. Having lost her father as a child one mysterious and tragic evening, she’s been making ends meet ferrying contraband on the river for a corrupt sheriff and a deluded preacher, all the while harboring some serious secrets involving a witch and a rescued child. The story has the feel of a dark fairy tale, and is filled with magical realism. I haven’t finished this book yet, but already it reminds me of one of my favorites: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesymn Ward.

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

I read this collection of essays slowly over the past month, processing each essay and thinking it over, before moving on, because it was such a fun book. Reading this felt like having a fabulous conversation with a smart friend and I didn’t want it to end! Nussbaum, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, writes with such an insightful, witty, and conversational tone, providing astute perspectives but still making this accessible to a broad audience. Included in this collection are her profiles of well-known showrunners Jenji Kohan and Ryan Murphy, as well as feminist takes on shows like Sex and the City, True Detective, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and more. Also, it was great to have my endless love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer validated by Nussbaum! Recommended for anyone who loves watching television and a great choice for readers looking for a book that allows them to read short pieces here and there.

Dead Astronauts by Jeff Vandermeer

I adore all of Jeff Vandermeer’s books (if you like weird fiction/ sci-fi/ horror/ speculative fiction you must read his Southern Reach trilogy!) and tore through Borne earlier this year, which is a related story to Dead Astronauts, though not necessarily a prequel read. In this story, the all-powerful bio-tech corporation known only as the Company returns as we once again see the destruction they have inflicted upon the unnamed City. Three rebels are introduced who seem to be traveling through time and various dimensions over and over in an effort to thwart the evil Company- but seem to always fail. A mysterious blue fox who can also travel time and space seems to be an important piece of the puzzle, and monstrous genetically engineered creatures are around every turn. I have no idea where this book is going, but that is part of the fun. Vandermeer’s strange and hallucinatory world building keeps me turning the pages with curiosity!

What are you reading at home? Are you reading happy, cozy novels or are you finding entertainment and comfort in stories of post-apocalyptic futures (like me)?

Keep your eyes peeled right here for more updates on what your library staff is reading, watching, listening, and creating at home!

What we’re reading in March…

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland

The Floating Feldmans: A Novel by Elyssa…

What happens when a waspy mother, her shopping addict daughter, marijuana growing son, and their families are all stuck on a luxury cruise ship together? The dysfunctional family trip of a lifetime, of course! The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland is the perfect lighthearted companion to bring the comic relief you need on your next family vacation. Beth

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon is set in Laos during the Vietnam War, when the country was continuously bombed in a covert attempt by the CIA to wrest power from the communist Pathet Lao, a group allied with North Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Three teens, Alasik and siblings Prany and Noi have lost their parents to opium and violence, and are surviving by working at a makeshift hospital, driving motorbikes to make deliveries, tending to patients and staking out paths between the unexploded bombs. Yoon’s spare, exacting prose expresses their hopes, their friendship, their humanity in the midst of heartbreaking events. Beautiful, just beautiful – I couldn’t stop reading it. Dori

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

This spooky supernatural thriller follows 20-year-old Carly Kirk as she ventures to upstate New York, having recently lost her mother to cancer, determined to solve the mysterious disappearance of her aunt Viv at the Sun Down Motel 35 years ago. Viv worked the overnight shift at the motel and completely vanished one night in November of 1982- her body was never found by authorities and her family basically wiped her from their collective memory. Carly herself signs on for the same graveyard shift at the motel, and soon discovers that the town of Fells, NY seems to have had a number of never-solved murders of local young women immediately preceding Viv’s disappearance. Readers experience the story in alternating narratives, from Viv’s point of view in 1982 and Carly in the present, with both characters experiencing terrifying moments at the motel as they dig deeper into the motel’s secrets. I haven’t made it to the end yet, but I can’t wait to see how this wraps up! Mystery and horror fans will definitely want to pick this up. Nicole

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli

This is the political rom-com I did not know I needed. Jamie Goldberg is happy to volunteer for his local senate candidate. His cousin is the campaign manager and Jamie himself has political aspirations, which will never happen because he just can’t talk to people. Maya’s life is falling apart–her parents are separating and her best friend is too busy working and getting ready for college. When her mom runs into Jamie’s mom the two mothers hatch a plan for the teens to canvass together. What’s in it for Maya? A car at the end of the summer. The reluctant duo start knocking on doors and before they know it a new friendship has developed. Jamie and Maya expertly handle their roles as activists, but the issue of cross-cultural romance is not so easy a topic to navigate. A rare YA book with present and supportive parents as well as normal and realistic friendships. While the relationship between Maya and Jamie is cute, the book doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to addressing racism, Islamophobia, and white supremacy. Megan

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Marianne and Connell are high school seniors and clandestine lovers. Both are star students, however, Marianne is an outcast, raised by her widowed mother in a wealthy home ridden with dysfunction. Connell is a popular star athlete, raised by his unwed mother, in a working class home, yet is nurtured by a caring, wonderful mom. The twist… Connell’s mother works as a maid at Marianne’s home. For the next four years, the reader follows Marianne’s and Connell’s intense yet complicated relationship that’s repeatedly muddled by secrets, miscommunication, and anxiety about their their place in the social hierarchy. As a reader, you will get mad at those two, you will root for those two, in the end, you will understand those two. If this review doesn’t draw your interest, at least treat yourself to a book taking place in Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Mary

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Journalist Lulu Randolph heads to Nassau in 1941 to investigate the governor, actually the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, for a popular New York magazine. Soon Lulu falls in love with Benedict Thorpe, a British scientist who is captured by the Nazis. Told in alternating chapters, It’s also the story of Benedict’s parents, Elfriede and Wilfred decades earlier. This is an exceptional historical novel full of romance, spies, intrigue, racial tension and murder. Emma

New Fiction Coming in March 2020

Check out some of the exciting new fiction titles coming to our shelves this spring!

 

3/03: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – A historical novel based on the life of the National Book Award-winning author’s grandfather traces the experiences of a Chippewa Council night watchman in mid-19th-century rural North Dakota who fights Congress to enforce Native American treaty rights. This powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

3/03: The Numbers Game by Danielle Steel – Setting aside her dreams to raise a family, Eileen reevaluates her sacrifices in the wake of her husband’s affair with a famous actress’s daughter, who discovers that she needs to find herself before committing to someone else. In this stunning novel, modern relationships come together, fall apart, and are reinvented over time, proving that age is just a number.

3/03: Deacon King Kong by James McBride – In the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters. From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, one of the most anticipated novels of the year: a wise and witty tale about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.

 

 

3/10: The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel – A tale inspired by the final years of Thomas Cromwell describes how after the execution of Anne Boleyn and child-bed death of Queen Jane, the former blacksmith’s son orchestrates a desperate plot to fortify England and save his own life.

3/10: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler – A gripping contemporary novel that examines the American dream through the lens of two families living side by side in an idyllic neighborhood, and the one summer that changes their lives irrevocably. A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today—what does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?

3/10: Journey of the Pharaohs by Clive Cussler – Kurt Austin and the NUMA crew race to identify a link between an ancient Egyptian treasure, a 1927 daredevil aviator’s disappearance and the sinking of a modern fishing trawler to prevent a scheme by a cutthroat arms dealer in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling grand master of adventure.

 

 

3/10: A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip Margolin – When a magician linked to suspicious deaths goes missing in the middle of performing a new trick, criminal defense attorney Robin Lockwood untangles dangerous clues to identify a killer among numerous suspects. By a New York Times best-selling author.

3/10: Devoted by Dean Koontz – A child who has not spoken since his father’s death befriends a dog who understands his wordless communications, which are complicated by the boy’s conviction that an evil is targeting his family. By a #1 New York Times best-selling author.

3/31: Fearless by Fern Michaels – Falling in love with a divorced professor she meets on a singles cruise, widow Anna Campbell accepts his proposal before uncovering disturbing facts about him and his children. By the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Godmothers series.

~Semanur

New Fiction Coming in February 2020

 

Check out some of the exciting new fiction coming to our shelves this winter. Whether you are looking for a literary fiction read, a historical page-turner, or biographical fiction, we have something for you!

 

 

02/04: The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata – Decades after a 1929 Dominican immigrant writer passes away believing her final manuscript was destroyed, a Chicago lawyer discovers the book and endeavors to learn the woman’s remarkable story against a backdrop of Hurricane Katrina.

02/11: Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen – When a twist of fate lands her in Queen Victoria’s kitchen, a talented young chef is selected to accompany a royal retinue only to be wrongly implicated in a murder. By the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

 

 

02/18: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin – When a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with one of the men originally suspected of killing her sister, Claire, hoping to gain his trust and learn the truth, forms an unlikely attachment with this man whose life is forever marked by the same tragedy.

02/18: The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica – Unnerved by her husband’s inheritance of a decrepit coastal property and the presence of a disturbed relative, community newcomer Sadie uncovers harrowing facts about her family’s possible role in a neighbor’s murder. By the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl.

 

 

 

02/25: Apeirogon by Colum McCann – Two fathers, a Palestinian and an Israeli, navigate the physical and emotional checkpoints of their conflicted world before devastating losses compel them to work together to use their grief as a weapon for peace. By the best-selling author of Transatlantic.

02/25: The Lost Diary of M by Paul Wolfe – A re-imagining of the life of Georgetown socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer traces her marriage to a CIA chief, presidential affair and LSD experiments before her baffling murder a year after JFK’s assassination.

~Semanur

What we’re reading so far….

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House is a story of siblings, Danny and Maeve Conroy, their obsessive connection with the iconic family house they lived in as young children and how their lives unfolded over the years.  The story is told through the eyes of Danny, younger of the two siblings.  We, as readers, watch Danny realize his life is peculiar, his childhood home is extraordinary, and the rooms and people of his childhood are more complex than he thought.  At times, the story resembles a fairy tale, with stepchildren and evil step mother, however, author, Ann Patchett, with such great compassion and wit, brings the story so alive that one can’t help but get hooked.  Get yourself on the holds list for this right now.  It was my favorite book of 2019.  In the meantime, treat yourself with any other book by Ann Patchett. Mary

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

VanderMeer quickly became one of my favorite authors after I read his amazing Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) so I began reading Borne with high expectations. I’m happy to report that Borne does not disappoint and delivers more of the weird, literary, dark, dystopian science fiction that I had hoped for. In a destroyed city that is never named, readers meet the smart and resourceful scavenger Rachel. She tries her best to survive in the city with her partner Wick, gathering relics from abandoned buildings, rebuilding biotech, and trying to evade the gigantic, monstrous bear, named Mord. Mord enjoys flying above the city, eating whatever and whomever he pleases, and generally destroying all in his path. Mord is the creation of the evil and ominous Company, who appear to be responsible for not only Mord’s terrible presence but also the general collapse of the city and all of the terrifying and strange creatures who live there. Rachel finds a curious blob-like creature entangled in Mord’s fur one day while scavenging, and quickly discovers the blob is intelligent, talks, and is also growing at a rapid rate. She names the now tentacled discovery Borne, and things only get weirder from there. Nicole

That Darkness by Lisa Black

That Darkness by Lisa Black

That Darkness is the first in the Gardiner and Renner series. Maggie Gardiner is a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department. Jack Renner is a homicide detective working a series of murders with the same cause of death but no other obvious connection. The more Maggie pores over the evidence, the more she suspects a vigilante killer who possibly has ties to the police department. When the evidence finally points to Jack, Maggie is confronted with a moral dilemma. Will she reveal Jack’s secret? Lisa Black is a former trace evidence specialist for the Cuyahoga County coroner and current CSI in Florida, and the crime scene details of the book are meticulously written and described. Jack’s vigilante serial killer story is introduced but not completely explained. Readers will have to continue the series for more details! I did, in fact, binge the series in it’s current entirety and it definitely gets better as they go along. Maggie and Jack tackle cases involving the murders of journalists, corrupt politicians, and teens living in a county facility. As they cover different cases they have to navigate the huge secret that defines their relationship. I look forward to more stories of fictional Cleveland crimes from Lisa Black.  Megan

Loom by Sarah Gridley

Loom by Sarah Gridley

I’m reading a book of poetry, Loom, by Sarah Gridley, which came out in 2013.  I had Sarah as a poetry teacher when I was briefly a student at Case, and she was wonderful for many reasons, so I could be biased.  But sometimes I think Sarah’s poetry is a kind of well-kept secret, not only in CLE but elsewhere as well, and that she deserves a wider audience.  Like other poets I love, including John Ashbery and Anne Carson, Sarah’s poetry gets pegged as “difficult,” but in a pejorative way – it’s too weird, people say, too interior, too lacking in narrative maybe, customary guideposts, something like that. But that’s exactly why I love Sarah’s poetry.  It is a kind of startling confrontation, because it forces you to trust your intuition, your heart, your own senses and your own mind, and encounter the poem without any preconceptions about what a poem should do, think, imagine or be.  Sarah’s poems are profoundly intelligent, open, spacious, deeply feeling-full, generous, fun, imaginative, and creative.  And the music of her poetry is her own – funny, wondering, modestly immodest, intimate. Check out Loom from RRPL, if you’re interested, and stay alert – her latest book of poems, Insofar, which won the Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press, chosen by Forest Gander, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry last year, is coming out later this year in April.  Andrew

Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin

Recently I decided to take advantage of our large collection of digital audiobooks through ClevNet Overdrive to listen to audio versions of fantasy novels I haven’t yet read. I began with the iconic Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. I am 4 books in and have enjoyed listening to each one immensely. Already being a fan of audio books, I have found this digital format very convenient as I am able to switch from device to device and pickup where I left off. Audio books have allowed me the chance to catch-up on books that I have been meaning to read. Would high recommend this series and this format. Greg

The Furies by Katie Lowe

The Furies by Katie Lowe

Violet begins the fall term as the new girl at Elm Hollow Academy, the site of witch hangings in the 17th century and the mysterious death of a student years later. Her home life has been unhappy since her father and sister died in a car crash, and her mother never mentally recovered from the tragedy. She expects to be a loner, like she has been since the accident, but is immediately taken under the wing of a wild and charming girl and her group of friends. They are part of an advanced study group with a teacher who studies ancient history and mythology as well as the rites and spells of the witches from long ago. Taught as history not practice, the girls nevertheless are drawn towards the idea of powerful women and powerful magic. They become increasingly wild and reckless as they learn the secrets of the women who came before them and begin to feel the power these women held. When one of the girls is violated, they swear revenge, and Violet is no longer sure of what is real, what is make believe, and what is magic. Sara

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Journalist Lulu Randolph heads to Nassau in 1941 to investigate the governor, actually the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, for a popular New York magazine. Soon Lulu falls in love with Benedict Thorpe, a British scientist who is captured by the Nazis. Told in alternating chapters, It’s also the story of Benedict’s parents, Elfriede and Wilfred decades earlier. This is an exceptional historical novel full of romance, spies, intrigue, racial tension and murder. Emma