Remember the ‘it’ movies and books of summers past? Let’s take a little trip down memory lane and revisit some favorites:
Need a hit of nostalgia? Check these out at RRPL!
Remember the ‘it’ movies and books of summers past? Let’s take a little trip down memory lane and revisit some favorites:
Need a hit of nostalgia? Check these out at RRPL!
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
This is a slightly twisted thriller that takes place in the suburbs of Boston. Henrietta and her husband Llody move to a new suburb for a change of scenery. Before they know it they are attending a dinner party at their neighbor’s house, and Hen stumbles on a suspicious clue that potentially links her neighbor to a murder in their old town. Things quickly escalate as the story unfolds, and nothing is quite like it seems. Beth
Silent City by Alex Segura
Due to his drinking, Pete is barely holding on to his dead-end and unfulfilling sports editor job with the Miami Herald, and his social life is a mess. Pete is half-in-the-bag and skipping on work when he accepts the request from the Herald’s washed-up columnist to search for his missing daughter. Not really remembering why he agreed to help, Pete figures he will make a few calls to mutual acquaintances and ends up stumbling around and stirring up trouble as he plays detective. Silent City is Segura’s first in the Peter Fernandez series. The recently published fourth installment, Blackout, is nominated for the Anthony Award to be announced in November. Trent
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I am reading this for our Classic Book Discussion on Monday, August 12, at 7pm. I have just finished part one and started part two (there are three parts). The novel was written in French and published in 1856 (I am reading the more recent translation into English by Lydia Davis); when it was first published, in serialized form, the government brought an action against it for immorality (!) – the charge was acquitted. The book is absolutely marvelous – the writing is really uncanny and exquisite, almost perfect in a way, and is the first example of what is called “literary realism,” a technique that we are now habituated to experience when reading novels, but was in many ways inaugurated by Flaubert. Put simply, the book is about a dissatisfied and romantic heroine, Emma Bovary, who seeks to escape the boredom and banality of her life through increasingly desperate acts. If you are interested, please procure a copy of the book, read it (and hopefully enjoy it), and come on August 12 to discuss. Andrew
The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick
This is the story of Martha Storm who volunteers at her local library. She lives in her childhood home surrounded by her dead parents’ possessions along with various projects she plans to finish for others. Martha receives a mysterious book signed and dated by her grandmother, Zelda, who supposedly died years before the date of inscription. Martha is determined to understand what happened and uncover any family secrets. This is a charming story with a happy ending. Emma
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro
In 2016 author, Dani Shapiro, on a lark, decided to submit her DNA for analysis at a genealogy website. Soon after she received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. Dani Shapiro urgently begins a quest to unlock the story of her own identity. She unfolds many secrets kept for a myriad of reasons. He journey is a compelling story of paternity, identity and belonging. This story is more a personal journey than a scientific journey. I did find the author to be self absorbed at times, however, I am empathetic with the tremendous emotional upheaval this discovery caused the author. A quick and interesting read. Mary
This the story of the murder of Willie Maxwell, a southern preacher who was accused of murdering five people in order to collect the insurance money, the lawyer who defended the both Reverend Maxwell and the man accused of murdering him, and Harper Lee, the author seeking to write her own In Cold Blood. This book reads like three separate stories, beginning with Willie Maxwell, his alleged victims, and rumors of voodoo. Tim Landry, his charismatic lawyer is introduced to readers as the man who won acquittals in five murder trials. It is Harper Lee that ties these stories together. Readers are treated to a detailed biography of Nelle Harper Lee, including tales from her childhood, accounts of her friendship with Truman Capote, and details of her complicated writing career. This is a real treat for true crime lovers and fans of Harper Lee. Megan
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
Andrea Cooper knows her mother Laura–a strong woman who has protected, loved and taken care of her for her whole life. Andrea, after an unsuccessful attempt at making it big in New York City, has come back home to her small childhood town of Belle Isle, GA to take care of her mother who has been diagnosed with breast cancer . She thinks she knows everything about the sleepy town and her never changing mother–until a mall shooter almost kills them both, and Laura takes him down like some sort of NAVY seal operative. It turns out her mother used to be someone else, and if Andrea doesn’t figure out who that person was, why her mother is in hiding or who is after her, they both may not make it. Sara
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
This is a story about a poor teen who joins a city wide track team. He’s never been part of a team before. His mother is working and putting herself through college. He frequently gets in trouble at school because his classmates make fun of the neighborhood where he lives, his ill-fitting clothes, the fact that his mother cuts his hair, everything associated with being poor. Can he adapt to the rules at track practice with Coach and find a place among the other young runners? Reynolds writes in a way that definitely gets inside the head of this teenager. I became interested in this title when I heard the author speak as part of the PBS Great American Reads series, and it is another part of my effort to read books from more diverse voices. So far it is very relatable even though I never participated on a sports team in school myself. Byron
Secret Historian by Justin Spring
This the biography of Samuel Steward, a man who would go by many other names in his life. Born in Southeast Ohio, Steward would attend Ohio State University, work as a university English professor, befriend Alfred Kinsey and Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, collaborate and contribute to the work of the Kinsey Institute, begin working as a tattoo artist, be ousted from his university job, move to California, and write gay pulp novels. The story of his career is intertwined with his identity as a homosexual man and his intimate personal life. This book uses the treasure trove of personal letters and personal effects to give a frank depiction. An exploration of Pre-Stonewall and gay liberation that gives the reader a glimpse into this man’s world and life. Greg
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy is a girl coming of age in the late sixties. She is a free spirited, beautiful young woman with a fantastic voice. The Six is a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. Daisy and Billy eventually cross paths in the world of music, and a producer realizes that the key to massive success is to put the two together. What happens next is the story of rock legends. Mary
Chapters in the Course of My Life by Rudolf Steiner
Steiner was a 19th century Austrian philosopher and “Anthroposophist” – anthroposophy is a spiritual movement Steiner founded, that believed there was a spiritual world accessible to human experience. Steiner was also the founder of Waldorf education, which focuses on the child as a holistic being, with an emphasis on imagination and creativity. His autobiography is absolutely fascinating, both as a chronicle of his own intellectual and spiritual development, as well as a record of the amazing thinkers, poets, and artists that Steiner associated with and learned from. Andrew
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This book, often touted as a very Millennial love story, follows Connell and Marianne and their shifting relationship as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. During high school, Connell is a star athlete, popular and well liked while Marianne is an aloof loner. They begin to grow closer during the times Connell picks up his mother from her work as Marianne’s family’s housekeeper, eventually starting a secret relationship. As time passes, so does the nature of their relationship and personal circumstances. Both Connell and Marianne are relatable, though at times, unlikable characters, leading them to make upsettingly poor choices. A quick read with a lasting impact. Trent
Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls
In 2017 much was being written about the rediscovered classic Mrs. Caliban. That was the year Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water featured a similar story of love between a woman and an amphibious creature. Earlier this year the author died and I decided to add this to my reading list for something a little different. This novella moves along at a fast clip. Despite the character Dorothy’s unhappy marriage and humdrum domesticity in the suburbs, Ingalls writes with a droll voice. The creature goes by the human name Larry although the news reports warn people that he is a dangerous monster. I’ve read analysis that Larry could just be a figment of Dorothy’s imagination, a representation of an exciting liberation from her mundane mechanical life. I tend to think of Larry as real, but until I reach the end I have yet to fully make that determination. What do you think? Byron
Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander
This is the Russian story of Katya who inherits an old Bluthner piano in 1962. She loves music and her piano. Katya marries Mikhail, who becomes a violent drunk, and eventually settles in California. Sadly, the piano is gone. Years later Clara receives a Bluthner piano from her father on her 12th birthday. At 26 years old Clara, suddenly homeless, leases her piano to photographer Greg Zeldin who uses it for a photo series in Death Valley. Greg travels to places he remembers visiting with his mother. Clara follows the adventure ultimately making a connection with Greg, his mother, her father and the piano. This is a beautiful story with lots of attention to detail. Emma
Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
Set in a small town in Australia, this series opener stars a disgraced former cop trying to hide from his past and start over. On the advice of his lawyer he seeks out a local PI who has her own dark past. They make for an odd couple, but they are soon teamed up to work a case involving a missing author. As they work the case Ted and Amanda each start poking around the other’s past. One odd couple, three cases, and a box of geese all make for a fantastic series opener. Megan
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
This book is a fictional depiction of the very real, very heinous Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Through alternating timelines we learn about one politically powerful family’s ties to this heartbreaking institution and how so many lives would forever be changed. Beth
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Marie Mitchell is working for the FBI during the 1980s Cold War when she’s recruited to travel to Burkina Faso as a spy to take-down their revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara. Black, female, French-speaking and repeatedly snubbed in her FBI career, she’s the ideal candidate for the job. Marie chose to be an FBI agent to pay tribute to her recently deceased sister, who died mysteriously. Now, still grieving, she’s heading to Africa, knowing she’d been chosen for her looks, not her talent, and questioning whether Thomas Sankara is as destructive as the U.S. claims him to be. Told as a letter she’s writing to her two young sons, American Spy is a fascinating look at espionage, the Cold War, African politics, race, gender and imperialism, with a dose of romance and suspense thrown in for good measure. Bahni Turpin does an incredible job narrating the audiobook! Dori
I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan
Cody Swift is doing a podcast with his girlfriend in an attempt to re-open an investigation into the deaths of his two best friends which occurred twenty years ago when the boys were only eleven years old. As Cody interviews old detectives, parents and witnesses, he frightens someone into threatening his and his girlfriend’s safety. It seems that no one told the whole truth about everything that happened that night. Told in the present, and also through the eyes of 11-year-old Cody in flashbacks, the book is an engaging, page turning read. I felt that the ending had a good twist to it that I did not anticipate, but it was a bit too rushed which made it somewhat anticlimactic. I still would recommend it. Sara
Generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders have enriched the culture of America through art, literature, music, language and history. Check out a few movies and books below:
Can I be honest? I love St. Patrick’s Day. Sure – it has something to do with my heritage, though we didn’t celebrate much as kids. Green is my favorite color, so maybe that’s it? It’s not all the drinking, but I admit I enjoy both Guinness and Jameson’s. I think it must be the Irish culture, the beauty, the pain, the underdog quality of the Irish – their writers and artists, their language, and, of course, the wool (and the sweaters)! And it always means that Spring is around the bend.
Below are a few movies and books that celebrate Ireland, the Irish and Irish writers. If you are looking for more movies, I highly recommend checking out The Irish in Film: a Database of Irish Movies – it’s incredible!
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
This novel begins in the summer of 1969. Four young siblings stumble upon information of a traveling fortune teller within their neighborhood, whom can tell anyone the day they will die. Curious about such a power, the children seek out the fortune teller, and each are told the day of their death. The story is told in four separate parts, each part dedicated to each sibling. The four children, straightforward Varya, bossy Daniel, magic obsessed Klara and dreamy Simon, must come to terms with the information imparted on them by the fortune teller. This is also a story about family. While each sibling has their own story, their relationship with each other is woven into their lives, and always a piece of them. What keeps the reader most engaged lies in which characters will meet their demise on said projected date and how will death take them, or better yet, can they somehow change their fated date? Mary
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
Long ago the Raven promised his protection to the lands of Iraden. In return for his protection, the Lease must sacrifice himself upon the death of the Raven’s physical manifestation. Mawat rides for the Raven’s Tower informed that this rite is imminent. There he will take his rightful place on the throne as the Lease’s heir. However, another now sits on the throne and claims the title Lease for himself. Worse yet, he claims the previous Lease fled and the sacrifice to the Raven has not been made. Though The Raven Tower may be a fantasy novel, Leckie has retained some of the essence typical of a science fiction novel. Large swaths of the novel are taken over by explaining the magical system and contemplating what are essentially logic puzzles. Everything is very precise, but as with the best science fiction, it remains lively and fascinating. Trent
If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel
I was fascinated by and completely absorbed in this debut book of short stories by Neel Patel. I finished the book in a week, which is unheard of for me. Most of these stories have a refreshingly modern voice and are told from the perspective of a first-generation Indian American who stands at the intersection of cultures where traditional beliefs (such as arranged marriages) collide with modern rituals (such as Facebook stalking). The stories are deceptively casual in that the language is conversational, but each character contends with complicated questions about cultural and sexual identity, mental illness, and family dysfunction – and does so with charm, depth, and humor. Hand this book to any person who likes a thoughtful and entertaining story. Lindsey
Smoke & Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg.
I also have Ms. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician series on my reading list so when an advanced copy of this Smoke & Summons became available I was excited to sample it. It is the beginning of a new trilogy called the Numina trilogy. It is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic steampunk world, but with outlawed magic talismans and spells secretly used by a select few. Or you could say it is a polluted, corrupt, “smokepunk” world with a big division between the haves and have-nots. Young adults Sandis and Rone are unlikely heroes at the center of the story. Sandis is a vessel for an ancient spirit, known as a Numin. She is a slave to an evil wizard who can summon a raging fire horse into her against her will. Rone is a street-smart thief who is willing to help her escape as long as he can fix his own family troubles first. So far the first half of this fantasy adventure with religious hypocrisy and dangerous occult forces sprinkled throughout is exciting. It has delivered several surprises that make me eager to find out what happens next. Byron
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
In this best-selling book, renowned anti-racism educator Dr. DiAngelo clearly and succinctly outlines how racism is not simply a “bad person” phenomenon, but a systematic construct. Her concept of white fragility refers to the defensive moves white people make when their notions of race are challenged. Beyond detailing the problem, DiAngelo also provides clear instructions on how white people can engage in cross-racial discussions more productively. This is an eye-opening, must-read for white people who are truly invested in having meaningful, live-changing conversations about race. Megan
Written by singer, songwriter, and performance artist, Amanda Palmer, this book straddles the line between biography and manifesto. This book’s creation was spurned by Palmer’s TED Talk where she told of her time as a living statue and how it exemplified her belief in the act asking and the act’s power. This book gives a short biography of Palmer’s career and how it was influenced/driven by relationships she built. A great book that offers an alternative relationship than the producer/consumer of many artistic fields. I personally recommend the audio book as it includes songs from Palmer’s career and creates a fuller picture of her creative output. Greg
The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
This is the story of Emily Bryce who wants to join the war effort. After the death of her only brother, Emily’s parents want her home. When Emily turns 21 she joins the Women’s Land Army where “land girls” are taught necessary farming skills while the young men are off fighting in WWI. Emily falls in love with an Australian pilot who is killed in action. Pregnant and alone she volunteers to tend the neglected gardens of a Devonshire estate. The “Woman’s Land Army” detail was an interesting addition to a great story from a very talented author. Emma
Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem
Scholem, as a scholar, pretty much brought the topic of Jewish mysticism into the consciousness of the 20th century. Kabbalah is a book about Jewish mysticism – its historical development, ideas, and personalities. Although at times somewhat dry, especially in the opening section on the historical development of Jewish mysticism, the book picks up much speed in the section where I am now, which discusses the really staggeringly original ideas involved with Kabbalah, including the sefirot, the Zohar, and ideas about how the world was created. Recommended for people interested in mysticism and religion. Andrew
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
I just finished the third book of the Bear and the Nightingale trilogy, and it was fabulous. These stories are set in Russia of the 1400’s and are a seamless mix of truth and folklore. Vasilisa Petrovna must once more save her beloved Moscow from the evil forces bent on destroying it. As Christianity and old religion come face to face, things are not as simple as the parish priests would like the people to believe. Vasya must come to terms with the accusation of being a witch and the shame it brings her family, and the reality that Rus needs someone to fight and believe in the “old ways” in order to battle forces of evil and destruction. Sara
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This book is a beautiful testament to the importance of providing a nurturing and supportive environment for children to grow into their best possible selves. The inside view of Michelle’s childhood is evidence that through the support and encouragement of her parents and extended family, she was able to focus on her education and become a successful female, African American lawyer before she was 30. Her early career in law was only the beginning of her reluctant journey to become one of America’s most beloved first ladies. I walked away from this book with strong admiration for the very public figure that Mrs. Obama has become in our culture. I’d recommend this book to anyone and everyone. If you love the Obamas you should read this book. If you don’t like the Obamas, you should really read this book. Beth
Yay the new Library Reads list is here! Recommended by Librarians nationwide, these titles are due out in March, so put them on hold today!
You can also search their Hall of Fame, which includes authors that have been recommended numerous times for Library Reads. Also, take a peek at their older lists – there are so many gems and you can usually find them right away!
Here are the March releases – click on them to put them on hold:
BONUS: If you’re the first person to comment below on which book/s you’re interested in, you can come in and pick up a free Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Library of Lost and Found!
See you at the Library ~