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Top of the List 2017 December 15, 2017

Posted by Dori in Audio, Book Awards, Book List, Book Review, Debut Author, eAudio, Fantasy, Fiction, First Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2017.
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I must admit that I did not read as many books as is my norm this year. I will not offer up a bunch of excuses (except 2017 was a whopper of a year, wasn’t it?), but will share the best of those I did read, with many gems in the bunch:

lincolnLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
I listened to this remarkable Booker Prizewinning book in audiobook form – with its cast of notable actors casting a spell that had me hooked. It was so unique:  moving, funny, weird, and insightful. I think it’s one of those audiobooks that I need to now read in book form. Don’t miss this one.

 

exit - CopyExit West by Mohsin Hamed
Two young people who fall in love in an unnamed country when a civil war erupts escape through metaphysical ‘doorways’. Finding themselves as refugees, they have to come to terms with their pasts and futures. Brutal and ravishing.

 

anythingAnything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
A short story that follows the lives of people briefly encountered in her previous book My Name is Lucy Barton that is just beautifully written and offers glimpses of the wonder of humanity. These are the kinds of books I’m drawn to – seemingly simple but powerful.

 

mountainThe Mountain: Stories by Paul Yoon
Another seemingly simple book. In restrained but exquisite prose, Yoon’s short stories are about people across the world who’ve been molded by tragedy and loss but still put one foot in front of the other and carry on.

 

manhattanManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Egan delves into straight up historical fiction, creating characters that resonate and enveloping readers in the fascinating world of New York City during the Depression. Not my favorite Egan, but a great example of ambitious historical fiction.

 

allgrownAll Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
This book made me laugh and that was important this year!  Her main character is a single 39-year-old woman who’s living life defying, while worrying about, the expectations of others and society at-large. She might exasperate you, but she sure is someone a lot of us can relate to.

 

leaversThe Leavers by Lisa Ko
This debut about a young Chinese-American boy who’s adopted into a white family after his immigrant mother disappears is a moving look at what happens to those who leave and those who are left behind. Plus it’s an eye-opening look at the effects of U.S. immigration policy.

 

saintsSaints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
Raise your hand if you love a quality dysfunctional family book!  If so, this is one you have to get a hold of asap. Irish immigrants to Boston, family deception that resonates through the next generations – it’s got it all.

 

longwayclosedThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit and by Becky Chambers
My co-worker recommended these to me and I thank her for it! These are the first two in Chamber’s Wayfarers series and they are adventurous, funny and meaningful outer space dramas. Even better as audiobooks!

index (1)On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
This is a short but incredibly important book to read right now! A historian of the Holocaust, Snyder takes lessons from the past to guide us for the future.

 

And a bonus:

fifthThe Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison:
I must admit that I haven’t finished this one – I began listening recently and I’m hooked. It’s the first book in a trilogy – The Broken Earth series – and is set in a post-apocalyptic society. The world building is incredible and the characters, fascinating. I’ll be spending much of my winter with this series.

 

Happy Holidays and best to you and yours!

~ Dori

 

 

 

 

 

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Mystery of the Day December 21, 2016

Posted by Ann in Debut Author, First Novel, Mystery.
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time-of-death

Time of Death by Lucy Kerr is a debut mystery with a hospital setting. For fans of Jayne Anne Krentz and Julia Keller.                    ~Ann

Fall/Winter Book Goodness October 12, 2016

Posted by Dori in Book List, Debut Author, Fantasy, Fiction, First Novel, Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Recently, we were lucky enough to have a visit from Amanda Fensch, a representative of Penguin Random House books, who visited the library to buzz about hot new titles. Amanda was an impressive presenter and offered very tempting descriptions of so many books!  As a result, I’ve added a boatload of books to my Fall and Winter reading list.

Here’s a few titles that really struck my fancy:

downloadI’m usually not a reader of nonfiction…so little time, so many books, etc…. but Amanda’s description of Spaceman by Mike Massimino sounded both funny and informative. Massimono, an astronaut who’s appeared on The Big Bang Theory AND repaired the Hubble Telescope, describes his road to becoming both a space traveler and a pop culture hero.

 

rogueAnother non-fiction title is Rogue Heroes by Ben MacIntyre. This untold story is a look at one of WWII’s most important secret military units. MacIntyre was given access to a lot of previously unknown materials, so this should be an eye-opening book. MacIntyre has written some other fascinating histories too, including Operation Mincemeat and A Spy Among Friends .

swingNow, onto fiction, starting with Swing Time by Zadie Smith. It’s been a long time since Smith’s written a novel (her others include White Teeth, On Beauty and NW) and I’m excited to see what insightful fiction she’s come up with this time. This novel is about two friends who dream of becoming dancers though only one is talented enough, the paths they take and how their friendship evolves.

bearI love an adult fairytale – they’re creepy but oh so creative. The Bear and the Nightingale, a debut novel by Katherine Arden sounds like it’s right up my alley. Russian forests, evil step-mothers, monsters, folk wisdom and a heroic young woman. Yes! Did you love Uprooted by Naomi Novik? I’m hoping this one will be similar.

 

allOne more that Amanda discussed – I believe she said it was a ‘must read’ (and that’s all I have to hear), is All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. It involves time travel – a man in the future travels to the past and must decide whether to stay or return – but don’t let that turn you off, it’s really about love and family and is filled with humor and heart. Check, check, and check – I like all those things!

That’s just a few of the titles Amanda talked about. For more information, feel free to stop in or call. You can also place items on hold through our catalog.  Happiest of all, Amanda will be back in the Spring to talk more books so look for that in the calendar and join us!

Happy Reading!

~ Dori

 

 

 

A Mid-Summer Report July 7, 2016

Posted by Megan in Audio, Beach Reads, Book List, Fantasy, First Novel, Mystery.
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If you ask me, mid-summer is an ideal time to compile a Best Of list. People have a little more time to read and listen to books. Maybe you are trying to catch up on your to read list or maybe you are looking for a hot new summer read. Whatever your needs, we have you covered! With my own personal reading I have been doing a little bit of both. Here’s what I have been reading and loving so far this summer:

hundred

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl is the story Alex and his mother and their journey from New York to L.A. via the world of Cons. It’s about the comic book industry, it’s about feminism and fandoms and a family that is going through traumatic changes. This story was so beautiful and the relationships that are explored will stick with you. For another coming of age story try The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extent.

naked

So, I took the plunge into J.D. Robb’s long-running In Death series (psst-this is Nora Roberts, in case you didn’t know that already). What have I gotten myself into? Naked in Death introduces Eve Dallas, a NYC police lieutenant. The year is 2058. Prostitution is now legal, but crime is still crime and murder and political corruption are at the heart of Dallas’s case. I can totally see the appeal of this series! It’s a futuristic crime-thriller with lots of sexy bits! I will definitely keep plugging away at this series, which is currently 43 books and counting!

mis for

Speaking of long-running and on-going series, I started Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series in preparation for the author’s visit to Rocky River (save the date, October 14 and check back with us for more details!). I started with A is for Alibi way back in January and am currently waiting for N is for Noose to be available for me! These books, starring PI Kinsey Milhone are quick, easy, and fun reads. Perfect for summer!

every

Finally, how about a little magic for your summer reading? Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (aka, Mira Grant) is a dark and mysterious novel that answers the what if the magic doorways, wardrobes, and rabbit holes that swallow children up are real? The children at  Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is a place for children to go after their magic fantasy world has gives them the boot. When this once safe-haven becomes the site of vicious murders Nancy, the newest arrival, sets out to figure out what is happening. This short book is lovely and weird.

What are you reading this summer?

~Megan

What’s New …in Debut Fiction! March 8, 2016

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, First Novel, Genre Book Discussion.
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There’s nothing more satisfying than being the first reader to discover a fabulous new author or series, right?! (If this sounds strange to you? You may be free of one of the most vexing book nerd problems -lucky you!) These are the titles, authors, and/or series we discovered -and- shared at our last genre discussion:

Maureen: In her debut novel What She Knew, Gilly Macmillan’s character Rachel makes the snap judgement to allow her beloved 8-year-old son Ben to run ahead on a late day walk in the English woods. What happens next, she could never imagine…Ben goes missing and she becomes the prime suspect and therefore, the most hated woman in her village. A twisted tale of relationships, how they go wrong, and how people cope with what life has thrown at them. Tons of suspense, a few red herrings and a great detective character make this a gripping read.

Carol: In Angela Flournoy’s debut novel The Turner House, an aging Viola Turner moves into her eldest son Cha-Cha’s house, and her thirteen children must consider selling the family’s practically worthless Detroit, Michigan home. In alternating chapters and flashbacks, readers glimpse into the lives of the Turners, focusing primarily on the struggles of normally level-headed Cha-Cha’s ghostly visions, and the youngest Turner daughter Lelah’s gambling addiction. This powerful novel about family and love kept me up late reading. I’ll be looking forward to Flournoy’s next offering.

Chris: Gilded Age by Claire McMillan tells the story of Eleanor Hart who after living, working, marrying and divorcing in New York returns to her hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. She gets in touch with all of her old friends and tries to make a new life for herself. But keeping her independence and finding love isn’t as easy as she expected. McMillan presents a modern day Edith Wharton heroine, much like Lily Bart in House of Mirth. Enjoyed that, too, and look forward to McMillan’s next one.

Steve: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline finds teen Wade Watts in the not too distant, but very bleak future, in the year 2044. Wade, like most teens, spends almost all of his time in the virtual world known as the OASIS. Wade is on the hunt to find and solve the puzzles hidden within the OASIS by the deceased billionaire creator, who has left instructions in his will to give his massive fortune to whoever can solve the riddles. Readers will love the 80’s pop culture references that run throughout the book.

Beth: In R. J. Palacio’s debut novel, Wonder, she explores the challenges of middle school from a new perspective. August Pullman was born with a facial abnormality and his parents have decided that after years of homeschooling him, it’s time for him to go to a real middle school. Wonder explores what it feels like to be different from others, as well as what it takes to accept those who are different from ourselves. This compelling story is an excellent resource for fostering empathy to people of all ages.

Lauren: Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead introduces the detective team of Rachel Getty and her boss Esa Khattak of Canada’s Community Policing Section, designated to handle minority-sensitive cases. A Muslim himself, Khattak is called to investigate the suspicious death of a man who was possibly tied to war crimes during the Bosnian War, specifically the massacre of 8,000 Muslim Bosnians at Srebrenica in 1995. Told partially through flashback, Khan weaves a complex story and cast of characters, each haunted by their past.

Dori: In Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Be Frank with Me, reclusive literary legend “Mimi” Banning is writing a new book for the first time in decades. Alice, her assistant, becomes a companion to Mimi’s 9-year-old son Frank, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders. Johnson’s debut is both funny and poignant – and you’ll be rooting for her characters, especially charming, precocious Frank.

Emma: Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Swedish author Katerina Bivald, is a heartwarming story for book lovers. Sara Lindqvist from Hannige, Sweden travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa to visit her book loving American pen pal Amy Harris. Unfortunately the ladies never meet. Sara arrives on the day of Amy’s funeral. The townspeople adopt Sara and insist that she stay in Amy’s house. Sara wants to give back to the community, so she opens a free bookstore using Amy’s vast collection of books. With Sara’s tourist visa about to expire, the townspeople conspire to allow her to stay.

Stacey: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly was one of those rare books that combines actual, laugh-out-loud moments with characters you care about from the moment the first page is turned. Zoe and her Mom moved to a upstate New York suburb after the divorce; the first person she meets is Digby or, as Zoe soon realizes, aka Trouble. Digby drags a semi-reluctant Zoe into the mystery he’s determined to solve and the two find themselves in every kind of wacky situation possible, but mostly with positive results. A great choice for anyone wanting a humorous book full of pop culture references.

Next time? We’ll be feeling all the feels with -Romance! If you want to keep reading with us, you’ll want to find a book that appeals to the emotions and offers at least one misunderstanding that must be overcome in order to reach the Happily Ever After ending.

enjoy!
Stacey

From the Page to the Silver Screen March 3, 2016

Posted by Lauren in Biographies, Fiction, First Novel, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Did you watch the Oscars on Sunday night? The Academy Awards are hands-down my favorite awards show.  In the months leading up to the big night I get out and see as many of the nominated films as possible and obsessively cross them off my list before finally marking my own ballot in the days leading up to Oscar Sunday.  There were lots of great movies this year and it was nice to see some major categories spread around to different films.  The Revenant took home Best Director and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio (15-year-old me was THRILLED about this ;)….), Mad Max: Fury Road nearly cleaned up all the technical categories, and Spotlight won for its screenplay and the ultimate prize—Best Picture.

There are always great movies that started out as great books—and this year was no exception!  I loved Room by Emma Donoghue and was not disappointed by the film adaptation.  Here are the books that inspired a number of this year’s Oscar nominees—check them out!

big short

The Big Short by Michael Lewis

brooklyn

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

price of salt

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (later republished under the title Carol)

the martian

The Martian by Andy Weir

room

Room by Emma Donoghue

revenant

The Revenant: a Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke

danish girl

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

100 year old man

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

~Lauren

Dori’s Top Books of 2015 December 17, 2015

Posted by Dori in Audio, Biographies, Book List, Fantasy, Fiction, First Novel, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Non-Fiction, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2015.
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Every year I say this and every year it’s true: I did not read nearly enough this year! I’ve been perusing all the lists of Best Books including my RRPL coworkers’ lists and realized that I’ve missed so many – the pile on my nightstand is calling…

In the meantime, here’s a list of books, in no particular order, that thrilled, chilled, amazed, and enlightened me – books that took me to other places, be they the heads of other people, fantastical lands or back in time.

The Book of Aaron by Jim Shepard: told through the eyes of a young Jewish boy as the Nazis sweep through Warsaw – the emotional impact, the plain, raw language – just wow.

The Whites by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt: I’ve never read Price before, but I am now a fan. A gritty look at crime and cops in New York with a well-drawn cast of characters. I listened to it and the narrator really captured all the voices.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: a fantastic fairy tale for grown-ups – go strong women!

Purity by Jonathan Franzen: while maybe not the best of Franzen, it’s a fascinating look at secrecy vs. transparency – in families, in societies and on the internet.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins: a weird, violent and really different book that sucks you in with its fantastical story and its offbeat, kick-a@* heroine.

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald : a memoir about recovering from the sudden death of her father – beautiful writing, natural history lessons and a look at T.H. White – an odd mix that works perfectly.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – I love, love, love Lauren Groff – her lush and lyrical writing makes me swoon! It’s the president’s favorite book, too!

A Spool of Blue Thread by Ann Tyler: another audiobook – I’m a sucker for a family story and this slow, meandering look at the Whitshank family through the years resonates.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: this timely book by a writer at The Atlantic is a letter to the author’s son about his experiences as a black man in America. It’s both eye-opening and beautifully written with soaring and passionate prose.

Speak by Louisa Hall: this novel surprised and moved me – it’s told from a number of voices across centuries and explores artificial intelligence while stressing our essential needs for communication and connection.

Enjoy and Happiest of Holidays!

~ Dori

 

British Suspense- One Step Too Far August 14, 2015

Posted by Ann in Fiction, First Novel, Mystery.
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one step Emily Coleman leaves her Manchester home, husband, and family and disappears to London where she takes a new name. She finds a room in a dilapidated rooming house and a job as a receptionist. All the while she’s sick about leaving her husband and thinks back on “what happened.” The trouble is the reader doesn’t know “what happened.”

Tension builds as we try and figure out why Emily would leave a loving husband, child, and her job as an attorney to take up another life in London. This is a twisty psychological thriller that reminded me of a mash up of Girl on a Train and some of Ruth Rendell’s books. A debut novel.

~Ann

Latest Additions February 10, 2014

Posted by stacey in First Novel.
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Baby, it’s brisk outside! How lucky we all have something to occupy our time while we hide inside from the cold -read! Lucky! And even luckier? There are some books recently added to The Reading Room that I am happy to bring to your attention! Ready? Ready!

Eva’s Eye by Karin Fossum
The Harlot’s Tale by Samuel Thomas
Imani all Mine by Connie Porter
A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

Come on in and gather up a few of these -and other!- books soon! (I hear there’s *more* snow on the way! Shocking mostly because I was pretty sure there couldn’t be any snow left in the sky to fall!)

Enjoy!

— Stacey

Top of the Heap 2013 December 17, 2013

Posted by Maureen in Fiction, First Novel, Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings, Top Ten.
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So, another year come and gone; hard to believe. If you missed any of these great books, be sure to take the time in 2014 to catch up! Happy Holidays!

First, the fiction…

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

A spectacular first novel that should not be missed. Presents the story of Auggie, a young boy who is born with pronounced facial deformities. Due to his condition, his parents home-school him until 5th grade when they decide it is time for him to face the real world at school. Auggie must deal with not only his own feelings about his appearance, but with the reaction and subsequent treatment at the hands of others because of it. Geared toward tweens and teens but should be required reading for all. A real lesson in humility and tolerance.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Another stunning first novel. Kent visited Iceland as a student and heard about the legend of a woman named Agnus Magnúsdóttir – the last woman to be executed in that country in 1829. Her book is a fictionalized account of Agnes’ life after her conviction when she is placed on a rural farm in the north of Iceland where she awaits her death sentence. The descriptions of the barren, icy landscape and the meager human existence intertwined with the mysterious story of Agnes and the murder she is accused of committing make for compelling reading. One of my favorites this year.

The Returned by Jason Mott

Wow, this one sticks with you! All over the world, people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. Just walking back through the doors to their homes as if they never left. How is this happening? Why is this happening? Though at first it seems wonderful as people are reunited with loved ones they have lost, a larger ethical question looms. Is this right? Are these people dangerous? Are they really human? A special bureau is created to handle “the Returned,” to ferry them to their families and help them re-integrate back into society. But not everyone wants them back. And they are willing to go to great lengths to keep them at bay. A thought-provoking first novel which has been developed for television; it will be titled “Resurrection” and debut in March 2014.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

If you like dark psychological books, this one is for you. The story of two brothers and their families and the horrible event that has the adults meeting for dinner in an upscale Amsterdam restaurant. Paul, the father of fifteen-year-old Michel, is a mentally unstable but generally well-meaning father. His brother Serge is an up-and-coming politician currently running for prime minister. Over the course of their meal, family history and sinister secrets are revealed that will change everyone’s lives forever. This book reveals itself slowly but as the suspense continues to build, you will not be able to put it down. Gripping.

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

A dishelved private eye with a domestic situation and his new temporary secretary who is whip smart get involved in the sensationalized death of a famous supermodel by request of an old childhood friend. Written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym, this book is actually quite entertaining and definitely worth a read. She’s still got it!

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A classic that I am now reading with my daughter! A book worth sharing.

Now the Nonfiction!

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higshida

Originally written in 2007 by a thirteen-year-old nonverbal Japanese young man with autism, this book is his attempt to explain to the outside world why he acts the way he does. David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) and his wife KA Yoshida discovered the book and decided to translate the work into English. Broken into small “chapters,” the book addresses some of the most obvious behaviors Naoki exhibits. It is fascinating to read his reasons behind the behaviors and upon doing so, really come to realize the self-awareness he possesses. A very brief but very powerful book.

Remodelista by Julie Carlson

Wow is this a beautiful book on design! Tons of wonderful photographs and ideas! All I need now is a bunch of free time and a winning (billion dollar) lottery ticket!

Square Peg: My Story and What it Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers by L. Todd Rose

This is one fascinating and inspiring book. The author, who began as a middle school troublemaker and moved on to being a high school dropout and teenage father, is now on the faculty at Harvard. In this book, he argues that the education system in the United States is failing some of our best and brightest, just because they think differently or cannot sit still. Makes you wonder.

What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Pieces by Katie Quinn Davies

I loved this book by photographer and food blogger Quinn for it’s spectacular photographs and interesting recipes. It is like taking a personal journey through her eyes into the land of good food. Enjoy!

—Maureen