Time of Death by Lucy Kerr is a debut mystery with a hospital setting. For fans of Jayne Anne Krentz and Julia Keller. ~Ann
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:
I’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.
Another 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 .
Now, 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.
I 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.
One 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!
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:
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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!
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (later republished under the title Carol)
The Martian by Andy Weir
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Revenant: a Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
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!
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.