What We’re Reading Now

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

I am currently reading The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin. It’s January 1888
on the Nebraska-Dakota border when an unseasonably warm day turns into a deadly blizzard just when school lets out for the day. Despite heroic efforts 235+ people died that day. Also, I am just starting Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Leonard writes articles for children’s encyclopedias. Paul is a substitute postman. These good friends both in their 30’s live in the parents’ homes. They meet regularly to play board games. I know there’s more to come since this book was highly recommended by a co-worker. Emma

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

I’m listening to The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. Not only is the French Revolutionary history itself fascinating, but the author reveals the travel and effort he put into the research. This book is about the novelist Alexandre Dumas’s father who was also named Alexandre Dumas. The senior Dumas was the son of a French aristocrat and a Caribbean African slave. He achieved the rank of General in the French military, for a time equal to the up and coming Napoleon. How did this happen? I was clueless about the Civil Rights Movement in Paris in the mid 1700s that allowed former slaves and children of slaves freedom, education, and position in society. This was specific to Paris, did not apply to the American colonies, and the progress would later be undone by a new wave of racist policies. Still, General Dumas was an adventurous swordsman and leader of the cavalry who would repeatedly inspire characters in his son’s novels including the betrayal faced by Edmond Dante in The Count of Monte Cristo. Byron

The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

I started reading The Queen’s Gambit shortly after seeing that Netflix has released a new series based on the book. I had seen some very positive reviews of the book and learned that the author, Walter Tevis, also wrote the novels, and excellent Paul Newman films, The Color of Money and The Hustler. However, I was skeptical that competitive chess would be edge-of-your-seat thrilling material, but The Queen’s Gambit is as much a story of loneliness, addiction, and genius as it is of chess. Had The Queen’s Gambit been just a book about chess, then I would have still been wrong because the chess bits are thrilling. Trent

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman

Agent of the Library Irene is sent to obtain a certain book by any means necessary and is drawn into an art heist, complete with a rag tag team of misfits, carefully laid plans, and secret island lairs. This new chapter in the Invisible Library series is a fun romp through heist movie tropes, with a twist.
Shannon

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington by Leonora Carrington

I have just finished The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington and loved every second of it. Written by the artist and author Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) this collection of stories spans throughout her career. The surreal stories within were best enjoyed when I allowed the narrative to unfold with their own internal dreamlike logic. A great introduction to Carrington’s work. Greg

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. This book is about a group of magic-filled children, seen as utter misfits by the world, but you will immediately fall in love with each and every one of them. It is about two kind, smart, and brave men who stumble forward into a friendship and gentle love. As TJ Klune has said himself, “it’s important, now more than ever, to have accurate, positive queer representation in stories”. Finally, it is about the false promise of blind faith and the courage to challenge that promise. I simply love this book. I implore you to read it now, you will not regret it. Mary

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I just started reading this book on the enthusiastic recommendation of a friend and am very much enjoying this weird and riveting story thus far. Written by one of Japan’s most highly regarded novelists, this book follows Toru Okada as he searches for his wife’s missing cat in a Tokyo suburb. He soon finds himself looking for his wife as well in a strange underworld that lies beneath the surface of Tokyo, full of odd and sometimes menacing people. I have no idea how this will end but look forward to getting there! Nicole

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Once upon a time, all women had a little magic- a few words to make dishes sparkle, a rhyme to mend a seam. And some knew stronger things, such as a spell to break a fever, dry up a cough, or help a woman through a difficult labor. But that all changed with the Salem witch trials. Witches were burned at the stake with their children watching; witchcraft was deemed illegal, and women were treated worse than ever with no power to protect themselves. But witching was never completely gone. It was passed on by grandmothers and mothers in fairy tales and innocent sounding nursery rhymes that were actually spells. Spells that could work magic if a woman had the words, the way, and the will. Led by the three Eastwood sisters (magical things always come in threes), the downtrodden women of New Salem have enough will to make up for any lack of words or ways, and they are determined to bring real magic back into the world to set right some of the many, many wrongs they have suffered at the hands of men. Sara

Joyful Fiction: December Digital Display

Find all the books above on our ebook services Overdrive or Hoopla. All you’ll need is your library card number and PIN to start reading! Some of them are also available in the physical library, and if you’d rather have a copy to hold, you can search the catalog here.

~ Dori

Books to give for Christmas (of course, we also recommend checking them out from the library ;-)

This year, Christmas feels a little strange and isolated. But it also feel a little cozy. The first snowfall was absolutely beautiful and really got me into the Christmas spirit. As I try to avoid malls and busy stores, I have of course turned to online shopping like many of us. But somehow that just seems impersonal this year. After weeks of quarantining, ordering carry out, groceries from Instacart, and pretty much everything else in the world from Amazon, I’m ready to get back to basics for this year’s holiday. My daughter and I tried our hand at making candles (we definitely need to read up on this a little bit, as I watch one of ours smoke itself out), we have plans for many more cookie varieties than ever, and are drawn towards handmade gifts from Etsy and local stores.

In keeping with this, I am buying books as gifts for the first time in years! My teen/young adult kids don’t read as vociferously as they used to, and most of my family reads on a Kindle. But this year, it just feels right to go back to basics, hold a real book in my hands while I sip coffee by my Christmas tree and lights. My kids have watched pretty much everything Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have to offer, so I think I’m going to try and entice them to take an electronic break, relax on the couch with me to read a good book by the tree.

Here are a few titles coming out in December. Some of them haven’t been published yet, but what is more fun then preordering a book and knowing you will be one of the first to read it? Remember that our local retailers need you this year more than ever. So head to bookshop.org to get some of these new titles that promise to be keepers! They also offer gift cards if you just can’t choose ;-).

Simply thrilling

There’s no such thing as a perfect family. And it’s usually not wise to point that out.

Thriller, romance and fantasy, all rolled into one.

A debut thriller that asks one simple question, shouldn’t a dead husband stay dead?

On the lighter side

Quinn and Minnie share their day of birth, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

A dare and a crash course in flirting turn a frumpy college professor’s life upside down.

An anxiety-ridden introvert finds herself in the spotlight and decides to fake it til she makes it.

Different times and places

Stunning debut explores Afghanistan on the eve of a violent revolution.

A story of survival, loss and love, and the sisters who changed fashion forever.

A poor girl with dreams grows up in the shadow of Biltmore House, the palatial Vanderbilt mansion.

Chocolate Day Reads

Try some chocolate themed fiction. We have sweet chocolate stories, dark chocolate stories, and even some hot chocolate stories.

Maybe nonfiction is more to your taste. We’ve got you (chocolate) covered.

Happy Reading (and sweet snacking)!

~Megan

Reconnect @ RRPL

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The Operator: A Novel

by Gretchen Berg

The early 1950’s in Wooster, Ohio is the setting for this debut novel. Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator who has a penchant for eavesdropping on telephone conversations. The operators are not supposed to listen in on  conversations, but they all do. When a rumor about Vivian’s husband is discussed over the phone lines, it’s not fun anymore. Vivian needs to find out who is spreading the rumor and if there is any truth to it. Vivian does not confront her husband initially but attempts to discover the truth on her own. Has she been living a lie?

My grandmother and great aunt were both switchboard operators in McHenry County, North Dakota during the early 1920’s. I wonder if they passed their workdays eavesdropping too. I never thought to ask.

A fun quick cozy read that I highly recommend.

~Emma

Back to School Fiction

It’s that time of year, when the kiddos are off to school, though this year may look very different than any year past. Some schools are offering hybrid class models, while others are strictly remote for the first 9 weeks, and others might be back in the classroom most of the school week. Whether you are sending a child off to college, a little one is starting kindergarten online, or your high school student is going to their school twice a week, now is a great time to pick up a book about school life!

Below you will find some great titles filled with humor, drama, mystery, thrills, tragedy, and romance- all with teachers, students, parents, and school settings of all sorts. There is really something for everyone in this selection. Check one out today!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy start to their 2020-2021 school year! Happy reading!

Imagine Your Story – Books

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The Last Mrs. Summers

by Rhys Bowen

Newlyweds Georgiana and Darcy have just returned home from their honeymoon when Darcy leaves on a top-secret work assignment. Belinda, Georgiana’s best friend, has just inherited a cottage in Cornwell so they decide to make the trip to inspect the property. While in Cornwell the women run into Rose, a childhood playmate of Belinda’s, who invites the women to stay at her estate. Tragically Tony, Rose’s husband, is murdered and Belinda is found holding the knife. Belinda is arrested and charged with the murder. Georgiana must help untangle the mystery even when local officials encourage her not to.

Even though fun characters Queenie, Georgiana’s maid, and Granddad are missing from the story, the fourteenth entry in the Royal Spyness Mystery series is a delight for fans of Rhys Bowen.

~Emma

 

 

Imagine Your Story@ RRPL

Have You Heard About RRPL’s Little Library?

 

Our Little Library is located near the front entrance, right next to the bench. I’m sure many of you have heard of “Little Free Libraries” and may have seen one in your own neighborhood.  The philosophy of the “Little Free Library” is simple: take a book, leave a book.  Here at RRPL we encourage our community to simply take a book, no need to contribute books, we’ve got that covered.  This is a small collection of books ranging from adult book selections to books for children. We refresh our selections weekly, along with a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep you safe. If you would like to browse a larger collection, come into our lobby and peruse our ongoing Book Sale.  Donations for your choices are always appreciated and can be left at the Greeters Desk.  I love tending to the books housed in this little gem, and I can’t help but smile when I discover these books have found a new home.  So,  if you find yourself taking a stroll near the library, take a peek inside our Little Library, who knows, maybe you will stumble upon that next great read!

Imagine Your Story – Books

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Above the Bay of Angels

by Rhys Bowen

(one of my favorite authors)

After her mother dies, 15-year-old Bella Waverly leaves school to become a servant to support her alcoholic father and younger sister. Bella witnesses the accidental death of  Helen Barton. She opens the envelope Helen was holding which is an invitation to apply as an under-cook at Buckingham Palace. Bella assumes Helen’s identity, interviews for the job, and is immediately hired. Willing to learn everything she can, Bella’s scones quickly become a favorite of Queen Victoria.

Bella is allowed to travel with the Queen’s entourage to Nice where her ability to speak French comes in handy. Many are in attendance when Princess Sophie’s fiance, Count Wilhelm, dies. It’s assumed he died from food poisoning. possibly from a mushroom Bella purchased from a local market. Bella works to figure out what really happened.

A little mystery/romance cozy fans will thoroughly enjoy.

~Emma

Your Library Staff at Home – Book Harbor

This week I want to share with you a new personalized book recommendation service that we’ve created at Rocky River Public Library – Book Harbor – a place where you can share 3 items you love – books, movies, TV shows, music, really anything you can think of, and we’ll send back some recommendations chosen by our Library staff, who know a thing or two about books!

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Here are two requests we received (the following links lead to Overdrive, our digital book collection):

Aimee loves the books In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel PhilbrickEndurance by Alfred Lansing and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Our Teen Librarian and resident true crime and nonfiction aficionado Megan responded:  It looks like you enjoy adventure filled nonfiction!

Sticking with water adventures, I would recommend: River of Doubt by Candice MillardShadow Divers by Robert Kurson. and Adrift by Stephen Callahan.

Because you liked Endurance I would recommend: Endurance: A Year in Space by Scott Kelly and The Adventurer’s Son by Roman Dial.

Finally, if you liked In Cold Blood I would recommend: Furious Hours by Casey Cep, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I hope you discover something new from this list!

Julie gave us a list of the following books and authors that she has enjoyed: The Jan Karon Mitford series, Death on Demand Mysteries, and Jamie Beck books.

Emma, who enjoys mysteries, historical fiction and gentle reads, recommended authors Ann B. Ross and Philip Gulley as similar to Jan Karon, Joanne Fluke and Diane Davidson Mott, mystery writers with similar styles as the Death on Demand books, and Kristen Hannah and Mary McNear, both authors similar to Jamie Beck.

I’ll share more requests and our recommendations next week. Please send your requests to askalibrarian@rrpl.org and keep them coming because we love to recommend books!

Stay safe and stay home!

~ Dori