Review of Helene Wecker’s The Hidden Palace – sequel to The Golem and the Jinni

Book cover of The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker

Fans of Helene Wecker’s award-winning historical fantasy novel, The Golem and the Jinni, rejoice – after eight years of waiting, we finally get a sequel!

The Hidden Palace comes out on June 8 and picks up shortly after the end of the first book (don’t worry – there are unobtrusive reminders in the text to get you up to speed with the preceding events). The evil sorcerer who had imprisoned jinni Ahmad in a metal vial (spoilers!) was defeated at much personal cost in the first book. Ahmad and Chava, the golem, now must weather the rapid changes at the turn of the twentieth century in New York City: the sinking of the Titanic, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and the beginning of the Great War, as well as changes in their relationship to each other and their communities.

Once again, Wecker has crafted an immigrant chronicle for the ages that grapples with the dual problems of the diaspora: attempting to assimilate into a new culture while at the same time keeping close one’s native culture, all while trying to find a place in the world. The Hidden Palace is a sweeping character-driven epic of a family forged in love, not blood ties, whose members fight and love and learn, falling apart and together organically. Even though I only read The Golem and the Jinni once many years ago, this new book felt like coming home, as if I never really left Ahmad and Chava’s world and was now spending time with treasured friends. The tone is melancholy with measured pacing so that readers can truly immerse themselves in the world, and while no one gets a happy ending, exactly, Wecker ends her novel on a hopeful, bittersweet note. The Hidden Palace is a worthy successor to its smash hit predecessor and will wrap you again in a fully realized world you won’t want to leave.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC (advance reader copy)!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

These are the books we are adding to our collection this week. Click on the orange text to go to our catalog and place a hold today!

Broken (in the best possible way)  by Jenny Lawson – The award-winning humorist and author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened shares candid reflections on such topics as her experimental treatment for depression, her escape from three bears and her business ideas for Shark Tank.

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi – Honeymooning aboard a historic former tea-smuggling train, newlyweds Otto and Xavier enjoy the locomotive’s fantastical accommodations before encountering a secretive fellow passenger, who imparts a surprising message. By the award-winning author of Gingerbread.

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian – A satirical coming-of-age story follows the experiences of an Indian-American teen in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, who joins his crush’s plot to use an ancient alchemical potion to meet high parental expectations, triggering devastating consequences.

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon – Investigating an estranged sibling’s suspicious drowning at their grandmother’s estate, a social worker connects the tragedy to the unsolved case of a housewife who in 1929 allegedly succumbed to the consequences of a wish-granting spring.

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas – A woman who never wanted to be a mother reconnects with her estranged husband in the wake of unexpected news and is challenged to reevaluate herself in an unanticipated role. A first adult novel by the author of Consent.

Good Company by Cynthia Sweeney – A novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from the author of the New York Times best-seller The Nest.

Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt – Investigating the murder of a woman he failed to protect years earlier, K Team private investigator Corey Douglas resolves to bring an abusive boyfriend to justice. By the best-selling author of the Andy Carpenter mysteries.

Miss Julia Happily Ever After by Anne Ross – A highly anticipated final installment in the best-selling series finds an outbreak of wedding fever in Abbotsville upended by a mysterious vandal who challenges a lively Miss Julia to save the day, and her friends’ nuptials.

First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami – Told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator, a new collection by the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award-winning writer explores the boundaries of the mind through subjects ranging from youth and music to baseball and solitude.

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson – Blackmailed by a mysterious kidnapper to commit a seemingly harmless act, a once-poor woman who married into wealth triggers a devastating chain of consequences. By the best-selling author of Never Have I Ever.

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes – Retreating to a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest, Joe Goldberg takes a job at the local library where he becomes obsessed with librarian Mary Kay DiMarco and decides he is ready to make her do the right thing by making room for him in her life.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin – Taking a job in a London bookshop just as the Blitz begins, Grace finds comfort in the power of words, storytelling and community as the bookshop becomes one of the only remaining properties to survive the bombings.

~Semanur

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here we have some new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week!

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone – The Nobel Peace Summit Award-winning actress, activist and humanitarian chronicles her efforts to recover and rebuild after a massive stroke, discussing how her health challenges were also shaped by industry standards, childhood traumas and family bonds.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia – The daughter of a Cuban immigrant battles addiction and the fallout of her decision to take in the child of an ICE detainee, while her mother wrestles with displacement trauma and complicated family ties.

Mrs. Wiggins by Mary Monroe – A tale set in the world of the award-winning Mama Ruby series follows the experiences of a woman from an at-risk family who marries a preacher to establish a safer life before discovering her husband’s desperate secret.

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Kelly – Union nurse Georgeanna Woolsey, an ancestor of Caroline Ferriday, travels with her sister to Gettysburg, where they cross paths with a slave-turned-army conscript and her cruel plantation mistress. By the best-selling author of Lilac Girls.

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray – A multi-generational saga based on true events is set in an extraordinary castle in the heart of France, where a schoolteacher, a socialite and a noblewoman question their roles and identities in the face of three major wars.

Tell No Lies by Allison Brennan – A woman LAPD detective and an FBI special agent team up to investigate the unsolved murder of a college activist whose demise may be linked to a high-stakes crime organization in the Southwest desert.

No Way Out by Fern Michaels – Struggling to remember the accident leading to her boyfriend’s disappearance, a coma patient and video game developer starts over in rural Mississippi, before an inexplicable reunion threatens everything she has rebuilt. By the best-selling author of the Sisterhood series.

The Red Book by James Patterson – Launching an investigation of his own when his instincts tell him that more is behind a political shooting on Chicago’s west side, SOS Detective Billy Harney uncovers a spate of murders connected to his troubled past.

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnn Thayne – The daughter of parents who died under traumatizing circumstances reevaluates her life on the road when she unexpectedly falls in love and reconnects with her sister, whose marriage has crumbled in the wake of a devastating diagnosis.

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge – Coming of age as a free-born Black woman in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson struggles against her mother’s medical aspirations for her when she finds herself more drawn to a musical career that could compromise her autonomy.

Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton – This biography of Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret examines their early idyllic youth as the closest of sisters as well as their often fraught relationship after their father’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.

World on the Wing, A: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds by Scott Weidensaul – Offers exhilarating exploration of the science and wonder of global bird migration.

~Semanur

Readalikes for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles catalog link

Thanks entirely to the kids on TikTok, nine years after it was first publised, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is once again a bestseller! If you’re waiting for your copy, or if you’ve read it and would like something similar, I’ve picked some romantic books that have the same feeling as Achilles: sweeping historical events, thoughtful mythological retellings, or a lush fairy tale tone.

Never heard of Song of Achilles? Here’s the scoop:

Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. Find The Song of Achilles on Overdrive here and on Hoopla here (no holds, no waiting!).

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker catalog link

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

After her creator dies en route to America, Chava, a golem from a Polish shtetl, must navigate the streets of 1899 New York City by herself — her only ally is a rabbi unsure whether to destroy her, or allow her to fulfill her destiny as the harbinger of destruction. Ahmad, a jinni from Syria’s deserts has been released from his thousand-year-old glass bottle by a tinsmith but has little intention of remaining a metalworker, despite his uncanny talent for it. Chava and Ahmad meet and discover that they’re soul mates, but a dangerous adversary threatens their future. This vibrant blend of myth, adventure, and romance will enchant fans of stories based on folklore.

The Golem and the Jinni Overdrive link

Uprooted by Naomi Novik catalog link

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

A tale inspired by the “Beauty and the Beast” story follows the experiences of Agnieszka, who becomes the latest girl chosen to serve an immortal wizard who protects their village from the malevolent forces of a nearby forest.

Uprooted Overdrive link



The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson catalog link

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A concubine in the royal court of Granada at the height of the Spanish Inquisition and her mapmaker friend risk their lives to escape when the latter is accused of sorcery.

The Bird King Overdrive link

The Bird King Hoopla link

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty catalog link

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Nahri, a young con artist, inadvertently summons a mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, revealing the existence of true magic before the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom falls into her hands.

The City of Brass Overdrive link


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden catalog link

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

The Bear and the Nightingale Overdrive link

All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Discover@RRPL

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

It’s 1917 when 19 graduates (1888-1914) from Smith College formed the Smith College Relief Unit and headed to Grecourt, France. The French government had asked the volunteers to work there. People were desperate. Their lives and homes had been totally disrupted and destroyed by the Germans. They needed basic necessities.

There are three main characters in the novel including: kindhearted Emmie Van Alden, Kate Moran a good friend of Emmie’s who was a scholarship recipient at Smith, and Dr. Julia Pruyen disliked by Kate and a cousin of Emmie’s. All of the women came with necessary know-how and willingness to learn new skills including assembling a truck delivered with all the parts in boxes, driving, taking care of livestock, and basic nursing care.

The story is based on real-life experiences found in documents stored in the Smith College Archives. Those records include directors’ reports, financial information, letters, journals, photographs and albums, news clippings, correspondence with the War Service Board and information about the reconstruction. The novel showcases bravery, perseverance, a little romance and a few secrets revealed in the midst of constant danger. This is a treat for fans of historical fiction.

~Emma

 

 

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here we have some new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week! Click on the red text to go to our catalog and place a hold!

The Bounty by Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich – Straitlaced FBI agent Kate O’Hare and international con man Nick Fox reluctantly team up with the fathers who taught them everything they know to prevent a shadowy international organization from claiming a fortune in Nazi gold.

Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff – Fleeing into the woods believing that they have accidentally murdered an abusive parent, two young boys, unaware that they have become the focus of a desperate search, navigate dangerous natural threats in their effort to survive.

Eternal by Lisa Scottoline – An aspiring writer, an athlete from a professional cyclist family and a mathematics prodigy find their bond tested by a love triangle and the spread of anti-Semitism and fascism in 1937 Italy. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Someone Knows.

The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear – Entreated by a witness nobody believes to investigate a murder, Maisie Dobbs uncovers a conspiracy with devastating implications for Britain’s war effort during the Nazi occupation of Europe. By the award-winning author of The American Agent.

A Question Mark Is Half a Heart by Sofia Lundberg – A successful Manhattan photographer is drawn back to her past as a poverty-stricken child in Paris whose daily realities were shaped by an abusive parent and a friend who still remembers her deepest secrets. A first novel.

Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham – Investigating a ritualistic murder in a small north Florida community, an agent from the State police reluctantly partners with an FBI cult specialist to uncover dark local secrets and the violent activities of a doomsday prep group.

Double Jeopardy by Stuart Woods – Stone Barrington launches an investigation in coastal Maine, where he confronts high-connected and well-funded family enemies hiding in plain sight among the region’s stately houses and private clubs. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Chiefs.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson – A bride’s dream honeymoon with her beloved millionaire groom is upended by the appearance of an obsessive one-night stand who would claim her for himself. By the award-winning author of The Kind Worth Killing.

The Other Emily by Dean Koontz – Haunted by the unsolved disappearance of the love of this life a decade earlier, writer David Thorne visits her suspected killer in prison before meeting a woman who uncannily resembles the person he lost.

The Palm Beach Murders by James Patterson – Three stories from the world’s best-selling author include the tale of a pair of divorcees who begin a strangely intense game of make-believe and a popular advertising exec who notices the people around him are being murdered.

A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser – Suffering from irreversible kidney failure, worrying for her young son and mourning other devastating losses, Caroline considers reaching out to Sela, a vulnerable potential donor who is unaware that she is Caroline’s half-sister.

Red Island House by Andrea Lee – The National Book Award-nominated author of Lost Hearts in Italy presents a tale of love and identity that follows two decades in a marriage between an African-American professor and her wealthy Italian husband in tropical Madagascar.

Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old by Andrew Steele – A young scientist takes readers into the frontiers of the science of aging, and reveals how close we are to an astonishing extension of our life spans and a vastly improved quality of life in our later years.

Loneliest Polar Bear, The: A True Story of Survival and Peril on the Edge of a Warming World by Kale Williams – An Oregonian science and environmental reporter shares the heartbreaking but hopeful story of abandoned polar bear cub, Nora, discussing the efforts of dedicated zookeepers, veterinarians and conservationists who are working to rescue the species from extinction.

~Semanur

Reconnect @ RRPL – A Sequel Worth Waiting For

I read and loved The Outlander by Gil Adamson when it was released in 2008. Set in 1900 in the Canadian wilderness, this novel follows Mary Boulton, a young woman who is on the run from her two brothers-in-law, after having killed her husband. Atmospheric and suspenseful, with quiet moments of introspection and flashbacks of Mary’s earlier life, this character-driven novel is just exactly my favorite type of reading. If you asked me for a good historical fiction to read over the last 12 years, it is likely that I handed this one to you.

Finally, this story continues with the release of Ridgerunner, which was published in February. Ridgerunner is set in 1917 and focuses on 12-year-old Jack Boulton. Jack is the son of the recently-deceased Mary and also the son of the man known as the “Ridgerunner,” a notorious wanderer, loner, and thief. Jack is left in the care of a nun with a dark past, as his father robs mining towns and distant outposts in order to build a nest egg for Jack’s future. Don’t let this book’s online description as a “literary western” put you off. Not only does it have the descriptive and well-researched renderings of Canada and the Great Plains that won me over in The Outlander, Ridgerunner also explores the area’s physical landscapes changing due to tourism and the challenges of homesteading at the beginning of the 20th-century. Ridgerunner is a suspenseful ride, as well as an emotional journey between father and son, with twists, turns and secrets that you won’t see coming.

While The Outlander and Ridgerunner can be read independently of one another, why not thoroughly immerse yourself and read both? You can find these books and others by Gil Adamson on our library’s catalog.

Discover@RRPL.org

The Four Winds

by Kristen Hannah
The story begins in Texas in 1921. Having suffered from scarlet fever as a young girl, Lisa Wolcott's family over-protected her. She wasn't allowed to finish her education and could rarely leave the house except for church. At 25, Lisa decides to attend a dance in town where she meets the man who would become her husband, Rafe Martinelli. Rafe doesn't really love her but marries Lisa when she becomes pregnant. The wealthy Wolcott family will have nothing to do with Lisa and her new family, but the Martinelli's welcome her. 

The promise of a better life in California convinces Rafe to abandon his entire family. Lisa and her two children stay in Texas as long as they can. Eventually they head to California where life for them is just as difficult as it was in Texas. They pick cotton where the owner takes advantage of his workers with low wages, a nasty migrant camp, bigotry and the constant threat of violence.
This is a story of a mother's love, perseverance, friendship, courage and sacrifice. It's hard to imagine the suffering these people endured. 
                                                       ~Emma

Discover@RRPL

If you like captivating and compelling historical fiction, The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly should be on your to-read list. This novel explores themes including love, loss, hope and friendship and its plot unwinds over three different time periods.

In 1907, Venetia has been hired by the owners of the Highbury House, to design a series of extravagant gardens on its estate. When she gets there, she is well on her way to making a name for herself in garden planning, but catering to the whims of the overbearing lady of the house threatens to ruin Venetia’s plans.

In 1944, the English countryside has become home to many land girls who are helping farmers produce food for the war effort, and Highbury House has been conscripted by the British forces to serve as a military hospital. The house is now owned by Diana Symonds, a young widow who feels like her life is out of her control. Diana’s only consolations are her beautiful son Robyn and the time she spends in her home’s lavish gardens, which she can no longer afford to maintain.

In 2021, Emma has been hired to breathe new life into the very same gardens, now very neglected and barely recognizable. Emma has longed to work on anything originally designed by the long-ago famous and secretive Venetia Smith and is thrilled when she’s picked to restore the grounds of Highbury House to what Venetia intended them to be. As Emma sets out to discover the garden’s original plans, secrets from the past begin to unravel, connecting these three women in unexpected ways.

Like a flower opening to reveal its beauty, this book is one to savor as it captures the lives and dreams of the very different yet strong women whose lives are bound by this special garden. If you are looking for inspiration to start picking out your backyard plants (or if you just want a fabulous read), pick up The Last Garden in England.

-Carol