Listen With Pride

June is both Pride Month and Audiobook Month. Let’s get you listening to some fabulous stories starring LGBTQ characters!

A few of my favorite Fiction Titles-an exciting space opera, a whirlwind romance, a heartwarming fantasy, and a charming tale of family and grief.

Check out these nonfiction titles, a mixed bag of humor and heartbreak.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

I love Jason Reynolds. His books are always powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful, and his newest offering, produced with his best friend, does not disappoint. In fact, it is so stunning that after enjoying a library copy I immediately purchased a copy for my personal collection.

Find a copy here

Reynolds penned three long sentences. Griffin filled 300 pocket-sized moleskin pages of art. Together they capture the feelings of fear and uncertainty most of us felt during 2020. Around the world and in our own communities people were isolate, separated. By Covid. By politics. But also, people took to the streets to protest. All the while, we sat glued to the news. Mostly bad news. It was a long, dark year. But not entirely without hope.

This book is almost 400 pages long and weighs almost 2 pounds, but you can read it in 15 minutes. Or linger over each drawing. Or revisit favorite pages. It’s a treasure.

Dedication page

These are a few pages that stuck out to me and I think they are excellent examples of the wide range of feelings expressed throughout the book. The next time someone says they don’t like poetry, hand them this and see if you win them over!

~Megan

What we’re reading now, spring edition…

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Two soldiers on opposing sides of a war throughout time begin to fall in love via the letters they exchange. While it’s a short read, the book is dense with meaning and subtext, and readers will enjoy the romance and intrigue of this intergalactic Romeo and Juliet story. Shannon

Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé

Tells the story of the African Brigade, a unit of former slaves tasked with rooting out pockets of Confederate guerilla fighters in the Tidewater region of Virginia and in North Carolina’s Outer Banks through the eyes of formerly enslaved Sergeant Richard Etheridge of the African Brigade. Dori

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

It’s 1937 when Mila Pavlichenko a young history student, mother, and sharpshooter joins the Russian army. Her rifle skills are soon apparent and she becomes a sniper. She rises through the ranks and is put in charge of a platoon. Her job is to train others and to kill Nazis. Mila is very successful at her job. Americans are very curious about this lady sniper when she comes to Washington D.C.  as a guest of the White House. Is she for real? Emma

A Night at the Sweet Gum Head by Marty Padgett

A deep look at 1970’s gay Atlanta through the lens of the Drag scene, political activists, and the bars that brought them all together. Deeply researched and well written, this non-fiction gives detailed insight into how a community of people who just wanted to live their lives had to become leaders and inspiration in order to exist. Christine

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Set in 1920’s Georgia, this vivid horror story asks the question: What if the Klu Klux Klan was led by actual demons? Stray dog eating, multi-eyed, otherworldly demons. Three Black female demon hunters, led by Maryse, who gets her guidance from ethereal Gullah Aunties, must destroy the Klu Kluxes to stop the spread of White Supremacy. A beautiful and gory blend of historic events with a horror twist. Christine

Goodnight, Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

A thriller that does not hide the inspiration it takes from King’s Misery. As a newlywed couple tries to put down roots in a small town, tragedy strikes when the husband comes up missing and his wife has to beg the authorities to care all while it becomes more and more apparent that he has been lying to her this whole time. As he fights for his life through the only way he knows how, his wife has to reconcile the man she loves with the man she has uncovered. Christine

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

A touchingly funny book about a small bookstore in Minnesota run by a group of Native American women during the pandemic, and the community of unusual, crazy, genuine people whose lives are touched by this place and by each other.  It’s one of those books where you truly fall in love with the characters and more than anything, want them to find peace and happiness in their lives.  Sara

New and Upcoming Graphic Novels

Spring is in the air, the sun is making it’s slow but triumphant return to Northeast Ohio, and there are great new graphic novels being published! We’ve got some stellar new fiction and non-fiction titles making their way to our graphic novels shelves. Below you’ll find five new graphic novels or soon to be published books that you should add to your to-be-read pile ASAP.

The Me You Love in the Dark by Scottie Young

Writer Skottie Young, author of the fantastic I Hate Fairyland series, and artist Jorge Corona, follow up their critically acclaimed series Middlewest with a haunting new tale. An artist named Ro retreats from the grind of the city to an old house in a small town, hoping to find solace and inspiration—only to realize that the muse she finds within may not be what she expected. Fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman will enjoy this beautiful, dark, and disturbing story of discovery, love, and terror.

Request the print book here or read it on hoopla here.

Fine by Rhea Ewing

For fans of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Meg-John Barker’s Queer, Fine is an essential graphic memoir about the intricacies of gender identity and expression. As Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in their quiet Midwest town, where they anxiously approached both friends and strangers for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, their project has exploded into a fantastical and informative portrait of a surprisingly vast community spread across the country.

Fine won’t be out until April, but you can get on hold for the book now!

Karmen by Guillem March

Spanish writer and artist Guillem March, best known for his work on Batman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, takes up his pen for a cutting-edge story about a highly unconventional angel named Karmen and the young woman she takes under her wing when heartbreak strikes too hard. Packed with intriguing twists and metaphysical musings, this gorgeously drawn series brings tenderness, heart, and humor to the delicate and difficult matters of life and death that we all face.

Karmen is set to be published early in May, so keep your eyes peeled for this title.

Crushing by Sophie Burrows

This quiet, wordless book is artist and author Burrows’ graphic-novel debut. A young woman, pale and rosy-cheeked with a straight black bob, lives alone in London—except for her cat. One night she runs down to the local kebab and pizza shop in her pajamas and encounters a young man, pale and freckled with floppy red hair, also wearing pajamas. Unfortunately, they don’t notice each other surreptitiously noticing each other and head their separate ways. The story conveys life as a series of small indignities, slight misses, and minor connections but ends on a hopeful note. The backmatter includes mental health organizations and crisis lines and a note from Burrows referencing inspiration from missed connections columns and pandemic isolation. 

Request a copy of Crushing here.

Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic by Didier Fassin and Frederic Debomy; Translated by Rachel Gomme

Adapted from the landmark essay Enforcing Order, this striking graphic novel offers an accessible inside look at policing and how it leads to discrimination and violence. What we know about the forces of law and order often comes from tragic episodes that make the headlines, or from sensationalized versions for film and television. Around the time of the 2005 French riots, anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin spent fifteen months observing up close the daily life of an anticrime squad in one of the largest precincts in the Paris region. This ethno-graphic is chilling in the parallels that can be seen in the struggles of Black people in the United States, exemplified by the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Request a copy of Policing the City here.

Happy reading!

True Crime Book Review: Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen

It was 1911 and wealthy spinster sisters (in their 30s!), Dora and Claire Williamson had arrived on holiday in the United States from Britain. The sisters were free-spirited heiresses with delicate constitutions. They fretted over their health and frequently sought cures for their ailments. In fact, they had been in correspondence with Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard and were excited to undergo her revolutionary fasting treatment. The sisters were disappointed that her sanatorium in the forest in Olalla, Washington was not ready for patients, but the doctor insisted they not delay their treatment. So the anxious and excited sisters rented an apartment in Seattle near Dr. Hazzard’s office and began following the prescribed regimen. The sisters were finally able to move to the new facility, but by then it was too late. Linda Hazzard had control over the Williamson’s finances as well as their minds and bodies. They were separated from each other, subjected to painful and unnecessary procedures, and they were starving. In a moment of weakness, her faith in the treatment waivered, and she reached out to their former nanny and beloved friend in Australia. Of course she dropped everything and immediately booked passage to Washington, unsure if she would arrive in time.

Deadly doctors are not a new phenomenon. Linda Hazzard was not the first medical professional to exploit her patients for her own personal gain and Dora and Claire Williamson were not her first victims. Dora and Claire were independent, intelligent women in their 30s, who if they lived today, would no doubt enjoy all of our juice bars and fad diets.

If you liked the podcast Dr. Death or The Opportunist, you will probably enjoy Starvation Heights. If you want to discuss the case with us, feel free to join us in person next week for Riverinos! We will be in the Community Room at 7pm.

An Olympic Read

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

by Daniel James Brown

Dreams do come true! The rowing team from the University of Washington in Seattle experienced the epitome. Their goal was to participate in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The young men under freshman coach Tom Bolles and later head coach Al Ulbrickson brought home the gold medal after years of hard work. In addition to their coaches, the team was gifted with the quiet presence of legendary boat builder George Pocock.

The University of Washington’s rowing team was made up of working-class young men unlike the team members of many competitors. They had to scrimp and save and do without to participate in various competitions. Just 10 days before the team was scheduled to leave for Berlin, Coach Ulbrickson learned from the U.S. Olympic Committee that his team would need to pay its way to the Olympics. They needed $5000 quickly or another team with ready funds would take their place. The city of Seattle stepped up to the challenge and the money was raised.

The Berlin Olympics was orchestrated by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and filmed by Leni Riefenstahl, Germany’s top filmmaker. The city was cleaned up and undesirables (according to the Nazis) were taken away to make a positive impression on the world.

This is a story for anyone interested in Olympic history or amateur/collegiate sports. The author was able to interview one of the team members, Joe Rantz, in preparation for writing the book. Personally, I learned a lot about rowing technique and strategy.

~Emma

True Crime Book Review: Diamond Doris by Doris Payne

Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief

In honor of Black History Month I’d like to share this gem of a memoir. Pun intended.

How did a black girl who grew up in a segregated, Depression-era, West Virginia coal town become the world’s most notorious jewel thief? The desire to help her mother out of an abusive relationship and revenge. Tired of being dismissed from jewelry counters when a white woman approached, the young and beautiful Doris, armed with charm, a quick wit, and a love of magic, started to help herself to small pieces. As her skills and confidence grew, her heists became more daring and lucrative. Her race actually helped her get away with her crimes for as long as she did. It turned out that white store owners were reluctant to admit that they were duped by a Black woman. The law sometimes caught up with her. Sometimes she escaped. Diamond Doris eventually served her time, wrote her memoir, and now, at 91, lives a quiet life in Atlanta.

This book is a fascinating look at race in America. Doris is a hilarious and audacious person, and it’s hard not to admire her, despite her 60 years of crime! Do yourself a favor and meet Doris. She is fascinating. And for our local readers, she has a Cleveland connect!

True Crime Book Review: Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson

Find a copy here

On May 19, 1975, Harry Franks, a white salesman, was robbed, assaulted, and murdered in broad daylight in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood. Three black youth were sentenced and spent a combined 106 years in prison for the crime. The murderer was never caught. The entirety of the prosecution’s case against Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Ricky Jackson was based on the eye-witness testimony of 12-year old Ed Vernon. Nearly 40 years later Vernon recanted his story, revealing that the police used fear and coercion to convince him to tell the story they wanted him to tell.
In Good Kids, Bad City, journalist Kyle Swenson weaves the personal stories of the young men who were sentenced to grow up in prison with the corruption and injustice that plagued the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland police department. Swenson’s narrative is a scathing indictment of systematic discrimination that continues to this day.

True Crime Book Review: Couple Found Slain by Mikita Brottman

Find a copy here

As an avid listener of true crime podcasts, I am drawn to stories that focus on the victims. In this case, everyone is a victim. In many ways each person-both the murder victims and their son, their killer-was the victim of untreated mental illness. The family history leading up to the deadly event is just part of the story. The rest of the story is Brian’s and what happens to the criminally insane. This is a well-researched, deep dive into life in a mental institution. Readers are left wondering about Brian and his fate. Lots to unpack and discuss.