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

Discover Gaming @RRPL

I’ve always liked playing video games but in the past, could walk away from the action pretty easily. In this last year, though, I’ve become more of a gamer than I ever have been, and now I find that my husband and I are constantly vying for the controller, especially when it comes to the newest game in our household, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Released at the end of 2020, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is an action role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the twelfth major installment and the twenty-second release in the Assassin’s Creed series, but players don’t have to have be familiar with any of the franchise’s previous story lines to enjoy it. Set in 9th-century Europe, this game allows its players to take control of a Viking warrior who is embarking out from the frozen lands of Norway to (violently) raid the shores of England and to start a new settlement there. Not only is this game a visual treat, it has finely crafted story content. I love the mysteries I am encouraged to solve as the viking Eivor, the high-seas adventures I get to take on my longboat, and the open-world exploration that the game encourages.

That said, it can be hard to make a commitment, even when you know you love a franchise and have read all the good reviews. Why not ‘try before you buy’ when it comes to your next video game? Did you know that Rocky River Public Library has an impressive selection that you can borrow? It’s true. Search our catalog and discover your own new obsession. -Carol

Reconnect@RRPL

By Amy Poeppel

Best friends cellist Bridget and pianist Will founded the successful Forsythe Trio while attending Julliard 30+ years ago. They are searching for a new violinist again to complete the trio beginning in the fall. For the summer Bridget moves back to her rundown Connecticut country home. She is expecting her author boyfriend to join her for a relaxing summer, but her 20-something twins move home instead. In addition Bridget’s 90-year-old world renowned conductor father announces he is getting married. Due to a fire at her father’s home, Bridget’s dilapidated barn becomes the venue for the wedding, and major repairs commence.

This a heartwarming story filled with secrets revealed, music, friendship, romance, family and chaos. Some issues are resolved, but some aren’t. Here’s hoping for a sequel!

~Emma

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer Review

Departing from her usual science fiction and fantasy offerings, Marissa Meyer has released her first YA contemporary romance with a hint of magical realism and it is delightful.

Prudence Barnett is the stereotypical overachiever. She’s judgmental and difficult to like at times, especially when she’s lashing out at her horrible lab partner, Quint Erickson, the well-liked slacker who is dragging her and her final grade down. After an accidental head injury, Pru discovers she has the ability to bestow instant karma on those around her. The only problem is that Quint seems immune to her new power, much to her dismay. She and Quint have been given a second chance to improve their grade, but he continues to frustrate her.

Things aren’t all fluff, teen angst, and typical romance tropes. The story has real meat to it as both teens deal with family issues. Pru is also forced to confront her own assumptions about her friends and classmates and make some tough decisions regarding how to use her unusual gift. Throw in some environmentalism, an aquatic animal rescue, and some karaoke, and you have fun, refreshing, and thoughtful cautionary tale. The queen of retellings has struck gold with this one.

As the weather grows colder and the days get shorter, treat yourself to this sunny beach read. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.

~Megan

Reconnect@RRPL

Truths I Never Told You

by Kelly Rimmer

The story flips back and forth between the 1950’s and the 1990’s. Beth and her 3 siblings had been told that their mother, Grace, died in a car accident when they were very young. Their father, Patrick, was left to raise four young children. Decades later after their father died, Beth is cleaning out his padlocked attic when she comes across notes written by their mother that indicate something else happened.

Both Beth and her mother suffered from postpartum depression. The way the condition was treated in the 1950’s for Grace is very different than the help Beth receives. Secrets must have haunted Patrick for decades and sadly even at the end of his life he was unwilling and eventually unable to share the truth. His children were left to sort out exactly what really happened to their mother.

This is not a happy-ever-after book, but it’s a good story. It compares the roles of women and their healthcare in the mid and late 20th century. 

~Emma

Reconnect@RRPL

 


You do not have to be a dog lover to enjoy the Chet and Bernie mystery series. According to 
Chet, he flunked out of K-9 police school on the last day of training thanks to some cat. The stories are told from Chet’s perspective. He is indispensable at catching and taking down “perps”.
Access to water in the desert is a main concern for hydrologist Wendell Nero. Wendell invites Bernie, owner of the Little Detective Agency, and Chet to his trailer at Dollhouse Canyon the next day. Sadly they find Wendell dead with his wallet and computer missing. The local police are certain they have the murderer in custody, but Bernie and Chet don’t think so and continue with the investigation.

#10 in Chet and Bernie mystery series is a delight. Enjoy!

~Emma

Reconnect@RRPL

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

It’s 1918. The story takes places over three days in a maternity/fever room in Dublin at the height of the Spanish Flu Pandemic. Expectant mothers who have contracted the flu are placed in this supply closet, a makeshift ward with room for just 3. Midwife Julia Powers is left in charge. Fortunately Julia has the assistance of volunteer Bridie Sweeney, who has no formal training but is a quick learner willing to help. Julia and Bridie do their best helping the women who are facing the challenge of childbirth while suffering with the deadly flu.

A controversial historical figure, Dr. Kathleen Lynn makes appearances in the ward. She was an Irish Sinn Fein politician, activist and medical doctor. Dr. Lynn joined the Irish Citizen Army and was the chief medical officer during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The book is graphic and is not a happy ever after story. Written before the COVID-19 pandemic, many parallels exist between 1918 and now.

~Emma

 

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager Review

Maggie Holt was five when her parents bought the sprawling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. The young family spent just three weeks in the house before they fled in fear, abandoning their belongs, never to return. The nonfiction account of the horrors and hauntings of Baneberry Hall, written by her father, was an international bestseller. While Maggie has no memory of the events that are outlined in the book, the story itself has haunted her for 25 years. She has never believed that the book was true, but she has never managed get her divorced parents to reveal to her what really happened in that house. When her father passes away she is shocked to learn that she has inherited Baneberry Hall. Why did her father still own the house? Maggie returns to a house she doesn’t remember with the intention of restoring it and selling, putting the nightmare forever in her past. Her arrival in town is not a welcome one. People that she knows a characters in the book are real people and they have stories of their own to tell. Maggie is interested in learning the truth, but as events outlined in the book begin to occur again in the house, Maggie is forced to consider that her father’s account may be more fact than fiction after all.

I went in to this book blind. I have read and enjoyed other books by Riley Sager, so I assumed I would also enjoy this one, despite my terror of haunted houses. Thanks, dad, for letting 5 year old me watch Amityville Horror. Totally scarred for life. But I digress…Anyway, we have a haunted house with a nonbeliever living in it. I want to be a nonbeliever, so I was onboard with Maggie’s goal to disprove the validity of her father’s book. Also, side note, I love a book within a book. But dang it, if that house isn’t creepy and probably haunted and it turns out a lot of the things in the book ARE true. Will Maggie finally learn why they fled in the middle of the night? You bet she does. Did I see the answer coming? NOT. AT. ALL. This is a perfect spooky season (aka, October) read that left me questioning everything to the very surprising end.

If you are into spooky, haunted houses, you should join us for Novel Scares, a horror book club. This month we are talking about another cursed how, The Good House by Tananarive Due. Register now to receive the Zoom link.

Happy Spooky Reading!

~Megan

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Malloy

Dr. Sam Statler, a newlywed psychologist, is missing. He and his wife, Annie, recently moved from NYC to his small upstate New York hometown. The move serves two purposes-a fresh start for the couple and to be close to Sam’s ailing mother. Sam’s private practice is located in a charming old building with the perfect landlord. He spends his days listening to the problems of his mostly female clientele and his free time celebrating the small milestones in his marriage. This quiet life suits Sam, which is why Annie can’t believe he would have willingly disappeared. However, the search for her husband reveals that Sam may not be everything she believed him to be.

To be honest, it’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible about it. Know that it is a strange and twisty story; a first rate psychological thriller. Sam has a reputation in his hometown. His sessions are being listened in on. And who is that French woman? Is Sam really missing or did he disappear? Readers will have questions and the author is stingy with the answers until the stunning truth is revealed. I listened to the audiobook version and at first I struggled with the narrator, but by the end I could not believe how perfect the narration was.

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Malloy comes out October 13th. Add it to your TBR list and place a hold today

~Megan

True Crime Addict by James Renner Review


True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray by James Renner

Investigative journalist James Renner was just eleven in 1989 when ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic disappeared from Bay Village, Ohio. This disappearance marked the beginning of his interest and obsession with true crime. For many suburban Northeast Ohio children and teens this case was their first introduction to crime and the impact on their lives was immediate. How could something like this happen in broad daylight in a small, white, suburb? This desire for answers led Renner to a career in journalism.
Fast forward to 2011. James begins investigating the mysterious 2004 disappearance of Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student who vanished following a car wreck in rural New Hampshire. Maura was an athlete, a former West Point cadet, and a nursing student at UMass. On February 9 she emailed professors letting them know she would be absent for a week due to a death in the family. Later that night she was involved in a single car accident hundreds of miles away. By the time help arrived Maura was gone.
What happened to Maura Murray? The question remains unanswered today.
This case fascinated Renner and dragged him down a rabbit hole of research that took a toll on him personally. True Crime Addict is part investigative journalism, part confessions of a true crime addict.

If this case interests you, join me and Sherry next Wednesday, September 9 for a Zoom discussion.
Register here to and you will be emailed the link: http://rrpl.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=26155&backTo=Calendar&startDate=2020/09/02

~Megan