Here we go, headed into the making-est time of the year! And even though the 2020 Holiday Season may not offer the exact same opportunities for celebration as previous years, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick and choose some favorite parts! Maybe you just want to experiment with new foods or you want to get back into crafting, this feels like a good time to change things up.
If you are looking for a thrilling series to watch after the kids go to bed, dive into The Americans and be prepared for six seasons of excitement. This spy thriller series from the FX network is set during the Cold War, and follows Elizabeth (played by Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (played by Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB intelligence officers posing as an American married couple living in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., with their two unsuspecting children.
Season One, which premiered in 2013 begins in the aftermath of the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981, and the series’ final season takes place in December 1987, shortly before the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Not only does the action and suspense in this Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning show refuse to disappoint, the nostalgic treats it delivers with its pitch-perfect 80s soundtrack, outrageous costume design of wigs and clothes and gas-guzzling cars will make you glad the ‘80s are over, even as you can’t help but love this walk down memory lane.
Make no mistake: This show is dark in theme and execution. The protagonists are constantly forced into no-win scenarios, in which they must make choices about how to follow their orders and complete their missions, how to raise their children, and how not to get caught, all while trying to balance their loyalties and maintain their relationship to one another. History says they are the “bad guys” on the losing side but I think you’ll find yourself rooting for them anyway.
It’s been a good book week in my house. I just devoured The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, the newest novel by V. E. Schwab. This story is about a young French woman in the 18th-Century, who makes a deal with the Devil in order not to marry. Consequently, she can live forever but cannot be remembered by anyone whose life she touches. It’s a little spooky, a lot romantic and has just the right amount of slow-building tension, making it perfect for these chilly, rainy October days.
What else is good for chilly, rainy days? Baking, of course. I like simple recipes like this Beer Bread from Food.com. Even better that it doesn’t require too many ingredients or too much time spent in the kitchen. This bread will be going into my oven in a couple of hours and will make a delicious and hearty snack along with a hot cup of tea later this evening while I tuck into the new Tana French novel, The Searcher. I can’t wait!
I feel like I have been staring at this blank screen forever, trying to decide what the write about this week. My creative brain feels broken right now. So I sit and stare and struggle to think think think, all the while half listening to an audiobook. So far in this story a woman has fainted multiple times after receiving bad news and two characters have vomited. And there it is. My inspiration. Do people really throw up this frequently as a reaction to terrible news? I have had my fair share of terrible news and it has never lead me to seek the nearest bathroom and arrive there in the nick of time. Why does this happen so much in books?!?! Whyyyyy? Drives me crazy.
Other bookish pet peeves:
Weird character names
Mid-series cover changes
But let’s not end on a negative note. Here are a few of my bookish loves:
Books within books
Unapologetically smart and strong heroines
Enjoy this sassy baby goat while you think about your own bookish pet peeves.
2020 has been something else! To escape, lately I’ve been reading one historical fiction novel after another. Not only does taking a peek at the trials and tribulations across centuries help me feel like we really don’t have it that bad, but it is also really entertaining.
The atmospheric The Lost Orphan by Stacy Halls is set in 1754 in London. Bess is a street hawker of shrimp who is forced, due to poverty, to give up her illegitimate day-old daughter to the nearby foundling hospital, with the intention to reclaim her one day. Six years pass before Bess has enough money to do just that, but instead learns that the girl has already been taken, years previously, by someone claiming to be Bess. As she seeks to find out what happened to her little girl, Bess’s story is contrasted with that of a wealthy woman who, under the guise of protecting her own young daughter from the dangers of London, does not allow her to leave the confines of their home. This captivating novel about family, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood is a good reminder that the struggle between the haves and have-nots is indeed a very old story.
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline is another page-turning historical about the plight of less fortunate women. It is set in the early 19th-century in Van Diemen’s land, a penal colony in Australia, where thousands of convicts were shipped from overcrowded English prisons and forced to provide free labor to the settlers there. This novel follows the journey of two such young English women, Evangeline and Hazel, both of whom were wrongly accused and imprisoned. Their stories intertwine with that of an Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, who at the age of eight is adopted as a “curiosity” by white colonists who attempt to “civilize” her. Impeccably researched, this novel educates and enthralls. I read it in one sitting.
Perhaps you also need an escape. Find it in these and other books when you Reconnect@RRPL.
I’m sure you’ve seen this question recently, maybe many times recently, and I had been brushing it off. I vote. I was feeling all confident about knowing what I need to do, with my absentee ballot requested waaaay back in Summer. (Perhaps a little smug about my readiness to make sure my voice is heard?) And today I got a little reality check. I’m confident in my in-person voting, but there’s more to learn about absentee ballots….
Did you know postage due on your ballot might be greater than the value of one USPS forever stamp ? Due to size and weight, Cuyahoga County’s ballot may cost .65 and first class postage is .55. How do you know the cost for sure? You can stop in your local United States Post Office to get it weighed and postmarked, or call your county’s Board of Elections to confirm the cost. The Secretary of State’s site also includes information that you should not use a postage meter or online service to “affix postage” but can “use a postage label purchased at a USPS customer service window or vending machine” and “the date on the label is the postmark.” You should read the whole list for a better understanding, but key ideas have been highlighted in case someone is compelled to skim… (again, please read it all as it’s pretty short and very important!)
You can also drop your absentee ballot off at your local board of elections once early voting starts on Tuesday, October 6. (If you live in Cuyahoga County, October 6th is also the day when absentee ballots will be mailed out.)
If you’re a regular voter by mail and you have more tips for us newbies, please share your knowledge!
Alright so TL:DR: please be sure you’re prepared to vote on November 3, 2020!
For me, the answer to “why democracy?” is an easy one. America’s democratic system of government grants me many freedoms that other countries’ citizens are not automatically given.
Two of my favorites are my freedom of speech and the right to vote for my choice in our elections. And while I admit that it’s hard for me sometimes when I see neighbors’ yard signs in support of a candidate running against the one I support, I’m sure glad I’m able to put up my own yard sign. When I feel myself getting aggravated by such a display, it’s important for me to take a step back and realize that this disagreement is actually our country’s Constitution at work. I take a deep breath and know that it’s not just okay that my neighbor might not agree with me, it is their right, too!
During these five days for democracy, think about how opposing yard signs make you feel. And then take your own deep breath and be grateful that you too live in a country where you can express such a thing.
So, help celebrate these 5 Days for Democracy and sign up here to receive emails this week that will help you better understand, celebrate and think of ways to improve what democracy does for you. Oh, and don’t even think about stealing any yard signs!
Tomorrow is the first official day of the Five Days for Democracy event and you can sign up now, or any time this week, to receive Monday’s email! This might be the easiest program *ever* to join but will hopefully get you thinking and taking action, which can be hard work. It’s good for us flex those decision making muscles, it’s even better to feel like you made a positive difference for yourself and others. During these five days of emails, full of things to read or watch, small actions we can take every day or once in a while, and encourage discussion, all adding a little zing to your inbox! And who doesn’t need a little zing?!
Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.
There are so many fans of A Man Called Ove, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and books along those lines, that there is indeed a hashtag for books starring lovable curmudgeons. I am not sure why this is a trend but let’s face it, Charles Dickens gave us Ebenezer Scrooge and we’ve wanted more ever since. So stop your scowling, because I may have found your next new favorite book!
In The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons, Eudora is an 85-year-old with no friends or family in her life. Although in decent physical shape (she swims laps at the local pool almost daily), Eudora considers herself done living. Having cared for her mother at her own end, Eudora never wants to be in a position where she is forced to rely on someone else when she can no longer care for herself. She’s decided she will end things on her own terms and has written to a clinic in Switzerland that promises to allow her to do just that. Eudora is eagerly awaiting to be accepted into this program when she meets and is befriended by her new neighbors’ daughter, Rose, an adorable, wise-beyond-her-years 10-year-old with a built-in wild fashion sense and an inability to take “no” for an answer.
Rose inserts herself into Eudora’s world, bringing along another older neighbor and widower named Stanley. Their kindness and exuberance for life forces Eudora outside of her comfort zone, and she finds herself not only trying new things, but also reflecting on her past and the possibilities of what might lie ahead.
Although you’ll need a handkerchief nearby (not a Kleenex—Eudora is a classy lady), this novel is ultimately a feel-good story that will lift your spirits and make you laugh out loud.
One of the things I most appreciate about being a citizen of the United States of America? I can make a difference each time I vote! And in-between elections, I can contact elected representatives, from local to Federal, when an issue is important to me!
From Monday, September 28 to Friday, October 2, Rocky River Public Library, our fellow public library systems in Cuyahoga County, and City Club of Cleveland are asking you to participate in Five Days for Democracy—a week dedicated to spending just a little bit of time each day thinking about what democracy means to you, why it’s important, and why it’s worth fighting for.
When you sign up, you’ll receive an email each day packed with opportunities to explore different facets of our democracy, in all its aspirations and failings. From listening to a podcast to watching a video, reading an article or responding to a call to action, each day you’ll pick one challenge to complete. And maybe you’d like to start reading a little something right now, like a little prep work for the week? Check out on of the many titles suggested in the 5 Days for Democracy collection!
Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.