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What we’re reading now… October 16, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book Review, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine

They May Not Mean To, But They Do: A Novel…The challenges, frustrations and fears associated with aging parents and how to care for them (even when they are not interested in being cared for) are issues that many have dealt with or will struggle with at some point in their lifetimes. We are introduced to 86 year old Joy Bergman, sole caregiver of Aaron, her husband struggling with significant health issues, soon to lead to his demise.  We observe Joy as a lonely widow, struggling to keep her independence while yearning for constant company of her beloved children Molly and Daniel.  Molly and Daniel have their own struggles, believing Joy can not manage on her own, and are pressing for change ( in her best interests, of course!).  The struggles for all characters are portrayed well, without feeling that the author has taken any sides.   We see all the characters at their best and worst.  Joy is is a kind yet fiesty woman, and at times, made me laugh out loud.  I found this to be a poignant novel which I would recommend. Mary

Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein

Mindfulness: Six Guided Practices for…I’ve been reading a smart and insightful book called Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein.  The book is about the Buddhist practice of mindfulness – essentially becoming aware of the ways our minds work, the good and the bad, and looking at these things in a non-judgmental way.  There are chapters about how to handle difficult feelings, as well as how to treat one’s own thoughts, which I found super interesting.  Unlike traditions like Freudian psychoanalysis, in which one really tries to get at the meaning of one’s thoughts, this book suggests that we treat our thoughts as insubstantial and fleeting, like clouds in the sky.  Andrew

 

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in…Spence, a librarian that balances snark and sincerity, chronicles her long history of book relationships.  She encapsulates her enduring loves and salacious affairs through love letters but also includes the occasional Dear John letter.  Filled with wit and passion this may be a fun and quick read but reader beware Dear Fahrenheit will be sure to lengthen anyone’s to-read list. Trent

 

 

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburyThere is something about October that leads my thoughts to Ray Bradbury. It may be his use of the month in titles or my childhood love of The Halloween Tree. Either way, to me October is Bradbury month. I decided to revisit the first work of Bradbury’s I have ever read, The Illustrated Man.  I always recommend this book as an introduction to Bradbury’s work or for someone who may not be drawn to short story collections. The thing that makes a short story collection strong is variety in narrative but united in their creative voice. The Illustrated Man has both in spades. From a pre-Star Trek hologram room to a look at the Mars-based afterlife for authors, the work contained in this collection never allows the reader to be complaisant in their expectations on what the next tale will bring.  A great collection of works for a fall evening when you want to be entertained and challenged. Greg

 

Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong

THold Still: A Novel by Lynn Steger Stronghis novel alternates viewpoints between Maya Taylor, a tenured professor living in New York City, and Ellie, her 20-year-old drug addicted daughter, who Maya sends to Florida to care for a friend’s child and get “a fresh start.” But just as things are looking up for Ellie, she makes a fatal mistake. Years later, as Maya and Ellie are still struggling to cope with their guilt and grief, Maya must own up to the parts of herself she sees in Ellie. Just as the chapters alternate in perspective, they also alternate between before and after the accident, building suspense. Selected by the Huffington Post as one of the “32 Books to Add to Your Shelf in 2016,” Hold Still balances an expertly woven plot with complicated, relatable characters. Lyndsey

 

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Since all of the men are off to war, the Vicar eliminates the church choir in The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. When Miss Prim, a music professor, arrives in Chilbury, she insists the choir can be resurrected as a ladies’ choir. The choir lifts the spirit of participants and congregations/audiences. The story is told through diary entries by 13-year-old Kitty, her older sister Venetia, widowed Mrs. Tilling and midwife Edwina Paltry. Lots of things happen in Chilbury including bombings, baby-swapping, love affairs and undercover operations. An entertaining story. Emma

 

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir…In The Best We Could Do debut author Thi Bui explores what it means to be both a parent and a child. With the birth of her first child she realizes that there is more to her parents than she fully comprehends. And so, she sets out to understand their lives in Vietnam and their escape after the fall of South Vietnam. As she explores her family’s past she is able to better understand her own childhood and recognize and appreciate her parents’ sacrifices and unspoken gestures of love. In addition to the poetic storytelling, this graphic memoir is also beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched. Megan

 

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom PerrottaMrs. Fletcher is a humorous depiction of a divorcee who has found herself attempting to overcome empty nest syndrome. Each of the characters is searching for a way to fill a void, and though few of them are terribly likeable, you can’t bring yourself to look away. Beth

 

 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen…Helena has a loving husband and two beautiful daughters.  She has a few quirky habits such as taking two week camping trips alone, bear hunting and maintaining an impressive collection of guns and knives.  She also has a secret-she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena never knew about the abduction and loved her father, but eventually learned the truth and saw how brutal he could be when he tortured a man who appeared at their cabin.  Twenty years later, her father has escaped from prison, killed two guards and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows that because of her rigorous wilderness training as a child, only she stands a chance at finding him before he finds her. Sara

 

Less: a Novel by Andrew Sean Greer

Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean GreerArthur Less is anxious: he’s about to turn 50, his boyfriend has just left him to marry another, and his book deal has gone sour. How to deal? Less cobbles together numerous invitations and creates an around-the-world trip that ferries him to a literary conference, an author competition, a retreat, and a teaching assignment. Along the way, Arthur considers his past, his great romance with a famous poet, his mid-list literary career, and (vainly) the ravages of middle age, yet his optimism, kind heartedness and quirkiness win the day. Written with playful and witty prose, Less is a charming journey.  Dori

 

 

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New in the Reading Room! September 8, 2017

Posted by SaraC in Beach Reads, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized.
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Take a look at these new book reviews in our Reading Room.  Click on the link to take you there.

 

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Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

 

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Agatha Christie: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

 

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 On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

 

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Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

 

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The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld

 

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The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes

 

Our Eclipse Picks August 16, 2017

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solar eclipse blog

Are you ready for the August 21st solar eclipse? Why not get ready by reading a story that features a solar eclipse as an important plot point? Or, you could read a nonfiction title about the history of eclipses. Whether you’re looking to learn or be entertained, we’ve got some recommendations for you!

Every Soul a Star (2008) by Wendy Mass

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Every Soul a Star is an award-winning novel for children and young adults about three teenagers whose totally different lives intersect during a rare total solar eclipse.  The book hops between the first person narration of overweight and unconfident Jack, beautiful and popular Bree, and homeschooled, science-minded Ally.

After failing science class, Jack’s teacher offers him the chance to be his assistant on an eclipse-viewing trip to Moon Shadow campground. At Moon Shadow, he meets the daughter of the campground caretakers, Ally, who loves her nature-saturated life in the Middle of Nowhere, USA. When model-esque, queen bee Bree arrives at camp with her astrophysicist parents, she and Ally learn that they’re going to be switching lives after the eclipse: Bree’s parents will stay at the campground to do research while Ally’s parents take their children to “civilization” to expose them to new cultural experiences. The girls are horrified and begin scheming up ways to stop the switch from happening.

After Jack’s teacher’s wife falls ill and leaves the campground, the three characters band together to continue his work. As their unexpected friendship grows, so does their confidence, sense of wonder, and contentment with their roles in the world.

American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World (2017) by David Baron 

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Interestingly, this book also follows three characters—though, this time, they’re American historical figures who grabbed their telescopes, headed West, and observed the 1878 total eclipse.

James Craig Watson was a “planet hunter” who wanted to prove the popular belief of his day: that there was another planet between the sun and Mercury that the science community dubbed “Vulcan”. Maria Mitchell was a leader of a woman’s college and astronomer who paved the way for many American women to study science. And Thomas Edison was an up-and-coming inventor who wanted to prove that his invention worked. Watson, Mitchell, and Edison’s work, including their observations of the eclipse, put the United States on the radar of the global science community.

In its starred review, Booklist said David Baron brilliantly presents “three larger-than-life figures intent on making their mark” while “transport[ing] us to a remarkable moment that brought a nation together to witness the wonders of the heavens.”

The Strain (2009) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan 

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In this horror novel, Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro and crime novelist Chuck Hogan pair up to imagine what might happen during a solar eclipse–in a universe where vampires exist.

When the story opens, a plane arrives in New York City, touches down, and goes dark. Authorities force open the airplane door and discover all the passengers and crew but four are dead. One of the survivors, an attorney, threatens legal action, and the four survivors are released. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather and his former colleague and lover, Dr. Nora Martinez, are called in to examine the bodies. They find no disease. They do find, however, that a large coffin filled with soil ended up in the plane’s cargo hold.

Meanwhile, a total eclipse occurs over NYC, and a creature stowed on the plane escapes into the city. Over the next 24 hours, the four survivors gradually transform into vampires while many of the seemingly dead passengers disappear from the morgue and return to their families, spreading the vampire virus all over the city. Joined by a motley crew of fighters, Eph and Nora must find a way to stop the infection and save the city—including Eph’s wife and son—before it’s too late.

The Strain is the first of a trilogy of books and has been running as a television series on FX since 2014.

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Mask of the Sun: The Science, History, and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses (2017) by John Dvorak

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One part scientific explanation, one part historic snapshot, this book is a fascinating introduction to all things solar eclipse. After giving an overview of how eclipses work (including a four-page illustrated “eclipse primer” that is so so helpful), Dvorak presents an interesting collection of stories and anecdotes that chronicles humanity’s obsession with eclipses. Civilizations in Asia, Europe, Central America, and the Middle East interpreted eclipses as bad omens and devoted a surprising amount of effort to predicting when they would occur. They had sets of rules for what you should and shouldn’t do during an eclipse to avoid becoming unlucky.

The Library Journal gave Mask of the Sun a starred review, noting that the author “does an excellent job of conveying the wonder of eclipses, describing both their historical-cultural value and the inspirational effect they have on people.”

What we’re reading now.. August 7, 2017

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Here’s a glimpse of  what some of us at the reference desk are reading now!

Beth-  Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkin’s most recent murder mystery takes us to a small town in the UK where Nel Abbott spent the majority of her life unfolding the mystery of the ‘drowning pool’. This is a slow moving, eerie tale about love, deceit, and the dark secrets of small town life.

Dori- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This novel blends literary fiction and fairytale to tell the story of two young lovers living in an unnamed country immersed in a Civil War. As they become refugees, fleeing through ‘doors’ into Greece, then Britain and then Marin County, California, we are immersed in their journey to reimagine their lives. Frightening, tender, and imaginative, it’s a spell-binding novel. It also was just long-listed for the Booker Prize!

Emma- In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

Longtime friends Ben Cresswell, Jeremy Prescott, and Lady Pamela Sutton are doing their part for England during World War II. Ben was injured in an airplane crash so he is working for British intelligence. Jeremy is a flying ace who spent time in a prisoner of war camp. Pamela works at Bletchley Park. A solider with a failed parachute falls to his death on the Lord Westerham’s estate. Why was this soldier even in the area? The mystery begins with a standalone novel full of secrets and surprises.
Sara- The Dry by Jane Harper

Amid the worst drought in Australia in a century, Federal agent Aaron Falk goes to his hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend Luke who is assumed to have killed his wife, son and then himself.  Emotions are high as crops die and tempers flare. Certain facts don’t add up and Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, and long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets. A great debut novel with an unexpected ending.

 Andrew- The Dream Colony: a Life in Art by Walter Hopps

This book is a kind of memoir or autobiography, and is made up of interviews with Walter Hopps, a charistmatic and brilliant art curator who was one of the first people to show Pop Art in a museum setting. He also curated famous shows of the artists Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp. Hopps has an amazing memory for the shows he produced and the artists he worked with, and he’s also a wonderful and intense storyteller. If you have an interest in 20th century American art, this is a great read.

New Additions to the Reading Room August 4, 2017

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George R. R. Martin Recommends… July 6, 2017

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Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on July 16, 2017, and we’re pumped.

So you’ve read the all books, binge-watched seasons 1 – 6, and formed attachments to (some of) the characters. What next? Why not try reading a recent title recommended by GoT author George R. R. Martin himself?

Follow the links to get these recommendations in print, audio, eBook, and eAudiobook from RRPL.

Happy reading!

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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print | audioeBook | eAudio

What Martin said: “The main narrator, an alcoholic who is slowly falling apart, is especially well drawn. It’s a strong story, with a great sense of time and place, and one that had me from start to finish.”

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

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What Martin said: “Larson is a journalist who writes non-fiction books that read like novels, real page-turners. This one is no exception. I had known a lot about the Titanic but little about the Lusitania. This filled in those gaps. Larson’s masterpiece remains THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, but this one is pretty darned good too. Thoroughly engrossing.”

Armada by Ernest Cline

Title details for Armada by Ernest Cline - Available

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What Martin said: “I read an ARC of the long-awaited new novel from Ernie Cline of READY PLAYER ONE fame. ARMADA, like READY PLAYER ONE, is a paean to the video games of a bygone era, and is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games. (Those who did not may find it incomprehensible, admittedly). Hugely entertaining… though it does make me wonder if we’ll ever see Ernie write something that isn’t about video games. He’s a talented guy, and I am sure that anything he writes would be terrific.”

Lyndsey

Here’s what we’re reading now… June 30, 2017

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I Found You: A Novel by Lisa Jewell

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

Sara- Single mom, Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the cold, rainy beach outside her house.  He has no name, no jacket and no memory;  she lets him in.  Who is he, and is anyone looking for him?  An interesting read with likable characters that kept me guessing.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Emma- This is the story of Paul Kalanithi, who at 36 years old, had nearly completed his residency in neurosurgery when he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. As physician and patient he faced his death head on with the loving support of his wife and family. An inspirational moving memoir.

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Beth-  We are introduced to Isabel Spellman, private investigator. Following in her parent’s footsteps, Izzy can’t help but run background checks on every potential suitor she meets, usually causing some trust issues early in her relationships.  This funny, engaging story unfolds the wacky world of the Spellman family, leaving the reader craving more.

 

 

The Hours Count: A Novel June 24, 2017

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Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in June 1953 as “atom spies”. They were the only Americans executed for espionage during the Cold War. In the novel fictional characters Ed and Millie Stein were neighbors of the Rosenberg’s. Ethel, Julius, and Ed were members of the Communist party. This compelling novel combines facts about the Rosenberg’s with fictional neighbors and friends.

~Emma

Happy Father’s Day! June 17, 2017

Posted by Emma in Uncategorized.
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The idea of Father’s Day was publicly supported by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924, but was not presidentially proclaimed until 1966. It was assured of annual recognition by

PL 92-278 in April 1972.

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(It’s interesting to note that in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Father’s Day became a celebration 58 years later.)

 

~Emma

June is Audiobook Appreciation Month June 14, 2017

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You are welcome to enjoy the wide variety of audio options available through Rocky River Public Library including books on cd and digital content available through Overdrive and Hoopla.

Check us out at http://www.rrpl.org.

 

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~Emma