Cozy up with a new book

It’s November 2016 when a staff member is found dead near the swimming pool at Buckingham Palace. The victim is an unpopular member of the housekeeping staff. Senior staff tries to shield the Queen from the awful news, but she inserts herself into the investigation along with her assistant private secretary, Rozie Oshodi. In addition to the murder, the Queen realizes that one of her favorite paintings, Britannia, is missing and has been for some time. Apparently there have been a string of missing items (dubbed the Breakages Business) from the palace since the 1980’s. In addition to all of the above, there has been a poison pen campaign. Some palace employees have been threatened causing some to leave and three have turned up dead.

The Queen and Rozie make good partners in solving crimes and at giving helpful hints. They manage to convince the Palace staff chiefs, managers and police into thinking they solved the crimes on the Queen’s behalf.

This is the second entry in the “Her Majesty the Queen Investigates” series following The Windsor Knot (2020). Murder Most Royal is scheduled to be published in November 2022. I look forward to the next one. These are fun stories.

~Emma

Are You Bored Yet?

We’re entering those lazy days of summer, where it becomes all too easy to binge every episode of Love Island, lounging on the couch in air conditioning. But July is National Anti-Boredom Month and each week I’ll showcase some books that will (hopefully) get you out of the boredom cycle! 

A great way to keep boredom at bay is to be a tourist in your own city. It’s easy to take for granted what you can experience everyday but there’s a whole world just a walk, bike ride, car trip, or bus journey away! If you’re looking to escape into the great outdoors, you’ve come to the right city. Best Hikes Cleveland will get you out and about, exploring all the wonderful parks and hikes within an hour drive. Not so interested in nature? Check out all the spooky happenings in Haunted Ohio, if you dare. Rather explore Cleveland by food? There are plenty of restaurants to taste test in Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland. And if you’re up for the ultimate Cleveland challenge, why not start working on 100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die?  

If you’re farther afield from Cleveland, check out another book in the 100 Things to Do in… series for your city or a city nearby. If you’re eager to explore, Lonely Planet has tons of road trip guides, whether you’re in the United States or France or Australia, even!  

But if you just feel like relaxing as we all deserve to do, honestly, that’s a pretty good way to spend the summer too! 

-Linnea

A new historical fiction title

A dual narrative featuring Tess Abbott, an American Army nurse and Flor
Dalisay, a Filipina university student, this is a story of the “Angels of
Bataan”. In 1941, there were 77 U.S. Navy and Army nurses stationed in the
Philippines. Many of these women wanted more from life than their rural farm
upbringing offered, so they went to nursing school and then joined the
military.

The Japanese bombed Manilla on June 8, 1941, just 10 hours after attacking
Pearl Harbor. Life changed drastically in Manilla. The nurses suddenly found
themselves on the front line dealing with war injuries, in addition to malaria
and other illnesses.

When Japan invaded the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur chose
Bataan and Corregidor Island as his major defense positions and the nursing
staff followed. Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, and Corregidor Island became the
last outpost of organized resistance in the islands. Fearing that MacArthur
might be taken prisoner by the Japanese, on March 11, 1942, he was ordered to
leave the island of Corregidor for Australia.

Allied forces eventually surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942. The
nurses, now prisoners of war, were sent from Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor to
Manila’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp.

Many Fillipinos, including Flor and the network she helped maintain, aided
those held in prison camps. They brought food, money, and information.

This is a story of danger, deprivation, and terror. Shockingly all seventy-seven
nurses survived their multi-year ordeal.

~Emma

Pride Month: History & Culture

In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. This led to six days of protests and violence, as members of the LGBTQ+ community fought for their lives and their rights. It served as one of the catalysts for the gay rights movement in the United States and in other countries. Until 1966, LGBTQ+ folks couldn’t even drink in bars, as gatherings of LGBTQ+ patrons were deemed disorderly. Even still, police conducted frequent raids and continued to harass community members after it became legal. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina and transgender woman, are the names most associated with the Uprising. Both became prominent activists in the fight towards LGBTQ+ equality. The Stonewall Riots are an important turning point in United States history, and it’s necessary to remember how the LGBTQ+ community was treated and while some strides have been made, how they continue to be treated.  

For our final Pride Month post (this year!), I’ve pulled a few books related to the history of the LGBTQ+ community. From music to history to literature to film to sports, the LGBTQ+ community has been present every step of the way. Let us continue to celebrate them and continue the fight alongside them for their rights throughout the year, not just in June.  

Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era  

“A pictorial time capsule from the pivotal days of a budding gay rights movement. Baumann, coordinator of the New York Public Library’s LGBT Initiative, presents a dramatic collection of images, drawn from the career archives of photo-documentarians Lahusen and Davies, charting the rise of grassroots gay activism from the mid-1960s to the mid-’70s. It was a time when LGBT activists took to the streets of New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New Jersey to creatively and defiantly demonstrate against intolerance and inequality and whose “vision and courage changed our world.” Lahusen was active in early lesbian solidarity organizations while Davies was best known for chronicling the feminist, peace, and social justice activism movements of the era. Their photographs, accompanied by Baumann’s commentary and descriptions, represent separate perspectives within a unified theme of LGBT equality throughout each of the book’s four sections. “Visibility” displays images of a wide variety of gays and lesbians in the primes of their careers and endeavors; “Love” celebrates the power of community and affection in the face of societal hate; “Pride” memorializes the sacred queer spaces where activism, collaboration, and solidarity flourished; and “Protest” demarcates the demonstrations and rebellion against rampant gay oppression. Iconic activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Barbara Gittings, and Ernestine Eckstein share space with gay writers, artists, performers, and media founders. Haunting and arresting, the photos illustrate a historic American era when same-sex affection was forbidden in public and considered both a mental illness and an atrocity. A literary celebration commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the epic Stonewall riots, the book is elegiac yet also provides a reflective and hopeful reminder for future generations that change, and promise can arise from struggle and sacrifice. Though the book is a reflection of a different age and struggle, it is also timely given that LGBT freedoms remain ever endangered within the current political climate. A moving queer tapestry honoring a beleaguered movement’s legacy through art, veneration, and gravitas.”  

-Kirkus Reviews January 2019 

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum 

“Pennies, glass bottles, a parking meter, and a kick line: how a police raid became a community’s symbol of freedom. June 28, 1969: the night the gay bar Stonewall was raided by the police for the second time in a week to stop a blackmail operation. What began as a supposedly routine police raid ended with over 2,000 angry, fed-up protesters fighting against the police in New York’s West Village. Bausum eloquently and thoughtfully recounts it all, from the violent arrest of a young lesbian by the police to an angry, mocking, Broadway-style kick line of young men protesting against New York’s Tactical Control Force. Bausum not only recounts the action of the evening in clear, blow-by-blow journalistic prose, she also is careful to point out assumptions and misunderstandings that might also have occurred during the hot summer night. Her narrative feels fueled by rage and empowerment and the urge to tell the truth. She doesn’t bat an eye when recounting the ways that the LGBT fought to find freedom, love, and the physical manifestations of those feelings, whether at the Stonewall Inn or inside the back of a meat truck parked along the Hudson River. Readers coming of age at a time when state after state is beginning to celebrate gay marriage will be astonished to return to a time when it was a crime for a man to wear a dress. Enlightening, inspiring, and moving.”  

– Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2015 

Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports by Cyd Zeigler 

“Outsports.com founder Zeigler gives an account of the great strides LGBTQ athletes have made in the sports world over the last 15 years. Before 2000, most professional LGBTQ athletes remained closeted for fear that revealing their homosexuality would end their sports careers. However, as the author documents in this overview, “the last decade has been colored in rainbows by young athletes…who [have] dared to be themselves.” In the 1970s, a few individuals, such as tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, came out. By the turn of the century, other professional athletes, such as baseball player Billy Bean and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, also did so, but only after they had retired. Not until NBA basketball player John Amaechi publicly disclosed his homosexuality in 2007 did gay athletes and the issues pertaining to them come to the fore of mainstream professional sports. In this book , Zeigler tells stories of the fears and anxieties that both college and professional athletes have faced along the path to acceptance by their teammates. He reveals how language used among otherwise tolerant heterosexual athletes to denote weakness compounds the intensity of the inner struggles of their gay counterparts. At the same time, he points to examples of straight individuals like football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin who have actively supported the gay sports movement by speaking about the need for “equality for all.” While Zeigler believes it is imperative that more LGBTQ athletes come out, he also makes clear that public outing is not justified if an individual is not ready to deal with the ensuing media exposure. Lively and provocative, the book  not only offers a much-needed perspective on what until recently has been one of the last bastions of heterosexism. It is also significant for its conscious consideration of how current developments will impact LGBTQ athletes of tomorrow. An informative, necessary work.” 

-Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2016 

David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl W. Bullock 

“Bullock’s comprehensive yet concise history of LGBT music from the earliest records in the pre-jazz age to the 21st century is an enthralling journey covering multiple genres and serves as both a cultural and sociological study of the history and impact of various artists and music styles. Bullock examines jazz, blues, country, singer-songwriters, disco, punk, and dance while traveling both the main roads and especially the byways of popular music, highlighting artists who may be unfamiliar to many, narrating a story of a community that over the decades has created original, influential, and singular music. Using dozens of sources as well as his own interviews, the author demonstrates that the story of LGBT music is both a personal and a political one, set against the backdrop of key events in the gay rights movement, which also mirrors the changing societal attitudes toward LGBT people over time. Bullock spotlights dozens of LGBT artists, examining their lives, lyrics, and struggles, both in society and within the music industry, in an entertaining narrative that will also encourage readers to seek out fascinating work that helps define a community’s rich history and heritage.”  

– Library Journal, vol 142, issue 17 

Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution by Susan Stryker  

“Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-’70s to 1990, the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the ’90s and ’00s. Transgender History includes informative sidebars highlighting quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of transgenderism in popular culture.”

-Grand Central Publishing 

-Linnea 

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

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

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin – Conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear.

The Angel of Rome: And Other Stories by Jess Walter – This humorous, heartfelt and redemptive collection of short fiction from the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Beautiful Ruins explores moments when everything changes—for the better, worse and outrageous—as an unforgettable cast of characters question life and search for inspiration.

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro – Three once-inseparable college friends in Nigeria reunite at the posh Lagos wedding of one of their daughters and recount the events of the past 30 years including loves, losses, an abortion and an affair with an American Peace Corps volunteer.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick – When every person, all over the globe, receives a small wooden box bearing the same inscription and a single piece of string inside, world is thrown into a collective frenzy, in this novel told through multiple perspectives that introduces an unforgettable cast of characters.

Hatchet Island by Paul Doiron – A game warden and his girlfriend investigate the death of two marine biologists who were overheard arguing with local fisherman near an endangered sea bird sanctuary in the thirteenth novel of the series following Dead by Dawn.

The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths – Nelson, investigating a series of murder-suicides he has connected to an archaeological discovery—and to Ruth’s seemingly sweet new neighbor, Sally, he enlists Ruth’s help until she, Sally and Kate go missing and he is left scrambling to find them before it’s too late.

The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson – The sole survivor of a brutal family massacre 20 years earlier, Kars McIntyre, when the person believed to be responsible for the killings is released, wonders how many times she can be the girl who survived as people around her die horrible deaths.

Red on the River by Christine Feehan – Sunrise Lake, a popular getaway destination, harbors dangers both natural and man-made where no one is safe, in this second thrilling novel set in the remote backcountry of California.

Project Namahana by John Teschner – Takes readers from Midwestern, glass-walled, corporate offices over the Pacific and across the island of Kaua‘i; from seemingly idyllic beaches and mountainous inland jungles to the face of Mount Namahana; all the while, exploring the question of how corporate executives could be responsible for evil things without, presumably, being evil themselves.

Suspects by Danielle Steel – Rebuilding her life, fashion royalty Theodora Morgan, during an event in NYC, forms an instant connection with a man who, unbeknownst to her, is a CIA agent sent to protect her from the very same people involved in the kidnapping of her husband and son, which ended in tragedy.

~semanur

A Good Book for Book Club

The Foundling
by Ann Leary

In 1927, Mary Engle is a bit naïve for her 19 years, likely due to being raised in an orphanage. When she graduates from a secretarial course, she is thrilled to be offered a job at the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Mary is impressed by the institute’s head psychiatrist and (female!) superintendent Dr. Agnes Vogel and thinks if she saves money and goes to college, she might become a powerful woman in charge one day. Vogel is a believer in eugenics, and therefore is interested in controlling reproduction within a human population to increase the occurrence of heritable, “desirable” characteristics. She leads Mary to believe that Nettleton’s residents have been confined because they are not fit for society, due to low IQ or loose morals, and that they deserve to remain incarcerated until they are no longer of childbearing age.

At first, Mary does not question Vogel’s practices, which include keeping wages from women who work outside of Nettleton, not allowing residents to correspond with their family and enabling bored husbands to institutionalize their wives.

Things change when Mary spots Lillian, a woman around her age that attended the same Catholic orphanage where Mary spent her childhood. Mary is sure Lillian has no mental disorder but is afraid she will lose her job if she admits to knowing her. Lillian, the title’s “foundling,” sees Mary as her way out but must first convince her how corrupt Vogel’s program really is. Can Mary save Lillian, whose life has taken a bad turn? Or does Mary have her own reasons for wanting to keep her past friendship with Lillian a secret?

The Foundling by Ann Leary is fascinating historical fiction that is based on the author’s own family experiences. Readers of well-researched novels and book clubs will appreciate this look at a dark chapter of our history and the crimes committed against women in the past by those in power. This novel kept me reading until the end to learn the fate of Leary’s characters who come to life between its covers.

-Carol

Cozy up with a new book

Helen Maitland marries beneath her class by marrying Joshua Wilcox. Joshua is not accepted as Helen’s equal despite being a successful tradesman. He wants to start a trans-Manhattan elevated railway which requires lots of capital. To obtain additional funding Joshua puts up the family’s home as collateral. When Joshua loses the house to speculator Felix Castle, the family is forced to move in with Helen’s mother. Happily the family’s finances eventually turn around when stock in the elevated railway project is offered to the public. As Helen plans her daughters’ debut, she wants the event to be something different. Jemima and Alice’s introduction into society takes place, contrary to the traditional quiet reception at home, at Delminco’s ballroom. Also contrary to tradition, both young women have found their own potential husbands without their parents’ knowledge.

This is a riches to rags to riches story. It would be a fun read for fans of Bridgerton and Downton Abbey.

~Emma

Pride Month: Memoir Spotlight

Memoirs pull back the curtain on a person’s life, providing a look into certain experiences that shaped the person they’ve become. They help readers find solace, knowing that someone has similar experiences, interests, or circumstances. Even if you can’t exactly relate to a person being a television star, or growing up with 19 siblings, or working on Human Rights campaigns, most will be able to identify with being left out, feeling disconnected from peers, and trying to figure out who they are. These LGBTQ+ memoirs tackle heavy topics but are important reads in better understanding facets of LGBTQ+ experiences, building empathy, and learning about someone who may be different from yourself. They also provide necessary representation for those in the LGBTQ+ community that haven’t seen themselves in books. 

I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the names on the selections here, and there are certainly many more to explore! 

Tomorrow Will be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride 

“In her first book, activist McBride (national press secretary, Human Rights Campaign) shows self-awareness and purpose. Cognizant of the many positives in her life—supportive family, friends, and coworkers—McBride has devoted her career to ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ people. By sharing her own story of coming out, the author illuminates the pain that can come along with that process, and how she has arrived at accepting (and living) her life. She writes movingly of her experience transitioning from a man to a woman, and her political activism, along with falling in love and then losing her love to cancer. Statistics about the marginalization of and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender, are brought to life by her voice. The importance of telling these experiences in order to combat demonizing stereotypes is stressed by the author’s experiences in passing civil rights legislation in Delaware, as well as her activism nationwide. The pressing need for broad antidiscrimination protection for the entire LGBTQ community is made clear. All readers will find this book enlightening. Those struggling with gender identity, and their families and friends, will find hope in McBride’s words.”

-Library Journal, vol. 143, issue 4 

Unprotected: A Memoir by Billy Porter 

“Television and stage star Porter opens his soul in this memoir about his life and career, from his childhood in Pittsburgh, to his recent award-winning roles in the stage musical Kinky Boots and on the FX series Pose. Porter writes candidly about growing up Black and gay, his current fears about living during the time of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic, and how his own hard work, luck, and the generosity of others provided the stepping stones for his current success. Reflecting on the title of the book, Porter tells of moments in his life when he felt unprotected, as both a child and an adult. His fearlessness in discussing the darker parts of his past (including sexual abuse by his stepfather and being diagnosed with HIV) is remarkable, but equally as impressive is the narrative of his decades-long dedication to hone his talent and make a space for himself in a racist and homophobic entertainment industry and society. This memoir, as exceptional as Porter himself, should please not only devotees of the actor and his work but readers interested in a story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.”  

– Library Journal, vol. 146, issue 10 

Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life by Jonathan Van Ness 

“Known for his tasteful grooming counseling on Queer Eye, Van Ness moves past the triple trauma of publicly acknowledging his HIV-positive status, surviving sexual abuse, and overcoming drug addiction to explore ways to cultivate personal happiness. Despite support from fans who had experienced similar struggles, some of that support came with massive amounts of transphobic vitriol. The author offers advice on navigating the ever critical social media platforms, writing about grief, family matters, hometown pride for Quincy, Illinois, confronting and vanquishing internalized shame, and the surprisingly precarious professional and social politics of hairdressing and stand-up comedy. He also authentically tackles hot topics like the vilification of marijuana, body-shaming, homophobia, transphobia, and, in a section that will resonate with many readers, gender dysphoria: “I’ve always known I didn’t feel completely male or female, but in those early days of having gay men reject me because of my femininity, I learned fast to masculinize.” In lighter moments, Van Ness gushes over his role on Queer Eye and shares humorous behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the show. His ebullient sense of humor and his passion for LGBTQ+ rights and social justice for an increasingly marginalized transgender population inform with spirited ease. The narrative is equal parts anecdotal whimsy and social criticism, and Van Ness remains reflective, sincere, and cathartic throughout, reiterating that “the darkness I’ve survived doesn’t define me.” Rather, it motivates him to “process the noise” and “grow and be a better person.” Inspirational motivation and counsel primarily for fans who can’t get enough of the Van Ness experience.”  

-Kirkus Reviews 

Black Boy Out of Time by Hari Ziyad 

“Racebaitr editor-in-chief Ziyad merges astute sociopolitical analysis with soul-baring honesty in their striking debut memoir. Drawing on their family’s strong religious beliefs and the traumas of growing up poor in Cleveland as a young Black queer person, Ziyad charts their search for self-understanding and liberation from their guilt-ridden first experiences with boys in high school, to moving to New York City for college, to their early career as a screenwriter and essayist. Along the way, they extrapolate on how each of their experiences has roots in colonialism, white supremacy (“were raised in the same America. The America that demonizes all Black children”), and capitalism. The idea of “misoafropedia” (or “the anti-Black disdain for children and childhood that Black youth experience”) is a unique framework from which they analyze their youthful attempts to assimilate into whiteness at school, the carceral logic that led them to punish other Black children for the crime of being “ghetto,” and their relationship with their own inner child. With its candidness and sharp prose that doggedly links the personal to the political, Ziyad’s tale is engrossing and necessary.”  

-Publisher’s Weekly vol. 267, issue 47 

-Linnea 

Looking for a Sweet Summer Romance?

How to Love Your Neighbor
by Sophie Sullivan

Grace is a design student in her mid-twenties who has finally decided to renovate the California beach bungalow she inherited from her grandparents. Though she had a rough childhood, Grace has a positive attitude and makes friends wherever she goes, and while she struggles to make ends meet, she is not afraid to work hard to achieve her goals. And, no one should ever doubt her ability to do things herself – this woman has serious power tool skills.

Noah is a real estate developer from New York, newly relocated to Southern California and desperate to shed his “silver spoon” image and distance himself from his tycoon father’s questionable business practices. Noah moves into the fixer-upper next door to Grace, looking for contractors to whip the place into shape for him. When they first meet, Noah tries to charm his new neighbor into selling her house to give him room to build a pool. Grace is staying put and thinks Noah is spoiled – handsome, but spoiled. A less-than-friendly competition is struck to see which of the two are more handy (it’s Grace!), and soon they themselves helping one another with household repairs. That’s just being neighborly, right?

When a famous magazine asks Noah for permission to record his house makeover, he thinks it is the break that will put him on the West coast map. There is one little catch – they want the neighbor, Grace, to be his designer on the project. Could working together for mutual benefit build a solid foundation for a new relationship?

How to Love Your Neighbor is a chaste, funny, lighthearted and heartwarming romantic comedy. If you are looking for a sweet read this summer, and you love a home renovation show, this book will keep you turning its pages to see if a couple of opposites can fall in love on their way to making a house a home.

-Carol

Cozy up with a new book

Olivia (Liv) Green is a wife, mother, aspiring writer, and housekeeper. She cleans house for her favorite author, Essie Starling. Reclusive Essie is working on the 20th installment of her Georgia Rory adventure series and asks for input from Liv which she readily gives. When Essie suddenly dies, she leaves the completion of the novel to Liv with stipulations. The book is to be released along with the news of her death on November 1st, and no one is to know that Liv finished the book. That gives Liv 6 months to complete the project. To complete the novel Liv needs to understand Essie better. She decides to go back in time and visit Essie’s two ex-husbands to try to understand why Essie lived such a reclusive life for 10 years. Liv eventually discovers a personal connection with Essie that she does not understand at first.

This is a heart-warming, uplifting story not to be missed.

~Emma