Celebrating Women’s History Month

There are so many wonderful, new books being published but since it is still Women’s History Month, I wanted to focus on…women authors! I’ve created a list of a few recently published books by debut women authors to continue our celebration of Women’s History Month. From witches to thrillers to family strife, we’ve got it covered.  

Rootless by Krystle Zara Appiah 

“When his wife, unable to handle the demands of motherhood and feeling the dreams she had slipping away once again, disappears, leaving their toddler son behind, Sam finds his vision for their future shattered, in this heartrending love story that explores what happens after a marriage collapses.” 

Such Pretty Flowers by K. L. Cerra 

“A woman investigating her brother’s apparent suicide finds herself falling for her prime suspect—his darkly mysterious girlfriend—in this edgy Southern gothic thriller.” 

Weyward by Emilia Hart 

“Told over five centuries through three connected women, this riveting novel follows Kate, in 2019, as she seeks refuge in Weyward Cottage; Altha, in 1619, as she uses her powers to maintain her freedom; and Violet, in 1942, as she searches for the truth about her mother’s death.”  

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson 

“A funny, sharply observed novel of family, wealth, love and tennis, this zeitgeisty debut follows three women in an old Brooklyn Heights clan: one who was born with money, one who married into it, and one, the millennial conscience of the family, who wants to give it all away. Rife with the indulgent pleasures of affluent WASPS in New York and full of recognizable if fallible characters, it’s about the peculiar unknowability of someone else’s family, about the haves and have-nots and the nuances in between, and the insanity of first love-Pineapple Street is a scintillating, wryly comic novel of race, class, wealth and privilege in an age that disdains all of it.” 

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez 

“A powerful debut novel follows a Puerto Rican family in Staten Island who discovers their long missing sister is potentially alive and cast on a reality TV show, and they set out to bring her home.”

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden 

“In 1852, young widow Margaret Lennox, taking a position as governess to an only child at an isolated country house in the West of England, starts to feel that something isn’t quite right and, as her past threatens to catch up with her, she learns the truth behind the secrets of Hartwood Hall.”

The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes 

“Seven years after the mysterious death of her best friend, Aubrey, Maya comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman dies in front of the same man Aubrey did, leading her back to a New England cabin to finally uncover a truth that could save her.”  

-Linnea 

Celebrating Black Authors 

There are innumerable Black authors that have impacted, influenced, and informed the landscape of literature—Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and many more prolific, important people.

For Black History Month, I want to highlight some Black authors that published their debuts in 2022 and 2023.  

Jackal by Erin E. Adams 10/2022 

A young Black girl goes missing in the woods outside her white Rust Belt town. But she’s not the first-and she may not be the last…  

It’s watching. 

Promise Boys by Nick Brooks (1/2023) 

In Brooks’ YA debut, three prep school students are accused of murdering their high school principal. The boys team up to find the real killer before it’s too late. 

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana (8/2022) 

This collection of short stories follows each tenant in the Banneker Homes, a low-income high rise in Harlem where gentrification weighs on everyone’s mind, as they weave in and out of each other’s lives, endeavoring to escape from their pasts and forge new paths forward. 

Maame by Jessica George (1/2023) 

A young British Ghanaian woman navigates her 20s and finds her place in the world. 

Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey (10/2022) 

Rooted in spiritual energy and centered in black liberation, womanism and Afrofuturism, the founder of The Nap Ministry sheds new light on our troubled relationship with rest and how to imagine and dream our way to a future where rest is exalted – and a divine human right. 

Sink: A Memoir by Joseph Earl Thomas (2/2023) 

In a series of exacting and fierce vignettes, the author, who found salvation in geek culture, takes readers through the unceasing cruelty of his impoverished childhood toward an understanding of what it means to lose the desire to fit in and build community and love on your own terms. 

-Linnea 

Book Review: Small Game

What do you get when you combine a survival show, wannabe influencers, and a jaded outdoor survival expert? A drama-filled romp through a landscape filled with danger. Small Game is a debut novel that reads like a combination of Castaway, Survivor, and Man vs. Wild.

Mara is used to living life with less than she needs. Living with doomsday prepper parents led Mara to work as an outdoor survival expert at a survival school. When reality TV producers come to the school to scout for talent, Mara signs up with only one thing on her mind: The $100,000 prize.

She lands on a remote island and meets her teammates and the filming crew. As she puts on her rugged tunic and picks her tool, she embraces the TV gimmicks. After all, if it means a payout, she can put up with some cheesy scripted sentences. Time goes on, rations grow short, deadly animals appear, and crew members start mysteriously disappearing. And at the center of it all is Mara and her fellow castmates.

But who will remain standing after the six weeks pass?

This book isn’t quite a true thriller and reads more like a mystery. But if you’ve ever enjoyed outdoor adventure writing, you’ll enjoy this book! Blair Braverman’s debut novel will certainly keep you guessing. And can we talk about Blair’s name for a second? I’m not sure if there’s a better name for an author who writes such adventurous fiction. Braverman’s writing clearly draws from her life as a dogsledder and outdoor adventurer, which adds an interesting component to the book.

Request a print copy here or download a digital copy here.

-Melinda

Debut Fiction: The Cloisters

Today is publication day for The Cloisters by Katy Hays!

When Ann Stilwell is assigned to an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she’s expecting a ho-hum summer working with the curatorial staff. Instead, she ends up at The Cloisters, a renowned medieval museum filled with unique artifacts and eclectic staff members.

As Ann gets to know the staff, secrets come to light throughout the shadowy hallways of the museum. Curator Patrick shows a focused interest on a 15th-century deck of tarot cards as part of a special research project he seems to be conducting. Research assistant Rachel is everything Ann wants to be, and the two form a quick bond. The museum draws Ann into the world of under the table antique dealers, poisonous plants, and researchers willing to risk it all.

This book combines the mysterious world of 15th century spiritualism with 21st century intrigue. This debut academic thriller is bound to grab your interest if you liked The Secret History or Ninth House.

Photo credit: The Met Cloisters

If nothing else, reading this book serves as an introduction to The Met Cloisters. A spectacular setting for a novel, the real life museum is as intriguing and beautiful as described.

-Melinda

*I received a review copy from the publisher. This is my honest review. 

Review: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

Find it here.
Ellice Littlejohn escaped her poor, small-town Georgia life at 14 and has rarely looked back since building a successful life and law career for herself in Atlanta. She does the best she can to help her younger brother, Sam, but his past run-ins with the law and her fancy corporate lawyer gig means that Ellice keeps the two parts of her life separate. She was successful at that until the morning she arrives at work to find her boss and lover, Michael, dead in his office. In a whirlwind of events in the aftermath of Michael’s murder Ellice finds herself in the center of a conspiracy that she never saw coming. 

This debut novel has it all-secrets, lies, murder, and suspense. Mixed in with all the action and drama are themes of racism, white supremacy, and family secrets. 

Readalikes:

RRPL Summer Reads- The Chosen and The Beautiful

It’s finally June which means that summer is officially right around the corner! We will be counting down the days until the first day of summer, Sunday, June 20th, by sharing the books we are most excited to read in the months ahead. Each week you’ll get a look at titles that Rocky River Public Library staff can’t wait to dive into!

My first summer read pick is The Chosen and The Beautiful by Nghi Vo.

This book, just published yesterday (!) is a Best of Summer Pick for Time Magazine and a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 Pick for Oprah Magazine, so I’m definitely not the only person who has been looking forward to this title to hit bookshelves.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents the American classic story of The Great Gatsby through a queer, magical, immigrant lens. Reimagining Fitzgerald’s character Jordan Baker as a young, queer woman who was born in Vietnam and raised in white, American high society, Vo invites readers along for a fresh, imaginative look at this Gatsby woman. Jordan has money, education, invitations to the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age, but is treated like an exotic attraction by her peers.

Vo, a Milwaukee-based author, whose previous works include the novellas Then the Tiger Came Down the Mountain and The Empress of Salt and Fortune, said in a recent interview that her early influences include Neil Gaiman, British fantasy writer Angela Carter, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” author Patricia Highsmith, and the popular podcast series “Welcome to Night Vale.”

As many students have had to throughout the years, I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school freshman English class, and wasn’t particularly impressed. I’ve re-read it since then and am a fan of Fitzgerald’s works now, but am very excited to read a modern, diverse voice such as Vo’s take on this well-known narrative. I also love magical realism and this new novel sounds like an amazing mash-up of some of my favorite literary elements!

What are some titles you are excited to read this summer? We’d love for you to share your titles with us this month in the comments! Happy reading!