Happy Pride!

Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month! One way to celebrate Pride this year is to read the rainbow!

Enjoy this colorful array of LGBTQ+ books, find your favorite color, and maybe that will become your new favorite book!

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan 

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Wilder Girls by Rory Power 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo 

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore 

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian 

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo 

-Linnea

Book Review: A House with Good Bones

Sam is an entomologist who finds herself in a familiar habitat- her childhood home. Since the passing of her Gran Mae, the house has seemed different. Her mother, Edith now lives alone amongst the thriving rose bushes, left to her own devices with the help of a handyman. As Sam moves back in, she’s welcomed back into the world of Southern hospitality, British procedurals, and boxed wine. Not to be outdone, the eccentric neighbors are just as eccentric as ever, with vultures rehabilitating and a one-man neighborhood watch a few doors down.

But the house isn’t quite as Sam remembered. Gone are the vibrant colors and signature maximalist tendencies of her mother. Instead, her Gran Mae’s stark style has come back in multiple shades of neutral. Sam’s not convinced that her mom’s odd behavior isn’t a result of an undiagnosed condition and the home’s transformation could be a result.

Sam’s not the only visitor to the house- she wakes up in the middle of the night to swarms of ladybugs making themselves at home in her room. Soon she is left questioning why exactly the house feels so off, and it turns out that the picture-perfect styling is hiding something ugly.

This is a southern gothic novel that definitely dabbles in magical realism. The characters are engaging and the audiobook narrator is superb. If you’re a fan of spooky Southern tales, this is definitely a book for you.

Put a hold on the print book here.

Happy reading!

-Melinda

Book Review: Mad Honey

Olivia is a beekeeper who finds refuge amongst her hives. A single mom to her son, Asher, Olivia will do anything it takes to keep him safe and remind him he’s loved. After leaving a toxic marriage, she is extra careful to keep an eye on Asher’s emotions. When Asher begins dating Lily, the new girl at school, Olivia welcomes her with open arms.

Until one day, when she gets the dreaded call. Asher has been found with Lily’s lifeless body and covered in her blood. Police don’t think this is an accident. And Asher is the number one suspect.

Calling on the help of her lawyer brother, Olivia fights to keep Asher out of prison, but she has the sinking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, Asher is not the perfect son she imagined. When a bombshell about Lily is dropped in the court room, any hope of Asher’s innocence seems to be whisked away.

Olivia and Lily are the two main narrators, and without spoiling anything, I will tell you that this story sneaks up on you with a big reveal. Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan partner together to weave a story about two women who are fighting for their own identity, shared by their mutual love of one man- Asher.

CW: suicide, domestic violence

-Melinda

International Museum Day

If you live in Cleveland, you probably know that we like to brag about our wonderful museums. From the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to Cleveland Museum of Art to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to Cowan Pottery Museum here at Rocky River Public Library, Cleveland has quite a few museums to explore and celebrate.  

If you’d rather acknowledge International Museum Day by visiting farther flung museums, or you just don’t want to leave your home, check out virtual tour options offered by so many wonderful museums: the Louvre in Paris, the Met in New York, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the National Museum in Rio de Janeirothe National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, and our own Cowan Pottery Museum. More and more museums are putting virtual exhibits on their websites, for anyone in the world to enjoy. 

But maybe you’d rather just read about museums, real or imagined. Fortunately, there’s plenty of options there as well! 

Nonfiction 

The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser 

Documents the unsolved theft of twelve masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, tracing the research of the late art detective Harold Smith while recounting the author’s own forays into the art underworld. 

Curators: Behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums by Lance Grande 

This beautifully written and richly illustrated book is a clear-eyed but loving account of natural history museums, their curators, and their ever-expanding roles in the twenty-first century. 

Surrounded by Art: Panoramic Views of America’s Landmark Museums by Thomas R. Schiff 

Beautifully composed panoramic photographs that showcase the iconic interiors and exteriors in the great museums and cultural institutions of the United States from a singular visual perspective. 

Fiction 

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg 

When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort – she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Alena by Rachel Pastan 

In an inspired restaging of Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, a young curator finds herself haunted by the legacy of her predecessor. 

Imaginary Museums: Stories by Nicolette Polek 

In this collection of compact fictions, Nicolette Polek transports us to a gently unsettling realm inhabited by disheveled landlords, a fugitive bride, a seamstress who forgets what people look like, and two rival falconers from neighboring towns. 

-Linnea 

Remembering the Kent State Massacre

On April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced that the United States military would invade Cambodia, furthering their involvement in the Vietnam War. 

On May 1, over 500 students gathered on an outdoor common area in the center of campus to demonstrate against President Nixon’s announcement. At this demonstration, a rally was planned for May 4, to continue the protest. During the next few days, students kept up the demonstrations, and after Kent Mayor LeRoy Satrom declared a state of emergency, the Ohio National Guard were called on May 2.  

On May 3, Governor Rhodes said they were going to “eradicate the problem” and that the protestors were “the worst type of people that we harbor in America” (Kent State). Another rally took place that evening, with Guardsmen tear gassing participants in order to get them to disperse. A curfew was enforced, and several students were bayoneted by Guardsmen. 

On May 4, the originally planned protest took place as scheduled. The University tried to advertise it had been cancelled, but students (and some non-students as well) gathered anyway, even when tear gas was used to get them to disperse. At 12:24 PM, Guardsmen began firing at the protestors for approximately 13 seconds, killing four students—Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer—and injuring nine students— Joseph Lewis, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Alan Canfora, Dean Kahler, Douglas Wrentmore, James Russell, Robert Stamps, and Donald MacKenzie. The University President closed the school and remained closed for six weeks.  

This is an incredibly brief overview of the Kent State shootings and I highly recommend the Kent State University’s Digital Archives for oral histories, timelines, newspaper articles, interviews, and more. Below are a few titles available through the library for more information: 

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf 

Kent State/May 4: Echoes through a Decade by Scott L. Bills 

13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings by Philip Caputo 

Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State by Joe Eszterhas 

67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence by Howard B. Means 

Kent State: What Happened and Why by James A. Michener 

To Heal Kent State: A Memorial Meditation by Kim Sorvig 

Kent State by Deborah Wiles 

-Linnea

Spring into a Page-Turner

Philip Solomon is an author suffering from writer’s block. He decides to write what he knows and begins to document the disappearance of his friend Jeff’s mother, some 40 years previously.

On November 12, 1975, 10-year-old Miranda Larkin arrives home from school to discover her mother Jane missing without a trace. There is only one suspect – Dan Larkin, Jane’s husband and father to Miranda and her brothers, Jeff and Alex. Dan is an unflappable criminal defense attorney and a narcissist, but as Jane’s body is never found, he is never charged with murder. As years pass, Dan begins to suffer from dementia, and as Phil Solomon begins research for his book, old feelings and suspicion begin to surface once again. Is it possible that the Larkin kids were raised by a man who killed their mother?

William Landay’s All That Is Mine I Carry With Me is the perfect blend of a literary whodunnit and legal thriller and is twisty emotional family drama that keeps you guessing. Place your hold for this (deservedly) popular read and then just try and put it down after the first page.

-Carol

Book Review: The Ingenue

The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Saskia Kreis is a piano prodigy returning home after her mother’s death. Riding into her hometown of Milwaukee on fumes, Saskia is barely making ends meet by writing SAT questions. Her days of tickling the ivories are long behind her, abruptly ending as she entered adulthood. It wasn’t easy, after all, to be the child genius of an accomplished classical musician and a renowned author-illustrator.

Saskia knows that the family home, named Elf House, will be hers one day soon. A gothic mansion, the house has been in the family for generations and has its quirks. But when her mother’s will doesn’t name Saskia as the inheritor of the home, she has questions. Why did her mother leave the unfinished manuscript in her famous Fairy Tales for Little Feminists series to Saskia? And most of all, why did she leave the house to Patrick Kintner? Patrick is a spectral shadow on Saskia’s young adulthood that she just can’t shake. Elf House is meant to be Saskia’s, and she will do whatever it takes to make sure that her mother’s family legacy is protected.

Author Kapelke-Dale follows her debut The Ballerinas with a #MeToo story that will keep you reading “just one more chapter.”

Request a print copy, ebook, or eaudiobook.

-Melinda

National Library Week

For National Library Week, which runs from April 23-29, the staff at Rocky River Public Library have filled quite a few shelves full of our book recommendations. From nonfiction to graphic novels to fantasy to audiobooks, we’ve got a little bit of everything for every type of reader.  

But if you can’t make it in person to see our staff recommendations, here’s a list of just a few of the books staff have picked out:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

A reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel, Mexican Gothic follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion. 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis 

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best: The language of violence. 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 

An account of the unsolved Golden State Killer case, written by the late author of the TrueCrimeDiary.com website traces the assaults and murders of dozens of victims and the author’s determined efforts to help identify the killer and bring him to justice. 

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak 

Three Daughters of Eve is set over an evening in contemporary Istanbul and follows the efforts of a woman to navigate cultural, religious and economic tensions during a seaside mansion dinner party while enduring painful memories of her deep multicultural friendships during her Oxford years. 

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff 

Zuboff explores the challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, presenting a detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control human behavior. 

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami 

A clerk in a Tokyo of the near future works in an organization that controls the flow of information to society–employing electronic brainwashing and other insidious techniques–a job that contributes to his increasing sense of dehumanization. 

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe 

Keefe documents the notorious abduction and murder of I.R.A. Troubles victim Jean McConville in 1972 Belfast, exploring how the case reflected the brutal conflicts of Northern Ireland and their ongoing repercussions. 

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan 

Glitter and Glue presents an account of the author’s perspectives on motherhood, which have been shaped by her job as a nanny for a grieving Australian family and her character-testing experiences with her daughters. 

Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl 

Despite the unspeakable horrors that Frankl faced in the Nazi concentration camps, he learned from the strength of his fellow inmates that it is always possible to “say yes to life”–a profound and timeless lesson for us all. 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker 

Kolker tells the heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease. 

-Linnea 

Reads for National Arab American Heritage Month

April is National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM), which began as a grassroots effort of the Arab America Foundation. Recognized nationally by President Joe Biden in 2021, this month recognizes and celebrates Arab American culture, heritage, and contributions. According to the Arab America Institute, approximately 3.7 million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country, including Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and others.

In honor of NAAHM, here are titles from our collection that highlight Arab American stories.

Fiction

Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. 

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter–radicalized by the online alt-right–attacks the school.As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart.

Nonfiction

I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib

The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents’ ideals, learning to code-switch between her family’s Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid.

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber

Diana Abu-Jaber weaves the story of her life in upstate New York and in Jordan around vividly remembered meals: everything from Lake Ontario shish kabob cookouts with her Arab-American cousins to goat stew feasts under a Bedouin tent in the desert. These sensuously evoked meals in turn illuminate the two cultures of Diana’s childhood – American and Jordanian – and the richness and difficulty of straddling both.

Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami

What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­-finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of American rights, liberties, and protections. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth–such as national origin, race, and gender–that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still cast their shadows today.

For more recommendations, Hoopla has audiobooks, comics, eBooks, music, and videos available here: https://hoopla.app.link/APgxui4Mnyb

Happy reading!

Melinda

Book Review: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry has the book world buzzing. Published in March 2022, the book has spent time on the New York Times Bestseller list, was selected as a Good Morning America Book Club Pick, and will be released as a tv series based later this year. Here at the library Lessons in Chemistry is in high demand, with copies flying off the shelves as soon as they are brought back to the library.

Summary

Elizabeth Zott isn’t your average homemaker. She’s a trained chemist whose attention to detail and scientific methods could have had her working at the best of the best research institutions. Instead, she’s at the Hastings Research Institute, where gender outweighs brilliance and her research isn’t credited under her name. Her 1960s feminist ideals aren’t welcome in her field, and Elizabeth faces discrimination at every turn. When her career as a researcher is abruptly cut short, she ends up hosting her very own cooking show for a local TV station. But instead of asking you to add a pinch of salt, she tells you to sprinkle on the sodium chloride. Because for Elizabeth, cooking is chemistry. It’s a science, not to be trifled with. Her kitchen is unlike any other, filled with beakers and bunson burners. But despite her dry sense of humor, Elizabeth appeals to the masses.

Told in the era of Mad Men, this story tells the untold of early women in STEM, unconventional families, and limiting beliefs of traditional gender roles. It’s a fun read and great for book clubs.

Put yourself on hold for Lessons in Chemistry here.

Already read Lessons in Chemistry? Try one of these readalikes!

Happy reading!

-Melinda