Louise doesn’t want to go home. Home is filled with memories of the past, and they’re not all warm and fuzzy. Speaking of warm and fuzzy, Louise is dreading opening the door to her mother’s vast puppet collection. Or facing the cabinets full of dolls staring back at her. But at the top of her list of things to avoid is her brother, Mark, the golden child who never grew up.
After a tragic accident kills both of their parents, Louise and Mark are forced to look in every nook and cranny of their childhood home. But they find some oddities. Multiple pairs of eyes follow them at every turn as they find a boarded up attic and life-sized dolls watching television…even though the television was unplugged. And at the center of it all is one raggedy puppet who has always taken on a life of his own- Pupkin.
When I first heard the title of this book I was expecting the same old take on a traditional ghoulish haunting. But as I began to read this book it took a different turn. In the hands of Grady Hendrix, a haunted house in South Carolina becomes the stuff of nightmares. Hendrix sets the scene with lengthy passages describing the spooky occurrences that happen. Normally I’m not a big fan of long narrative passages but in this case it works. Childhood trauma also plays a role in the backstory of Louise and Mark’s fraught relationship. But above it all, the question remains- what is reality and what is childhood imagination?
From true crime to history to art, there are some excellent nonfiction books coming out this year. I thought I’d share a few of the titles I’ve added to my endless TBR pile.
Treasured: How Tutankhamun Shaped a Century by Christina Riggs Publication Date: February 1, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. When it was discovered in 1922, the 3,300-year-old tomb of Tutankhamun sent shockwaves around the world, turning the boy-king into a household name overnight and kickstarting an international obsession with Egyptology that endures to this day. Professor of Visual Culture Christina Riggs offers a bold account of the tomb’s excavation, archeology and colonialism, tourism and cultural exhibitions, politics, and more – and all just in time for the discovery’s centennial anniversary. Get ready to have Steve Martin’s “King Tut” stuck in your head for weeks. How’d you get so funky? Funky Tut!
Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth by Elizabeth Williamson Publication Date: March 8, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. On December 14, 2012, a gunman killed twenty first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A decade later, the Sandy Hook killings have been lumped into a messy cycle of conspiracy theories involving the JFK assassination, 9/11, the 2020 President election, and other events. Some people have insisted the tragedy never occurred or was staged by the government to prompt the passage of gun control legislation. Drawing on hours of extensive research, New York Times reporter Elizabeth Williamson provides a definitive account of the school shooting and the aftermath, including the work of Sandy Hook parents who fought to defend themselves and the legacies of their children against the frenzied distortions of conspiracy theorists.
Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton Publication Date: March 29, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. Maud Newton’s ancestors have vexed and fascinated her since she was a girl. Her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives. Her mother’s grandfather killed a man with a hay hook and died in a mental institution. Maud’s father, obsessed with the “purity” of his family bloodline, traced his family back to the Revolutionary War. Diving headfirst into her genealogy, Maud Newton exposes the secrets and contradictions of her ancestors to show the transformational possibilities that reckoning with ancestors has for all of us.
Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monuments by Erin L. Thompson Publication Date: February 8, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. Since 2020, we’ve witnessed heated debates and outright protests and violent clashes over public monuments. Why do we care so much about hunks of marble? How do we decide which monuments should stay up and which ones need to come down? Erin L. Thompson, Professor of Art Crime at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, takes readers on a journey through America’s turbulent relationship with statues, particularly monuments concerning the Confederacy, slavery, and America’s founding fathers, and how we can better navigate the legal, political, and social concerns involved in our public monuments.
Gentrifier: A Memoir by Anne Elizabeth Moore Publication Date: October 19, 2021. Request a copy from the Library here. In 2016, a Detroit arts organization granted writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a free house in Detroit’s Bangladeshi “Banglatown.” Accompanied by her cats, Moore moves to the bungalow where she gardens, befriends the neighborhood youth, and grows to intimately understand civic collapse and community solidarity. When the troubled history of her house comes to light, Moore finds her life destabilized by the aftershocks of the housing crisis and governmental corruption.
All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work by Hayley Campbell Publication Date: August 16, 2022. It’s still a little too early to request a copy of this gem, but keep checking back with the Library as we move closer to summer! Inspired by a her longtime fascination with death, Hayley Campbell embarked on a three year trip across the US and the UK to met with a variety of professionals in the death industry to see how they work. She encountered funeral directors, embalmers, former executioners, anatomy students, homicide detectives, and more, and asked them the same question: Why choose a life of working with the dead? Campbell is already getting comparisons to Mary Roach so don’t miss this one.
A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them by Neil Bradbury Publication Date: February 1, 2022. Request a copy from the Library here. As any true crime fan can tell you, poison is one of the most enduring and popular weapons of choice for a scheming murderer. It can be slipped into a drink, smeared onto the tip of an arrow or the handle of a door, or even filtered through the air we breathe. But how exactly do these poisons work to break down our bodies, and what can we learn from the damage they inflict? In a fascinating blend of popular science, medical history, and true crime, Dr. Neil Bradbury examines this most morbidly captivating method of murder from a cellular level.
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith Publication Date: June 1, 2021. Request a copy from the Library here. Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads readers through an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history and ourselves. From Monticello to Whitney Plantation to Angola Prison to Blandford Cemetery, Smith shows how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain sight and how we can better reflect on the roles of memory and history.
I’m not sure I can really do my 2021 reading list justice with a list of only ten books. So with some emotional support from my co-workers, and after a long talk with my cat, I was finally able to take a deep breath and chose twelve.
Reflecting over the past year, each one of these books takes me back to a time and place of extreme joy and extreme pain. Each one is a mile marker that reminds me to keep breathing, keep moving, and when all else fails- shut out the world and grab a good book.
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin: Reunited over bingo after 45 years, these two grandmothers find that their love for one another never faded. Hope, love, and realizing that it is never too late to live authentically and with all your heart!
Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson: True crime set across the decades in Cleveland, Ohio, this is the story of a still unsolved murder and the longest wrongful incarceration of three men and their fight for justice.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera: A young woman sets out to find community and herself. What she discovers is the true meaning of intersectionality and standing in her own self-love.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole: A thriller that is a little bit ‘Rear Window’ and a little bit mole people. Gentrification, murder, evil pharmaceutical companies, and the most unexpected heroes.
The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymulina: This short thriller is narrated by a young girl, who happens to be a ghost trying to help her father get justice for another young girl. Part murder mystery, part Australian Aboriginal tale, this story will sit with you long after you finish the book.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: A darkly humorus story about two sisters- the beautiful and popular one and the responsible one. They have nothing in common, including how they deal with their traumatic childhood. One sister becomes a serial killer, the other learns how to clean up a crime scene.
Skye Falling by Mia MacKenzie: A Black queer woman in her 30’s enjoys her life of no attachments and no responsibilities until the 12 year old egg she donated to a friend she’s lost contact with shows up one day. You will laugh just as much as you cry while you go along for a truly amazing ride!
The Deep by Rivers Solomon: How did the mermaids in the Pacific Ocean come to be? This is their origin story. Beautifully written, Solomon speaks to community, healing, and reclaiming your identity.
The Push by Ashley Audrain: A psychological drama about motherhood, family, and murder (?) that will have you holding your breath and gasping out loud.
The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur: A young female impersonates a man in order to find her father and solve ongoing murders. Set 600 years ago in Korea, this story will pull you in and not let go until the final word.
Are you inside because of the thunderstorms that keep rolling through? Come to the library and grab a book to read. Take a look at the latest additions to the Reading Room to find your spring read! Below are a few recently added:
It’s never too late to start your New Year’s resolution. Did you join a gym, change your diet, or start a new hobby? What about reading? Did you make reading more one of your New Year’s resolutions? Do need some book recommendations? If so, check out the latest additions to the Reading Room. This a great resource created by the Adult Services department to assist with reader advisory. All the titles entered in this database have been read and recommended by staff at Rocky River Public Library. Below are a few of the latest additions:
It is starting to feel and look like fall. I took a drive through Ohio last weekend, and the scenery was beautiful with all the fall colors on the trees. This week you can feel it as the cool temperature has caused me to turn the heat on. If you enjoy relaxing, and reading a good book in the fall, check out these latest additions to the Reading Room:
The cool autumnal air is rolling in and I am loving it! There are many reasons that I love this season, and this past weekend was certainly at the top of the list. My husband and I hosted our first ever clambake. If you’ve never been to a clambake, I’m sorry.
A fall clambake in Cleveland generally consists of close friends and family, a very large steamer pot packed with bags of clams, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and unpredictable weather. It’s all part of the fun. Part of a successful clambake is only inviting your closest of relations so they know your hosting style and don’t expect adequate tables, or dry seating.
We learned a lot this year, and will be spending the next 20+ years perfecting our clambaking craft. While we were steaming clams, we may have also been tossing around some reading suggestions. Here are some suggestions you could pass along to your guests at your next social gathering:
August is flying by! Whenever I look at the calendar my eyes wander to the second week of August, but nope! We are in the fourth week already. Holy cow! That being said, we’ve all been very busy here in the Reference Department as we help others get ready to go back to school. Now that most of the schools are in session, we are going to start playing catch up with our reading, our Reading Room entries, and maybe even our weekly blogging. Here are a few titles that we haven’t yet featured in our Latest Additions: