True Crime Book Review

Victim F: From Crime Victims to Suspects to Victims by Denise Huskins

What happens when you are accused of fabricating the worst night of your life? How do you deal with the fact that the people meant to help you think you’re the criminal? This case is wild! With a stranger abduction, rape, mistaken identities, secret organizations, cops with tunnel vision, it’s no surprise that this case was referred to as the real life Gone Girl. Victim F follows Denise and Aaron through Denise’s abduction, the tragic aftermath, and ultimately their recovery efforts as well as lawsuits. A fantastic true crime read. 

For more True Crime content visit us on Facebook-Riverinos True Crime Discussion Group

Christine’s First Top Ten!

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 Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton: A fictional rock biography that spans decades that reads and feels like non-fiction. This story explores the music industry, generational trauma, sexism, and race.

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 Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey: Three friends, affectionately called The Supremes, hold tightly to each other through decades of all that life can throw at them. All while Eleanor Roosevelt’s ghost is watching over them. Really.

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.

Cookie Lit

‘Tis the season for cookies. No, really, National Cookie Day was on December 4th. Since 2015, the New York Public Library has celebrated National Cookie Day by baking and blogging delicious recipes that correspond with favorite books. This year’s recipes feature thumbprints as an ode to mysteries, carrot cake cookies for Peter Rabbit, apple cinnamon oatmeal cookies for romance author Sarina Bowen’s latest book, and many more. You can check out the New York Public Library’s cookie lit celebration here. For more inspiration, check out the cookbooks below available at your library. Happy baking and eating this holiday season!

The Cookie Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum 

Featuring nearly every cookie imaginable, from French macarons to double ginger molasses cookies to snickerdoodles to coconut snowball kisses, this is your must-have cookie book. Baker Rose Levy Beranbaum’s foolproof recipes feature detailed instructions, notes for planning ahead, and ingenious tips to ensure cookie success each and every time.  

100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen by Sarah Kieffer  

Chocolatey, fruity, crispy, chewy, classic, inventive – there’s a creative recipe for the perfect cookie for everyone in this book from celebrated blogger Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog

Sally’s Cookie Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, and More by Sally McKenney 

From the blogger behind the popular Sally’s Baking Addiction, this cookbook features dozens of recipes for cookies, cookie bars, cookie dough dips, slice-and-bakes, no-bakes, and more. 

The Cookies & Cups Cookbook: 125+ Sweet & Savory Recipes Reminding You to Always Eat Dessert First by Shelly Jaronsky 

With recipes ranging from the deliciously decadent, like s’mores fudge bars, to the deceptively simple, such as chocolate chip cookies, The Cookies & Cups Cookbook has something for everyone, from the cooking novice the seasoned chef.  

The Cookie Collection: Artisan Baking for the Cookie Enthusiast by Brian Hart Hoffman  

Become a cookie connoisseur with a variety of flavors and cookie styles from sandwich cookies to sugar cookies to gingerbread to shortbread. No matter the occasion, this cookbook has you covered with cookies for the season. 

Cookie Love: More Than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary by Mindy Segal 

Get ready to up your cookie game. Self-professed “cookie nerd” Mindy Segal offers more than 60 recipes for every kind of cookie including drop cookies, bars, sandwich cookies, shortbread, thumbprints, and more, as well as tricks and tools to build the ideal cookie pantry. 

Live Well Bake Cookies: 75 Classic Cookie Recipes for Every Occasion by Danielle Rye 

Danielle Rye, the creator of the blog Live Well Bake Often, believes that anyone can become an expert baker, and in this cookbook she gently guides bakers in the kitchen with easy recipes for delicious, classic cookies.  

Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top by Vallery Lomas 

Winner of the Great American Baking Show, Vallery Lomas debuts her first baking book featuring more than 100 recipes, many of them family heirlooms from her native Louisiana, and stories. Vallery’s “when life gives you lemons, make lemon curd” philosophy will empower legions of bakers and fans to find their inner warrior and bake their best life.  

What We’re Reading Now…November edition

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Last year’s hit novel, this is the story of two families on a collision course. Amanda and Clay take their two kids to a vacation home on Long Island. In the middle of the night, the owners of the house, Ruth and G.H., show up, claiming that something has gone very wrong in New York City. With no idea what is happening and no other options, the two families stay together in the house and wait for what may be the end of the world. Shannon

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

I am rereading this book from 2002. The author shares the experiences of the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland. They became hosts to the more than six thousand passengers traveling on thirty-eight U.S.-bound international jetliners forced to land in Gander in the wake of the September 11th attacks. The citizens of Gander and surrounding communities put their lives on hold for 6 days to feed, shelter and support those stranded. An amazing community of selfless people. Emma

The Ghost Variations by Kevin Brockmeier

I have read reviews of Brockmeier’s work before but this was the first one I elected to read. This collection of short stories of varying length is connected by its shared theme, ghosts. Each story offers its unique perspective on the theme, changing in tone from the humorous to the unsettling (and sometimes both).  Ghost Variations: one hundred stories was a great introduction to the author’s work that has made me excited to explore their previously published works. Greg

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain

Millions of Americans start their day with a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin or can’t help but sneak a few fries from the bag on their way home from the McDonald’s drive-through, but for black Americans, fast food is a source of both economic power and despair. In the years following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leaders believed racial inequality could be solved through “black capitalism.” As chronicled by Marcia Chatelain in Franchise, a struggling civil rights movement, McDonald’s clever system of franchising and advertising, and Nixon’s “silent majority” era perfectly combined so that fast food could become deeply entrenched in black communities. While fast food certainly created successful black entrepreneurs and black communities with serious purchasing power, economic advancement for black Americans ultimately fizzled in the face of food deserts, dead-end fast food jobs, and continuing racial inequality. A fascinating look at when Big Macs and capitalism combine. Marcia Chatelain is a Professor of History and African American studies at Georgetown University. Franchise won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History.  Kari

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

This smartly written coming-of-age horror story looks at a new type of “final girl” as it follows quirky slasher-obsessed teenager Jade as a series of mysterious murders spring up in her town of Proofrock. Jade is quite sassy and can be hilarious in her exchanges with other characters and is by far my favorite part of this book so far. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a completely different vibe than his previous novel, The Only Good Indians, and so far is much lighter fare.  Nicole

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

This book is a kind of Sherlock Holmes meets The Pirates of the Caribbean tale. Is the merchant vessel, the Saardam, travelling from the East Indies to Amersterdam, haunted? From evil omens painted on the sail and burned into the ship, to sightings of a bloody leper that the crew watched die in a fiery blaze, and a raging storm that lasts more than a week, strange things are certainly afoot on this old, scarred ship. The crew and passengers are hearing wicked whispers in the night, promising them their heart’s desires in return for performing a small service, and the crew is threatening mutiny for fear that there is a devil aboard. It’s up to the world’s greatest detective, Sammy Pipps, his body guard Arent Hayes and a few brave passengers to unravel what is happening aboard the Saardam before it is too late for all of them. A very entertaining book that will keep you guessing until the end. Sara

Currently Reading- August

This month I’ll be enjoying some vacation, including some stay-cationing at home, as well as doing some out-of-state traveling for the first time in a long time. I have a relatively short flight ahead, but we have some long layovers, so I was sure to load up my Kindle with ebooks and my phone with audiobooks from OverDrive to keep me occupied. Nothing is worse than being book-less at the airport! Take a look below to see what I’m currently reading this month.

August eBook Display- Cooking for Busy Schedules

With another school year just around the corner, and many of us returning to spending more time in the office, you might be in need of some help in the kitchen! Fear not- all the titles below are cookbooks perfect for crafting delicious meals that work for those short on time.

Click here to jump to our OverDrive digital library!

Staff Picks- August

One of the best things about working in a public library is being exposed to so many different books! I know I can be guilty of sticking to my reading comfort zone, but thanks to the eclectic readership we have on staff, I’m always hearing personal recommendations and reviews from my amazing colleagues, including a wide variety of genres.

This month Adult Services staff shared some current favorites, including a discussion worthy nonfiction title, an updated classic with a fantasy twist, and a stand-out autobiography. Take a look below for our five staff picks!

Hop on over to our digital library to snag one of these titles now! Ilhan Omar narrates the audiobook version of This is What America Looks Like, which was highly recommended by our staff, so if you are an audiobook fan don’t miss out on this great title.

Books and Movies to Share on Galentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, February 14, and whether you love or hate this holiday, it’s hard to deny that it does make for a great excuse to eat copious amounts of chocolate covered strawberries without shame (or is that just me?). I am personally a fan of the holiday, but one of my most favorite holidays is actually the day preceding Valentine’s Day- Galentine’s Day!

Image from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”

If you are unfamiliar with Galentine’s Day, it was born out of the amazing television show Parks and Recreation. The holiday was the creation of the beloved fictional deputy director of Parks and Recreation in Pawnee, Indiana, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). The show’s writers centered the 16th episode of the second season around Leslie’s favorite February tradition, Galentine’s Day. Over a brunch of waffles and excessive gift-giving, Leslie celebrates the joy of female friendship with close friends and co-workers. This has now become a legit holiday with companies creating cards for the occasion and businesses offering Galentine’s Day specials.

Leslie explains, “Every February 13, my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” Unfortunately, this is not the time for brunch gatherings and long evenings at the wine bar, so how can you celebrate? Share some amazing books with your best gal pals or watch a film together online (ideas for how to watch together here)!

Below you’ll find some of my top picks for books (fiction and nonfiction) and films that are perfect for Galentine’s Day celebrating and sharing!

Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Bridesmaids directed by Paul Feig

Booksmart directed by Olivia Wilde

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Girls Trip directed by Malcom D. Lee

Mean Girls directed by Mark Waters

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Girl Talk: What Science Can Tell Us About Female Friendship by Jacqueline Mroz

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Wishing you all a safe and happy Galentine’s Day! Happy reading!

My 5 Star Top Ten List

2020 has been a year in which I read many trilogies:  Shades of Magic by Schwab, Lady Astronaut series by Kowal, Star Trek: The Janus Gate by Graf, The Broken Earth by Jemisin, and The Dam Keeper by Kondo and Tsutsumi

My top 10 list (in chronological order that I read them)

The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson

(A sequel to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, which takes the thrills to the next exciting step.)

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

(What makes us the wise man of the ape species?)

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

(Each of the three books in the ongoing series so far are 5 stars in my opinion. I love the alternative history space race that is firmly rooted in real science and math.)

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales with art by Juanjo Guarnido

(This is a film noir detective story with animal characters. It is a bit like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

(The middle volume with a sort of Olympics for Magicians is the peak)

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

(This is a slim steampunk adventure set in Cairo by a hot speculative fiction writer.)

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

(A classic text of the ’60s Civil Rights era that is still useful for understanding current racial tensions in America.)

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

(A great start to her Hugo Award winning trilogy with a couple nice twists near the end.)

The Dam Keeper: Return from the Shadows by Robert Kondo and ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi

(Perhaps this ending of the trilogy with its community joining together is the best part.)

Citizen Illegal by Jose Olivarez

(This is a poetry book recommended by the virtual book club on this blog as a book to start the conversation about immigration.)

-Byron

Top FifTEeN of 2020 (Heh! No one will notice the extra five, right?)

This has been an unusual year (such an understatement!) and (not shockingly) it’s translated to what I wound up reading this year… (so much insight!) But like every previous year, it was a struggle to decide which books and why. Hopefully you’ll find a new book to try or you’ll have a happy “oh! meeee too!” moment! (Bonus comments in parentheses because you can’t see me doing eyerolls at myself. Enjoy!)

Now let’s get on to the goods, in alphabetical order by author, The Books:

Adult Fiction

Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen

It felt like reading an excellent BBC series: engaging characters, smart mystery, and a great WWII time/place setting. The second book in the series will be out before the end of the year: Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers! (Historical Mystery)

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Mr. Backman can write a likable,  curmudgeonly character like few can but this book is really more of an ensemble journey and each character has their own quirky personality. The beginning is a little dark but quickly becomes an uplifting story of how individuals can build their own supportive community. (General Fiction)

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Just like when you hear about any picture of a perfect wife, husband, or marriage, it becomes clear there is no such thing as perfect. Quiet and thoughtful, suspenseful and satisfying, this book was everything I wanted it to be. (General Fiction)

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I loved Ready Player One and was a little worried the sequel wouldn’t live up to the original, what a waste of a decent worry! All the pop culture references, interesting future-thinking ideas, and plenty of exciting plot twists, this is *chef’s kiss* a delight! Fun extra -the IRL setting is Columbus, Ohio!(General Fiction/Science Fiction)

Weather by Jenny Offill

Odd, quirky, sometimes uncomfortable, and completely engaging. If you’re looking for a book short on pages and long on impact, this might be the one for you! (Literary Fiction)

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts was on my list last year and prompted me to read this older title by the same author. Yep, just as good! It’s a long-game mystery with shades of The Shining suspense. (Mystery)

The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz

The family relationships, the wanting to be a part of something while also needing to be an individual, watching how society’s views on a variety of topics changed with the decades, all made each page of this book a pleasure. If you grew up in a small town, you’ll feel this story that much more deeply. (General Fiction)

Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

Mix a little Thin Man, Nick and Nora, with a little Mickey Spillane, add a female Sherlock Holmes and Watson, put World War II espionage into the background, and you’ll get close to understanding why you want to read this next. It’s a debut and I’m typing this with my fingers crossed that the second book will be coming soon! (Historical Mystery)

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

This author consistently connects her characters and action in smart and surprising ways, with conclusions that are unexpected and satisfying. I’ve only listened to the audio versions of Ms. Steadman’s books, and I don’t plan to change that, it’s like hearing a radio drama with all the sound effects a listener could hope for! (Mystery)

Set My Heart to Five by Simon Stephenson

Charming and insightful, this is the story of a “bot” who has a degree of self-awareness that he needs to seek therapy before going on a journey to fulfill his dreams. It’s not a simple journey as he needs to hide his true nature as our society is prejudiced against AI and are as likely to attack him as help him. You might shed a tear or two along the way, but it’s worth it. (General Fiction)

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

If you like superhero/supervillain movies or you’ve watched The Boys on Amazon Prime, you will love every page of this book. Anna shows some small but special abilities with numbers but she’s tired of being a contract worker for whichever villain needs temporary help. Offered what seemed to be an easy and high paying gig changed everything, just not for the better. With engaging characters, interesting thoughts on how we think of good vs. evil, and some really clever surprises, this book checked all the boxes for me this year. (General or Science Fiction)

Adult Nonfiction

Barnstorming Ohio to Understand America  by David Giffels

The 2020 General Election may have cost Ohio our “bellwether state” title but if you want a better understanding of how one state can represent so much of the entire USA, this book is the one to read. The author uses his own travels to different locations and conversations with individuals to make each experience engaging for the reader. (Nonfiction)

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

I’m embarrassed to say this is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Gladwell but this book sent me off on a “what else” deep dive, and now I’m a die-hard fan. I learned so much but reading the book felt more like I was reading a series of short, connected, stories. If you pick this one up, we can talk about how crazy it is that our brain defaults to what we want to believe even when the facts show a different reality. Just, so good!

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman

Individually, they are funny and the laughs only increase as they tell how they became a couple. I listened to the audio version and highly recommend this option as Megan and Nick are the readers -it starts to feel like you’re in a candid conversation with new friends.

Teen Fiction

The Darkness Duology: Courting Darkness and Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

The characters and setting are part of the His Fair Assassin series, and it feels like catching up with old friends (who can kick some serious hiney). Sybella must protect her younger sisters from being used as political pawns while also trying to keep the new Queen safe from enemies within the Royal House. The author always provides such strong women as main characters but remembers to give them flaws and quirks so they remain relatable. Ms. LaFevers never disappoints! (Historical Mystery)

Of course, I also think pretty highly of the books I suggested for the RRPL Gift Guide -ya know- and I might be counting those books as part of a bigger list for the year? Anyway… Happy Holidays, with books and snackies, for all!!

-Stacey