Reconnect@RRPL – Some End of Year Recommendations

I can’t let 2020 end without sharing two of my most recent obsessions with you, that you too, ahem, can also realize courtesy of your local library.

First up is a book that would have made my “Top Ten of 2020” post, had I read it earlier. Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen was my Christmas weekend read and I’m still reeling from this gut-puncher of a debut. This dark and darkly comic novel is told over the course of a single work-week through eyes of Majella, a 27-year-old woman who works at the local chip shop. Majella lives with her alcoholic mom in fictional Aghybogey, Ireland, a depressed border town where tensions between Catholics and Protestants run deep and violent. Majella, who might be autistic, is just trying to figure out the changing world around her. In the week after her grandmother has been murdered, Majella is desperate to carry on with her usual routine, and returns to work. There, her descriptions of a typical night in the chip shop provide a razor-sharp commentary on her small-town and its inhabitants, and on her own life’s painful history. I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more. Place your hold in our catalog.

My second new obsession has been watching A Suitable Boy, a BBC television drama based on a (over 1,300 page!) 1993 novel by Vikram Seth, set in 1951 in a newly-independent India. This six-part miniseries is the coming-of-age story of Lata, a university student who is torn between her family duty, religious loyalty and love, as three very different men try to win her heart. This show has it all: lush settings, a lesson in Indian history, great music, and romance, of course! Acorn released episode five today and I cannot wait to watch it. Did I mention that I stream Acorn (including this show) for free from the library? You can, too! Click here to get started.

And, until next time, Happy New Year! ~Carol

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here some of the new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week!

In Case You Get Hit By a Bus: A Plan to Organize Your Life Now For When You’re Not Around Later by Abby Schneiderman/ Adam Seifer/ Gene Newman – A practical guide based on first-person experience with sudden loss shares advice for how to protect loved ones through proactive legal measures, discussing such topics as personal finances, funeral arrangements and legal safeguards.

Growing Under Cover: Techniques for a More Productive, Weather-Resistant, Pest-free Vegetable Garden by Niki Jabbour – Best-selling author Niki Jabbour provides an essential, in-depth guide to creating controlled growing spaces for productive vegetable gardening, using row covers, shade cloth, low tunnels, cold frames, hoop-houses, and more.

Friendshipping: The Art of Finding Friends, Being Friends, and Keeping Friends by Jenn Bane/ Trin Garritano/ Jean Wei – Humorous and sincere, this book of advice, illustrated throughout, presents the tips and tools readers need to make new friends and improve the quality of existing friendships.

Knit Happy With Self-Striping Yarn: Bright, Fun and Colorful Sweaters and Accessories Made Easy by Stephanie Lotven – The knitwear designer and the founder of Tellybean Knits shows knitters and crafters of any level how to incorporate playful whimsy into sweaters, hats, gloves and more through multi-color stripes and shapes.

Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden by Jessica Walliser – Reflecting the latest research on how plants influence and communicate with each other, the author offers a research-based guide to companion planting&;a gardening method that uses strategic plant partnerships to improve crop yields and outsmart pests.

1000 Japanese Knitting & Crochet Stitches by Nihon Vogue & Gayle RoehmThis book is a treasure trove of needlecraft patterns and motifs for experienced knitters and crocheters seeking to create and better understand the infinite variety of their craft. This Japanese reference work is beloved by knitters the world over, and the English version will allow even more crafters to enjoy these techniques.

Rick Steves Istanbul: With Ephesus & Cappadocia by Lale Surmen Aran & Tankut Aran – A comprehensive guide to exploring Istanbul, from domed churches and mosques to Turkish baths and whirling dervishes, including top sights and hidden gems, the best places to eat and sleep, detailed neighborhood maps, packing lists and a phrase book.

The Great British Baking Show: Love to Bake by Paul Hollywood / Prue Leith – The Great British Baking Show: Love to Bake Throughout the book, judges’ recipes from Paul and Prue will hone your skills, while lifelong favorites from the 2020 bakers offer insight into the journeys that brought the contestants to the Bake Off tent and the reasons why they – like you – love to bake.

~Semanur~

Reconnect@RRPL – Another Series to Binge

If you are looking for a thrilling series to watch after the kids go to bed, dive into The Americans and be prepared for six seasons of excitement. This spy thriller series from the FX network is set during the Cold War, and follows Elizabeth (played by Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (played by Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB intelligence officers posing as an American married couple living in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., with their two unsuspecting children.

Season One, which premiered in 2013 begins in the aftermath of the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981, and the series’ final season takes place in December 1987, shortly before the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Not only does the action and suspense in this Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning show refuse to disappoint, the nostalgic treats it delivers with its pitch-perfect 80s soundtrack, outrageous costume design of wigs and clothes and gas-guzzling cars will make you glad the ‘80s are over, even as you can’t help but love this walk down memory lane.

Make no mistake: This show is dark in theme and execution. The protagonists are constantly forced into no-win scenarios, in which they must make choices about how to follow their orders and complete their missions, how to raise their children, and how not to get caught, all while trying to balance their loyalties and maintain their relationship to one another. History says they are the “bad guys” on the losing side but I think you’ll find yourself rooting for them anyway.   

Place a hold for the first season on DVD today.

Great Book Series to Great TV Series

I was late to reading Michael Connelly’s excellent, hard-boiled crime novels starring Harry Bosch as a tough, no-nonsense war veteran and LAPD cop, a modern-day Philip Marlowe, who goes after justice no matter what it takes. Connelly started writing about Bosch in 1992 and there are now 20 books in the series. I’m not yet through with them all but am enthralled and entertained so far by the series’ fast-paced action, its true-to-life descriptions of relationships and police work, and its gritty and bustling setting of Los Angeles, where just about anything can and does happen.

Late to the party as I am, I guess it also makes sense that I’ve only just discovered that the series “Bosch” was adapted for television in 2014 by Amazon who has just ordered its seventh and final season. With the weather turning chillier, I’m looking forward to working my way through all of them.

So far, I’ve binged-watched the first season, which stars Titus Welliver who magnificently embodies Bosch. Let me tell you, he’s not the only thing about this series that won’t disappoint. Unlike most TV adaptations, in fact, each of the characters in “Bosch” feel as real and complex as they are portrayed in the novels and some of the novels’ characters get even more developed on the screen. This is likely due to the fact that Michael Connelly serves as an executive producer and writer for the show. And, despite updating Bosch’s timeline as well (in the books he is a Vietnam vet but has served in the Gulf war and Afghanistan on the show), everything else rings just about right for this reader/viewer.

Want to jump in? No, I can’t buy you an Amazon Prime membership, but I can tell you to start reading the series with book #1, The Black Echo

-Carol

Read Before You Watch

Do you like to read the book before you watch the film or television adaptation? Or are you someone who doesn’t mind seeing the screen version and then reading the book? Or, perhaps you are one of those people who only does one or the other. I must admit, there have been times that I chose not to read a book because the movie was not that interesting to me (looking at you Divergent series).

We’ve got some great television and film adaptations to look forward to, and below are a few of my top picks for books you should read before their adaptations hit your screen.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

A brand new HBO series just launched based on this awesome book by Matt Ruff. I really enjoyed the book, a smart mash-up of historical fiction, Lovecraftian horror, and sci-fi fantasy elements. Readers follow a series of of inter-connected stories about an extended African American family in the 1950s, mostly taking place in Chicago, and their dangerous encounters with the supernatural (sorcerers, inter-dimensional portals, a haunted house) and the terrible, rampant racism they constantly faced during the Jim Crow era.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

The film adaptation of this book is slated to hit Netflix September 16th so you have plenty of time to pick up this book (which is what I plan to do as I haven’t read it yet!). Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s, including a husband and wife team of serials killers and a disturbed war veteran. The book, Pollock’s first novel, was described as “violence-soaked” from it’s first pages by The New York Times Book Review, so be prepared for a dark and disturbing read.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This newly published horror thriller has already been put into development by Hulu according to recent news. The drama series will be based on Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s bestselling novel, and produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ Milojo Productions and ABC Signature. Set in 1950s Mexico, Mexican Gothic follows glamorous and young socialite Noemí from her home in Mexico City to the dismal grounds of High Place, a gloomy English manor styled estate in the Mexican countryside. She is there to check in on her newlywed cousin after receiving a frantic letter begging for someone to save her. What will she discover about this odd family and strange house?

Are there any big or small screen adaptations that you are really excited about this year? Share in the comments!


Your Library Staff at Home -Sunshiny Sunday Edition!

We’re firmly into Spring now and the sun is coming out so much more often -it’s fabulous! Although Fall will always be my favorite season (warm days/crisp evening air, s’mores, the leaves as they turn beautiful colors), but also very happy to have the sunshine and open windows we can enjoy now. (Downside? Pollen. so. much. pollen. sigh…)

So this week maybe we’ll have the chance to be outside a little more -maybe listening to an audiobook like Crazy Rich Asians or podcast like Flash Forward while taking a walk, or calling a friend while we sit in the sun. Doesn’t that sound nice? (I might add a scoop of ice cream in there -cone or bowl- but that’s me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

Once you’re in for the evening and  you’re looking for something to watch, I can say Victorian Slum House, the 1900s on hoopla is a series worth spending some quality time with! I’ve really enjoyed the previous series PBS has created, from Frontier House to The 1940s House, sending everyday modern people back in time to experience the daily life of that time period. As these volunteers get caught up in their new world so do viewers and soon it feels like we’re all in it together… (and reminds me how lucky I am to live in a time and place where indoor plumbing is the norm)!

Today, while I continue some serious Spring cleaning, I’m going to start listening to Wisdom From a Humble Jellyfish by Rani Shah and update you my progress next week!

Be kind to yourself and enjoy that extra Vitamin D shining down!

—Stacey

New Nonfiction Coming in May 2020

 

Check out this selection of nonfiction books for your enjoyment coming this May!

 

5/05: The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President—and Why It Failed by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch – The best-selling authors of The First Conspiracy share the lesser-known story of the 1861 assassination attempt on the 16th president by a secret pro-Southern society that organized an elaborate plot targeting a newly elected Lincoln on his inaugural train journey.

5/05: Grand: A Grandparent’s Wisdom for a Happy Life by Charles Johnson – A National Book Award winner and MacArthur Genius Fellow reflects on the joys of being a grandparent in this warm, inspiring collection of wisdom and life lessons and the ideal gift for any new parent or grandparent.

5/12: The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton – He served as National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump for 519 days. A seasoned public servant who had previously worked for Presidents Reagan, Bush #41, and Bush #43, Bolton brought to the administration thirty years of experience in international issues and a reputation for tough, blunt talk. In his memoir, he offers a substantive and factual account of his time in the room where it happened.

 

 

5/12: Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America by David Kamp – Reveals the behind-the-scenes story of the cultural heroes who created the beloved children’s TV programs Sesame StreetThe Electric CompanyMister Rogers’ NeighborhoodFree to Be … You and Me and Schoolhouse Rock!—which collectively transformed American childhood for the better, teaching kids about diversity, the ABCs and feminism through a fun, funky 1970s lens.

5/19: Stray: A Memoir by Stephanie Danler – From the best-selling author of Sweetbitter comes a memoir of growing up in a family shattered by lies and addiction, and of one woman’s attempts to find a life beyond the limits of her past.Stray is a moving, sometimes devastating, brilliantly written and ultimately inspiring exploration of the landscapes of damage and survival.

5/26: Dare to Fly by Martha McSally – The first American woman combat jet pilot and Arizona Senator presents a motivational life guide that explains how she overcame formidable boundaries by following a set of key principles based on making courage a choice.How to be resolute, do the right thing, persevere, find gratitude, and learn compassion are just some of the lessons in her inspirational life story.

 

~Semanur