Happy 1894 Day!

Note to Shelf: Winter Edition

Good News! Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day so we’re in for an early spring! What’s on your spring reading lineup? There are a number of exciting upcoming titles, including great thrillers, with which to usher in the warmer weather. Chris Bohjalian brings us The Red Lotus, Greer Hendricks has written You Are Not Alone and Carol Goodman’s new psychological thriller, The Sea of Lost Girls, will keep thriller readers immersed as the days get longer.

Babs

Therese Ann Fowler’s new book, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of The Vanderbilts is the compelling story of Alva Smith who marries into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties - the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York's old-money circles, Alva, whose family became destitute after the Civil War, designed and built nine mansions, hosted grand balls and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke, in her determination to break into that society. However, defying convention for the women of this era, she divorced her husband and became a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. The story expands to the other Vanderbilt family members, thereby providing the reader with a deeper understanding of the challenges they faced despite their wealth. I initially found Alva and her peers to be nothing more than idle rich, but after reading this book, I have an understanding of her that goes beyond the stereotype. This book will help the reader appreciate how far women have come in a hundred years and if you enjoy historical fiction, this one is for you!

Ann

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende is the account of Victor Dalmau and his widowed pregnant sister-in-law Roser, who are fleeing Spain after the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. Francisco Franco, the victor in the Spanish Civil War, is raging a brutal retaliation against anyone who opposed him during the war. Roser and Victor, with thousands of other refugees, risk their lives to cross into France. France does not want to accept the Spanish refugees and puts them in camps where many suffer and die. Victor and Roser must find a way to survive. Since he is a doctor and she a fine musician, they have skills to offer. Through connections, they discover that the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has chartered a ship that can carry two thousand refugees to Chile. The refugees who choose to go and are accepted will be starting a whole new life in a different part of the world. There are conditions to be part of this evacuation and one is that you have to be a married couple. Victor and Roser enter into a marriage of convenience. This novel follows the lives of Victor and Roser through their years of living in Chile, and explores the choices they make. Chile also has its share of troubles, and Victor and Roser will once again become refugees. The characters are believable and multidimensional. This is a wonderful novel that acquaints readers with the Spanish Civil War and parts of South America not often found in historical fiction.

Colleen

As February is Black History month, what better book to read than Eve Ewing’s 1919? This award-winning collection of poems reflects on events during the Chicago Race Riots of that year. Mingled with essay-style narratives of factual events, the poems are heart-felt and beautifully capture the mood of the time. Being a Chicago native, Ewing writes with passion and surprising honesty as she tells a story that we need to hear. Her poems are varied in style and composition which keeps the book interesting and full of color and perspective. This is a short and meaningful read that reminds us of our history and the struggles that Black Americans had to endure and overcome as citizens of Chicago during that era. I highly recommend you taking some time to appreciate the inspiring poetry written by this acclaimed author.

Jill

Graham Moore’s new legal thriller, The Holdout, encompasses so many aspects that comprise a gripping page-turner novel! A jury must decide the fate of a 25-year-old African American defendant, Bobby Nock, the teacher of a 15-year-old heiress who is still missing. A guilty verdict appears to be a fait accompli until juror, Maya Seale who is convinced of Bobby’s innocence, persuades her fellow jurors to find him not guilty. But was her resolve misplaced? Ten years later, the jury reconvenes to produce a true- crime docuseries when a juror is found dead in Maya’s room. And apparently the murdered juror had new information on the case! Oh, the twists and turns of this legal thriller will unquestionably surprise you. If you’re a fan of John Grisham’s earliest books, you’ll love The Holdout.

Note to Shelf, Jr

Kaitlin

A fairly recent addition to our collection, Cynthia (Cindy) L. Copeland’s Cub is a humorous yet heartfelt graphic memoir depicting her time as a seventh-grade cub reporter for a local newspaper. While Cindy begins her seventh-grade year simply trying to blend into the crowd – she doesn’t want to get picked off by any predators, aka mean girls – her reporting internship teaches her the importance not only of facts but also of using her voice.

The story is set against the backdrop of the Watergate scandal, giving Cindy’s portrayal of herself as a young woman navigating the tweenage drama of boys and bullies, expectations and ambitions an added layer of depth. Adults may recognize Cynthia as the author of Good Riddance, a 2013 graphic memoir about divorce, as well as numerous parenting books, but kids who enjoy Raina Telgeimer and Victoria Jamieson will find a new favorite in this fresh voice in juvenile graphic novels.

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