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Six Books I’ve Read So Far for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

30 Mar

Dear reader, I am now halfway through the 2018 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, with 12 of the 24 tasks completed! I am proud to be halfway through the challenge so early in the year. 

Without further ado, here are the books I read to complete 6 more tasks.

The Task: A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60

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The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

The only book I could think of to fulfill this task was Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, which I read last year with the Mile Square City Readers Book Club. (A moving book, by the way.) I already had The Woman Next Door checked out, and when I realized the two protagonists were female octogenarians I was excited that this book would complete this task. Hortensia and Marion are neighbors in post-apartheid South Africa whose relationship is contentious, but evolves into friendship and mutual understanding. I read this book in one day.

The Task: A book with a cover you hate

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Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

Raspberry Danish Murder is the latest entry of Joanne Fluke’s Murder She Baked series, which follows bakery owner and part-time sleuth Hannah Swenson in a small Minnesota town with an alarmingly high murder rate. The writing has become almost painful and I read this since I’ve read the other books in the series. I have a sweet tooth, which is what initially drew me to Fluke’s books but the raspberry danish on the cover looks so unappetizing. For that reason, plus the overall decline of this series’ quality, is why I used Raspberry Danish Murder to complete this task.

The Task: A comic written and drawn by the same person

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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

I first read The Complete Persepolis in graduate school, and it blew me away. Marjane Satrapi tells her extraordinary story of growing up in Iran before, during, and after the Revolution. My favorite parts were about the lengths Marjane and her friends and family went through to live their daily lives with celebrations, parties, and romance, all while evading government authorities prepared to arrest them for crimes such as women not being properly veiled and drinking at home. The Lady Memoir Book Club I lead at Little City Books discussed this book at our last meeting.

The Task: A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author

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The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

In The Widows of Malabar Hillwe meet Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in 1920s Bombay. A routine estate settlement case becomes complicated for Perveen when the deceased’s three wives who live in purdah (a practice of Muslim women choosing to live in seclusion) sign away their inheritances to charity,  and then a murder occurs in the home. It is up to Perveen to solve the mystery and protect the women’s interests. This book is the first in a series called A Mystery of 1920s Bombay, and I definitely want to read more from Sujata Massey.

The Task: An Oprah Book Club selection

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I finished An American Marriagelast week, and I am still thinking about it. Celestial and Roy are newlyweds when Roy is wrongly imprisoned for rape. This book, told in part by the letters Roy and Celestial write to each other, generated an excellent discussion at a recent Mile Square City Readers Book Club meeting. It raises a lot of questions, too. What is an American marriage? What would you do if your spouse was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit? Oprah made an excellent choice with this book, in my opinion. I plan to read Tayari Jones’ other books.

The Task: A comic written or drawn by a person of color

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Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay and Ta’Nehisi Coates

I saw the film Black Panther, and absolutely loved it. Black Panther: World of Wakanda features writing by literary heavyweights Roxane Gay and Ta’Nehisi Coates, plus other authors. The story begins with the Dora Milaje (the female protectors of the Wakandan royal family), where Captain Aneka and Initiate Ayo fall in love during training, and where Initiate Folami goes rogue. I enjoyed reading about the fierce, strong women of the Dora Milaje, who believe in protecting all Wakandans in addition to the Royal Family.

This will be the last post I write for the Staff Picks blog, as I am moving on from the Hoboken Public Library. It has been wonderful sharing my reading journeys with you in this space. Thank you to those who have read and commented on my work. Feel free to find me on Goodreads. Happy Reading!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Cat Fiction and Nonfiction for Feline Fanciers

28 Feb

You may remember I wrote a post about service dog’s for National Guide Dog Month, which is in September, but my heart truly belongs to another furry beast, the cat.  My beloved fur baby Vlad passed away recently and in his honor I wanted to look at some fun feline fiction and nonfiction available from BCCLS Libraries for all the cat ladies (and cat guys) out there.

The Cat Who Series by Lilian Jackson Braun

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I once read that mystery books with cats on the cover tend to sell more.   The charming story of retired journalist Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum who solve crimes is probably my favorite in the cozy/cat genre.  The first in the series The Cat Who Could Read Backwards was published in 1968, but the majority of the books were published between the late 1980’s to mid 2000’s.  The last novel was set to be published in 2008, but The Cat Who Smelled Smoke remains a mystery due to being first postponed due to the author’s failing health and then her passing in 2011.  Although this left certain plot lines unresolved, the previous 29 books are perfect for curling up with some cocoa on a chilly winter evening.  The series was so popular, there was even a parody written by Robert Kaplow, The Cat Who Killed Lilian Jackson Braun published in 2003.

Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

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Another mystery series doesn’t just feature a cat protagonist, it also was “co-written” by a feline author, Sneaky Pie Brown, who along with his human companion Rita Mae Brown have created a 26 book series with 27 (Probable Claws) scheduled to come out in May.

Crafting with Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat by Kaori Tsutaya and translated from the Japanese by Amy Hirschman

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If your cat is too busy taking naps in sun beams to write a bestselling mystery series, they can still assist you in creativity with Kaori Tsutaya’s Crafting with Cat Hair which allows you to make cat hair finger puppets and appliques from the piles of cat hair that you have left behind post brushing.  As someone who once was the owner of a herd of three shedding Persians, I was greatly amused by this book and Tsutaya creativity.

Dinner Pawsible: A Cookbook of Nutritious, Homemade Meals for Cats and Dogs by Cathy Alinovi

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I have been guilty of occasionally splurging and treating my furry friends to gourmet food, but with Dinner Pawsible you can create your own yummy well balanced meal for your furbabies that can be healthier and less expensive than what you buy at the store.  The sixty recipes for cat and dog food were created by a veterinarian certified in food therapy and an advocate for pet food safety and are based on the National Research Council requirements for dogs and cats, but still always check in with your own vet, especially if your pet has special dietary restrictions before changing their diets.

Cat Castles: 20 Cardboard Habitats You Can Build Yourself by Carin Oliver

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If the winter’s chill is keeping you in and has you looking for fun projects than check out Carin Oliver’s Cat Castles.  Included are instructions for making cardboard trains, ships, food trucks, rockets, and other hideaways for your feline friends along with information for scratching pads that can divert sharp claws away from your furniture.  Let other plebian cats curl up in shoe boxes, your cat can lounge and play in style with these easy to assemble and inexpensive crafts.

James Dean’s Pete the Cat Picture Book Series

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Our Hoboken Public Library Patrons may remember Pete the Cat won the library’s election that our Children’s Department ran for kid’s pick for Story Book Characters for President race.  For those not familiar with our first kitty pick, Pete the Cat is a cartoon cat with a talent for the guitar. Originally a self-published work, the books in the Pete the Cat series have sold more than seven million copies and have spent a combined 230 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list according to a 2014 Publisher Weekly article; that is a lot of feline fans!

The Warriors Series by Erin Hunter

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Older children (ages 10 and up), may want to instead check out Erin Hunter’s imaginative fantasy series which debuted with the novel Into the Wild and features a world shared by four tribal cat clans.  Hunter takes typical cat behaviors and creates an elaborate mythology and social structure around them.

Let us know about some of your feline favorites in our comment section!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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