Tag Archives: joanne fluke

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

Favorites from My Author-Signed Books Collection

23 Apr

For my last post I wrote about my magazine collection. Today I’m writing about my collection of author-signed books. In some cases I met the authors that signed the books at events, or received them as gifts. These books (not signed editions, though) are all available to borrow at the Hoboken Public Library or through interlibrary loan. Some are even available as eBooks or audiobooks through eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and the 3M Cloud Library–see the links below the book’s cover image.

Sex and the City, by Candace Bushnell.

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Sex and the City was the first author-signed book I received (a gift from a former boss) that established my collection. The book consists of the articles Candace Bushnell wrote for the New York Observer that inspired the hit show, but that is where the similarities end. Bushnell’s tone differs. Like many women, I spent Sunday nights watching Sex and the City on HBO. Most of all I loved the incredible outfits the actresses wore. I remember preferring the show over the book, but plan to reread it as my feelings for the show have changed over the years. (I still love the fashion, though.)

My Year in Meals, by Rachael Ray.

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I received this book for free at a taping of The Rachael Ray Show. This four color cookbook is beautifully designed. The layout is like a journal, where Ray documented a full year of recipes. Throughout are assorted cooking notes and personal photos from Ray. Flip the book over for a section on cocktail recipes by John Cusimano, Ray’s husband. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, so I cannot comment on those. I can say that if you attend a taping of The Rachael Ray Show, wear a sweater. The studio temperature was like that of this past winter’s polar vortexes (vortices?). Brrr.

Sula, by Toni Morrison.

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(link to eBook)

During my senior year of college, some friends and I trekked to (pre-Girls) Brooklyn to attend a reading of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. If I recall correctly, the reading was in a church and the book signing was at the nearby Community Bookstore. I chose to have Morrison sign Sula instead of her new work because I had recently read Sula for a literature course and enjoyed it most of all her books I had read. The publicists at the signing forbade us from speaking to Morrison to keep the line moving, but I still thanked her for signing by book because, manners.

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, by Joanne Fluke.

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(link to eBook)

This title is part of the “Murder She Baked” mystery series that follows Hannah Swenson, owner of bakery in a sleepy small Minnesota town with a rather alarming murder rate, as she solves crimes that usually involve baked goods. I’ve read all the books in the series, and while I feel that the love triangle between Hannah and her two suitors is tired I still enjoy the recipes included in the books. I made the Hot Stuff Brownie Cookies with chopped green chilies featured in this book, which several family members that taste-tested the cookies found too experimental, or “weird” to use their words.

The Tao of Martha, by Jen Lancaster.

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(link to audiobook)

This one is my favorite because there is a good story attached to it. As Lancaster signed my copy of her hilarious and touching memoir about her efforts to live, garden, and keep house following Martha Stewart’s magazines and books, I asked Lancaster for restaurant recommendations in Chicago (she is based in the Chicagoland area) as I was going there for a conference. She was awesome enough to suggest three and wrote them down on a post-it note. I didn’t get to any of the restaurants on that trip (sorry!), but plan to try at least one when I go back to Chicago next year–I still have that post-it note.

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We Are in a Book!, by Mo Willems.

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This book is my favorite signed children’s book. The publicists at the signing (probably not the same ones from the Toni Morrison event) were moving everyone along, so when it was my turn I quickly told Willems how much I love reading his books aloud. I have read this book to my nieces and we giggled the whole time. (We also like There Is a Bird on Your Head!) This book, much like the other Elephant & Piggie books, is so silly and you can’t help but have fun reading them. The Elephant & Piggie books make great gifts for the children in your life–bonus if they’re signed by Mo Willems.

Do you have any signed copies of your favorite books?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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