Five Book Friday!

And a very happy International Women’s Day, beloved patrons!

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International Women’s Day began in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York in support of shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.  One year later, the Socialist Party of America declared a National Women’s Day on Sunday, February 28–the day was specifically chosen to allow even working women to participate.  And one year after that, at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin of Germany suggested an International Women’s Day. The day, as she proposed, would be recognized in every country, to advocate for issues critical to all women.   The next International Women’s Day, in 1911, was recognized by nine countries.

In 1913, the Russian Socialist Party moved the celebration to March 8, the day on which it is still observed today.  During the First World War, women’s work in international pacifist organizations used this day to promote work across borders and above international hostilities to make life better for human people everywhere. Though they didn’t bring the war to an end (though not through lack of trying), in 1917, women in Russian went on strike with a message of “peace and bread”–and four days later, the Tzar abdicated, signaling an end to Russia’s involvement in the First World War.

The United Nations recognized International Women’s Day in 1975, and the celebration has since spread around the world.  This year’s international theme is #BalanceforBetter, which emphasizes the need to build a gender-balanced world.  We are delighted to be celebrating International Women’s Day at the Library today, and Women’s History Month throughout March–stop by to see our fantastic Women’s History Month display!

And now, on to the books!

This Scot of Mine: Sophie Jordan is a favorite here at the Library, and we’re delighted that her newest historical romance has made its way to our shelves!  Desperate to escape her vile fiancé, Lady Clara devises a bold lie—that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. With her reputation in tatters, Clara flees to Scotland to live out her days in disgrace, resigned to her fate as a spinster…until she claps eyes on the powerful and wickedly handsome Laird Hunt MacLarin. Hunt needs an heir, but he comes from a long line of men cursed to die before the birth of their firstborn. When the Duke of Autenberry approaches him with a proposition—marry my ruined sister—it seems the perfect solution. Even better, the defiant lass stirs him to his very soul.  But even as Clara finds herself falling in love with her erstwhile husband, both she and Hunt fear the curse that hangs over the MacLarin line.  Will their love prove stronger than fate?  This is a surprisingly fun, emotion-packed adventure that has Jordan’s many fans enthralled.  Booklist was among the legions offering it praise, calling this book another expertly calibrated mix of vibrantly etched characters and steamy sensuality that will delight both longtime fans and new readers alike.”

The City in the Middle of the Night: Charlie Jane Anders is in possession of one formidable imagination, and this newest novel is proof positive that she is an author to watch.  January is a dying planet–divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside. Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans–and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.  Though the description sounds bleak, but the reality is that this is a joyful, adventurous, utterly engaging romp that will have appeal for sci-fi fans and literature-lovers alike.  Publisher’s Weekly, who gave this book a starred review, agrees, calling this book “Intricate, embracing much of what makes a grand adventure: smugglers, revolutionaries, pirates, camaraderie, personal sacrifice, wondrous discovery, and the struggle to find light in the darkness. Breathlessly exciting and thought-provoking.”

After She’d Gone: Named the Best Nordic Crime Novel of the Year by the Crime Writers of Scandinavia, Camilla Grebe’s second novel featuring psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön is a must read for fans of Nordic mysteries.  Out of the frozen depths of a forest in Ormberg, Sweden, a woman stumbles onto the road. Her arms are covered with scratches, her feet are bare, and she has no memory of who she is. Local police identify her as Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who, with her partner, had been helping  investigate the cold case of a young woman’s murder. Hanne begins to recover but cannot recall anything about where her partner is, or what their investigation had uncovered before her disappearance. Police have only one lead: a young woman in a sequined dress who was spotted nearby the night Hanne was found. The young woman doesn’t come forward because she doesn’t exist: Jake Birgersson, a local teenager, had been out walking in his mother’s dress and sister’s makeup, his secret shame and thrill. Terrified of discovery, Jake hid and watched Hanne get into a car, leaving behind her diary. Reading Hanne’s notebook, Jake realizes that it contains the key to a major breakthrough in the case—but turning it in would mean admitting the truth about who he is. When another murder victim is found in the woods, Jake realizes that Hanne herself is in danger, and his only choice is to find and warn her so that together, they can stop the killer before he strikes again.  Needless to say, with all its stellar reviews and the Grebe’s legion of fans, this is a book to savor.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees.  They gave this book a starred review and called it a “stellar crime novel . . . Grebe delivers an unflinching, heart-wrenching message about the plight of refugees in this scorching thriller.”

Women Warriors: An Unexpected History: The woman warrior is always cast as an anomaly—Joan of Arc, not GI Jane. But women, it turns out, have always gone to war. In this fascinating and lively world history, Pamela Toler not only introduces us to women who took up arms, she also shows why they did it and what happened when they stepped out of their traditional female roles to take on other identities.  These are the stories of women who fought because they wanted to, because they had to, or because they could.  Toler’s work introduces you to women as diverse and fascinating as Tomyris, ruler of the Massagetae, who killed Cyrus the Great of Persia when he sought to invade her lands, The Trung sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, who led an untrained army of 80,000 troops to drive the Chinese empire out of Vietnam, and Buffalo Calf Road Woman, the Cheyenne warrior who knocked General Custer off his horse at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Moving, entertaining, and thoroughly illuminating, Library Journal gave this book a starred review, cheering, “Toler blows past all expectations with this thoroughly delightful, personable, and crucially important history of women warriors.”

Woman 99:  When Charlotte Smith’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte knows there’s more to the story than madness. She risks everything and follows her sister inside, surrendering her real identity as a privileged young lady of San Francisco society to become a nameless inmate, Woman 99. The longer she stays, the more she realizes that many of the women of Goldengrove aren’t insane, merely inconvenient ― and that her search for the truth threatens to dig up secrets that some very powerful people would do anything to keep. A historical thriller rich in detail, deception, and revelation, Greer Macallister’s novel is a gripping, heart-wrenching exploration of gender injustices that are still coded into our medical system today.  Booklist loved this title, noting how well it succeeds in “Exploring sisterhood, trauma, and the power of shared experience, Woman 99 is an undercover glimpse inside a late nineteenth-century treatment facility. Macallister fearlessly probes the dark corners of the era, exposing barbaric treatments and backward thinking surrounding mental illness.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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