Here are your staff reads as you gear up for Memorial Day Weekend!
Ashley: Forgive Me if I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters; The Boys who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose
- The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built by Jack Viertel. This is my favorite non-fiction book I have read, this year. Heck, this is probably my favorite book I have read, this year! My (not so) secret desire is to be a character actress or a lead in a Broadway musical. There’s just that one little problem of not having an ounce of talent when it comes to singing, dancing, or acting, so I imagine an audition would be a painful process for all involved. I may or may not have imagined myself winning Tony awards for my roles as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and as Marian the Librarian in The Music Man. But, hey, I couldn’t play Marian on stage, so at least I get to be her in real life. I love to read books about the history of Broadway, but I felt like this book was written for me. Okay, so I’m not that delusional, but producer, former critic, and instructor at New York University Jack Viertel seems to have gotten into my brain as he not only makes the case for the importance and significance of all musicals, he appreciates many of the same aspects of them that I do. Dividing the book into different segments of the show, he takes the reader through the opening number, the number by the secondary couple, and even the show stoppers, showing how they’ve evolved over time, and how different numbers may play different roles in individual shows. His book demonstrates how older musicals led the way for the modern era (Hair begat Rent which begat Hamilton, The King and I begat The Book of Mormon, and Little Shop of Horrors begat Hairspray, for examples. He and I even have the same taste. The epilogue consists of a list of cast recordings from a variety of musicals that he recommends. In most cases, Viertel maintains that the original cast recording is the best, something with which I’m in complete agreement. In one example, however, he says that it’s hard to choose, so it’s important to own two cast recordings of Guys and Dolls: the 1950 original cast starring Sam Levene and Vivian Blaine as Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide and the 1992 revival cast recording starring Faith Prince and Nathan Lane in the same roles. Guess which is the only show I own the original cast and the revival cast on Itunes? In my head, I’m telling you!
- Bucky &***** Dent by David Duchovny. (That second word of the title is actually a familiar word with one letter missing. I’m sure you can figure out the word!) My second fantasy job after being the queen of the Broadway stage is to play right field for the Boston Red Sox, in which I would have hit the game winning home run in a decisive game 7 of the World Series. (This was pre-2004, when my chances of playing for the Red Sox were about as likely as them winning a World Series in my lifetime). Since, however, my baseball abilities are about on par with my acting and singing abilities, this wasn’t happening. I do, however, love to devour books about baseball, and when I heard that Agent Mulder, er, David Duchovny, from one of my favorite shows was writing a novel about the 1978 Red Sox and Yankees, I was intrigued. I’m always a bit wary about actors who write novels, and therefore had fairly low expectations, which helped. Wannabe writer, Ted Fullilove, is a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium in 1978, when he receives news that his estranged Red Sox fan father, is dying. The two slowly come to a reconciliation amidst the backdrop of the 1978 playoff battle between the Red Sox and Yankees. (Fans of either team, regardless if they were born yet, know what happened in that one game playoff when the Red Sox hearts were broken again.) This short book will be fun for fans of either team, but there are a lot of cliches, the characters are a bit one note and the scenes are similar to a Hallmark Channel movie (plus some extreme profanity which doesn’t bother me but may bother some readers). I was not surprised to read in multiple reviews that this was originally intended as a screenplay as the book is full of television and movie tropes. Duchovny clearly loves baseball (See his X-Files directed episode, “The Unnatural”) and that comes through (mostly) in a lovely way, here, but, unless you’re also a baseball fan, or have fond or painful memories of the 1978 season, this book probably won’t do anything for you.
Janice: In honor of the passing of the esteemed George Martin on March 8, I read his memoir All You Need is Ears. It’s an oldie from 1979, but gives a lot of dirt on the famous record producer’s star performers- Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Peter Sellers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, America, and of course, the Beatles. The amazing career of “the Fifth Beatle” spanned everything from the old 78’s to the onset of the digital era. Much like reading Orwell’s 1984 with today’s eyes, some of Martin’s statements are amusing in their naivete, such as: quadrophonic recording was too complicated to catch on, or the Beatles’ early songwriting ability did not appear saleable. On the other hand, with Sergeant Pepper he correctly predicted that highly produced recorded music would not be reproducible in an arena or auditorium, which became a major reason the Beatles, among others groups, stopped touring.
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood published in 1996: This book was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and England’s Booker Prize and won the Giller Prize for Fiction.
Alias Grace is based on the case of sixteen year old Grace Marks, who, in 1843 was imprisoned for a double murder. She was released with a pardon in 1872 from the Provincial Penitentiary in Ontario to New York State to a “home provided” and may or may not have gotten married. It is not clear if Ms. Marks was actually a murderess or if the evidence was circumstantial. This is a great read for anyone who likes psychological fiction, historical fiction or an exploration of the lives of domestics in the 1840s.
Readalikes, Viewalikes: Upstairs, Downstairs, Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Story that Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey by Margaret Powell, My Thirty Years Backstairs At the Whitehouse by Lilian Rogers Parks, Backstairs at the Whitehouse, The Alienist by Caleb Carr
- Eileen by Ottessa Mossfegh: This is one of these wonderful, dark, dysfunctional tales told by an unreliable narrator that is just not to be missed. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, get ready for another wild ride. Eileen lives with her alcoholic retired policeman father in a squalor filled house in the 1950s. The fictional working class Massachusetts town by the sea boasts a juvenile prison for boys. Eileen works there by day and returns to her crazy father at night. When a new employee named Rebecca begins working at the prison and seems to take a shine to Eileen, things begin to change. Gillian Flynn fans, take note. You won’t want to miss this novel. I am waiting for more by Ottessa Mossfegh.
- Girl Sleuth : Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her / Melanie Rehak: Recently some of my colleagues and I learned that Carolyn Keene was just a pen name and actually the Nancy Drew series, we grew up reading, was written by a number of different authors since 1930, we were all horrified and heartbroken. To make matters worse the whole idea was the brainchild of a children’s book mogul – A MAN – named Edward Stratemeyer. This book answers the Five “W’s” of Mystery…Why, Who, When, What and Where.
- In the Unlikely Event [sound recording] : a novel / Judy Blume: Good Story but not so good if you don’t like to fly! This is the first book written by JudyBlume that I’ve read.
- A Death in Belmont / by Sebastian Junger: Enjoyed reading this account of murders around the time of The Boston Strangler case. I grew up when this was unfolding. I had forgotten how different things were back in the 60’s from how they are today. Prices, attitudes and how the courts and jury pools were run…Doesn’t seem that long ago but it WAS 50 Years ago! I graduated in 1966 and my 50th high school reunion is this year…
- Message in a Bottle / by Nicholas Sparks: This book really annoyed me – honesty in a relationship is always a good thing to avoid situations like the ones brought about in this tale!
- The Book of Speculation: a Novel / by Erika Swyler: Always fun to read books that involve librarians – this librarian tries to research a journal that has connections to his family.
- Sex on the Moon / Ben Mezrich: I didn’t realize this book was based on a real events…Someone has a plan to break into NASA to steal a moon rock so he can give his girl friend the moon!
- The Weird Sisters / Eleanor Brown: Enjoyable first novel, and an unusual read – A college professor speaks almost entirely in verse from Shakespeare’s writings, he even named his three daughters after characters in his plays..The whole family loves to read, the sisters all return home to take care of their sick mother and manage to get their lives in order.
- Save Me [sound recording] : a novel / Lisa Scottoline: Good story with a timely theme involving problems with bullying in school, a misunderstanding causes a death during a fire and the Mom of one of the students has to find the answer to this mystery.
- Bel-Air Dead / Stuart Woods: Another Stone Barrington romp thru a murder case…
- Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life [sound recording] : A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life / Larry Winget: I have control of my life – leave me alone please!
- Ten Days in the Hills / by Jane Smiley: Too much of a Hollywood gossip storyline for me.
- Dead End Gene Pool [sound recording] : a Memoir / Wendy Burden: Not my cup of tea!
- Ghost Story / Jim Butcher: Started out with an interesting premise – someone who’d been murdered having to go back and solve his death before he could get into heaven – Lost me once back on earth and Science Fiction plot reared it’s head – Guess I’m not really a Sci-Fi reader.
- Out Stealing Horses / Per Petterson: Sixty-seven-year-old Trond Sander lives secluded in a far corner of Norway. Casting his mind back to 1948, he recalls a horse stealing prank with his best friend that turned tragic and changed his life forever. I got thru it but don’t know why!
- A Turn in the Road / Debbie Macomber: 3 Generations solve their romance problems in Debbie Macomber’s usual way gently!
- Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me / by Chelsea’s family, friends, and other victims: I’m too old for this kind of humor if that’s what it’s called..
- Across the Universe / Beth Revis: Don’t know why I requested this one…another Sci-Fi story couldn’t get into it.
- The Pretender, The complete first season: Watched the pilot and one more episode – Kind of dated didn’t like any of the characters – predictable plots.
- The Producers: My husband kept complaining that there was too much singing – I told him that’s what musicals do! Funny movie not exactly politically correct. (editor’s note: For a little less singing, but for an equally (if not more) funny time, get the original 1967 film.)
- Chasing Shadows: Enjoyed everyone in this cast – even the bad guys. Another off beat combination of investigators put together to solve crimes/missing person investigations.
Hoping they change their minds and continue the series.
- Bridge of Spies: Started out slow but got interesting when I realized that it involved the release of a captured American U-2 pilot Gary Powers – an incident I remember happening when I was younger.
Here are the bestseller lists for the week of May 1, 2016:
Your “Staff Reads” for Tax Day and Patriot’s Day!
Lisa: I got of our elevator on my way to look for some easy reading and got distracted enough by Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (humor writing) from our Comedy display that I decided I needed to read it.
- House of Cards: The Complete Second Season. Nasty Frank Underwood and Company – You never know what they are conniving to do next!
- We also are revisiting Person of Interest – Seasons 1-2. Waiting for Season 3 & 4. Enjoyed watching this when first aired – amazing how much you forget.
- The Rosie Effect [sound recording] / Graeme Simsion. I like the way Don can say what he’s really thinking without filters…Often vicariously wish I could do that, when dealing with difficult situations…
- Pretty Girls [sound recording] : a novel by Karin Slaughter. This book kept me interested but it was a bit too gory and descriptive of the horrific torture the serial killer put his victims through. I didn’t get through the whole book. The author’s last name describes this book – it was a real slaughter. Don’t know if I want to read/listen to anymore.
- Finders Keepers [sound recording] : a novel by Stephen King. I guess I’m getting too old to wait for all the characters that Mr. King has in his books to develop and bring them together to tell the story. I may give this another try but I just couldn’t get into it at this time.
- Split Second [sound recording] / Catherine Coulter. Good mystery lots of twists and turns involving different subplots – and a need to suspend realistic belief during a part of the story.
- A Monster Calls [sound recording] : a novel by by Patrick Ness ; inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd.
Times have changed since I was a teenager many moons ago. My parents wouldn’t have let me read this kind of book…too scary
- The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook : From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapés to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding by Emily Ansara Baines.
I really didn’t intend to make any of these labor intensive recipes but it was fun to look thru the “exotic” fare.. Chapter 4 was titled – Fourth and Fifth Courses: Juicy Joints and Succulent Steaks.
Jan: I read Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones. While it may seem dry at first, it’s actually a fascinating account of the way of life in the Middle Ages. It takes you way beyond your memories of sugar cube constructions of castles in school to the story of the injustices of King John’s reign (yes, the King John of Robin Hood fame, mentioned but only briefly.) The quintessential founding document of constitutional government, the Magna Carta became more than a peace treaty between the king, his warring barons, and the Church. It ensured rights that are now enshrined in charters around the world.
Pat A.: Currently reading Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy. I saw her on a television interview. She talks about how we hold ourselves, posturing, has a deep effect on our mind and changes how we present ourselves.
Just finished The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman about a family of women with charm bracelets and the story behind each charm. A “charming” book.
- A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger: In 1960’s Belmont, a woman was found murdered. Was the culprit the Boston Strangler or an African-American handy man? Junger goes into elaborate detail and paints an amazing portrait of race relations (still relevant as ever) and the fear and fascination we all have with crimes. Junger gives the reader a strong sense of place regarding the time period and the area. I loved the detail in The Perfect Storm and was glad to see that this book was similar.
- What We Find by Robyn Carr: Carr’s latest romance is the story of doctor Maggie Sullivan, who dealing with multiple lawsuits, a broken relationship, and a miscarriage, runs to her father’s campground in rural Colorado. There she begins a romance with Cal Jones, a drifter, who is running away from his own issues. A quick read, though somewhat predictable, the quirky side characters and the romance make it worthwhile.
- Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta: Meadow and Carrie are childhood friends who are filmmakers. Throughout the years, their friendship waxes and wanes as they embark on their respective careers. Things come to a head when Meadow makes a documentary about “Jelly”, a woman who calls men but never wants to meet them. This book is either pretentious or making fun of pretentiousness. An interesting look at life behind the movie camera and how film is or isn’t a metaphor for life.
- I’m currently reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Fanny Price, sent to live with her aunt’s family, has always felt a bit like an outsider among her cousins and struggles to find her place in the family. I love how Austen developed her characters’ personalities through the dialogue rather than descriptions. The dialogue, as in Pride and Prejudice is very witty.
- Moonrise Kingdom: This has been on my “to watch” list for awhile. This movie is pure Wes Anderson, with its heightened reality and quirky yet fully realized characters. This movie was delightful.
Hannah: The Midnight Assassin by Skip Hollandsworth: Skip Hollandsworth retells the story of America’s first serial killer. Pre-dating Jack the Ripper (in fact, London police wondered if it might be the same person), the Midnight Assassin lurked in Austin, Texas during the year 1885. The killer brutally murdered seven women in the span of a year. More than a dozen men were arrested for the murders, but the true identity of the killer remains a mystery. Whether you love a good mystery or revel in true crime this book is sure to fascinate.
- A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady: A serial killer is murdering people during a very hot June in 1880’s Dublin.
- Death on the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst: A story of two sisters who go on tour to visit various sites memorializing Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course, there are murders. I liked it so much I read the first two books in the series and plan on reading the others. Death on the Prairie is the last in the series, but there was no problem in reading it out of order.
- The Governor’s Wife by Michael Harvey: Another new book in a series that I enjoyed and plan to read the earlier books. Of course, there is a murder.
- Just finished reading:
- The Widow by Fiona Barton: The Widow is a creepy tale, a bit of a psychological thriller. Jean Taylor is a perfect London housewife, a little untidy. Her husband, Glen, is controlling, they married young and Jean does whatever Glen tells her to do until Glen is run over by a bus and dies. Jean has kept her secrets but now seems to be the time to let it all out of the bag. A little girl had gone missing from her front yard and Glen was the prime suspect. His van was seen in the girl’s neighborhood on the day she went missing, that and other clues lead the police to believe Glen is their man…but was he and how much did Jean really know??
- New Neighbor by Leah Stewart: Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley is cantankerous, she lives alone on a mountain in Tennessee, and spies on her new neighbor, Jennifer, who lives across the pond. . Both women are keeping dark secrets, and Margaret is on a mission to find out what Jennifer is hiding, she has an obsession, loving to solve mysteries. I was surprised by the ending but felt it was really a good story.
- Recently watched:
- Spotlight: This movie is an account of the true story of how The Boston Globe investigated allegations of children being raped by priests in Boston in 2001, and uncovered a world-wide system of child sex abuse that the Catholic Church had been allowing for 30 years. Even being painfully aware of this scandal and it details, this movie brought more facts to light and just how the victims were left to deal with this abuse both mentally and physically.. It’s one of the best movies about investigative reporting I’ve ever seen.
- Brooklyn: A charming story about young Irish immigrant who comes to New York for a better life. She is torn between the prospect of a new beginning and leaving her much loved sister and mother behind in Ireland. This is truly a tale of two countries, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Here are the best seller lists for the week of April 3, 2016:
Here are the best seller lists for the week of March 27, 2016:
Your “Staff Reads” for St. Patrick’s Day!
Jan: I watched A Walk in the Woods [videorecording] released last year. Starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, it is a beautifully filmed story of a trek on the Appalachian Trail by a couple of old pals who discover more about themselves than the thrill of the hike. It is superficially similar to Wild by Carol Strayed, set on the west coast’s equivalent Pacific Coast Trail. But Walk gives some of the most beautiful views and iconic sights from the AT’s southern leg…a must see for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Pat A.: The Good Good-Bye by Carla Buckley and Come Away With Me by Karma Brown. Both were very good stories with a twist.
An older book that was very good was A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan.
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on DVD. It was a really good, but sad Iranian movie (filmed in the US) that had bits of humor, horror, drama, & romance. They way this movie was filmed reminded me a lot of Jim Jarmusch.
- Dope on DVD. This was a really enjoyable coming of age comedy/drama that has it all… a good story, likable characters, and great music.
- Streamed the new Face to Face album, Protection, off Freegal. Face to Face has been around since 1991 (with a short breakup last decade). This album reminds me a lot of their sound from the mid 90s (which is a great thing).
- I just started reading Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco via OverDrive. I was in the mood for a fun horror book, and, so far, I am enjoying it.
Stephanie: Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin: Gossipy, intriguing, fictional glimpse of the lives of several New York socialites and their relationship with Truman Capote. Heartbreaking and catty, dazzling and fun. You will want to re-visit both “Answered Prayers” and Capote’s article “Cote Basque 1965” published in Esquire Magazine November of 1975. Whether you liked Truman Capote or not, you wont be able to put this book down.
- The Precipice: [sound recording] : a novel by Paul Doiron: Always fun when a story takes place somewhere you are familiar with – Young female hikers get lost in the Maine Wilderness – Warden Mike Bowditch helps solve the mystery.
- The Killer Next Door [sound recording] : a novel by Alex Marwood. Too bloody for me, very descriptive of murder methods.
- Too Much Happiness [sound recording] : [stories] / Alice Munro (Short Stories) – Listened to a few but not my way to Happiness! So many other books so little time!
- The Gifts of Imperfection [sound recording] : Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. Listened to a couple of discs and decided I’m ok with myself all ready!
- Beach Town [sound recording] : a novel by Mary Kay Andrews. Mary Kay Andrews always writes an interesting story – a bit of love, family issues, old & new problems solved – books that are difficult to put down once you are into the story.
- The Stranger [sound recording] by Harlan Coben. Harlan Coben doesn’t disappoint – another page turner.
- A Museum Adventure [sound recording] by Daniel Kirk. This was cute – I love stories with mice in them – I think children would enjoy these library mouse adventures!
- Al Capone Shines My Shoes [sound recording] by Gennifer Choldenko. I’ve been to Alcatraz on a tour and I could visualize what it must have been like for these kids and their families.
- Lights Out: A Cyber Attack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel (sound recording) deals with what could and in Ted’s view most likely will happen to the human race in the future. Very scary – decided to switch back to Fiction for awhile easier for me to solve murders from the couch than dwell on Armageddon.
- Finished reading/listening to In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick – Interesting and learned a lot about the Whaling Trade back in the 1800’s. I read it after watching the movie The Whale – which I believe was based on the tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. Kept me on the edge of the couch!
- We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Another great story from the author of The Language of Flowers. It’s a story about a young single mother, Letty, who is trying to make a better life for her children. Letty has always relied on her parents to raise her children while she worked 3 jobs but now her parents have returned to Mexico.So she must make a life for her family as she deals with all of life’s trials and tribulations . It’s a story very relevant to today’s society as she weaves a tale of second-generation Americans and undocumented immigrants. A very engaging story with well developed characters.
- The Red Coat : a Novel of Boston by Dolley Carlson. Set in Boston in the 1940s, an Irish domestic, Norah Kelly, asks her wealthy employer for an elegant red coat that has been earmarked for a charity donation. Norah brings the coat home to her daughter and so begins the story of two families that intertwine over the decades. It’s a fascinating story with great character development but also amazing historical insight. There are lots of Boston landmarks that are presented in old photos along the side of the pages. It really came alive for me as my mother was an Irish domestic who worked on Beacon Hill when she first came to the states. Truly a book difficult to put down and sad to see it end..
- The Lake House [sound recording] : a Novel by Kate Morton. A mysterious tale of dark family secrets set in a lakeside estate in Cornwall, England. Once again this is a book that goes back and forth from a present day mystery to one that took place over 70 years ago.
This is a gripping mystery that will keep you thinking about it long after you’ve finished the book.
- Mirror Lake: [a novel] by Thomas Christopher Greene (audiobook download from Hoopla). Nathan Carter, a young man in his 30s moves from Boston to rural Vermont after the death of his father. He becomes a rural mail-person and one of the stops on his route is Wallace Fisk, a 79 year old curmudgeon, who takes down his mailbox so Nathan wouldn’t be able to deliver the mail.
Nathan’s Jeep goes off the road in a blinding snowstorm and it is Wallace who comes to his rescue and nurses him back to health. And so begins an unlikely friendship. The novel unfolds between each man’s past and present and some dark secrets are revealed. A very enjoyable story with a good narrator.
Lisa: I’m currently reading a variety of romance novels for light reading. For more substantive reading I like to read self-improvement books. Right now I’m focusing on self-improvement for my librarian self. I just finished a book called Crash Course in Library Services to Preschool Children.
- The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Monsieur Perdu owns a bookstore pharmacy on a houseboat in the Seine, where he prescribes the perfect book for each of his customers. Haunted by memories of his one true love, a woman who was involved with him while married, and entangled with a young, brash writer, Monsieur Perdu drops anchor on the Seine and encounters several quirky characters and learns something about life. The writing is so lyrical, and I love the idea of the floating bookstore. And, though, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I have to admit I was drawn to reading this purely because of the cover.
- Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. This fun graphic novel, written for teens but to be enjoyed by everyone, re-imagines Rapunzel in the Wild West with special guest star, Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk). Rapunzel is no damsel in distress as she manages to take care of herself and get out of her tower. The illustrations are just striking, and the prose is both compelling and humorous.
- Laura (Movie). I recently re-visited this film noir, starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, and Judith Anderson. Detective Mark McPherson falls in love with the compelling, Laura Hunt, simply by looking at her portrait. Unfortunately, he happens to be trying to solve her murder. The melodramatic movie is a little dated and is unintentionally funny in parts, but it’s still a fun ride, and Clifton Webb is sufficiently creepy as one of Laura’s multiple unsuitable love interests.
Here is our annual Point/Counter Point about the Oscar Fashions (as well as some ways the library can let you relive or make fun of the Academy Awards)
The good. The bad. All boring.
I saw a posting on Facebook the other day that stated: better to arrive late than to arrive ugly. I laughed because this has always been my motto.
And it reminded me of this year’s Oscar fashion. Not that the stars were ugly by any means but there did not seem to be much fussing—with gowns, hair, makeup. I like more glamour, I guess.
- I dress better to walk my dog, than costume designer Jenny Beaven when she clomped up the aisle to claim her Oscar. Its hard to believe that back in 1986, she won an Oscar for best costume design for Room with a View. So she must know a thing or two about fashion and period frocks. (Place a hold on Mad Max, Fury Road).
- The dress I liked the least was worn by Heidi Klum or should I say that it wore her.. The color was bad enough but add to it a single puffy sleeve and an unattractive cut-out. I would have thought it would be hard to make Ms Klum look bad, but this gown and plain messy pony tail, sure did the trick. Kiss, kiss, bye, bye ugly Marchase gown. (Request Heidi Klum’s Body of Knowledge)
- I’m afraid I didn’t see The Danish Girl and had no idea who Alicia Vikander was. Her yellow dress was very understated as was her hair and lack of jewelry. But the worst part was the puffy hem that couldn’t make up its mind whether to be long or short. (Place a hold on The Danish Girl)
- Olivia Wilde need to lose that collar around her neck or perhaps it was holding her up. (Stream The Longest Week starring Olivia Wilde via the library’s subscription to Hoopla.)
- Kerry Washington looked like a dominatrix in her leather bodice and mismatched Charlize Theron—what were you thinking? That gown was much too low cut for my taste. Although I did love her earrings and her smoky eyes. (Request the first four seasons of Kerry Washington’s show, Scandal.)
- My favorite look was Cate Blanchett. She was perfection—earrings, bracelet, great seafoam color Amani Prive gown. (Place a hold on Cate Blanchett’s movie, Carol)
- Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan looked beautiful in her green sequined gown, mismatched earrings and beautiful beachy hair. (Download the book, Brooklyn from the library’s subscription to Overdrive)
- Priyanka Chopra looked elegant. That silver belt was just the right touch. (Place a hold on Dil dhadakne do starring Priyanka Chopra.)
- The only gentleman to stand out was Jared Leto and not in a good way. That Gucci tux with the flower bow tie and red piping was certainly unusual. (Request Jared Leto’s movie Dallas Buyers Club)
- This year’s fashions were too boring for me. Please bring back more Hollywood glamour. Even if everyone is late to walk the red carpet.
I agree with Marialice that the outfits were a bit on the dull side, this year. (Except for the crew of Mad Max: Fury Road. I love that they went the funky but the casual route). However, I managed to find some looks that I adored and others that I really disliked.
- Cate Blanchett: Worst Dressed. Marialice and I completely disagree on this one! If the dress didn’t have a bunch of little flowers attached to it, I actually would have liked it. (Download the Carol inspired novel, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith from the library’s subscription to Overdrive.)
- Jennifer Lawrence: Worst Dressed. There is a Yiddish word, ungapatchka (spelling not accurate) that my grandmother used to describe outfits such as this. Read the definition and you’ll know what I mean. (Place a hold on Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, Joy)
- Kate Winslet: Worst Dressed. It’s so shiny. It looks like a large garbage bag. (Place a hold on Kate Winslet’s movie, Steve Jobs)
- Charlize Theron: Neutral. I agree with Marialice that the neckline is low, but I think the dress itself is nice, and the color is beautiful on her. (Request Charlize Theron’s movie, Monster)
- Alicia Vikander: A qualified best dressed. I think the dress is adorable, but I’m not a huge fan of the inconsistent lengths. (Place a hold on the book, The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff.)
- Kerry Washington: A qualified worst dressed. I like the hair and jewelry. The dress would not be too bad, if the top was made out of a different material. (It looks like it was made out of construction paper) (Request Kerry Washington’s movie Django Unchained.)
- Reese Witherspoon: Best dressed. Very elegant and a nice color on her. (Stream the soundtrack from Reese Witherspoon’s movie, Walk the Line via the library’s subscription to Hoopla.)
- Rooney Mara: Worst dressed. Yikes! (Place a hold on the audiobook version of The Price of Salt.)
- Lady Gaga: It works for her. I would have hated this on anyone else (and I certainly couldn’t pull it off) but it kind of works on her. (Place a hold on the documentary, The Hunting Ground featuring Lady Gaga’s song, “Til it Happens to You.”)
- Jennifer Garner: Best dressed. Alias’s Agent Sydney Bristow looks stunning. (Request the entire series, Alias.)
- John Legend: Best dressed. Legend pulls off the classic look in style. (Download one of John Legend’s albums via the library’s subscription to Freegal.)
- Olivia Munn: Best dressed. Simple and elegant. (Request Suck It, Wonder Woman! : The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Olivia Munn)
- Whoopi Goldberg: Best dressed. I think she looks great! Not a huge fan of the jewelry, but this dress is perfect for her. (Download the e-book It It Just Me? Or is It Nuts out There by Whoopi Goldberg via Overdrive.)
- Heidi Klum: Worst dressed. Maybe it’s me. She is a host of Project Runway, so she obviously knows about these things better than I do, but not my thing! (Request eight seasons of Project Runway)
- Common: Best dressed. A nice twist on a classic. (Download Common’s album, Can I Borrow a Dollar? via the library’s subscription to Freegal)
- Jared Leto: Worst dressed. I’m boring when it comes to men’s fashion. I love the classic look. Not loving this look. (Request Jared Leto’s show, My So-Called Life)
- Louis Gossett, Jr. and Candy Brown: Best dressed couple. They both look very elegant and lovely together. (Request An Actor and a Gentleman by Louis Gossett, Jr.)
Do you need tax forms? Do you have questions about your taxes? Do you need assistance filling out your taxes? Here are some resources that can help.
General Information and Forms
Free Tax Help
- Taxpayer Assistance Center
JFK Federal Building; 15 New Sudbury Street; Boston, MA 02203
Provides some federal tax help. May refer inquiries to local volunteer tax services.
Times Available: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
- Bentley University Students
Morrison Hall, Room 101; Waltham, MA 02452
Tax Help for those who are eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
Times Available: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturdays, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm; February 15 – April 10; There will be no tax assistance on March 8 and 15.
- Charles River Public Internet Center
154 Moody Street; Waltham, MA 02453
Tax Help for those who are eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Please call to make an appointment.
Times Available: Thursdays, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Fridays, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Saturdays, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Tax help for senior citizens. Must call to make an appointment
Times Available: Monday – Friday, 9:00 – 11:00 am; February 3 – April 15.
Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day Gift? Check out what we’re reading this month.
- The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: This well-crafted novel takes place in Post WWI London. It is 1922 and the once wealthy “spinster” Frances and her mother Mrs. Wray are mourning the death of the two young men of the family in the Great War, World War I. Mr. Wray has died and, unfortunately, has left considerable debts. Frances and her mother are obliged to take in lodgers—Lilian and Leonard Barber of the “clerk class”. Life has been rather dull and drab for Frances; this is about to change with the lively couple who move in. There is some passionate romance afoot. Please be aware, it is of the same sex variety, so if that is not to your taste, please do not read this book. Due to the rather repressive timbre of the times, there is some tragedy, even murder to be dealt with. Your heart will be in your throat as you struggle with Frances and Lilian.
This is my second novel by Sarah Waters and, I must say, she creates a powerful sense of time and place. One feels as if taken by this writer to 1920’s London, with the old house in disrepair, the nuances and niceties, the cups of tea, down to the smallest detail. The writing moves along and you are drawn in and unable to put this amazing novel down.
This novel was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and nominated for the Goodreads Award for Best Historical Fiction.
I give it five out of five teacups up!
If you enjoy this book, I recommend the following as read-alikes: Atonement by Ian McEwan This riveting novel of World War II has murder, passion, tragedy and suspense and, a movie tie in. It was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It also won the Whitbread Award. Please read my next review for another excellent read-alike.
- The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell: Even the title of this book about the Prohibition Era in New York City grabbed me. I am old enough to remember the manual typewriter. In this novel that I would classify as one of psychological suspense, we meet Rose Baker, a police typist who likes her job She transcribes the confessions of murderers and other members of the criminal element. Rose lives in a boarding house with a roommate who is separated from her by a sheet in the middle of the room. Helen often steals Rose’s things and has a knack for getting on her nerves.
Enter Odalie, the other typist in the precinct. There are more and more cases coming in due to the
Volstead Act and Odalie is hired on the spot. She is glamorous, mysteries and filled with life. Rose
becomes obsessed and is drawn in to a lifestyle of speakeasies and wealth that she could never have
come up with in her wildest dreams. Rindell’s debut novel is in some sense an homage to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald but it also stands on its own two feet. I was drawn up in this novel and was filled with suspense and a dark sense of foreboding as I read through to the harrowing conclusion.
This book is being optioned for film and I can see why. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby, or of The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, you will love this novel. A great read for people who like psychological fiction and who like a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
I give it five out of five speakeasies up.
Pat A.: I am reading a novel that could be classified as a Romantic Comedy called The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson. And that says it all.
Mary V.: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is a suspense filled novel that I had trouble putting down. It concerns love, madness, psychological abuse and teenaged angst. There is a murder, but I would not call this a murder mystery even though Waltham has classified it as a mystery. The main character is a woman who is a wife and mother as well as a horsewoman and landscape gardener.
- Watchers – Dean Koontz: One of my favorite books, a book I revisit every few years – Horror, Mystery, Scifi-ish, Love Story, with a little humor thrown in for good measure.
- Early Warning [sound recording] : a novel / Jane Smiley: Too many characters with too much family history and turmoil over too many years for me.
After 7 discs I skipped to the last disc and everything was resolved – I didn’t need to know all the details – but others may enjoy the trip thru this family’s life.
- I enjoyed both these books but would have understood the situation better if I’d read them in order. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry [sound recording] / Rachel Joyce:
Wish I had read this after The Love Story Of Miss Queenie Hennessy.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy [sound recording] : a novel / Rachel Joyce: Should have read this book before the one above.
- I’ll be sad when Sue Grafton get to the letter Z I’ve enjoyed this mystery series very much
S is for Silence [sound recording] / Sue Grafton: Kinsey helps a daughter solve the disappearance of her mother 34 years later
T is for Trespass [sound recording] / Sue Grafton: Private investigator Kinsey Millhone searches for sociopath Solana Rojas, an identity she stole that gives her access to private caregiving jobs.
- The Spymistress [sound recording] / by Jennifer Chiaverini: Good historical fiction story about the Civil War – conflict within families in the south in their views of the war.
- Orphan Black. Season one [videorecording]: At first I was a little uncertain as to whether I’d like this one – but I got into it from the first scene. The actress playing the lead role is great. She plays multiple characters and each one is so different.
- The Brokenwood Mysteries. Series 1: Fun characters interesting take on solving crimes – can’t wait for Series 2
- Above Suspicion. Set 1 [videorecording]: A bit gory, don’t watch when eating dinner – but good characters and good story.
- House of Cards. The complete second season: I don’t think anyone who gets in Frank’s way is safe…
- I am currently listening to After You by JoJo Moyes the sequel to her best seller Me Before You. Don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read the first book. I am enjoying this book.
- We are currently listening to Cold Betrayal by J. A. Jance. A book in her series where the main character is Allie Reynolds. Allie Reynolds is not one of our favorite characters but the story is okay.
- Read The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. Story about 2 sisters during of World War II. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
- Watched Downton Abbey Season 6. Loved this series. Sorry this is the end.
- Currently streaming Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon. This is a comedy/drama about a fictitious N.Y. Symphony orchestra on the threshold of its opening season with a new conductor, Rodrigo. Series is based on a book by the same name. We are enjoying the dynamics of this show.
- The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski. The story centers around an an evangelical Christian family in 1970’s rural Idaho. Fourteen-year-old Jory Quanbeck along with her pregnant older sister, Grace, have been banished by their parents to an isolated house on the outskirts of town. Grace is a devout Christian who believes her condition to be a gift from God. The girls have to fend for themselves with the help of their neighbor,the elderly Hilda Kleinfelter and Grip, the Ice Cream Truck driver, who becomes an unlikely friend and support to both girls. It is a compelling and interesting story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and a thank you to Nancy D for the recommendation!
- Listened to the soundtrack from Ricki and the Flash (streaming from hoopla)
- Listening to Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt (streaming from hoopla) another Andy Carpenter story. Andy is on another case and once again up to the occassion, not only employing all of his skills but his wonderful sense of humor and take on life. Perfect story to make my time on treadmill go by quickly and with some laughs!
- Watched The Martian, Directed by Ridley Scott.
An entertaining movie that has a variety of aspects, suspense, action, science and a good dose of humor with a captivating ending.
- Reading Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters.
Being a lover of books it was easy for me to pick up this book and become engrossed in the story of Roberta, who works in The Old and New Book Store in England. Roberta is interested in the bits and pieces of letters she finds in the old books as she prepares to put them on the shelf.
Her father donates some of her Grandmother’s books to the shop and brings them in an old suitcase that once belonged to a Mrs. D Sinclair. Roberta is intrigued by the suitcase and wonders about the identity of the owner. The story switches back and forth from Roberta’s investigattions in the present to her Grandmother’s life during WW II.
Hannah: Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan.
This book is a comprehensive biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin’s only daughter, from her childhood as “little princess of the Kremlin” to her defection to the United States and her death as a pauper in rural Wisconsin. Sullivan uses an array of sources to bring to life the complex and conflicted life lived by Svetlana. Full of personal tragedy and a never-ending search for an identity of her own, Svetlana spent her adult life after her defection wandering the globe from India to the United States to England and even back to the USSR. Svetlana brings a unique point of view of the politics and everyday life of the USSR. Her later views on Russia after the collapse and her judgments on the new leaders, Yelstin and Putin make this work not only about the Cold War era but an enlightening spotlight on Russia in the current age.
- In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: This was actually a re-read for me, having first read this about 15 years ago. It is a fictionalized tale of the Maribel sisters who joined the rebellion against the Dominican Republic dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Told in a series of flashbacks starting with sister, Dede, this beautiful, suspenseful novel is hard to put down.
- The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas: I was lucky to get an advanced copy of this young adult novel, set to be released in April. This is a very creepy book which will, pardon the cliche, keep you on the edge of your seat. A teenage girl, Tessa, who’s been living in Florida with her grandmother briefly returns to her childhood home in Pennsylvania. Many years ago, Tessa and her best friend, Callie, were witnesses at a murder trial and identified the defendant. After she jogs her memory and some new evidence comes to light, Tessa starts to wonder if she and Callie may have caused an innocent man to go to prison. Place your hold on this item today and be one of the first to check it out when it’s released.
- The X-Files (Television Show): When this show was first on the air, I was a casual fan, at best, occasionally catching episodes with friends and roommates who were hard core fans. The main reason I even tuned in was because I thought David Duchovny was cute (who didn’t in the 1990’s?). With the new edition currently airing on television, though, I decided to do a binge watch, and do I adore it! FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, investigate out of the ordinary events, uncover a government conspiracy, and develop an intense, emotional attachment. As the heads in the cloud Agent Mulder and practical minded Agent Scully, Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have a great chemistry reminiscent of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. (I’m not normally a fan of movie remakes, but if the two of them were to star in a remake of Adam’s Rib, I would check it out.) Standalone episodes about so-called monsters of the week range between being creepy and hilarious and are usually as fun as 1950’s monster movies. Some government conspiracy episodes are intriguing, although the amount of red herrings can get a little tedious. And as a woman, I just have to say that Agent Scully is a great female lead character. She’s intelligent, holds her own against her male counterpart, and is a completely realized person.